CHICAGO - It was only 70 plus years ago when George Halas revolutionized the game with his famed T-formation. Since then, various developments have helped American football evolve into what it is today.
On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks' vaunted attack of play-action rollout passes stunned Bears defenders...and many think it could lead to a revolutionary new style of offense.
"What you're doing is taking an athlete in Tavaris Jackson, rolling him out, making defenders respect his running ability, then having Jackson check down from receivers down field that he'll never throw to, and having him complete a pass to the applicable fullback/tight end/or slot receiver," described ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth. "How will defenses handle this in the National Football League? I don't know. How do you defend that? How does a defense in today's National Football League deal with this innovation? National Football League."
Some are giving this new development the same respect as Johnny Unitas' development of the two-minute offense, or Sid Gillman's early Run and Shoot that evolved into Don Coryell's famed 'Air Coryell' offense with the Cardinals and Chargers. Others are calling it a trailblazing new offensive movement similar to the 'Packers Sweep' or the 'Wildcat'. Even more cite the 46 Defense, Joe Gibbs' one set backfield, the Cover-2, or the West Coast Offense. But many question if this is just a play...or a foundation to an offense.
"You aren't talking about a downfield passing game," opined ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden. "You're talking about one tough guy in Tavaris Jackson. You gotta love this kid. He's got great tenacity...he's willing to hold onto the ball until the last second. Today, he ran the rollout 47 times against the Bears. Every time he checked down to his fullback/tight end/receiver in the flat...it didn't matter. Each time he completed the pass. I can think of only a couple quarterbacks that consistent. You're talking about guys like Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, Dan Fouts, Terry Bradshaw, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady...you have to put him up there with the all-time greats. This guy just knows football. I just love that name, too! Tavaris JACKSON! That's a football name!"
Nearly half of Jackson's 19 completions on Sunday came through this new revolutionary method. Bears defenders were stuck in the mud while trying to stop the all-everything quarterback.
"One second you think it's a run," said Bears all-pro linebacker Lance Briggs. "Then, you see it's a pass...then you think he's going downfield...or he's running! But he's not! He's checking down to a receiver in the flat...like 10 times a game. It's just so tough to stop something you see that often. How do you stop it? What? Are we supposed to run a Man-Under defense to make sure we have a 'Will' in the flat? That's preposterous. I'm just wondering what the rest of the league is going to do...coz we're screwed."
The Seahawks' 38-14 victory over the Bears put them at 7-7, and kept their faint playoff hopes alive. However, with this new addition to their playbook, many people think their chances of making noise next year are very high.
"How many years did it take for people to stop Air Coryell? The guy had the top passing offense in the NFL throughout the 70s and early 80s," said NFL historian Michael MacCambridge. "This is akin to Waterfield's Rams in the early 50's, or Paul Brown's revolutionary teams. You're talking about a quarterback rolling out and hitting a guy in the flat...maybe one of the toughest plays in football...and if the Bears can't stop it, you have to wonder who can."
The 7-7 Bears will play the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau on Christmas Day.