While up tempo offenses are what everyone in the media wants to talk about today, a lot of people looking from the outside in are flat out missing the point. The game that we all know and love, and have dedicated our lives to, can’t be boiled down to tempo as the formula for success.
Ask any of the best offensive minds in football today and most of them will tell you that their success on the offensive side of the ball lies in being simple, but looking complicated.
SI’s Peter King points that out better than anyone I’ve ever seen in a piece he published earlier this morning based on an observation during a Stanford game, that led to a conversation with head coach David Shaw after their win over Army
“I’m going to quote my old boss, Jon Gruden,’’ Shaw told King after the win against Army last Saturday. “He would say it every single day: ‘What you want to do on offense is present the illusion of sophistication but all in all remain very simple and basic.’ So very often we’ll throw a whole bunch of different stuff at them, but we’re going to run a basic day-one installation play. Something we’ve run thousands of times. Something very, very simple. But for the defense, it looks very complicated. So we want to present these illusions, then run a regular play that we just want to execute right.’’
Shaw says that it’s the same philosophy that is shared by Chip Kelly.
“He used to say it all the time and no one would believe him. He would just laugh, one of those smirk laughs that he has, and he would always tell people, ‘What we’re doing is not hard. We’re doing it faster, and we’re doing it with big kids who are smart kids.’ We’re like that—changing formations, making our players communicate, communicate, and the ball is getting snapped and they’re running something very simple.”