INDIANAPOLIS – It was an offensive approach that was in the works for multiple weeks, with Frank Reich knowing something different was needed given the opponent and the current state of his offensive line.
Now comes the question—with the Colts scoring 34 points (their most points in 11 games), thanks to a very specific game plan—should this no-huddle approach be used regularly moving forward?
Frank Reich says it’s something the Colts will evaluate week-to-week.
It’s worth noting that even when the Colts have had success with no-huddle under Reich, it has not become a weekly norm.
Considering the Colts recent offensive slump though—they entered Sunday having not scored more than 20 points in 7 straight games—will that change though?
Here are Reich’s thoughts when asked about the hesitancy in going no-huddle each game:
“There are really no cons,” Reich began, “(But it limits) you as far as what you can do formationally. One of our goals is to be multiple. When we say multiple that’s multiple personnel groups, multiple formations and you give them multiple looks. If you go no-huddle, then you just have to say we’re going to be less multiple than we are when we’re huddling, and that’s fine. I mean, we did that last week. We knew that, but we were in more formations last week. When you remember watching Peyton Manning in his days here running the no-huddle, it was basically two formations, two-by-two and three-by-one. The receivers stayed static.
“We did get in more formations than that so we had a little variety to what we were doing, and that worked well. We’ll continue to evaluate that week to week and move on from there.”
Reich is right, going with a no-huddle approach does limit personnel groupings for the offense. For example, the Colts used a skill group of Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell, Mo Alie-Cox and Deon Jackson exclusively for the start of Sunday’s up-tempo opening drive.
Ideally, a no-huddle plan is probably better suited for games at home, where crowd noise is limited when the offense is on the field.
Having said that though, the Colts cannot totally ignore what just happed on Sunday.
For an offense struggling mightily in pass protection, turning the ball over way too much and unable to sustain scoring at any acceptable level, the implementation of some tempo led to dream offensive rhythm.
More than anyone, it relieved some stress off an underperforming offensive line, with Ryan getting the ball out faster than any other game this year.
“You’ve got to give the line some breather plays because it is putting a lot on them,” Reich explained of the no-huddle. “When you can throw, what we call ‘quick game,’ which would be three-step timing, really our five-step timing rhythm, intermediate stuff is kind of quick game-ish as well. The ball comes out fast. You still want to be able to take shots and we did. We were able to still push the ball down the field a little bit, you still want to be able to block it up and get the ball vertical.
“Against that (Jaguars) defense, with the schemes that they played, we just felt like that was going to be our best plan of attack. Go no-huddle (offense), it’s tough sledding running against them, so let’s not run uphill like that, let’s do that with the short, quick passing game.”
That last point by Reich is important to note. The Colts supplanted a struggling run game with running back Deon Jackson catching 10 balls out of the backfield. A shorter pass game gave the Colts some of that desired run game production and kept Indy moving the ball methodically (the Alec Pierce game-winning TD was the Colts only passing play of more than 22 yards in the franchise-record 42 completions).
The Colts moved the ball into Jacksonville territory on 8 of 9 drives. They scored on their final 5 drives of the game, including 4 touchdowns. They didn’t allow a sack in 58 pass attempts (the best mark in the history of the NFL).
It’s also worth pointing out this plan from Reich was in place before Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines were ruled out for the Jacksonville game on Saturday. The assumption is the game plan wouldn’t have changed much even if Taylor or Hines were playing.
Given all of that, and the lingering offensive issues entering Sunday, the Colts cannot get too far away from the no-huddle focus.
And as the NFL game adopts more and more of what the college game is doing, younger players are used to a quicker tempo, which many college systems utilize. That should help the Colts using so many younger skill guys.
Certainly, tossing the ball 58 times and expecting 0 sacks and 0 turnovers can’t be routine (the Colts are 6-25-1 all-time when attempting at least 50 passes in a game).
But making sure the no-huddle is still there, and available to go to throughout any game, is a must.
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