Does anyone else feel like the above photo is an accurate visual metaphor for our offense?
I guess the one upside of the weekend has to be that we weren't the worst loss by a ranked team. Iowa State over Texas? Really? Is there a MackBrownMustGo website yet? And Kirk Ferentz is making 3 million a year at Iowa but had one of the most boneheaded clock management miscues I have ever seen in a loss to Wisconsin. So, we aren't alone in the pissed-off fanbase category.
Anyway, I spent the weekend in Marion, Illinois, attending the 50th wedding anniversary of a good friend of mine. Wonderful event, but potentially bad mojo. Maybe it was all my fault. Perhaps we lost because I watched the game in a hotel room with my wife and children, and didn't get to go through my usual rituals (read: get a helluva good buzz on), but I am not all that much into silly superstition at this point. We lost because our offense, once again, showed glimmers of life that receded into a murky puddle of what-is-it-that-we-do?
My definition of the spread offense is this: spread the field with sets that include more WR's and forego a tight end or a fullback, use the wideouts and the running backs in an almost interchangeable way, and have a quarterback that is a run/pass threat.
Do we still run the spread? Well, it sure seems to me like we are trying to, but I think the problem may be that Geno is just not a dual-threat guy, so plays that break down aren't as likely to result in good stuff. And a whole lot of our plays seem to break down. I am not in the mood to cut Jeff Mullen any slack, but is the problem that we should really be running a pro-set offense even as we keep trying to fit a square peg into a round hole because we got prominent under The Product while running the spread?
We have the personnel to go a different direction. I am actually happy lately when I see us in an I-formation. And even if what we are doing still qualifies as a "spread" offense - where are the mismatches? If a player like Noel Devine lines up at RB, clearly the defense will want an LB assigned to him. But have we recently lined Noel up at WR, which would require the defense to want a DB to be covering him? We keep running Noel into the middle like he is a Steve Slaton, and he is not. He needs space where his elusiveness will enable him to shake the ONE guy that has a chance to make the play. And are we ever really going to integrate our tight ends? I think they could be the keys to the whole thing, because they represent a mismatch, potentially, against both linebackers and safeties. It comes down to this: the spread is supposed to provide big plays. We are struggling to string together first downs, let alone break off a big play.
Another thing that keeps troubling me: there are antidotes to the blitz, you know. The delay draw. The screen pass. How is it that when Geno's body language is screaming insecurity and frustration that we never call a play that could have helped him out?
I don't know who we are or what we do offensively, and I don't think Jeff Mullen does either. Or, he is just really not good at breaking down the film of our opponents. But I wish someone would ask him: what are the principles of your offense? I'd love to hear his response.