Thursday, April 07, 2011

Adam Smith and the Spread

You want to know what I love about the blogosphere?  An extended analogy between Dana Holgorsen's installation of his offense and The Wealth of Nations:

As Holgorsen says, “no one” in his offense will play more than one position; he doesn’t even want someone to play both “inside and outside receiver.” The idea is a simple one: with limited practice time and, to be honest, limited skills, kids need to focus on a few things and to get better at them — the jack of all trades is incredibly overrated. While Urban Meyer’s Florida offense thrived for a time with Tebow and his omnipositional teammate, Percy Harvin, I’d argue that this reliance on a “Percy Position” — a guy that can play most every skill position on offense — eventually does more harm than good. I’m all for getting the ball to playmakers in different ways, but I am not — and neither is Holgorsen — a fan of doing it to the detriment of repetitions and becoming a master at your given position. It’s nature versus nurture on the football practice field, and I side with nurture.

This analogy is a little problematic to me because one of the aspects of the Spread ‘n’ Shred that appeals to me is the Total Football concept of players being able to perform multiple roles.  The basis of the offense is the requirement that the quarterback is able to run the ball so as to create a numerical advantage in the box (or, alternatively, to prevent the defense from killing the running game by outnumbering the offense in the box).  Additionally, the offense thrives (and gets its name) by using three- and four-receiver sets to spread out the opponent, thereby creating running lanes.  In order to fully take advantage of the spread formations, those receivers need to be able to take part in the running game, either by motioning into the backfield or through reverses and end-arounds. 

In other words, the Spread broke down the difference between skill position players.  Quarterbacks can run and throw.  Receivers can be involved in the running game as well as the passing game. That cuts against the notion of Spread offenses being all about specialization.  That said, there can be a synthesis between Chris Brown’s point and mine.  Holgorsen and Brown argue that players should play only one position and should focus on mastering that position.  Their point is consistent with the concept that within that position, a player should be able to have an impact in multiple facets of the game, moreso than in traditional offenses.

1 comment:

TeachMeHowToBucky said...

Milwaukee Native here, I'm not sure the Braves or Brewers are living up to the hype.