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 Why hasn't the spread taken over the NFL? 
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Post Why hasn't the spread taken over the NFL?
Wasn't sure where to put this, but I thought this forum was best because it straddles the pros and college.

I often think of this when I see all the talk of NFL teams avoiding college spread QBs (regardless of their success). With the spread slowly taking over the college game (at least that's my impression), why do you think it hasn't happened in the NFL? I know the Wildcat is sort of the NFL version of the spread, but I was wondering what your guys' thoughts were.

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March 24th, 2010, 9:19 pm
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Remember the Run N Shoot, which quickly became the Chuck N Duck, before it was eliminated all together? The same thing would happen if teams tried to run the spread in the NFL.

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March 24th, 2010, 9:49 pm
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Simple. The speed level of defenses in the NFL is so much higher that the spread doesn't work. Yes, the speed of everyone, offense and defense, is higher in the NFL. But from what I've read and heard, the defensive speed and sophistication of the defenses is more of a jump from college to NFL than it is on the offensive side of the ball.

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March 24th, 2010, 10:26 pm
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Spread works by isolating speedy College Kids in 1 on 1 agaisnt Other college kids. The teams that do well with it have the Qbs and athletes to take advantage of it.

In the Pros, Every D player is as fast as the fastest defenders these same athletes faced in college. They are also bigger and stronger. The type of team you would have to build in the pros to run a true "Spread" would never make it through a 10 game season, let alone 16+ without half their team getting injured.

The closest we will get is the Wildcat and the 3-4 WR "Spread Passing Attack" a la Patriots when they had the receivers for it.

The reason they worry about Spread RB is what I said above, combined with the Hashmarks being much more centered, leads to more centralised running with it being Much harder to break outside.

Spread QBs - Its usually because they play almost 100% shotgun, and often its a single read they make rather than a progressive read where they check 2-4 targets before they toss the ball away. They are often small as well.

Spread WRs - Plenty of them work fine as regular NFL receivers, and it is not held against them like it is the RB and QB, but in general they are still smaller, faster, best in space players, and generally the "Perfect" Spread receiver is at best a Slot or Scatback type RB in the Pros. Of course there are 6ft + Big receivers who play in Spread systems, and they are just measured as a regular WR.

Spread Olinemen are usually not "discounted" as much, but sometimes they work from a specific stance that makes Pass blocking (for the pass happy schools like Texas Tech) easier while not getting them familiar with traditional stances. Still, it is rarely held against them.

Hope this helps.


Last edited by DJ-B on March 25th, 2010, 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.



March 24th, 2010, 10:31 pm
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Great stuff, guys. Thanks.

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March 24th, 2010, 10:41 pm
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I think the primary reasoning is the defensive line play at the NFL level. The size and speed of these guys would result in the death of many QBs. College spread utilized quick QB's to negate this generally but you do not find many talented QB's mobile enough to play in such a system.

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March 24th, 2010, 10:43 pm
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I am no coach and I don't pretend to be. But, I have heard this question asked on the radio before. And it has something to do with the difference in how far apart the hash marks are on the field. In College, they are closer to the middle of the field. In the pros, they are closer to the sidelines.

Now, as to why that affects how the spread would transfer to the pros, I have no clue. Other than there is less room to work with between the hash mark and the sideline. Which means the defender has less yardage to cover?


March 24th, 2010, 11:01 pm
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Billy, the hashmarks are actually the opposite of what you said. In college, the hashmarks are 20 yards from each sideline. In the NFL, they are about 23-1/2 yards from each sideline. Therefore, the NFL ball placement is closer to the center of the field than it is in college.

Regardless, I've heard the argument about the hashmarks affecting the spread before, but I never felt it was anything significant.

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March 25th, 2010, 12:35 am
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I didnt realize how significant it was until I saw some footage while this same principle was being discussed. In College, a lot more plays go to the outside and so the extra width is actually "taken advantage of" most of the time. That prolifirates even more "outside plays" because you can pack 3-4 wr/te/rb all on the same side easily because their is room to work, and lots of stretch runs and sweeps.

Particularly for the Spread, the physical hashes make it literally easier to spread the field. It give a lot of room (time) for the QB to make their single read and still have time to make a move if they keep it.


March 25th, 2010, 5:17 am
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I think a big reason the spread hasnt taken off is that it originally was a way for less talented college teams to try and work match ups to their advantage. It seems like there is more/easier to spot WR talent, so when you are smaller school your 1 and 2 receivers arent as talented as the other schools 1 and 2 Cbs, but your 3,4,5 wrs will probably be better. Hypothetically that is not the same at the pro level. Its also easier to disguise coverage in the NFL then it is in college.

Plus the NFL is a lot more conservative in general, so any drastic switch in play type will not be gravitated towards. Aspects of it will be picked up, like the titans running the option, but I dont think you'll see any full blown option teams.

It could just be me but it seems like defensive coaches are more innovative in pros, while offensive coaches are more innovative in college.


March 25th, 2010, 6:30 pm
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