Theoretical Work

Ajit Kirpekar shares his philosophy of football  in an effort to clarify some comments from earlier collumns

My theories on the NFL are rarely static and constantly change based off things I see and hear. In fact, I went from casual fan to hardcore NFL aficionado in 2002 and believe me, I constantly reshape and modify my theories. I also try to support my theories with the data whenever it’s feasible but I also tend to defer to certain experts when they make profound statements.  Based off the comments I have gotten, there are some people out there that get a little perplexed by my terminology or my belief system since I tend to do more than just straight fact reporting. I’m going to list a few of my theories that I feel most strongly about and from there, you can get an understanding for where my core beliefs come from.

Theory 1 – The run vs pass balance.

This was addressed when it seemed like Nate’s views diverge from my own, but in reality, I actually wholeheartedly agree with Nate. Take a look at most teams in the NFL and ask yourself, “How many boast a truly dynamic rush attack paired with a dynamic pass attack? And furthermore, how many of those same teams are able to repeat this feat over multiple seasons?”

The answer is invariably not many. The reason is a bit hard to prove but here’s my theory. NFL offensive lines have responsibilities in both run and pass, but invariably, they most often excel at whatever the offensive scheme is centered around and struggle at what they aren’t. Take a look at the San Diego Chargers. They went from a primarily high volume rush offense with a capable but still complimentary big play pass offense. With the decline of LT and the simultaneous emergence of Gates, Jackson, and especially Rivers, this team transitioned itself into a pass offense. And what was the result? Their blocking started to favor the pass and naturally regressed at the run. This happens to any team really and while some teams can find a way to mix in good run or pass depending on their styles, very few teams can be truly dominant at both at any given point in the game.

Teams most commit their resources to being effective at one vs the other. Deciding on which route to go is usually decided by coaching philosophy and access to the right kind of talent. However, I think if given the choice, teams prefer to be go by the pass. The reasons for this are because unlike the rush, the pass can used in nearly every circumstance and in any formation and is also much less affected by personnel losses. These benefits afford coordinators much more flexibility and consistency over long periods than a run game would provide. that isn’t to say teams ignore the value of a run game, but trying to be great at both is wishful thinking and its best to allocate resources to improve your strengths rather than trying to prop up all of your weaknesses.

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