Sunday, December 02, 2007

Football Theory = Medical Reality

A few weeks ago, at one of his Friday press conferences (the best day for learning anything from a pro football coach), Bill Belichick indulged in his passion for x's and o's and offered some opinions on the spread offense so popular in college football. Belichick noted the offense's resemblance to the old-fashioned single wing formation, and spoke at some length as to its advantages, which boil down to adding an extra blocker or receiver to every play.

That's a pretty significant advantage, but Belichick didn't go on to address the obvious follow-up question, to wit, how come you never the spread in the NFL? He figured the answer was even more obvious, so shiningly evident that EVEN SPORTSWRITERS didn't have to be told. As is often the case when football's under discussion, Belichick was right. Nobody asked. Didn't have to. The facts of the college football season give the answer.

November: Oregon is the hottest team in college football thanks to its spread offense run by gifted quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Dennis Dixon. In a game against lowly Arizona, Dixon gets hurt. No BCS bowl, no Heisman, no wins the rest of the year.

December 1: West Virginia is favored to go to the BCS championshp thanks to its spread offense run by quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Pat White. All it has to do is beat lowly Pittsburgh. White gets hurt. Pitt wins. No BCS Bowl, no Heisman.

Tim Tebow of Florida, who runs its spread offense, is now the Heisman favorite. He hasn't been injured yet, but he's only a sophomore.

This in college, where the spread quarterbacks are faster than linebackers and bigger than defensive backs. In the pros, that's usually the case. No NFL team will ever run the spread unless it gets a roster-rule dispensation allowing it to keep 45 extra quarterbacks on the practice squad.

Tom Brady hates to run. That's not the least of reasons why he's renowned as a smart player.


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