'Gun control: Teams need balance out of popular formation
By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Ten years ago, the shotgun formation wasn't part of the West Coast offense. Bill Walsh, the creator of the modern West Coast system, didn't use it and as a result many of his protégé's around the league cast it aside as well.
But today, every NFL team has a shotgun package. In many cases, it serves as a staple formation of the offense. For perspective, on Sunday of Week 5 there were 636 shotgun plays called in 12 games, which averages to 26.5 shotgun snaps per team (see box).
Shotgun used to be used almost exclusively when long yardage was needed or late in the games, but not anymore. Now it is used just as much in the first quarter as it is in the fourth. For example, last Sunday the Bills and Eagles came out in shotgun formation 15 times in the first quarter.
Offenses obviously pass more out of shotgun, but should they consider running the ball too? Patriots coach Bill Belichick told me this week that there are opportunities to run the ball from the shotgun, but work must be put in on learning the blocking angles and the run lanes. Not every team is working on those run opportunities.
I spoke to a number of head coaches, offensive coordinators and O-line coaches over the past few weeks about their run game out of "the gun," and they all claimed to have run principles as part of their shotgun package. But numbers from Week 5 suggest a massive imbalance in the run-pass ratios out of the shotgun. As a result, teams are missing an opportunity to expose their defensive counterparts....
There's no right way to do the wrong thing.
To compete for the playoffs, Dallas has to improve here: Only four sacks against Eli Manning over the past six games!