A balanced offense in football refers to a team that can effectively throw and run the ball. These sorts of offenses look to use a relatively equal amount of rushing plays and passing plays throughout a game.
In today’s NFL passing has become the go-to method to gain yards. Many teams have shifted into building their offense around the pass.
While some teams have continued with the more balanced rushing and passing attacks that have been used in football for years.
Analytics has shown that passing the ball is more effective on a per play basis. This has led many teams to utilize passing plays more often. But can analytics account for the toll the rushing takes on the defense?
There is no way to know for sure which style of offense is the best to choose in football but we can help you understand the concepts a little better.
Benefits of using a balanced offense in football
Playing with a lead or from behind
One of the benefits of running a balanced offense in football is that you can play when carrying a lead or from behind.
In football when you have a lead late in the game it is common to attempt to run the clock down. This is done by rushing the ball which generally keeps the clock running between plays.
This high time of possession style of play is effective when attempting to hold a lead. Teams that focus on passing the ball may find it difficult to run the ball effectively making it more difficult to run out the clock.
Additionally, when teams are down by a large number of points they are going to need to switch to pass first offense. Passing the ball allows a team to move down the field much quicker.
This is needed when looking to stage a comeback late in a game. Teams with a balanced offense will be able to throw the ball effectively as well because it is a large part of their regular offense.
Defense cannot adjust with personnel changes
Oftentimes when facing a one-dimensional offense the defense will start to change their personnel in order to stop them more effectively.
Against a passing offense the defense may substitute a linebacker for a cornerback and operate a dime defense. This defensive style will make the defense more effective in pass coverage but will make them more susceptible to the run.
Against a rushing offense defenses will attempt to stack the box by placing more players closer to the line of scrimmage. This makes it more difficult to rush the ball but makes it easier for the offense to complete long passes.
With a balanced offense teams cannot make these changes as the offense will take advantage of it. Being two-dimensional means there are more things the defense must worry about.
Defensive backs must respect run and pass
On top of strategic decisions that are made by the team, a balanced offense is also going to change how the defenders must play.
If a team primarily runs the ball the defensive backs will keep an eye on the running back and will creep towards the line of scrimmage to help make a tackle.
If a team passes the ball on most plays the defensive backs will focus on their pass coverage as their run responsibilities are not likely to be required.
Having a balanced offense means the defensive backs must appreciate that either play may happen. This makes their job more difficult as they must respect both aspects of the offense.