“It’s about plays run. I have heard the question about time of possession…Time of possession is how much time can the other team waste,” said Kelly. “Most games we lose the time of possession, but it’s how many snaps do you face?”
In 2012, Oregon ranked 99th in the country in time of possession with an average of 28:39, per team rankings. The offense had the ball even less in 2011 (25:20).
Still, their offensive production was top notch. The Ducks were fifth in the nation last season in yards (528 yards) and second overall in points per game (48.5). The Oregon defense, meanwhile, did not appear to be adversely affected by operating opposite Kelly’s supersonic offense. They yielded 22 points per game (27th in the country). If you’re outscoring your opponent 49-22, what’s the issue, right?
“When we played a game against UCLA a couple years ago, time of possession was 40 (minutes) to 20, they had twenty more minutes of time of possession and it was 73-71 snaps, so they had two more snaps,” said Kelly. (He was close. UCLA had the ball for 38:31, and Oregon ran 73 plays to UCLA’s 70). “We won 60-13. So all I gathered is they stand around a lot more than we did. I think when people look at time of possession — and that’s what people look at automatically — it’s not time of possession, it’s plays run because you’re not exerting any energy if you’re just standing in the huddle. If it’s drastically different and teams are snapping the ball and getting 80 snaps against our defense and we’re putting up 50 snaps offensively, then it’s an issue.”
We know that Kelly is all about getting snaps for his offense. His Ducks ran 83 plays per game last season. In comparison, the Eagles ran 67 players per game and the up-tempo Patriots 74. And we’ve already gotten a little taste of what’s in store this season. Last week the Eagles ran 69 plays to Carolina’s 58. In the first preseason game, the Eagles held an 86-72 play advantage against New England. (The time of possession was close in both contests.)
Is time of possession a bigger deal in the pros than it is in college?
The NFL’s top 5 in time of possession last year (with their records) were: Houston (12-4), Pittsburgh (8-8), Detroit (4-12), Seattle (11-5) and Chicago (10-6). The NFC Champion Niners (11-4-1) were sixth. New England (12-4) ranked 11th despite its fast-pace style. Some pretty good teams at the top. But the Super Bowl-champion Ravens — who ran a bunch of no-huddle — finished 29th in that category, per NFL.com.
“We didn’t really think of it as anything. Our mentality was just get back out there, stop them and get three-and-outs so we get the ball back into the offense’s hands,” said Cary Williams, who was in Baltimore last season. “I think we have that same mentality here.We understand that they are going to be able to score points, and there are going to be times when it’s going to be three-and-out. But we have to go out with the mentality that we have to stop them regardless of what the field position may be.”
For Kelly it’s not how long his team has the ball, it’s all about churning out plays when they do have it. And if his defense is physically on the field longer but facing fewer plays, then so be it.
“If we’re doing things the way we’re supposed to be doing them on offense, we need to teach our defense how to stand around better,” said Kelly.
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