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ESPN Insider & STATS Inc on Fun & Gun v. Run & Shoot


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Will the Redskins' "Fun-and-Gun" be more successful than its predecessors?

by Fred King, STATS. Inc.

Friday, July 19 Updated 1:45 PM EST

Webster's Dictionary defines offense as "the means or method of attacking or of attempting to score." Steve Spurrier would add just one word to the end of that definition. . . "often." The architect of the Fun-and-Gun offense brings his high-flying air attack to the Washington Redskins this season. The question isn't whether or not Spurrier's scheme is effective, the question is whether or not it will work.

Florida Gators vs. Washington Redskins -- 2001 (NCAA-NFL rankings in parentheses)


Points Per Game........43.8 (2nd).....16.0 (28th)

Passing Yards/Game.405.2 (1st)....155.4 (30th)

Pass Yards/Attempt.....9.6 (1st)..........6.3 (24th)

Passing Touchdowns..43 (1st)..........13 (t-28th)

In 12 seasons at Florida, Spurrier's teams averaged more than 35 points and 400 yards per game. Opposing defenses could not keep up with the aerial assault, as his talented corps of wide receivers demoralized opposing defensive backs. But just because the offense racked up big yards against the Vanderbilts and South Carolinas of the SEC, that doesn't mean his philosophy will click against the high-caliber talent in the NFL. Spurrier's players must be disciplined for his system to work, which is why he has stocked the 2002 Redskins' roster with plenty of former Gators. But most of those players (Shane Matthews, Danny Weurffel, Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony) have yet to live up to their full potential in their pro careers.

Spurrier wants his receivers to run deeper, more precise patterns, which could give pass rushers more time to get their hands on his quarterback. In his system the pass predicates the run, which makes many wonder what role Pro Bowler Stephen Davis will have. What could work to Spurrier's advantage is that no one has run such a pass-oriented offense in the past five seasons, which could give the Redskins' offense an element of surprise. With Washington being the only team in the league running this type of offense, opposing teams will not have as much time to study it properly.

The idea of the wide-open offense has been around for years. In 1958, Glenn Ellison, a high school football coach from Ohio, drew up a wild formation he called the "Lonesome Polecat," which put every offensive player in the pass pattern except the center and quarterback. Darrel "Mouse" Davis, a contemporary of Ellison, took it to the next level, allowing his receivers to "run where they ain't" in his Run-and-Shoot offense. Mouse's offense was successful in the NCAA and in the USFL, but failed to be more than a novelty in the NFL with Houston (Red Gun, Run-and-Shoot), Detroit (Silver Stretch) and Atlanta (Red Gun).

Run & Shoot Offenses in the NFL

..................................PPG....YPG....%Pass..Off....Def. Rank

Houston Oilers 86-89*....22.3..333.4...50.8....12th..13th


Detroit Lions 89-92........20.3..299.9...54.8....17th..20th

Atlanta Falcons 90-96....20.9..323.6...62.6....10th..26th

(* - Red Gun; ** - Run & Shoot)

Those three teams did put up impressive offensive numbers, especially through the air. In the 18 seasons that some form of the run-and-shoot was in use, the teams that employed the strategy had a top-10 passing offense 13 times. But in those 18 seasons, the offense was complemented by a top-10 defense just three times.

Spurrier's defense shouldn't have those problems, as the '02 version of the 'Skins already boasts two Hall of Famers (Darrell Green, Bruce Smith), three Pro Bowl linebackers (LaVar Arrington, Jessie Armstead and Jeremiah Trotter), two stud cornerbacks (Champ Bailey, Fred Smoot) and former Baltimore defensive guru Marvin Lewis as its coordinator. The defense will be called upon to save the day (ala the 2000 Ravens) if the 'Skins' offense sputters. But if the offense can adapt to the Fun-and-Gun -- and put up 20 points a game -- the 'Skins could make a serious run at the playoffs.

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What could work to Spurrier's advantage is that no one has run such a pass-oriented offense in the past five seasons, which could give the Redskins' offense an element of surprise

What about the Rams? They led the NFL in passing the past three seasons. "Air Martz" is as pass-oriented an offense that the author is trying to describe. I say that because their 4th WR, Ricky Proehl, puts up numbers reminiscent of a 2nd WR on most teams.

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I agreem frankly this article smacks of filler. The statistical analysis must have taken 5, maybe 10 minutes for the guys at STATS Inc and it is really pretty hollow stuff...

It is interesting to note that all the Run & Gun teams always had a higher ranked offense than defense. That would seem to play against what you would expect from the Skins. Personally I don't even expect the offense to be as wide open as the Rams or any of the teams listed above. I think Spurrier is going to keep teams off balance and throw the ball, but I expect him to run a lot of traditional sets, but who knows, maybe there will be 4 and 5 WRs on the field most of the time. Only another month and a half to go and then we will know for sure. And hopefully we will get a good idea from Osaka and the other pre-season games

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A top 5 defensive team to go with a top 10 offense should be enough to help us go places.

I can envision an I formation with 2 WRs and all of a sudden Flemister motions to the slot after B Johnson moves out of the backfield which causes confusion from the defense and we either hand off to S Davis or throw for a big gain.

We dont neccessarily have to have 4 or 5 receivers on the field.

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Actually, I don't think Spurrier's offense at Florida had a lot of motion, especially when the ball is snapped. I think it's because every potential receiver must be watching how the defense lines up as much as the quarterback does.

But I think Spurrier will have to adapt, because he will find that NFL defenses are MUCH more deceptive than on the college level. Defenses move around and shift as much as any offense does. And he will have to learn how to deal with combination coverages, which aren't played a lot in college.

It will be interesting to see how things develop. Spurrier's QBs and WRs often call their plays and routes based on how defenses lineup. But in the NFL, defenses may line up one way and go into a completely different look when the ball is snapped.

Spurrier is a genius at play calling, and I think that is what is going to make him successful and set him apart in the long run. But I think he will find out that game planning is just as important in the NFL. Because defenses are constantly trying to deceive the offense, a thorough study a defense's tendencies and those of the individual players is paramount -- and the biggest difference between college and the NFL.

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Originally posted by Yomar

But just because the offense racked up big yards against the Vanderbilts and South Carolinas of the SEC, that doesn't mean his philosophy will click against the high-caliber talent in the NFL.

I hear this sh!t all the time and it really p!sses me off! The SEC has been the toughest conference in college football from '90 to the late '90s and now would be in the top 2. People never mention us running up big yards or scores against the power teams like Tennessee, Georiga, Auburn, or Alabama (when they were good). Oh yeah, and what about FSU? The '96 Sugar Bowl had a ton of players that went to the pros on both teams.

Why is it they always mention only Vanderbilt? BTW- South Carolina has hardly been a dormat after Lou Holtz's first year.

Skins fans will now see what UF fans have had to put up with for the last 12 years. As if the media didn't hate us enough for having Snyder as an owner, SOS as our coach makes us public enemy #1. It really is us against the world.

I will say the year we won the national championship was when we had our best defensive coordinator - Bob Stoops. A great defense makes all the difference.

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the one thing that this offense needs to succeed is the WRs and QBs need to be on the same page regarding the formation of the defense. this takes the decision making process and places it in the hands of several players instead of one.

now I do understand that WRs still make adjustments at the line of scrimmage in WCO, or timing based offenses as well,but they rely onit much less than the fun & gun (or run and shoot with a TE).

today's NFL defenses are a lot more complex with their disguises than in the past, with players having the ability to play pass and/or run they can as easily attack and run defend or drop back and pass defend (ala your own arrington or trotter). Defenses will use similar formations to run multiple defenses, as much as the offense likes to disguise the defenses do as well.

part of the success of SS offense in college was due tot he fact that his 3rd and 4th recievers were a lot better than the opposing teams 3rd and 4th CBs. SS would bet on that and often win, thus you would see a lot of inflated stats for FU's WRs and offenses. Is that the case in the pros? is the 3rd and 4th WR for the skins that much better than the opposing teams 3rd and 4th CBs? in the NFL safties run 4.4's and 4.5's and can hit like a LB and defend like a CB. its going to be alot more difficult.

The redskins probably will find success against teams that lack that kind of depth and fail against those that do. this is going to be a very up and down offense, not consistant from week to week. that much you should expect.

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Originally posted by GatorEye

Skins fans will now see what UF fans have had to put up with for the last 12 years. As if the media didn't hate us enough for having Snyder as an owner, SOS as our coach makes us public enemy #1. It really is us against the world.

Bring it. :asta:

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Article mentions lack of competition in the SEC in comparision to the NFL.

Well......Spurrier never really had this much talent to play around with either. The Redskin roster consists mostly of athletes who have established themselves in the NCAA. Unlike the scenario @ UF, where he had to groom and teach those kids about the game. He has also imported two of his best quarterbacks ever @ UF, 2 great receivers and has been handed a pro-bowl running back. He has two great cornerbacks that can be deployed as receivers at any given time (Smooooot & the Champ).

And our defense will be eager to supply the offense with great field position.

I think this equals out to a succesful formula which will give us plenty of football to watch deep into the winter.


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What I find funny coming from outside observers is that they seem to think that Spurrier is bringing the playbook from Florida and not going to make any adjustments to the NFL. Spurrier will be going up against a very good defense every day in practice. I give the man some credit that he will adjust, he will have to. If he can get an offense to even marginally work against the DBs and the LBs he will be facing in practice, the sky's the limit against the rest of the NFL.

Also, the "superior talent" level at Florida is another thing that I find pretty funny. If his talent was so supperior, where are they now? None of his former gator WRs are knocking them dead in the nfl (sure Ike Hillard to some extent, but who else?). His quarterbacks don't seem to translate well into the NFL. Where is this talent now? Do they suddenly become less talented once they leave his system??

Seems to me, Spurrier is more adept at taking marginally talented people, putting them into a good system and making them play above thier limitations. Why can't he do this in the NFL?

They say the talent level is so close across the board for NFL players. NFL players make mistakes, tons of mistakes all the time. Even the best players will make mistakes, bad reads, get confused, cover the wrong guy, fall down. I see it every game. Let's face it, NFL players are not rocket scientists. Whether or not Spurrier and his obviously superior talent (well these guys were the same superior talent in college he had to work with, I guess they were peaking then, you know the Mathews, Green's, Wuerfels, throw in total bums like Gardner, Lockett and couple of youngsters who can't have any potential because they play for the Redskins) will translate into any positive in the NFL is anybody's guess.

To condemn Spurrier and his ideas before he gets a chance is a mistake. To assume that the people he has running his plays are unable to perfrom at the NFL level is also a mistake. To pronounce that the Redskins will be scoring 40 a game is also a mistake. But it will be interesting, it will be different from what we have been watching the past decade.

I say look out. Teams are going to over analyse us and this will work into the hands of Suppier. No more going heavy-jumbo on third and one. Defense are going to have to play us honest, at least at first. There are no tendancies yet. Sure you could review the Florida game films, but they will only confuse you futher in terms of tendancies. No more 8-in-the-box. Line em' up, hope you have the right personell and then hope Spurrier doesn't have the right play called, or that the QB doesn't make the right read or line adjustment.

Anyway, we'll all get to sit back and watch as this drama unfolds. And I am so looking forward to it. No expectations. No dillusions of 16-0. Just a breath of fresh air...I hope.

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