January 20, 2013

Patriots' no-wait offense weighing down defenses

Tom Brady is leading an offense that's not just fast but super fast, and it's paying off in a big way.

By MATT VENSEL The Baltimore Sun

(Continued from page 1)

Tom Brady
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Tom Brady, who has run the no-huddle offense for the New England Patriots, has played the equivalent of nine more quarters than other QBs because of the speed of the game.

The Associated Press

"Tom Brady runs it so well," Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's not just the fact that they go fast sometimes. They force you to line up. Sometimes they'll force the defense to show their hand because you have to defend the play. If they don't, they'll run the play. You saw last week they got Houston in some tough situations and it was big plays for them. It usually results in a big play."

Looking for another edge two years ago, Belichick flew in an offensive innovator to pick his brain. Oregon punished opponents and short-circuited scoreboards with a break-neck pace under Chip Kelly.

The biggest takeaway from those meetings? To pick up the tempo, they had to cut down on the chatter. Time was wasted as Brady spit out long play calls. Now, according to The Boston Globe, the Patriots use one of several one-word play calls in their no-huddle. That one word tells all 11 players what they need to do -- who the offensive line blocks, where the backs line up, which routes the wide receivers run.

"They've learned through the college game some of the best ways to implement it into the pro game," said former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer, now an analyst for ESPN. "I don't know if I would use the word 'innovative,' I think they have just streamlined it. At this point they are pioneering something in the NFL, which is super fast. People played fast before but no one has ever played super fast."

Ravens tight end Ed Dickson played three years under Kelly at Oregon, and those practices -- loud music pumping as players flew up and down the field -- were so frenetic, Dickson said, further conditioning was unnecessary.

The Patriots don't go nonstop, but Dickson sees traces of what Kelly, who was introduced as the Philadelphia Eagles' coach Thursday, preached at Oregon.

"It's a smart two-minute," said Dickson, who believes Kelly will succeed in the NFL. "It's not going haywire out there, saying, 'We need to go score.' They know exactly when to slow it down."

What the Patriots are doing, sometimes snapping the ball with 20 or more seconds left on the play clock, has left defenders out of breath but not words.

In November, New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace called the Patriots' tactics "borderline illegal." Texans linebacker Bradie James joked that he wasn't even sure the officials were set Sunday when Brady was snapping the ball. And while watching the Patriots' latest win on television, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo ripped them on Twitter for running a "gimmick" offense.

"New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can't really respect it. (It's) comparable to a cheap shot (before) a fight," Ayanbadejo wrote on his Twitter account, adding, "It's a gimmick."

Ayanbadejo has apologized.


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