Sometimes injuries to key players can create the impetus to make the necessary changes that have been swept under the rug for far too long. We saw it last year with the Leonard injury. Prior to Jimmy going down, we saw Rex refuse to call off the dogs on 3rd and a mile all season long. He stubbornly brought the house every single time, despite the fact that the whole league began max-protecting and attacking our vulnerabilities unmercifully. Then Jimmy went down and everything changed. Rex scaled back the playbook, went much less exotic, and slowly began to play more coverage (even making coverage the staple of the defensive approach for a deep playoff run). Now its Schotty's turn.
We've seen for seasons now a play selection that's unnecessarily complicated, a quarterback that holds the ball for far too long, and recently, a willingness to abandon the run all too quickly. Now with Mangold out and Hunter being anything but reliable, Schotty is going to be forced to stay disciplined with running the ball, and in the passing game he will need to position players to get open quickly and get the ball in their hands so that they can make plays. For too long we've relied on having a great o-line, now we have to learn to cope with having an average one. I can remember some of the posters here last year were lamenting about Sanchez's propensity to hold the ball, expecting the protection to be there, while he scanned the field looking for something to open up. He has gotten away with that for too long. Its a bad habit that has stunted his growth as a QB.
Sanchez is at his best when he's decisive and gets the ball out quickly. We see it all the time in the 2-minute drill. Time and time again he marches the team right down the field. He's been so efficient that some have argued that we should go no-huddle a lot more for that very reason. Now he'll be forced to make that change. Rather than going to the line and waiting for the defense to reveal itself, now he'll be forced to go to scrimmage with a plan (just like in the no huddle). He will be forced to be more proactive rather than reactive. And the same goes for Schotty's playcalling.
Schotty has been blessed with having such a plethora of weapons at his disposal. I think that his approach has arrogantly been a "Well if you do this, then we'll just do that. Pick your poison" Which is all fine and good sometimes. But you can't send your young QB to scrimmage, ask him to wait for the defense to reveal itself, then try to read and attack coverage after the snap. Defenses are just too good in this league. They will hide and take away tendencies every single week, no matter how deficient in talent they are. Now Schotty can't rely on the protection being there and he'll have to dictate more to defenses. He will have to design plays for the ball to come out quickly, and therefore, he'll have to make sure guys are open quickly. That's likely to mean a strong reliance on the TE. And with our TEs, you get good speed and athleticism, so he can design plays for RAC.
Yes, losing Nick Mangold for any length of time sucks. But relying on the greatness of Mangold has, in part, created some bad habits. His injury will force the team to change those bad habits, habits that will keep them from getting to the Big Show. A couple of weeks without Nick could be just what the doctor ordered for this offense.