We all know the Carolina Panthers are off to another patented slow Ron Rivera start, exacerbated by injuries to vulnerable positions like cornerback and offensive tackle, while the "scheme" hasn't seemed to change and coaches & players haven't adjusted to their new strengths...nor have they covered their weaknesses very well.
I say with that 1-5 record and the Atlanta Falcons surging at 4-2, it's about time to start Wildcatting.
No, I don't mean trying to strike oil or even using the single-wing formation. What I DO mean is using the mismatches we have left to our advantage until opponents prove they can stop it.
Run More Smoke Routes -- it sounds sexy, but is far from it. A "smoke" route sounds like you're burning a defender with speed. It is the exact opposite. A smoke route is taking one step forward & turn around. Think of it as a hitch without being at all downfield.
Reasoning behind it -- Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Throw them the ball above the rim & let them power through a cornerback, who would be at an obvious physical mismatch, and try to get 3-4 yards out of it. Benjamin's one-step would be about a yard and a half past the LOS to start with, and "falling forward" would net him two more yards. That's a 3.5 average, but doesn't take into account breaking a tackle for some YAC.
Field Six Offensive Linemen -- We've all seen the "unbalanced line" with two OTs lined up on one side or an OT playing as a TE. Use oddball formations as the Patriots have done to confuse defenders.
Reasoning behind it -- Power. Using 6 OL should allow at least one to get to the 2nd level on any given play, and sheer mass would make the offense more bruising, as they were last year, in order to account for injuries. A guard could be used at one OT spot so long as the tackle is on the outside. It would make inside runs that much harder to stop, would likely draw an extra defender into the box, and allow great play-action passing using either OUR "Big Benjamin" or Funch too, or the speedy Daisy who makes being wide-open behind defenders a 50/50 ball. The runs would be harder to stop for a loss and the extra lineman would be a sort of "max protect" pass-blocking scheme, which would help with Cam's problem of holding on to the ball too long...at least, that's the idea.
Run "Tricky" plays -- even if it's just a normal play run from a strange formation, keep the defense guessing and THINKING. When a defense has to think instead of react, it slows down. This would help slow pursuit and could spring some longer plays.
Reasoning behind it -- I started to hit on it above in that it makes defenders think too much. The reasoning would be introducing several new, odd, tricky plays EACH GAME so the defense always has something new to think about. Stretch the rulebook; get creative.
Play a defender out of position -- This is the defensive variant of running "tricky" plays.
Reasoning behind it -- Part behind this is to make the enemy QB think too much. If his head is filled with doubt when, say, Kawann Short lines up at MLB, he's going to be saying "Okay now, something's up...." and may force him into mistakes. Kawann would often "Blitz" from there, giving the team a 5-man pass rush, or drop an end into coverage for a bizarre zone-blitz personnel scheme.
Try a "Meatball Package" on running downs -- Since we don't have TWO DEs that can consistently rush the passer, let alone four, the NASCAR idea won't fly. I say put four DTs, since we're actually deep there, at all four DL spots. That's a lot of big guys up front to corral.
Reasoning behind it -- often, when teams throw an incomplete pass on 1st and 10, they come back with a running play. The Meatball Package would make this more difficult and likely would force the enemy QB to audible into a passing play. If nothing else, this package could help dictate to the offense what they can do, and the defensive play calls could be adjusted accordingly. With Star & Soliai as DTs with the quicker Short & Butler on the outsides, it would take time for offenses to adjust. Meanwhile, they probably won't be so efficient until they "figure things out."
Put Webb under Center with Cam in the backfield or at WR -- Webb is even a better athlete than Cam is, albeit without his size or strength.
Reasoning behind it -- Cam could actually be a playmaker as a wideout. That much, he proved in college with one heck of a good catch that you can see right here. His Benjamin-esque size only would add to the defensive mismatches and further confuse enemy coordinators and defenders alike. With Webb's speed and wiggle, I'm sure there are a number of effective plays that could be created & executed off of this. Add Greg Olsen wide & we could have 4 guys split wide, none of whom are shorter than 6'4" or lighter than 215 lbs. Funch would be the "small" one. Play above the rim.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over expecting a different result. I say we have nothing to lose by throwing in some of these ideas & seeing what happens. If nothing else, it would force teams down the stretch to waste time on figuring these things out at the expense of preparing for our normal offense.
Then, when defenses show signs of getting wise to some of these plays, stop using them all together for a few weeks. Let teams think you've abandoned them, them break 'em out again once the proverbial heat is off. Stay one step ahead of convention; be a trailblazer.
Mostly, force the other team to prove they can counter our creative formations & plays by stopping it on the field.
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