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Rivera Downed By Three Great Offenses

Mill Woods

Posted on December 3, 2019 19:54

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In my view, there are only nine truly innovative offenses among the NFL's 32 teams — offensive schemes that could work well even with different QBs, RBs and receivers. Two of those teams are headed by Sean Payton and Kyle Shanahan, who meet Sunday in New Orleans to fight over home field advantage in the NFC. Not coincidentally, these offensive experts are also a good part of the reason that "Riverboat Ron" Rivera was fired in Carolina.

Ron Rivera played linebacker with the 1985 Bears (Super Bowl champs!) and was D coordinator for the Bears and Chargers. Rivera has been a proponent of strong defense with ball-control offense. I think he kept the Panthers in great defenses, but the Panthers never had a very innovative offense. When Cam Newton was the Lamar Jackson of the NFL (with some awesome running backs), the success of the Run-Pass Option (RPO) kept the Panthers consistently competitive.

But I'm not talking about the RPO, and Rivera never developed one of those ultra-complex offenses. And even Rivera's strong defenses struggled at times to stop those offenses when other teams fielded them. The Falcons, for example, have beaten the Panthers two of three games within the last decade, despite the Panthers going 15-1 in 2015 and playing in the Super Bowl. The Falcons' zone blocking offense was developed in the mold of Mike Shanahan's, and when son, Kyle, was O coordinator in Atlanta, he took the Falcons to a Super Bowl.

In my view, the teams with innovative offenses are (alphabetically): the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Falcons, 49ers, Rams, Ravens, Saints, Texans, and Vikings. Other teams have potent offenses, to be sure, but I see them as having acquired outstanding talent and/or leadership, especially at QB (like Tom Brady of the Patriots and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks).  But the success of an offense does not equate to an offensive scheme that is very complicated — or worrisome for defenses.

Three of the teams with explosive, innovative offenses are in the NFC South. Now, to be sure, teams have ultra-complicated offensive schemes are not all alike, but they tend to utilize zone blocking schemes for the running game, and they almost always involve complex passing schemes (very large playbooks). Even in years when Rivera's teams were pretty darn good, they often did not make the playoffs, due to facing the Bucs, Saints and Falcons twice a year. It's no shock that those offenses have produced two MVP quarterbacks. Even with the slump of the Falcons and Bucs (due to struggles on defense), the NFC South offenses are currently ranked #5 (Bucs!), #11 and #13, respectively. 

So, as Rivera searches for his next coaching opportunity, the Saints and 49ers prep for a gigantic showdown and the Rams take a final shot at the Seahawks. There are also monster battles in the AFC: the Ravens and Bills will impact playoff seeding, as will those Chiefs-Patriots and Titans-Raiders contests.

Here are all the matches and my picks:

    Visitor                Home              My Pick
 
1.    Cowboys         Bears              Bears
2.    Colts                Bucs                Bucs
3.    Dolphins         Jets                  Dolphins
4.    49ers              Saints              Saints
5.    Lions               Vikings            Vikings
6.    Broncos          Texans            Texans
7.    Redskins         Packers           Packers
8.    Bengals           Browns           Browns
9.    Ravens            Bills                 Ravens
10.  Panthers        Falcons           Falcons
11.  Chargers        Jaguars           Chargers
12.  Titans             Raiders           Titans
13.  Chiefs             Patriots           Chiefs
14.  Steelers          Cardinals        Steelers
15.  Seahawks       Rams               Rams
16.  Giants             Eagles             Eagles

 

Mill Woods

Posted on December 3, 2019 19:54

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