If you've got the time to read today, be sure to pick up Matt Waldman's interview with Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc. Part one, which came out yesterday, will be of particular interest to St. Louis Rams fans.
In the interview, Williamson talks about the evolution of the hybrid offensive player in the NFL. The what? Those guys that create matchup problems for defenses because they have a varied enough skill set to perform more than a single role, a movable feast of Xs and Os in the playbook.
An example he gives is Reggie Bush. In the Saints offense, Bush can move out wide, in the slot or in the backfield. Add to that an intelligent QB who can change the play at the line forcing defenses into places they don't want to be. The key for extracting the maximum utility from these hybrid players, though, is the quarterback. And which team with a bright young QB and one of these hybrid types should he mention?
You have to have the right coach and especially the right quarterback who is really quick mentally for it to work, but those guys are really becoming in vogue and can do so much damage. I think we'll see more and more with Jimmy Graham. Look at the Rams, they get Lance Kendricks - maybe he'll be that type of guy. I think everyone is looking for them now.
The Rams. From there he goes into the Patriots offense last season, and what they did with the two tight end sets. However, the key is to think about it less as a 2-TE set and more of an offense using versatile players, specifically Aaron Hernandez, who Williamson points to as a guy who can move around like a chess piece to the wide receiver position or in a more traditional tight end route.
You really get a sense of what the Rams offense will look like this year from his description, even as brief as it is, of what the Patriots did last year, having the versatility to go with an empty backfield and changing the call at the line with three tight ends, Wes Welker and a running back like Danny Woodhead on the field filling the skill positions for the offense.
What's insane now is that Tom Brady can go out there with those three tight ends, Danny Woodhead, and Wes Welker and go empty!
Or, he could bring those three guys to the line of scrimmage and hand the ball to Woodhead and blow defenses off the ball. They have so many options now and Belicheck just goes team by team with how he wants to attack. If you're big and physical, they are going to go empty with Woodhead, Welker, Julian Edelman and all these guys who teams can't define who they are and just kill linebacker coverage.
McDaniels can also mix in receivers like Donnie Avery, Danario Alexander and Mark Clayton to give the offense another set of options, making up for bona fide superstars at receiver or tight end with enough versatility to work around defenses. Versatility and a really talented quarterback.
One more though about the running back. Steven Jackson, as you are well aware, offers plenty of versatility. Throw a guy like Darren Sproles, who Woodhead resembles in his play, into the mix and the offense can get really creative.
The Rams still have some work to do to get their offense ready to roll this year, not the least of which is actually, you know, practicing. Remember how effective the Rams could be last year when Sam Bradford was running the no-huddle, making calls at the line and setting matchups to his favor? I suspect we'll see even more of that this year, as Bradford and McDaniels pair together for what should be a very fruitful relationship.