No-huddle offense moves Packers
The Packers’ No. 1 offense has scored both of its preseason touchdowns while running the no-huddle in non-two minute drill situations. The Packers also used it effectively in the second quarter of a preseason victory over Arizona last Friday, putting together a seven-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown strike from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings.
“It keeps the defense kind of on their toes a little bit,” Rodgers said after Friday night’s game. “Defenses have really passed up offenses as far as schematically and doing things that make it difficult for the offense to figure out who’s coming and the coverage they’re playing behind it. When you get into no-huddle, it can vanilla that down a little.”
The No. 1 offense also went no-huddle in the first quarter of the Packers’ preseason opener at Cleveland, putting together a seven-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jennings.
“We’re 2-for-2,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’m very pleased with the no-huddle so far.”
It’s a continuation of something the Packers experimented with last season, most notably in a Nov. 28 loss at Atlanta.
“We practiced it all last year,” quarterbacks coach Tom Clements said. “We did it a few times in the game. We practiced it leading up to the Super Bowl; we had it available. Aaron’s been in the system for six years now. We have experience on the offensive side and they’re smart guys, and that allows us to get up to the line and see what the defense is doing and try to pick an appropriate play.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said the Packers went into training camp planning to take a closer look at using the no-huddle in non-two minute situations. When executed correctly, Philbin said the no-huddle can disrupt an opposing defense’s ability to make substitutions or pre-snap adjustments.
“Maybe they don’t practice it as much as you do, they don’t have as many calls ready to do, hand signals, etc.—that type of thing,” Philbin said. “And then the tempo. Not that it has to be, ‘Let’s run a play with an all-out sprint and everything on the first sound.’ We don’t always do that. But I think we can wear people down and get a bunch of snaps.”
Packers guard Josh Sitton said offensive players love using the no-huddle.
“I don’t know if it necessarily causes that much confusion,” Sitton said. “But they don’t have time to sub in and out, don’t have time to make their calls.”
We run the ball well out of it, we throw the ball well .”out of it, so it gives them a dual threat.”
Using the no-huddle also allows coaches to see how their players respond when they’re asked to think on their feet.
“For the quarterbacks and really for the whole offense, it puts them in some situations and lets them to respond to certain things,” Philbin said. “You know how coaches can over-control and be on top of everything in practice. I think it’s good for the guys to get out there and play, make adjustments, make decisions.”
It starts with Rodgers, whose decision-making skills must be extra sharp when the Packers run plays without a huddle.
“I think it’s a reflection of the maturity of our offense, particularly Aaron Rodgers,” McCarthy said. “Aaron does an excellent job handling the calls at the line of scrimmage.”
Still, it’s not clear how much the Packers might use the no-huddle in non-two minute situations in the regular season.
By using it early in the preseason, the Packers could be trying to refine it for the regular season—or it could be a red herring, giving opposing defenses a little something extra to think about when they prepare to play the Packers.
Either way, it’s good practice for when the Packers do find themselves in two-minute drills this season.
“As your mom told you, moderation in all things is usually what wins out,” Philbin said. “You’ve got to balance it. I’m not sure that we’re at the stage where we’re going all-in and putting all our chips in the no huddle. I think it’s good. I think it’s a good changeup.”
Rodgers wants to see how effective the no-huddle remains as the preseason progresses, beginning Friday night in Indianapolis.
“Some teams are eventually going to game-plan for us and then we’ll figure out what kind of role that no-huddle is going to play,” Rodgers said.
-- As training camp fights go, this was an odd one: Fellow offensive linemen Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse got into a scuffle during Tuesday’s practice. Offensive line coach James Campen took them aside before the incident escalated. “You usually never see guys on the same line doing that,” Sitton said. “I’m really not sure what happened. Things get heated out there, they got after each other a little bit. Shook hands on the sidelines afterward. No big deal.”
-- Packers general manager Ted Thompson said the team’s decision to make T.J. Lang the starting left guard should not reflect poorly on first-round pick Derek Sherrod, who was given first crack at the job. “I understand the whole ‘is he going to be in the starting lineup’ thing, but he’s going to be fine,” Thompson said. “We think he’ll have a long career in the NFL.”