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Mike Mularkey's Offense Is Brilliant In Design, Not In Execution

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"If I was up there in that booth, MM, I'd be calling better plays for myself while being both on the field and in the booth at the same time!"
"If I was up there in that booth, MM, I'd be calling better plays for myself while being both on the field and in the booth at the same time!"

Truth be told, this is a post I wish I had loads of research for, as I feel like that, combined with about a week's worth of work, I could further prove this point.

However, I'm a poor college student with limited resources, so unless someone gets me a Sword of Omens, you're stuck with me drawing from my memory.

However, I do feel like there is some validity to this. We have seen some truly epic things from our offense, and also some horrific things. As I've said recently, I feel like everyone shares some of the blame with regards to the offense, but yes, I am going to defend Mularkey to an extent here, but also point out some of the issues he has. So really, I'm just going to try and tell it like it is.

If you wish to see my elaboration, take the jump with me!

I personally am ready to see a new OC try his hand at the Falcons talent on offense, be it Bratkowski or someone else. However, in all the football games I've watched this year, I don't think I've seen an offense quite like ours. It's almost, dare I say, brilliant.

The problem here is that it's being run in totally the wrong way some of the time. Our inconsistencies don't just happen in the middle of one game, the inconsistency spans multiple games. Some games we look great, and others we look like a totally lost team.

I have no doubt our offense is capable of running with a Saints-like offense so long as the mistakes are kept to a minimum and the D does its job well enough (intercepting Brees twice should've netted a better result than it did).

But this is a post about MM's offense.

I'll admit I don't pay as much attention to other football games as I do ours, but the reasoning behind that should be understood. Naturally, I don't nitpick about other teams' O and D because they do not have that emotional connection with me, however I do try and notice when and how other teams fail and relate it to how we fail during games. It makes me feel less bad about some of the dopey things we do.

The only offense I can remember that runs anything like ours is New England's, led by, of course, Tom Brady. Brady is not athletic at all. He has an extremely fast release and he throws as good a ball as you'll see in the league. Brady is, however, one of the smartest QBs to ever play the game, and it shows. I still believe Brady is a better passer than any other QB in the league. Rodgers/Brees get out of jams because they can run and keep plays alive. Brady has no such luxury, and certainly doesn't have any big name receivers to lean on. He throws to his tight ends all the time and he makes it work. He is literally a surgeon of defenses.

I think Matty is the same way, but slightly less skilled at it. I believe Matt is also in the upper echelon of QBs as far as intelligence goes. He runs the no huddle offense as good as any offense is run in the league, and that has as much to do with his mental capability as his physical capability.

And that, folks, is the first part of why MM's offense is brilliant. Note I said the offense itself, not his playcalling, necessarily, which I think we've all come to hate.

A less intelligent (not read: dumb) and less hardworking QB could not run this offense the way Matt does. One of the most fascinating and unique things about the offense is the yelling of "READY, GO!" before Matt actually calls a play.

I absolutely love that. I don't think any other offense does it, and then Matt calls a play (predetermined by MM, in some cases, I believe) and then they run it.

Now, here's what I hate about it: We do that every time. Any time Matt yells "Ready, Go" like that, a play is never run, at least not from what I've seen. 99.9% of the time, it doesn't draw a defense offsides, and the defense simply sits on its heels and waits for the actual play to be called.

Something so simple and fundamental like that is severely crippling the offense. Changing it up can keep a defense guessing, which means offsides calls and unprepared pass rushers. This is a game of inches (and milliseconds) and if you're spotting the defense some time and inches by not changing things up, how is that beneficial to your team? (Hint: It's not.)

The Ready Go option is part of why MM's offense is brilliant, but the use of it is extremely poor. Just having that option and players that are disciplined enough to know when to go and when not to go options up a myriad of options when used correctly. But guess what? We're not using it correctly. We're not even close to using it correctly.

If I'd gone really in depth with this and come out with all these reasons as to just how much the offense is being held back due to poor execution (both by the OC and the players), all your brains would belong to us.

The next part of what makes our offense function (I wouldn't call this part brilliant, but...) is running Turner into the pile up the middle.

Look, I hate it as much as the next guy. It's dumb, it's boring, it's predictable, it's a waste of a down. But you know what? It's necessary.

I forget what analyst said it, but it was something akin to "You have to do it (running into the pile for nothing) because if you don't, the defense will eat you alive."

I've been somewhat against the Turner Train as of late, saying that he just isn't the type of back we need anymore, if only because he's not dynamic enough for what we need (a consistent pass catching threat out of the backfield that we actually use). Don't get me wrong, I love Turner, I think he's a great RB, but we've about run him into the ground.

However, Turner is good for something. He can break off some long runs occasionally, which justifies running him into the pile for nothing sometimes. Why would I say that? It's more about the possibility of the big run happening which keeps defenses a wee bit more honest than they would be normally if the RB was just a pile runner capable of nothing.

I credit Turner's pile running to a small part of why Matt having a good season statistically. Let's face it, our OL doesn't exactly get the job done at all times for either pass or run blocking, so the fact that we can get anything out of it (including a 4,000 yard passer! Hooray Matty) is a plus, and a testament to how we can mask our weaknesses with some resounding strengths.

But every so often, Turner breaks a big run, and it keeps defenses honest, even if he doesn't break one in that particular game, because there's always the possibility.

And Matt's good enough now to where if they focus on stopping Turner, he can beat them, and that's why we have a legitimate chance at the Super Bowl if we can get going.

I like (not love, in fact I don't really like it, but there are worse things) that about MM's offense. He at least tries to run Turner up the middle to keep the interior pressure honest, which is easily 10x more devastating to a QB than outside pressure.

But what I hate about it is, once again, execution. Not all up-the-middle runs are destined for great success (even though in theory every offensive play should go for a touchdown) but the RB usage is absolutely miserable. Quizz gets only a few touches a game. Snelling only gets a few touches a game. Turner gets the bulk of the touches, and does what with them? Nothing. Is that all his fault? No, but some of it is his physical limitations. I've seen holes the size of Kansas open up just a little to either side of Turner and he'll miss them completely, whether because he doesn't have the cut back or because he doesn't see them.

Quizz runs hard, but he also looks for other lanes. Quizz can make great catches out of the backfield, and he's warming the bench. Same with Snelling. He's a tough, physical runner, but he can make some good catches. He's not quite as bowling-ball-ish as Turner, but he's stlil plenty capable.

And we don't use them hardly at all, whereas teams like the Saints use every RB they have in every way possible, and they're so successful. Brees is good, but when you don't know who's getting the ball and when, it makes it so much easier to move the ball. Why do you think Turner's receptions actually go for something? That dude never catches the ball and when he does, there's nobody within a million yards of him. That right there should suggest "Okay, changing it up isn't Deadly McDeath Poison. Let's try this again."

Whoever's fault that is should be slapped.

(Let it be known that I, too, am with the group that is not totally above getting rid of Smitty sooner rather than later. Love Smitty, he's done great things with this team, but he's lacking in that fiery passion he used to have, and it bothers me. Let it also be known that Marty Schottenheimer gave a 14-2 Chargers team to Norv Turner, who has slowly killed the Chargers with Dysentery. Changing coaches is not always a positive move.)

So really, I've lost track of what all I was going to say because short attention spans are terrible, but I think you get the gist of what I'm saying (maybe.)

The fact that both Matty and the players are capable of running such a disciplined offense that can be changed at the line of scrimmage is both a testament to the players and MM for being able to come up with an offense that caters to the intelligence of Matt. Let us not forget that no matter how good our no huddle offense is, it is still MM's offense and, as such, should be given some credit.

It may be fair to say that MM's playcalling is infinitely worse than Matt's, but the no huddle allows Matt to run something based on what the D gives him. MM calls plays completely blind. While his play calls are usually worse, it's not totally fair to him to say he's such a dope when, in truth, it's almost a crapshoot so long as you don't call incredibly dopey plays (which he likes to do at the worst times, so yes, he receives partial fail status). However, this would not be possible without an intelligent QB running an offense that literally has a play for just about everything.

That is why the no huddle works so well because there are so many plays that can be run, all of which are at our QB's disposal. This is a major reason why Matt is an elite quarterback. He may not be a top flight passer due to average arm strength and lack of big time experience, but he has an intellect and work ethic that few QBs in the league have, and it's why he's been so successful in MM's offense. He's smart with the football, delivers a reasonably good intermediate-to-short throw, and makes good reads most of the time. He also knows what plays to call and when, which is a testament to his depth of knowledge about the game.

That's just a few of the reasons why I think MM's offense itself is really good, but is executed poorly (mainly by his playcalling, but the players are guilty of some fails as well).

I'm curious as to what you all think. I'm not saying (at this point) that MM deserves a pass, but I think that his offense, by design, is extremely good. He just doesn't use it worth a toot because of personnel issues (misuse of RBs), lack of calling plays that should be staples in an offense (screens), and some blame falls on Smitty for not no-huddling more often. Matt really runs that as well as anyone but we just don't use it. If we had the whole offense at our disposal in the no huddle, why run anything else? Because it makes the players tired sooner? Tell them to shut up and get their arses out there and play ball. Any tiredness the O experiences is probably experienced to a greater effect by the D, who has to run around more.

I, too, am ready for a new OC to give our talent a whirl, but I think that we can't look past what MM's offense (not playcalling) has done for us. Matt's no-huddle prowess and ability to call any play in the playbook is a testament to Matt's mind, but MM was the one who created a play for nearly every imaginable situation, and that cannot be overlooked.

Now, if Matt could just be the one calling all the plays.