Few systems have captured the imagination of a fan base the way Coach Kelly did at Oregon; it is no understatement to say that Oregon's attack has influenced football at every level. My study shed light on some findings that contradict common opinions of his system. I also made observations that lead me to believe his system can succeed at the NFL level, as well as some areas where I believe it is imperative to revamp the current structure in order to be successful.
Contrary to popular belief, the system itself looks more like Noel Mazzone's offense than it does that of Rich Rodriguez. In other words, the QB is less of a designed runner and more of a point guard. If I had never studied an Oregon game and simply read articles or listened to TV commentary, I would get the impression that the Ducks majored in the zone read. My study, however, showed that they actually run a relatively low number of GIVE/KEEP runs. A great deal of the rushing yards accumulated by the QB in 2012 were off of scrambles; further study of their run game shows how they gained advantages without necessarily committing the QB as a runner.
What I did see was a very effective selection of ways to keep the numbers advantage in a single-back environment. Here, the motion man fakes sweep action that continues to a wide flare, tying up the DE and the cutback player:
Of course, the TV people are saying, "here comes the Zone Read" -- although nothing could be further from the truth.
Kansas State, however, rolls the backers strong, giving them an unblockable defender at the POA. Also of note is the tight shade of the defensive end on the offense's left. The QB makes a call and the RB takes the handoff to the left, but CONTINUES on a sweep to the left. The line still blocks power to the right, and the defense reacts to the blocking scheme. With soft corners at the top of the screen, Oregon gets a sizeable gain.
Is the defensive end the key? Possibly. Whatever it is, the use of quick screens and sweep actions are much more prevalent for the offense than QB keep/read plays in the offense.
Oregon will, as one might imagine, uses various gap schemes to protect play fakes. Here, the right guard pulls to sell the look of a run to the defense, only to reveal it is actual a play action pass attacking the vertical seams. The play action game is a big part of the attack; the big part of the passing game that I think needs tinkering is in the depths that their passes attack.
My one reservation in watching Oregon's offense is the depth in the pocket by the passer. Oregon's QBs didn't really take a true drop, instead catching the snap and simply "hitching up" from that depth, and were at the pretty much the same spot, no matter what the pass. In the NFL, offenses need to attack at different depths, and the apex of the drop needs to match the route. In other words, a passer needs to be ready to throw just before that pattern comes open, rather than just holding the ball staring into that space. Drops need to be timed with the depths of routes. I think that this sort of refinement is a major area that Pat Shurmur will bring to the offense.
I am also interested in seeing what adjustments will be brought about in terms of communicating the play from the sideline to the field. Clearly, Coach Kelly is an innovator in this arena. I am curious as to how that is adjusted as players are released or traded, and end up on opposing teams. Every player that leaves Philadelphia will be an intelligence source for the opposition - something he did not have to deal with at Oregon.
I'm sure these questions have already been answered internally. The true hallmark of the offense is how it makes fast players seem even faster with the use of tempo and formationing. Given the versatility of the Eagles' receivers, running back, and tight end as threats in the run and pass game, I think they will give NFL defenses unique problems this year. I don't see the system as a gimmick in the NFL; rather, I see it beginning a trend that others will follow. They already have in New England.