Leafing Through Pages: Analysis of Sports and Other Topics

07/18/2008

How the Run and Shoot Offense Did Against Playoff Opponents During Regular Season

Filed under: Pro Football — David Hunter @ 8:02 PM
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Everybody is aware of the struggles that the Run and Shoot has had in the playoffs, in particular that none of the teams made it to the Super Bowl (ignoring the microscopic sample size of 1987-1995 that the offense existed compared to other systems like the WCO). Many people point to the loss to Buffalo as the turning point where the Run and Shoot “died out” after Buffalo came back from a 35-3 deficit to win. This post will be looking at the records that the teams had against their playoff opponents prior to facing them.

Of note, one weakness that I’ve noticed cropping up is how many close games (within 7 points) the Run and Shoot teams lost during the regular season and into the playoffs. This can be blamed on poor defenses overall (Rarely was a R and S team also sporting a top fifteen defense.)

1987 Houston Oilers vs. Seattle Seahawks: Met in playoffs. Won 23-20.
1987 Houston Oilers vs. Denver Broncos: Won 40-10 in regular season. Lost 34-10 in playoffs.
1988 Houston Oilers vs. Cleveland Browns: Won 24-17 and Lost 28-23 in regular season. Won 24-23 in playoffs.
1988 Houston Oilers vs. Buffalo Bills: Met in playoffs. Lost 17-10.
1989 Houston Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Won 27-0 and Won 23-16 in regular season. Lost 26-23 in playoffs.
1990 Houston Oilers vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Won 48-17 and Lost 40-20 in regular season. Lost 41-14 in playoffs.
1991 Houston Oilers vs. New York Jets: Won 23-20 in regular season. Won 17-10 in playoffs.
1991 Houston Oilers vs. Denver Broncos: Won 42-14 in regular season. Lost 26-24 in playoffs.
1991 Detroit Lions vs. Dallas Cowboys: Won 34-10 in regular season. Won 38-6 in playoffs.
1991 Detroit Lions vs. Washington Redskins: Lost 45-0 in regular season. Lost 41-10 in playoffs.
1991 Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints: Lost 27-6 and Won 23-20 in regular season. Won 27-20 in playoffs.
1991 Atlanta Falcons vs. Washington Redskins: Lost 56-17 in regular season. Lost 24-7 in playoffs.
1992 Houston Oilers vs. Buffalo Bills: Won 27-3 in regular season. Lost 41-38 in playoffs.
1993 Houston Oilers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Won 30-0 in regular season. Lost 28-20 in playoffs.
1995 Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers: Met in playoffs. Lost 37-20.

Overall Record in Regular Season: 11-5 (69% Win)
Overall Record in Playoffs: 5-10 (33% Win)

In simple terms, the playoffs are a crap shoot. Some of these Run and Shoot teams were going up against absolute juggernauts (Washington, Buffalo) but they also won games against very respectable opponents (Cleveland, Dallas).

The Run and Shoot could beat these teams and quite often did; to the tune of big points. Buffalo had lost to Houston the week before their playoff meeting. It’s just bad luck and bad defense at times. Combine those and more often than not, you’ll lose.

One thing that can’t be argued or denied… this offense could beat the best defenses in football. An offense can’t play defense and a lot of the media speak about how poor the Run and Shoot was in the NFL is just that, media speak. The “myths” have been mentioned so often, so much that it becomes an almost automatic concept that it is the truth. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that like other offenses, many of the struggles were due to just plain bad luck and bad defenses.

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