Earlier this week, Grantland‘s Chris Brown posted an interesting piece about Sean Payton‘s time off last season. Suspended for the season for his role in the Bountygate scandal, Payton spent the time coaching his son’s peewee football team. His team did fairly well and lost only twice the entire season. Those two losses, however, were to the same team.
The team that Payton lost to was using a version of the single-wing offense, a style of offense once popular in the 1930s, 1940s and even earlier. Today the single-wing is used mostly in peewee football, high school football and some colleges. Some even argue that today’s spread and wildcat formations are direct descendants of the single-wing, or at the very least somewhat influenced by it, but that’s a discussion for another day.
In a nutshell, the single-wing uses double teams, multiple potential ball handlers, misdirection and raw power to consistently move the ball down the field. This style of play was in favor back when the thought of using a drop-back, pocket passing quarterback was considered more of a gimmick than anything.
The piece was interesting because not only did it help me to learn about a piece of football history, but it also gave me some more reasons to be excited for the New Orleans Saints‘ 2013 season and what Payton has in store for the league this season.
Think about it for a minute or two. Why wouldn’t Payton incorporate some elements of a style of offense that twice racked up points against a team he was coaching? I’m not saying that the Saints will totally revamp the way they operate their offense, but Payton is smart and known for taking risks. Remember that onside kick to open the second half of Super Bowl XLIV? The Indianapolis Colts certainly do.
Just look at how the wildcat and spread formation is used currently. The spread offense took Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl last year. Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III used it to great success last year as well.
Payton is a smart guy and an offensive guru. If he sees an opportunity to incorporate new elements into his offense that will either surprise or fool the opposing defense, you can almost certainly count on him to do so.
Last season the Saints ran for a total of 1,577 yards compared to 2,106 during their Super Bowl run in 2009. If Payton believes in selectively incorporating certain elements of that offense that beat him twice in peewee football, I would be surprised not to see it at some point during the season. Granted, New Orleans’ offense is predicated mostly on an air attack delivered by Brees, but Payton is just too smart and too cunning not to deviate from the norm just a little bit. Only time will tell.