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OPEN THREAD: Is the spread offense bad for the NFL?


OPEN THREAD: Is the spread offense bad for the NFL?

For years watching football on Saturdays and watching football on Sundays remained two different experiences, but that difference has widened over the last decade as the spread offense has proliferated. Schools like Oregon and Baylor started the trend in a big way, and now schools in every major conference run the spread, or some variation of it.

What does that mean for the NFL though? The spread is a little too gimmicky to be successful in the pro ranks, where speed in the secondary and more sure handed tackling limits the spread's success. Are college football players being prepared for the NFL by playing in these systems?

"When you’re a college football coach, you’re doing whatever you think is necessary to win. That’s what it’s all about. There’s a lot of pressure," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said when asked if college football prepares rookies for the NFL.


"It’s our job as scouts and as personnel evaluators to judge what they’re doing in their situation. Would I like to see them run a conventional offense? Sure, but we still have to judge them no matter what," Gruden continued.

The coach's remarks seem important considering starting QB Robert Griffin III is perhaps one of the most famous spread offense passers in history. In his time at Baylor, RG3 won the Heisman Trophy as he put up video game numbers, and was largely the player that brought Baylor to national prominence. Griffin's role at Baylor was so large the school built the player a statue outside of their new stadium.

Look around the NFL, and it's tough to find QBs having great success that came from spread programs.

The best young passer in the NFL is Andrew Luck, who played at Stanford, a school that ran a pro set with a power running game. Ryan Tannehill came from Texas A&M, but he played receiver for two of his seasons in college. Russell Wilson is certainly succeeding in Seattle, on a team that runs some zone read elements out of Urban Meyer's spread type offense, but in college, Wilson did best at Wisconsin, another power running pro set team.

Can a spread college QB succeed in the NFL? Griffin did, as a rookie, but that offense took a lot from Baylor. Mike and Kyle Shanahan devised an offense that opened up passing lanes through play action as the threat of the QB run paralyzed defenses. 

It would be silly and premature to suggest no spread QB will succeed in the NFL. But it's hard to look around the league and point to much success so far - beyond RG3's dynamic rookie season. Perhaps that's why Gruden would like to see more pro-style offenses in college, and he's probably not the only NFL mind thinking that way.

Is the spread bad for the NFL? Are there examples where a spread QB has worked in the pros? Let us know in the comments. 

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.