There is a fantastic read in the Wall Street Journal on the Patriots one word, ultra fast no huddle offense. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe kind of revealed this to the world back in October, but the Patriots have been taking a page out of the Chip Kelly Oregon offenses. An offense that lives by the mantra of the more plays the better.
According to the WSJ article, the Patriots are only 84 plays away from breaking the record set by the 1994 Patriots for most plays run in a season.
Setting a record is no sure thing. The Patriots have averaged 74.4 plays per game this season. But they've run as many as 92 plays in a game.
No other team has come close to their pace in 2012. They've run 102 more plays than the Denver Broncos—more than a full game's worth—and 214 more than the San Francisco 49ers.
The Patriots' pace has caught some teams off guard, like the Broncos back in October, but it hasn't worked on others. One time Tom Brady was asked a dumb question, "If its so effective, why do the Patriots not run the no huddle all the time?". He pointed out that there is a disadvantage as well. If you can't execute then your defense just has to come on the field that much quicker. While that hasn't been much of a problem for the Patriots, it certainly has reared its head at times.
The Patriots don't run the no huddle as often as you might think. WSJ has them running it 31.4% of the plays, which they contrast to the over 50% clip the Denver Broncos run their no huddle.
Speed is the key with New England though.
"I get on the line and do what he tells me to do," said Patriots tackle Nate Solder. "I have no idea how he does it."
It's something that Patriots offensive coordinator says can sometimes even render their communication system useless.
They've even become too fast for technology: The radio technology that McDaniels uses to communicate with Brady goes silent once the ball is snapped, typically re-engaging about four seconds after the end of a play. At times, McDaniels is so eager to get the next play started that he inadvertently calls it in during that dead space, leaving Brady confused about what to run next. McDaniels will then have to push the button again. "There's obstacles to doing it too fast, certainly," McDaniels said with a laugh.
The Patriots' 10-seconds-or-less offense took hold during a spring training camp that multiple players called the toughest of their lives. It was designed to keep players in shape for the breakneck pace to come.
Such is the disadvantage to being ahead of your time I guess.
It really cannot be overstated how great of a game plan this is. Most NFL teams simply aren't prepared to deal with the onslaught of plays the Patriots will throw at you. The theory behind it being quite similar to Belichick's bend don't break philosophy on defense.
Essentially, the Patriots want to run as many plays as possible, increasing the chances of a big play. The Pats have a similar philosophy on defense, making the offense march down field increasing the chances that they'll commit a turnover or mistake.
The Patriots average of 74.4 plays per game is 10 more than the average NFL team. That, players say, represents 10 more opportunities for a long Brady touchdown pass. McDaniels likens the Patriot quest for more plays to the modern baseball strategist's distaste for sacrificing batters. Since teams get only 27 outs in a regulation nine-inning game, why give up a chance for a home run just to move a player to second? Likeswise, a 60-minute football game can be decided by a single long-yardage pass.
The Patriots average 5.8 yards per play when they huddle, compared with 5.6 yards in their hurry-up sets. That means the no-huddle may not carry much of an advantage on a given play—but over time the volume of plays wears out the opposing defense.
Still, we saw the effects of running 92 plays on a team. Both the Patriots and 49ers came out with subpar performances in the next week, though that obviously wasn't the whole story. At least the Pats were able to come out with a win. If the Patriots run so many plays in a playoff game and are lucky enough to win, it might leave them at a slight disadvantage that next week.
This something likely to become a key for the Patriots in years to come. They haven't even been able to run this offense with both of their matchup nightmares tight ends in the game. Both are expected to be on the field together in the playoffs, and if the Patriots can dictate the personnel and pace of the game with their ultra fast no huddle and at the same time be able to dictate the matchups with those two tight ends, the league better look out.