September 22, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. The Colts defeated the 49ers 27-7. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Less than 13% of all NFL plays last season were ran without a huddle. The no-huddle offense at times can be a great way to change the tempo of a game and also disrupt a defensive scheme.
Or, as Pep Hamilton discovered in the preseason opener, it can also be a great way to get off to a fast start and establish an early rhythm.
Hamilton and the Indianapolis Colts offense will certainly be motivated to start off fast this season, but just how early and often they will use the no-huddle approach is still unknown.
"“It can be a double edged sword,” Hamilton explains of the dangers in the no-huddle. “In some cases, if you don’t have success and if you’re unable to convert 3rd downs and move the ball down the field, then you put your defense out on the field that much faster.”"
Hamilton understands the risks involved with the no-huddle and the hurry-up offense, but he also knows it can give him more opportunities for more plays, and more plays means more opportunities to score points.
Over the past five years, NFL teams have averaged 63.76 plays per game. In 2012 the Colts ran an average of 70.4 plays per game, however, in 2013 they ranked 17th in the league with an average of 64.1 plays per game.
The Colts will be looking for ways to run more plays in 2014, and the no-huddle might be an element used at any time. Hamilton is not necessarily an up-tempo type of coach, so expect him to continue to try and maintain good balance when it comes to time of possession. Moving the football, converting 3rd downs, and keeping the Colts defense off the field is Hamilton’s primary focus.
One aspects of the no-huddle that should be attractive to Hamilton is teams who are successful at it are also the teams that are the most versatile, personnel-wise. Running the no-huddle or a hurry-up is more than simply dictating tempo, it’s also about dictating matchups. When an offense comes out in a ‘run-heavy’ two tight end formation, the common response for a defense is to counter with their ‘base’ personnel. The Colts have talented, versatile tight ends in Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener that gives Hamilton the flexibility to attack a ‘base’ defense in a number of different ways.
Colts fans are eager to see quaterback Andrew Luck operate the no-huddle offense on a more regular basis this season. Good communication between Luck, the offensive line and the wide receivers will be key to it’s success and how frequent it will be used.
Regardless of how often the Colts and Andrew Luck lineup in the no-huddle, Hamilton will have enough offensive weapons to keep opposing defenses guessing.