Fall is the very best time of the year. The MLB playoffs and World Series bring the long summer season to an exciting ending. Football is going strong at all levels.
If you are into the pigskin season, last weekend was an October Saturday you live for. I spent two days in a row at Arrowhead Stadium. The Northwest Missouri State-Pittsburg State game was a must see if you have attended either school. To follow it up on Sunday with a noon Chiefs kickoff against the Texans completed a perfect fall weekend.
As I watched both games it dawned on me how much the game of football has changed, but is yet the same. Football today is all about spreading the field with multiple wide receivers and let it fly. It is fun to watch and the personnel on the field have much different responsibilities than they had just 10 years ago.
I covered the Blue Springs-Lee’s Summit North high school game a few weeks ago. In that game, the all-state linebackers who played for the Wildcats in the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s could not play linebacker in today’s defensive schemes. Those linebackers would have to play defensive end or not play at all.
Even at the high school level, most teams are playing with five or six defensive backs on the field at all times. If you cannot cover the pass, tackle in space consistently or you are not fast afoot, you will not get on the field.
As we watch the Kansas City Chiefs play each week, Andy Reid is like a mad scientist as he draws up offensive schemes that were not even thought of just a few years ago. The rage in football today is the so-called RPO, which stands for run pass option. Patrick Mahomes defines this new rage. However, the college level was the first to bring this into vogue. Even high school quarterbacks now run RPOs and do an overall good job of executing a tough scheme to master.
Football games, at any level, now resemble a circus to a certain extent – you never know what act will come at you next. The Chiefs must lead the NFL in motion plays and shifting plays. They move the defense around on every snap of the ball. That is why you see six secondary type players in the game most of the time.
Offensive schemes now offer a fancy and fun approach to the game. It has been good for the game and spectators love it. However, I find it interesting as the fall football season wears on, some football truths remain the same. Teams must be able to stop the run and be able to run the football in order to set the stage for the dog-and-pony activity. In the Chiefs’ loss to the Colts and Texans both, they literally lined up and knocked both the offensive and defensive lines off the line of scrimmage. There is no motion or shift that can control basic, physical football.
It is cool for current coaches to be called an offensive or defensive genius, but the teams playing for the championship at the end of the year share one outstanding trait and that is being physical. Football will always close out the season with teams that can play a physical game. Physicality will always trump genius play calls.
A team that is getting their tail whipped at the line of scrimmage will not be able to overcome an opponent with some genius move. Football in 2019 is fun to watch. All the new formations and airing it out are entertaining, but a team with a shot to win the championship will reach a point in the season when it is necessary to strap it up and go for it.
Enjoy the motion and shifts, but watch who is winning the line of scrimmage – that is how football games are won.
• The quote of the week comes from former NFL coach Chuck Knox: “Winning and losing are both very temporary things. Having done one or the other, you move ahead. Gloating over a victory or sulking over a loss is a good way to stand still – or worse.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.