CFL Coaches Seek To Unlock Offence;
Scoring down seven points a game
The Windsor Star Thu 28 Jun 2007
Section: Sports Byline: Michael Petrie
Just how disturbing was the precipitous drop in offence
around the Canadian Football League last season?
Well, consider the fact all eight teams are armed
with new offensive co-ordinators this year.
"The changes are a reflection of the frustration
that some organizations maybe had, with regards
to production," said Jacques Chapdelaine,
who left the B.C. Lions' top-ranked offence
to take over the Edmonton Eskimos' attack.
"Right now, the defences might be leading.
But I have no doubt that offences will adjust."
Perhaps. But they certainly didn't react on the fly in 2006.
The year began with sputtering offences across the land
-- initially attributed to defences
typically being ahead out of camp --
but the trend continued until
the bitter, lacklustre end.
Scoring was down more than seven points
per game from 2005 and teams combined
for 60 fewer yards of offence per game.
"Defences are becoming more specialized
and because of that, scoring is tougher,"
said Lions head coach Wally Buono.
"The rosters expanded (to 42 men), so
you're allowed to have more specialists.
"Defensively, you have more opportunities to
put different kind of personnel on the field
and now you match up better than the offence."
EXTRA IMPORT SPOTS
Rather than spend extra import spots
on offensive players who rarely
see the field,
teams are more apt to use those
valued assets as defensive pawns.
As a result, the talent is better
and specific roles are enhanced.
Roster expansion also was a major factor
in the absence of special-teams touchdowns.
But there's more to the league's
offensive woes than personnel.
The current defensive schemes, according to
some experts, simply aren't conducive to
allowing CFL track meets of old.
"Back when I first came into the league,
you could find matchups you could exploit,
go one-on-one and try to take shots over the top,"
B.C. quarterback Dave Dickenson said.
"Now, it seems like teams are doing
more zone blitzing and scheming
to take away your routes.
They're not necessarily challenging
you one-on-one, so it's harder to
find matchups to take advantage of.
"There just aren't the big plays
and it's hard to consistently get
first down after first down.
You almost need big chunks
for big points."
George Cortez of the Calgary Stampeders is one of
the more decorated offensive coaches around.
He was out of the CFL for four years
before returning in 2006 and
he's discovering new challenges
in designing an attack.
"There's so much more zone defence," Cortez said.
"There's nine droppers, sometimes 10 cover guys
and you have to be a lot more patient.
"You see multiple fronts on defence now,
where it used to be very patterned
in how you'd protect.
It's become much more complex and you don't have
an enormous amount of practice time.
So, sometimes things happen (in games)
you've never seen before."
As defences throw different looks at quarterbacks,
the offences try to counter with their own unique packages.
This cat-and-mouse game is a common,
cyclical part of the game.
Sooner or later, the balance will shift back.
"As soon as somebody finds a formation
that controls the defence in some way,
everyone will use it," Cortez said.
"But no one has found it yet,
There's a lot of formations being thrown out there
that people are looking at."
As for the massive turnover in offensive coaches
around the league,
Dickenson doesn't consider it such a bad thing.
In fact, it might provide the spark needed
to reverse the trend of defensive dominance.
"Some fresh ideas would be welcome,"
Dickenson said. -- Calgary Herald
from 53.8 Points a game in 2005
to 46.6 points a game in 2006
from 730 Total Yards in 2005
to 670 Total Yards in 2006
and 561 Passing yards in 2005
to 504 Passing yards in 2006