No-Huddle is No Problem for the Packers

The Packers were an elite team out of the no-huddle last season, no team was as efficient as they were.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Chip Kelly have become synonymous with running the no-huddle offense--maybe Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers, and the Green Bay Packers should be instead.

When it comes to the percent of time teams run the no-huddle, there is no doubt that the Eagles claim that crown. With 58.7 percent of their offensive plays coming from the no-huddle, no team in the league comes close to the rate that Philly goes without a huddle. The Packers come in at third in the league at 30.7 percent, right behind Ben McAdoo and the New York Giants' offense in the rankings.

Teams That Ran No-Huddle on Offense in 2014 on More Than 10 Percent of Plays
Team Percentage of Plays in No-Huddle Percentage of Total Yards from No-Huddle
Philadelphia 58.7% 58.7%
New York Giants 39.4% 45.0%
Green Bay 30.7% 35.5%
Denver 30.4% 34.0%
San Diego 22.4% 23.1%
Jacksonville 17.4% 18.8%
Carolina 17.3% 18.5%
Pittsburgh 15.6% 15.5%
Cleveland 15.5% 17.9%
Atlanta 12.2% 10.4%
Indianapolis 10.02% 11.9%

 Rankings don't quite do justice to just how often the top four teams were in no-huddle last season--especially the Eagles and Giants. There is a large drop-off from number one to two, two to three, and four to five in the ranks.  

The top ten teams that ran the no-huddle last year in terms of frequency were also the top ten in terms of total yards on the season that came from the no-huddle. Much like the percentage of time the no-huddle was run, there is a large discrepancy between the Eagles and the Giants, the Giants and the Packers, and the Packers/Broncos and the Chargers in terms of percentage of total yards from the no-huddle. The Packers once again came in behind the Giants and right in front of the Broncos when it came to the percentage of their total yards that came from running their offense without a huddle. It is no surprise to see the Eagles and Giants run away with that category again because theoretically the more a team runs the no-huddle, the more yards a team should get from it. 

In this case, the Eagles had the exact same percentage of their total of yards as their percentage of total plays that were run without a huddle. That means that they were no more or less effective out of the no-huddle as they were when they huddled. The next four teams on the list--the Giants, Packers, and Broncos--were all considerably more effective out of the no-huddle than when they huddled with four to five percent more yards out of the no-huddle than percent of plays run from the no-huddle. 

Top Teams in Percentage of Yards Improved in No-Huddle vs. When They Huddle
Team Difference in No-Huddle vs in Huddle Percent of Plays in No-Huddle
New York Giants 25.9% 39.4%
Green Bay 24.4% 30.7%
Indianapolis 21.7% 10.0%
Cleveland 18.2% 15.5%
Denver 17.9% 30.4%

*The table above only includes teams that ran no-huddle at least 10 percent of the time.

 

The Packers gained 24.4 percent more yards on no-huddle plays than they did on plays that they huddled. Taking their average from 5.68 yards per play to 7.06 yards per play. Part of this is due to the play calling when they were blowing out teams in the second half, they were more likely to try and just kill the clock and not worry about points, as we will see in a little bit. This still speaks volumes to how the Packers performed in the no-huddle. Only the New York Giants at 25.9 percent more yards in no-huddle than when they huddled saw a larger discrepancy than the Packers. This is especially impressive because the Packers still had the 9th most yards per play out of the huddle in the NFL. For comparison at 4.91 yards per play out of the huddle the Giants had the 29th most yards per play, so there was a lot of room for the Giants to improve.

Packers Yards Per Play in No-Huddle and When They Huddle in 2014
  Rushing Yards/Attempt Passing Yards/Attempt
Huddle 4.2 7.2
No-huddle 4.8 9.1

The Packers were clearly a different animal in the no-huddle versus when they huddled. Their 7.2 yards per pass while in the huddle was still 8th in the NFL, meanwhile their 9.1 yards per pass attempt in the no-huddle could not be touched by anyone who ran the no-huddle at least 10 percent of the time. In fact only Tampa Bay could beat their 9.1 yards per pass attempt in no-huddle situations with 9.3 yards per pass, but they only ran 52 no-huddle plays all season. The 1.9 yards per pass difference between huddle and no-huddle was the best in the NFL for teams that had at least 10 percent of their plays come from the no-huddle.

The 4.8 yards per rush out of the no-huddle ranked 12th in the NFL but 4th among teams that had at least 10 percent of their plays come out of the no-huddle. The Packers weren't just a passing team when they were in the no-huddle either. With 141 rushing attempts the Packers were one of four teams in the league to have 100 rushing attempts out of the no-huddle. Those 141 rushes are more plays than 23 NFL teams had total plays from the no-huddle.

With 12 passing touchdowns out of the no-huddle, only the Broncos (13) and Eagles (18) had more passing touchdowns than the Packers and only the Patriots (6.7%) and the Panthers (6.3%) had higher touchdowns/attempt percentages. With five rushing touchdowns out of the no-huddle the Packers are tied with Denver for the second most in the NFL and only Philadelphia (7) had more. 

All of that together means that the Packers averaged 7.3 yards per play out of the no-huddle, almost a half yard better than any team in the league that ran at least 10 percent of their plays out of the no-huddle. 

It is also worth noting that the Packers did not give up a single sack when in the no-huddle the entire season last year or throw a single interception. That spans 196 pass attempts.

Where the Eagles really separate themselves from everyone else--and why everyone associates the no-huddle with them--is not only from the high percentage of plays they run out of the no-huddle, but the pace they play at. Philadelphia ran a play every 21.95 seconds last season, BY FAR the fastest in the NFL. The next closest was New England at 25.4 seconds. Interestingly enough the Patriots were 19th in the NFL in percentage of plays from the no-huddle (6.99%) but second in pace of play. The 3.59 second difference between the Eagles and Patriots in pace of play is the same difference between the Patriots and the 49ers, the 30th ranked team in pace of play. 

There were 11 teams that ran no-huddle at least 10 percent of the time last year, of those 11 teams seven of them were in the top 10 for pace of play, so there is a pretty strong correlation between pace of play and no-huddle. The Packers were not one of those teams in the top 10 for pace of play, in fact the Packers ranked all the way down at 24th with an average of 28.32 seconds between plays. A large part of this is because of the leads the Packers built up in the first half of games. In the first half of games the Packers ranked 8th in the NFL in pace of play at 26.86 seconds per play. In the second half of games the Packers ranked next-to-last in pace of play at 30.04 seconds per play. Only Seattle at 30.17 seconds per play was slower than the Packers in the second half of games. Clearly they did not have an emphasis on points and were just trying to run out the clock after halftime. 

After all, no team led more often the Packers last season and trailed less often. In an average game last year the Packers were leading for 36 minutes and 11 seconds, they were only trailing on average for 12 minutes and 39 seconds. The next closest in both categories was Denver and it wasn't really close. Denver led on average for 34 minutes and 50 seconds and they trailed on average for 16 minutes and 5 seconds. That's a 3.5 minute difference in time spent trailing in games between the Packers and the next best team in the league. Often they scored early and never relinquished the lead.

In most sports scoring first is a very important thing to do, for the Packers this was no different. Opponents scored first against the Packers in the first four games of the season, resulting in a record of 2-2 after four games. The next 14 games, including the playoffs, the Packers would score first in each and every game, resulting in only three losses over those 14 games. 

Just for reference to how teams tried to counter the Packers no-huddle and fast paced scoring last season, here are some comparison stats for how teams attacked the Packers:

Opponents took a predictable strategy against the Packers defense in 2014. Most of the time teams had to play from behind against the Packers, resulting in the third fastest pace of play against any defense at 26.22 seconds per play, this ranks just behind Indianapolis and Houston.

Teams ran no-huddle offensive plays against the Packers on 15.6 percent of plays last season, that's right at the top of the league and would rank in the top 10 in the league if the Packers' opponents were treated as one offense. Teams clearly needed to makeup a lot of points in a short amount of time. When teams did have a lead on the Packers last year, they tried to limit the number of possessions the Packers offense had, which probably wouldn't have helped much seeing that Green Bay had five fewer drives than any team in the NFL last season. When teams had the lead on the Packers that team's pace of play on average dropped from 3rd fastest in the NFL to 17th. 

The Packers were an elite team out of the no-huddle last season, no team was as efficient as they were. If games were a little more competitive we probably would have seen even more impressive numbers put up. Looking forward to this upcoming season, I think you can expect to see as much if not more no-huddle from Green Bay. The addition of Ty Montgomery to the team who can, along with Cobb, play running back and in the slot allows for a lot of versatility and fits the no-huddle scheme well. With the assumed improvement of second year players Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers the Packers could potentially, on drives that they want to give Eddie Lacy a breather, run four wide receivers and a tight end out there and not have to substitute at all.

The potential of a five-wide no-huddle drive is probably the one thing I am looking forward to the most this year, I hope they implement it a lot. Like a '66 Shelby Mustang or the kind of cheeses that aren't in my refrigerator... the Packers no-huddle offense is only getting better with time. 

Despite the non-competitiveness in a lot of the games last season, the Packers still ran the third most no-huddle plays by percentage in the NFL. They ran those plays with an efficiency that was not matched by anyone, let alone teams who ran the no-huddle at least 10 percent of the time. 

The Eagles can and will run the no-huddle faster than anyone else in the league, but no one is better at running it than the Green Bay Packers--eat your heart out Chip Kelly.

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Comments (13)

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Nick Perry's picture

July 16, 2015 at 06:34 am

Awesome job Mike! What stuck out to me was the Packers had the fewest drives last season and still were number 1 in the NFL in scoring. Amazing!

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 16, 2015 at 07:00 am

I like the no huddle offense. Its up tempo and they can speed it up or take their time at the line without allowing the defense to substitute players.

The only thing I don't like about the no huddle is it doesn't give the offense a chance to change players and throw different looks at the defense. I think the offense is at its best when its changing its personnel and formations.

I would like to see them change their personnel until they find a mismatch and then switch to the no huddle and keep going.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 16, 2015 at 08:14 am

Exactly. This is a great article. And the no huddle is an effective tool to exploit tired defenses or a sub par LB/S in coverage etc... That said, the no huddle can backfire. There were several times last year (especially early in the year) that GB went 3 and out in the no huddle after the opponents just had a long drive. That tires out our defense - which is obviously no bueno.

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MikeReuter's picture

July 16, 2015 at 09:43 am

Agreed and I think using our offense to protect our defense is pretty important. Running no-huddle can be just fine, they just don't need to run it at a quick speed all the time. If you're running no-huddle the clock is moving and you can get to the line and just buy time, Peyton Manning is great at that. This naturally limits how long our defense can be on the field because the clock is being eaten up by the offense, even if the actual time for the defense to rest isn't much different than normal.

Coming into the season they put a real emphasis on running more no-huddle and not allowing teams to substitute. At the start of the season it felt like they were forcing it and running no-huddle for the sake of running no-huddle. I think this is where you can really screw your own defense because it isn't likely to work well and you're not eating up a lot of clock in terms of game time or actual rest time.

As the season went along they got more comfortable with knowing when it will be most effective for them and running it seemingly more naturally and effectively. It just seemed like another part of the offense at that point and everything ran smoothly.

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Since'61's picture

July 16, 2015 at 07:39 am

Mike - excellent article. Once again supports that the Packers have the bet offense in the league. The only team that can stop the Packers offense is themselves with either penalties or turnovers and fortunately they don't have many turnovers. Thanks, Since '61

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 16, 2015 at 08:54 am

Great article, Mike. What surprises me is that since GB ran 1050 offensive plays (per football outsiders), no huddle 30.7% or 322 snaps, and ran it 141 times, that means GB ran out of the no huddle on 43.7% of those snaps. I've forgotten what GB's normal ratio of pass to run, but clearly they maintained balance when in no huddle.

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MikeReuter's picture

July 16, 2015 at 09:33 am

With the numbers I have it looks like the Packers passed 58.2% of the time (so 41.8% run) which is off from their usual split, but not awful considering most of the time when teams run no huddle they tend to pass. When they huddled they passed 53.6% of the time and ran it 46.4% of the time.

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Portland Mark's picture

July 16, 2015 at 10:09 am

The no huddle is harder to run on the road. That's likely why the Packers were 0 -4 on the road vs. Detroit, Buffalo, and Seattle. They have to find a way to score more on the road, especially against playoff caliber teams.

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MikeReuter's picture

July 16, 2015 at 10:29 am

True. Those teams also had good defenses and could generate a pass rush without needing to bring extra rushers.

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efox2011's picture

July 16, 2015 at 10:30 am

This is some nice work, Mike.

Much is made about how quickly Philadelphia runs its no-huddle, but I think that's a bit overrated. No matter how quickly the offense is run, it does not change that the advantage mainly comes from the ability to get a formation you like.

Kelly's system sort of negates the clock manipulation aspect of offense by going the same speed. Of course, you want the defense to be gassed, but if that can be achieved while somehow limiting possessions for the opposing offense, or just not wearing out your own defense, that's ideal. Presumably, the Philly defense was actually helped in this department last season, as the offense dropped from 1st in 2013 in both big plays and big play % (http://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/team-big-play-statistics/2013/) to 8th and 10th in those categories in 2014. The shitty QB play might also have come into play on that front, but they may not be much better in 2015.

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MikeReuter's picture

July 16, 2015 at 10:55 am

Big plays are so hard to count on too.

I think they awful offensive line play coupled with Foles not playing out of his mind like he did in 2013 kind of brought the offense back down to earth.

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Lphill's picture

July 16, 2015 at 03:13 pm

Mike McCarthy is the reason why the Packers have only one Super Bowl , his conservative play calling , taking his foot off the gas when up by 2 scores, the Seattle game was all McCarthy , if Bill Billichik was the Packers coach during the Rodgers era Rodgers would have at least 3 championships .no huddle would not even be an issue. Let's see what happens this season , if the Pack falls short again then it's time for a new head coach.

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ray nichkee's picture

July 17, 2015 at 05:11 pm

Lphill, you are probably one of those guys who was constantly yelling for hasselbeck too. Im not sure what mccarthy would be without rodgers but he is a damn good coach and commits to the weaknesses and always improves. He dont get caught cheating like your buddy bill either.

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