As his team was preparing to face the up-tempo offense of the Buffalo Bills this weekend, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera wondered aloud what all the fuss was over in teams pushing the pace.
Forget what the Patriots have done the past few seasons. Never mind the 49 points the Broncos hung on the Ravens in Week One, or what Chip Kelly's Eagles did to the Redskins. Rivera doesn't see fast offenses as the end-all, be-all revolution some are making it out to be.
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“I’m not quite sure what the real, true benefit is other than having a few more plays,” Rivera said. “People say, ‘Well, you get 75, 80 plays going faster.’ You also can go 1-2-3 and out faster and put the other team back on the field faster. So which is it?"
Rivera has a valid point. Going fast doesn't necessarily mean gaining yards. Witness, in fact, those Bills: Last week, they went up tempo several times against the Patriots but had only one drive longer than 37 yards, had seven drives of three plays or fewer, used up only 22:17 of clock and taxed their defense, which gave up the game-winning drive in the waning moments.
And even with all of the Eagles' fireworks on Monday, by the way, they almost lost the game, getting outscored 20-0 in the fourth quarter and appearing taxed physically on both sides of the ball.
“There’s some stretches if you go out there and you go too fast and make a mistake, and all of a sudden your defense is back out there," Rivera said. "Now your defense is getting worn down. Is that a good thing, too?”
The reason that fast-paced offenses are successful most of the time is because they have great weapons and strong, efficient execution and can score in a hurry. The Patriots did this almost at will last season, but with severe personnel losses so far on offense, they have been held to a rather feckless 36 points in two games.
Of course, the Panthers scored only seven points last week in a traditionally paced attack. Maybe there's a happy medium somewhere?