There are many ways to win football games - great special teams play setting up field position, or a strong defense making big plays coupled with a ball control offense. But let's face it, when Dan tempted Steve Spurrier off of the Florida golf courses with $5M per year to coach the Redskins, it was not to see him call 'off tackle left' 30 times a game and hope the defense or special teams could come up with a score.
Steve Spurrier has been one of the most successful offensive coaches for more than a decade. As well as setting offensive production records he is also one of the most successful coaches ever at the college level where wins and losses are what really matters.
After a decade of mediocrity in Washington, Dan Snyder and the Redskins faithful are hoping - no expecting - Steve Spurrier to bring this offensive production and winning to the NFL.
His offensive system - the Fun 'N Gun - is one of the most talked about systems in the NFL at present. It is also one of the least understood, which is surprising because it is basically pretty simple - at least on the surface.
Its basic philosophy is one of attacking the defense, not just taking what the defense gives you a la the almost ubiquitous West Coast offense. Every play run has the potential for a big play built into it.
For every defense that is called, there is a perfect play to attack it. All you have to do is recognize the coverage and make sure you have the correct play called to exploit it. Of course that requires a quarterback who can read coverages and audible out of bad plays into good plays and not just run what the coach called regardless. A quarterback-centered-offense in the NFL? Paul Brown must be turning in his grave.
Quarterbacks have the option, make that obligation, to change every play based on the pre- snap read. If the defense is stacked against the play Spurrier has called, the QB must audible to a better play. Of course if the Quarterback does change the play, he had better make sure the play he calls works - and that he has a good reason for changing the play. Steve Spurrier is not afraid of getting in player's faces, especially for mental errors, like changing a play for the wrong reason.
Every player has to adjust, none more so than the receivers. On every play the receiver has two, three or even four options of routes depending on the defensive alignment. The Quarterback has to see the same coverage as the receiver and make his throw based on what the receiver is supposed to do in that situation. The ball is usually thrown to an area rather than to a specific receiver. There are no progressions like in the West Coast offense and there is almost never a primary receiver on a play.
After getting the team out of the huddle Spurrier wants everybody to the line and set up as quickly as possible. There is very little motion in the offense. Spurrier wants everybody set so the Quarterback - and Spurrier - can view the defense and decide whether to keep the play called in the huddle or change it.
Motion is used in most pro offenses constantly, usually to set up a mismatch in coverage or to help a receiver to avoid getting jammed at the line of scrimmage. In the Fun 'N Gun, Spurrier attempts to get his mismatches by spreading the defense with multiple receiver sets and by stretching the field vertically.
While the Fun 'N Gun is very much a pass-focused offense it is often overlooked that it does also feature the run.
It's not the power running game we have seen in Washington during the Joe Gibbs era - or even the Norv Turner era for that matter. In their offenses, the running game was used to set up the passing game. Hammer Riggo with Gut 50 a few times, bring up the linebackers and maybe even a safety to try to slow him down, then go play action and hit Art Monk on the post.
In Spurriers' offense, he uses the pass to set up the run. With defenders having to contend with multiple receiver sets and being conscious of the pass, soft spots are created for counters, draws, traps and quick screens. It requires backs to be able to hit holes quickly and have moves to make defenders miss in the open field.
Last year Spurrier just did not have the personnel to make his system work in the NFL. He learned that no matter how good the system, it will not work without NFL talent - particularly at QB and WR. He also learned that pass protection is at a premium in the NFL with defensive lineman far quicker and more aggressive than he was used to seeing in the SEC.
This off-season the Skins have retooled their offense. The offensive line will have two new quality guards. At wide receiver, a $13M signing bonus tempted a young speed receiver with all pro potential plus, and our top draft pick is a Florida grad WR who should at least know the system. Add to this possibly the fastest running back in the league and we now have the weapons to make the Fun 'N Gun work big.
The key will be the progress of second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsey. If he can continue to build on the positive end to his rookie season, we will be in good shape. He has the arm, the intelligence and the heart. If he can start well and build confidence - and of course stay healthy - the Washington sky will be filled with footballs and the record card with W's.