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Article- Secrets of Spurrier's Offense


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Borrowed this link from another forum (didn't want to use the G**** word).

Quarterbacks, receivers know offense will work

By JOHN KEIM Journal staff writer


CARLISLE, Pa. - The receivers sensed what would happen three weeks ago - even longer. So did the quarterbacks. And, more than anyone else, so did the coach. Some of them had watched this before. The others needed little time being converted.

The Redskins would send out five receivers on a play. Someone would be open. The rest would smile, knowing they could be the open guy next time. In this offense, there's always a next time.

And they've received their confirmation the past two games. The Redskins receivers have been more wide open than a desert highway on some plays. Or, maybe, they'll find a tiny crack in the defense, but the ball will arrive just as they do, making it hard for the defense to cover them.

"There will be lots of confusing things for [defenses]," Redskins receiver Kevin Lockett predicted before the preseason games had even started. "You'll see guys on our team running free a lot."

No kidding. Just last week against Carolina, receiver Jacquez Green snapped off a route in the end zone that left him completely uncovered. Only a too-wide pass and Green's inability to drag his feet in-bounds prevented a touchdown. Later in the game, receiver Reidel Anthony broke free in the back of the end zone for a score. Receivers almost never come that open in the end zone. And they certainly weren't that free last season.

But that's Steve Spurrier's passing attack. Scouts at Florida used to tell him it was hard to judge how good his receivers were because they were always open by three yards. NFL wideouts don't get that free. Here, one yard constitutes open in man coverage.

Everyone knows what Spurrier wants to do: Throw the ball. And yet his receivers still find openings and still accumulate yards in bunches. The Redskins have done this despite not having what anyone would consider a true No. 1 wideout. Their top three receivers combined for 102 catches in 2001 - or less than the individual total of the top five receivers a year ago.

The preseason has fueled the belief that Spurrier's passing attack will work in the NFL. In two games the receivers have combined for 38 receptions, 615 yards and seven touchdowns. That was half a season's work for Washington's wideouts last season.

Redskins quarterback Shane Matthews issues one note of caution: San Francisco and Carolina didn't spend too much time preparing for Washington's offense. So the Redskins presented both teams looks that they had not seen. Nor could they adjust to them. All of that will change in the regular season once teams get a taste of Spurrier's attack in the NFL.

Then again, the Panthers disguised more coverages and played a soft two-deep zone on the first series, preventing the big play. But that was the beauty of Washington's offense: they dinked the ball downfield for 18 plays. Only the missed pass to Green stopped them.

"Obviously it's not going to be this easy during the regular season," Matthews said. "But we still feel we can score every time we have the ball."

The Redskins' system puts a greater burden on the quarterbacks and the receivers to read defenses. All systems require some reading; this one requires more. In a West Coast attack, which the Redskins ran a version of last year, a play is called and then it's run. Under Spurrier, a play can be changed at the line of scrimmage. It's actually encouraged.

And the receiver must know that if a particular route won't work, he must run one that will. Each goes to the line of scrimmage with a set of two to three routes they can run on a given play. They first check the corners, then the safeties and finally the linebackers, eyeing clues about the impending coverage. All in about three seconds after they break the huddle. If they're not versed in reading a defense, they're in trouble. Actually, they're not playing.

"It's frustrating for a receiver to be outside and know there's no chance to get the ball," said Redskins receiver Chris Doering, who played for Spurrier at Florida. "Whereas here, the curl route might not look good but the corner route, now that looks good. It encourages everyone to run their routes and no one gets lazy about it."

There's another reason Spurrier's receivers got open in college and have so far this summer. His teams throw deep. It's not a novel concept, but it is a foreign one. St. Louis does it, too, and their wideouts - albeit ones considered more talented - also are freer than wild horses in a field.

"The West Coast is predicated on guys running short crossing routes," Doering said, "with guys behind them playing off. They don't throw downfield so you don't separate people out and you sure don't get people wide open when you're all bunched within 20 yards of each other. Most teams are scared to throw the ball downfield. Look at the Rams. They get people wide open. You see their guys catching crossing routes with no one around because they're not afraid to take chances."

When defenses fret over the deep ball, they take fewer chances, which in turn opens up areas underneath.

"[spurrier] also puts guys in position where so many things look the same and defenses don't know what to expect," Redskins quarterback Danny Wuerffel said. "Until the last second, it all looks the same as opposed to an offense where you may only run a certain route. The defensive backs have to be careful with what they do. More than most offenses they have to worry about getting the ball thrown over their heads so it makes them play differently."

Redskins corner Fred Smoot said, "It's hard on corners who haven't seen it before."

College football analyst Gary Danielson once said that Spurrier taught his receivers better than any other coach in the country. He has to. Precision is a vital part of why they get open. If they're supposed to break at 10 yards, then that's what they must do. There's no wiggle room. Which is why Spurrier spends so much time tutoring his receivers during practice - most coaches who serve as offensive coordinators spend more of their time with the quarterbacks.

"Coming out of college I ran routes a lot better than most people I saw in the pros because of the way I was coached," Doering said. "A lot of people try to get open with speed. But in this league everyone is fast. You have to run precise routes."

Spurrier doesn't scream at receivers for running the wrong route, at least not on the field. But players say he gets his point across in meetings. Precision counts all over the field, which is how Green got open in the end zone. He lined up as a slot receiver with Rod Gardner to his right. Both were covered by corners and a safety stood behind the corners.

Gardner was supposed to cut in front of his man and head to the back of the end zone, taking the corner and safety with him. Green was supposed to cut inside his man, then make a sharp turn to the right. Gardner was held up at the line of scrimmage, but the safety drifted the other way and Green ran a perfect route to get uncovered. It's what Spurrier looks for most.

"He's very strict on route-running," Lockett said. "He wants exact steps. And a lot of it is the quarterback can anticipate a lot. In offenses I've been in, the quarterback doesn't always anticipate. Here, the quarterback throws to an open area and it's our job to get to that area because he lets it go before we're there. There's a huge trust. That's why he's so big on the preciseness of the route. If you run the wrong route and throw to an open area, it's an interception."

That trust is built in meetings, where the quarterbacks and receivers convene daily and get together more than most teams. There, they'll watch film and discuss what each group needs to do on a certain play. Then they know what each is thinking on the field.

At least they'd better know. Often times the coverage they read before the ball is snapped changes in mid-route. Both sides better read the same thing. The quarterback will throw to an area where the receiver, based on the read, should be. If the receiver doesn't get there, disaster awaits.

"There will be times when there's a gray area," Matthews said. "We may not be on the same page. If that happens you hope you don't throw an interception. But it's going to happen. We're going to throw interceptions and we're going to make mistakes. Our guys are getting open and it's our responsibility to throw to an open area and they're supposed to be there."

That's the theory. The Redskins say it works on paper, it worked in college and it can work here, too.

"A lot of people say it won't work," Lockett said. "But they said that of the Rams, too. I believe in it."

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal. He can be reached at jwkeim@aol.com


Copyright - The Journal Newspapers

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Did anyone catch the commentary during the Carolina game? Fryar must have said three or four times that running precise routes isn't necessary in Spurier's offense. Anybody got his e-mail so we can forward this article?

Really pisses me off when announcers who are paid to know what they are talking about blow it so badly.

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I heard the same comments from Fryar and had to laugh. This O requires nothing but precise routes. Now maybe he meant that they frequently don't run the called route. That's because they're taught to adjust their route by reading on the fly. But he sure didn't say it. What I'd like to learn is what routes SOS uses to attack the various coverages and get people so damn open.

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Originally posted by Sailor

Did anyone catch the commentary during the Carolina game? Fryar must have said three or four times that running precise routes isn't necessary in Spurier's offense. Anybody got his e-mail so we can forward this article?

Really pisses me off when announcers who are paid to know what they are talking about blow it so badly.

I noticed Fryar's observations as well. I was busting a gut laughing at his abysmal ignorance the entire time!:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

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