Super Bowl 47 – Turning Point for Offensive Schemes?

Posted: January 27, 2013 in Bunker

Super Bowl 47 could shake the NFL up for years to come and I will be rooting furiously for that change.

It’s not that Colin Kaepernick has the opportunity to become the second African-American Quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Doug Williams won Super Bowl XXII in one of the greatest Quarterback performances Super Bowl History and that didn’t prevent people from using coded language to dismiss the potential of black Quarterback prospects. [see accusations of Cam Newton’s alleged laziness and character issues”.] A win for Kaepernick won’t quiet the whispers about the abilities of the “Black Quarterback” on message boards and comment boxes.

But it may usher in a new era of offense in the NFL.

The bland, vanilla (no pun intended) style offense that is widely regarded as “winning football” asks the Quarterback to remain in the pocket. It demands a competent Offensive Line, strict precision passing, accuracy and a trust that the design preached by your coaches is gospel. Who can blame the narrative? It’s been proven over and over that “pocket quarterbacks” are an essential element to a winning pro football team. It isn’t called a “pro-style offense” for nothing.

But a win for Kaepernick in Super Bowl 47, given the copycat nature of the NFL, could mean the possibility of expanding the definition of the Pro QB.

The new breed of QB including Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick have emerged out of the shadow of men like Michael Vick, whose speed was seen as deterrent to his success rather than an asset. Their respective coaches have loosened the reins on these young quarterbacks and allowed their offenses to take advantage of their skills by using the “pistol” and “read-option” techniques. These new offensive schemes shun the notion that the scientific formula designed by the offensive geniuses of yesteryear hold the only method achieve success on the offensive side of the ball.

The zone read offenses allow for designed improvisation. As if echoing the famous Miles Davis quote “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there”, the read option allows the Quarterback to navigate the white space between the lines the offensive and defensive plays. When there’s a breakdown in a designed play, the aforementioned Quarterbacks have the speed, agility and awareness to create beauty in the midst of chaos. It takes quarterbacking from the drawing board and places it on a canvas, from the boardroom to the backyard.

This new style won’t replace the conventional quarterback by any means. QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck who brilliantly fuse their amazing pocket presence with their unique speed are nearly impossible to contain. There’s always room for Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Big Ben and Matt Ryan.

The pocket quarterback is not going away, but it may give an opportunity to those who were overlooked and undervalued in the past. Men like Eric Crouch, Pat White, and Andre Ware would be given more of an opportunity to showcase their talent in today’s NFL.

But Kaepernick has to deliver a stand out performance. He cannot simply win, he has to be the reason the Niners bring home the title.  There are only 4 Quarterbacks who run a college system, but win could mean the expansion of this exciting offensive philosophy.

Joe Montana and Bill Walsh revolutionized the NFL by popularizing the “West Coast Offense”, Kaepernick and Harbaugh have a chance to do the same on February 3rd.  Like their predecessors, it will take the Lombardi trophy to validate their system.


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