Quicker offense a dangerous trend?

Quicker offense a dangerous trend?
September 4, 2013, 8:30 am
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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) takes a snap from center during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Browns Stadium.

(Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

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The idea of up-tempo, no-huddle offense is sweeping through football and starting to make its way to the NFL. We can expect to see it Thursday night from both teams as the Ravens and Broncos play the league opener, as our Clifton Brown writes. It seems like a more exciting brand of football, with less down time between plays. But that doesn’t mean everyone is in favor of it.

In college football, where the pace is even faster than the pros, some coaches are very much against it.

Alabama coach Nick Saban has said he thought the no-huddle offenses increased the risk of injury for defensive players.

"I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety," Saban said last season. "The team gets in the same formation group, you can't substitute defensive players, you go on a 14-, 16-, 18-play drive and they're snapping the ball as fast as you can go and you look out there and all your players are walking around and can't even get lined up. That's when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they're not ready to play.”

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said much the same: "There's times where you can't get a defensive substitution in for eight-, 10-, 12-play drives. That has an effect on safety of that student-athlete, especially the bigger defensive linemen, that is really real."

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, one of the hurry-up advocates, obviously doesn’t agree.

"I would have to see some scientific or statistical information showing an increase in injuries, because to me right now it's just talk," Kingsbury said. "You want me to play slower, well, OK, you need to get smaller, less strong defensive linemen.”

Given that this speedy trend is a relatively new phenomenon, there have been no long-term studies yet.

In the NFL, the fastest-paced team has been the Patriots. They ran about 10 more plays on offense (74.4) per game than the NFL average and consequently led the league in scoring by about five points per game.

When teams like the Ravens and Broncos go no-huddle, they don’t necessarily run that many more plays, often letting the play clock run down before the snap. But it still can be debilitating for the likes of big defensive linemen, and the argument is that a tired player is more likely to lose his correct technique and be more susceptible to injury, particularly concussion.