Doc’s Musings: Familiarity breeds success

Jay Cutler is familiarizing himself with a new offensive coordinator and playbook for the third time in as many years, although new head coach Marc Trestman will be running the show and calling the plays over new new offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Writes Eli Kaberon:

When asked about digesting Trestman’s offense in time for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Bengals, Cutler told the media, “It takes time. It’s every day, just trying to get better and trying to learn the offense so that it’s less thinking and more just reacting out there."

“Whenever you want to get into it, it’s a three-year process to learn an offense,” Cutler said. “It just is what it is. It takes time. It’s hard to go out there Year One and blow the doors off. But we’re going to do the best we can with the time allowed and we’ll see where we’re at.”

Familiarity breeds success, and the stats reinforce Cutler’s three-year claim. Of the top 10 scoring offenses in the NFL during the 2012 regular season, seven were helmed by quarterbacks who played in the same system for at least three consecutive years. Though some of those teams changed coordinators during that time, the basic principles and schemes remained the same each season.

At least Cutler should have the long-missing experience of a somewhat functional offensive line, as well as the familiarity of his favorite target in Brandon Marshall. Cutler and Kaberon are right, though, in that fully implementing a new offense does often takes three years.

That makes it even more impressive to recall what Denver’s level of skill and their offensive rankings were in 2012 - and how much they had to overcome to achieve that. It’s exceptional for a team that was working with their third quarterback and third offense in only two years could still put together an 11-game winning streak. That their quarterback was Peyton Manning explains a lot about the level of their success, but it’s still a struggle to implement a new system. It’s very exciting to recognize that with the exception of a single game, they were, as expected, substantially better late in the season than they were early on.

What does that say about their likelihood of success in 2013? Tons. New OC Adam Gase maintains most of the continuity from Mike McCoy’s offense, having served as quarterbacks coach under him. Gase, John Fox, and Manning seem to get along well, and appear to be on the same page.

To top it off, Denver is having the rare experience of a returning defensive coordinator: second-year DC Jack Del Rio. JDR’s work last season was creative, aggressive, and very effective. It’s the second time that he and Fox have gotten together and taken a defense from near the bottom to near the top in multiple categories (2002, Carolina Panthers). Del Rio got some new options in the front and back of his defense, potentially upgrading what was already a powerful and effective defense. That makes the upcoming season even more exciting.

Training camp, anyone?

Learn to laugh at yourself. You will be ceaselessly amused. - Sri Gary Olsen

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