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Caution: Xs and Os football class is in session

I've been wondering why exactly the Dolphins, and many other NFL teams, use an unbalanced offensive line against the New England Patriots and other 3-4 defenses. I know, life is really sad when I am admitting these thoughts are in my head.

Anyway, to quench my curiosity I did something most folks don't have the opportunity to do: I asked Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to explain it. And he did! It was amazing!

Now this is strictly meat for rabid football fanatics. I don't often go over stuff like this because not many folks like to read about Xs and Os. But I found this so fascinating I had to share Sparano's answer to my question, "What does an unbalanced line do to a defense:

"It does two different things," Sparano said. "When you go unbalanced, with a tight end on one side and a tackle on the other side, it forces [the defense] to declare what you want to do with your safety. Do you want to put your safety in a situation where if he goes to the big side, to the two-man side ... Do you want to run support that side? Do you want to bring the safety over there? Or do you want to leave the safety back to the tight end side right now, knowing that he's the eligible [receiver].

"It also forces [things] [against] some teams that want to be balanced on defense. You play 3-4 teams. They want to have the nose on the center. It forces them to have to do something else. If they keep the nose on the center, then they are playing maybe their four or five techniques a little bit wider. They have to play those over maybe a ghost tight end maybe in some of those situations. Or they need to reduce the front. And they need to make the nose now play over the guard. Now all of a sudden, they are doing jobs that they're not used to doing in those defenses."

In other words, it makes the defense do things it doesn't want to do along the line of scrimmage. It makes the defense show the offense its intentions with the safety. And it puts the defense out of its comfort zone.

Smart coaching. That explanation raised my respect level for Sparano's Xs and Os acumen and ability to communicate. If he's able to explain what coaches are trying to accomplish to me, he's obviously able to communicate it to his players. Good stuff.

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