Is it time for NFL teams to scale back the shotgun offence?
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Might be hard to believe while watching Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Ben Roethlisberger in the playoffs this weekend, but it wasn't all that long ago that the shotgun formation was something of a curiosity in the NFL, used less than once every five plays in 2006.
In today's pass-heavy era populated by players who became accustomed to spread
During their first 10 plays in the wild-card round, the four winners — Rodgers' Packers , Wilson's Seahawks , Roethlisberger's Steelers and Brock Osweiler's Texans — used the shotgun a combined 67.5
Still, the case could be made that the shotgun — a novelty when Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys went to it primarily for third downs and 2-minute drills in the 1970s, then popularized more recently after Bill Belichick's New England Patriots had success with it in the 2000s — has reached a tipping point, and it's time for teams to be more judicious about the formation.
For the season, 78.9
"Some teams, it seems like they're in shotgun all the time," Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon said. "And it won't go away. Until somebody figures out how to slow it down, you'll keep seeing a lot more shotgun going on."
That might very well be.
After all, as Moon and others point out, a big explanation for the rise of the shotgun is that quarterbacks arrive in the pros having spent their formative years operating that way. By taking a shotgun snap, instead of being handed the ball directly by the
"It's here to stay. It's in the program. It manifests," former NFL player and head coach Herm Edwards said.
Edwards said that when he's told players at a high school all-star game to line up right behind the
Notably, most of the league's very best
Four of the five teams that used the shotgun most ranked among the 10 poorest-performing
Chip Kelly, who was fired after one year as the Niners' head coach, likes the pistol because "your quarterback now can be a factor in the run game."
At the other end of the spectrum: Under offensive
"Every time you're under
One of his mentors, recently retired Denver coach Gary Kubiak, ran the second-fewest shotgun plays this season (41.6
"It all depends what you are, how you're built," Kubiak said. "How your quarterback plays back there."
According to the 2016 data, though, teams actually put up better running numbers in the shotgun (4.95 yards per carry) than out of it (3.82). And passing was more efficient out of snaps under
The key, it turns out, might be moderation: With Tom Brady running the show for Belichick, the Patriots never started less than 43.4
"In the NFL, and football in general, it's whatever the hot
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow, Charles Odum and Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.
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