A strategic move to change the pace of an offense or a mandatory tactic in the final two minutes with the game on the line, the no-huddle offense can serve as an effective option.
Preparation and communication are some key ingredients in NFL offenses operating a complex no-huddle attack.
"I think every team wants to play fast and get up to the line of scrimmage," says Denver Broncos offensive coordinator MIKE MC COY, who relies on quarterback PEYTON MANNING to control the Broncos no-huddle offense. "Every team has a no-huddle system. How fast you go depends on what type of quarterback you have and how fast can your players react to it all."
Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL definitely knows the advantages of the no-huddle offense. Tannehill executed a form of the no-huddle offense during his collegiate days at Texas A&M under current Dolphins offensive coordinator MIKE SHERMAN and it has carried over to his NFL career.
"When we get to the line quicker, we are able to assess the defense and get ourselves into a good play," says Tannehill. "We're then able to run more plays and give ourselves more opportunities to put points on the board. We run these same no-huddle plays in practice, so we're used to not being able to say, 'do this on this play.' It's just kind of an understanding that we're on the same page."
The teams with the lowest average time of possession on scoring drives through Week 8:
AVG. TIME OF POSSESSION
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A look at the key factors in running an effective no-huddle offense:
"Communication is everything when it comes to the no-huddle. You have to get the communication to the offensive line first and foremost, to the running backs and also to the wide receivers. Communication is not just from the quarterback to the offensive linemen and to the receivers, but from receiver to receiver, from offensive linemen to offensive linemen. That's why the good teams are so good at it because everybody communicates very, very well together." – NFL Network analyst and former NFL MVP KURT WARNER.* *
"It takes a lot of concentration. It takes a team effort for sure. You've got to have all 11 guys working at the same pace and you've got to make sure you're doing your own job out there." – New England Patriots tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI.* *
"Flexibility and versatility are critical. It's got to be real in the sense that just sticking guys in certain places and not using them – people aren't going to defend that. We have tight ends; we have people that we can move and running backs outside that they aren't a decoy – it's real. It gets players the ball in space. We are putting guys in places strategically to give them an advantage, or give us an advantage. It's really that simple." – Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinatorCAM CAMERON. **
PRESSURE ON THE DEFENSE
"One of the main points of running a no-huddle offense and what you're trying to accomplish is making the defense uncomfortable. Sometimes you're calling plays and the defense isn't even set, so you don't always know what defense they're in or what the exact blocking patterns are. But, that's why you need to have a smart and veteran group. When the ball is snapped, you must react quickly and be able to sort out the grey area." – Baltimore Ravens centerMATT BIRK. **
"You're looking to push the tempo, play fast, wear an opponent down, kind of play faster than they are. Ideally, you're getting a bunch of first downs. I think there's some advantages if you can get it rolling." – Miami Dolphins head coach JOE PHILBIN.* *
INTERCONFERENCE SHOWDOWNS ON TAP FOR WEEK 9
When it comes to AFC versus NFC, have things finally changed? The 16 NFC teams certainly hope so.
National Football Conference clubs have captured four of the past five Super Bowl titles, including each of the past three. And 2011 marked the first season since 1995 in which the NFC won more interconference games than the AFC (33-31, .516).
That turned around an AFC streak that lasted more than a decade with the AFC winning the interconference season series 15 years in a row (1996-2010). During that run, AFC teams posted a combined 515-418-3 (.552) record against the NFC.
Continuing their momentum of 2011, NFC clubs have posted a 20-12 record in interconference games this season, outscoring their AFC opponents by an 868-677 margin while maintaining a 21 turnover differential in those contests.
"You've just seen a switch in consistent play from the NFC, especially on defense," says NFL Network analyst WILLIE MC GINEST, who spent his entire career in the AFC with the New England Patriots (1994-2005) and Cleveland Browns (2006-08). "Being a defensive guy, it was always known for the AFC to be pretty physical, and now we're seeing the NFC as a whole running the ball well and playing great defense."
NFC clubs have indeed been effective running the football this season as the NFL's top three rushing leaders all reside in the conference – ADRIAN PETERSON (775 yards) of Minnesota, MARSHAWN LYNCH (757) of Seattle and rookie ALFRED MORRIS (717) of Washington.
"It's definitely been a surprise when you look at the past at how much the AFC had dominated the NFC, and now to see how much that has shifted," says NFL Network analyst and former New York Giants center SHAUN O'HARA. "When you look at the conferences, the NFC seems to have a lot more high-powered offenses. It certainly seems to have transferred to wins."
This season, five of the top seven teams in total yards per game are from the NFC:
Week 9 will feature four interconference matchups, highlighted by the Giants (6-2) hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) on Sunday afternoon:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NEW YORK GIANTS
Home team in CAPS
The Giants or the Steelers have appeared in five of the past seven Super Bowls, combining for four NFL championships during that span.
New York is 16-9 against the AFC during the regular season since 2006, the second-best mark among NFC clubs. Additionally, the Giants are 2-0 in Super Bowls against the AFC during that span, defeating New England in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
The NFC teams with the best interconference records since 2006:
New York Giants *
New Orleans Saints
- Interconference game in Week 9