Offensive Creativity

There has been a lot of chatter about Montreal needing more offensive creativity. What are some areas that could be improved in that regard?

When you keep things simple - and they're working - you shouldn't get creative. Creative should be saved for the times when things aren't working. You shouldn't give film of all your fanciest stuff. For the most part this year Montreal's offense was working so most of the time it didn't need to get creative. However, at times it was bogged down by a defense that had them figured or was otherwise just having a strong day. This happens to everybody. Even the '81 Eskimos won a couple of games 16-15 and 14-11.

If the defense is sitting back and giving you the underneath, you just need to take it. With Montreal having such a strong between-tackles run game, they can just pound the ball against that which is what they do anyways.

Against a blitzing front it's a different story. It's been discussed a few times around here. Sweeps and screens keep LBs honest, forcing them to be aware and move sideline to sideline and keeps them from attacking the backfield. Chip blocking (where the back slows down the blitzer with a bump and then releases to be a checkdown) can be very effective. Against a strong front 4 that is penetrating, try trap blocking, and let the back run behind the trap.

Then of course there's simple play action and misdirection. Get everybody going one way and the cut back the other way either with a handoff counter or a bootleg and pass option.

I think that Shiltz is still not ready to be a starter. He had one great last minute drive in relief of Adams and then played so-so against some weak opposition. The next week in Ottawa his TD pass really should have been an INT, his receiver saved his butt. Then the big win against the Argos was all run game. Ted White could have been the QB it didn't matter. Then against a tough D in Sask he did nothing. When Harris went in it was night and day but was too late. Shiltz has proved that he can run the offense and protect the ball, he has proven competency, but he can't really make plays or take the game on his shoulders. It was games like against Sask or Hamilton where better QB play would not have necessitated the calls for more offensive creativity.

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yeah great post.

pd....do you think teams should look again at running a full offense occasionally with the QB under center?

Occasionally? Well they do run under center in short yardage. The advantage with being under center is for the play action with multiple backs. Since everyone's standard set for almost 20 years now is ace set (single back) there's not much advantage. The disadvantage is that the QB has to drop back before throwing, which means that he has less time to go through his progressions downfield.

I suppose that a special package of plays could be put together with a two-back set and QB under center but then every time that you show that formation, the opponent knows that you're about to do something special. In Montreal's case, since they run the ball so well out of ace set I wouldn't think it be necessary, but who knows?

yeah i mean other than short yardage. Not sure that it takes longer as QB has eyes down field longer with ball in hand.

Love this post.

It's making me reflect on what I mean when I say "creativity." I don't think my use of the word is correct or consonant with what you're saying at the top of the post, because I agree with you. Don't give away fancy stuff unless something isn't working or it's a playoff situation. So on reflection, I think I mean flexibility rather than creativity. The ability to adjust the game plan when your typical approach isn't working. And that is what I found lacking this year. When our offense hit a wall, Khari couldn't or wouldn't adapt. We never attacked the perimeter with sweeps or screens when our north-south running wasn't working. We never took underneath stuff when the deep routes were taken away. And that's part of why we failed to advance in the playoffs.

The other aspect of flexibility is being willing to attack the whole field. If your opponent knows you aren't going to attack, say, the deep left zone, or the flats on checkdown routes, you are much easier to defend. I have been longing for the RB to slip out into the backfield on a check-release the way Avon Cobourne used to do, but we never do this. Granted, most of that is because Stanback is probably the league's worst running back when it comes to catching passes. Dude can't seem to get his mitts on anything without a drop or a fumble. A change-of-pace scatback with better hands would be really useful on these types of plays.

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I don't know about the term "creative" I think what most have been saying that there should be more variety in the play calling = a bigger playbook. Moving the Z receiver around for example is something we mentionned, more complexity of routes, being minful of tendencies is something else we discussed.

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The pre-snap motion also has to improve. Weirder, more unpredictable angles, and more receivers running routes through each other, which increases the potential of "picks" (rubs) and forces defender to bubble in coverage, creating more separation and increasing the chances of defenders being in chase position.

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