The most complex concepts often can be the simplest. For the New England Patriots' no-huddle offense, it often comes down to one word.
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In a fascinating piece from the Boston Globe, Greg A. Bedard details how the Patriots transformed their no-huddle offense into a fast-break attack that moves faster because the team uses one-word play calls.
Gone are the West Coast play calls like "Flip right, double-X jet, 36 counter, naked waggle, X-7, X-quarter." Instead, the Patriots have six one-word calls like "Bama" at the ready for each game. The call details the team's formation, blocking scheme, routes, shifts, snap counts, alerts and audibles. It says if the play is a run or pass, and the direction of the run. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has the ability to change plenty at the line of scrimmage.
Bedard traces the offense's evolution to Oregon's Chip Kelly, who has spent time in training camp with the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. It was an idea that Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh saw coming in his epic coaching tome "Finding the Winning Edge." Patriots players told Bedard the pace of Patriots practice would pick up dramatically once the media left. You can imagine this is not an easy offense to coach.
Brady says he can't imagine the Patriots ever going no-huddle all the time for a variety of reasons. But the speed of the offense has become its defining characteristic. It's a loaded weapon they can deploy at any time. And it's working: New England is first in the NFL in yards gained and points scored.
In this copycat NFL, it's safe to expect teams to adopt some tenets of New England's approach. It's already happening around the league. But no other team has Tom Brady, and the Patriots have a head start. The Broncos and others have learned how hard it can be to catch up with New England once they are on the move.