Well, no, not really, but Meyer has done quite a bit to popularize the spread offense in college football. For the uninitiated, the concept of the spread offense is to try to confuse the defense, or take advantage of athletic disparity. For example, there are far more wide receivers coming out of high school that can thrive in the spread than there are corners that can defend it. The idea is that a team's 4th wide receiver is better than the defenses dime back, and it has obviously held true.
Defenses have since adjusted. Defensive linemen coming into college are more valued for their speed than size. Of course, there are natural physical exceptions, but more and more defensive ends are being taught to beat tackles around the edge, DTs are being taught to shoot gaps, etc. This is just the natural reaction to how things operate.
Now let's go back to a dark, cold, stormy night in the 2003 playoffs. The colts offensive juggernaut was embarrassed by a patriots defense that talent wise was far inferior, especially in the secondary, but made up for it by completely mauling the Colts receivers. Everyone remembers that game.
Bill Polian, basically the supreme ruler of the competition committee, began reshaping the rules for defenses, obviously in an attempt to help his own franchise quarterback. They decreased the amount of yards a corner could press a wide receiver without being called for an illegal contact, and shifted the pass interference rules widely in the favor of the receiver.
On top of that, rules about hitting quarterbacks were drastically altered to protect the player. There are two reasons for this. The first is that quarterbacks are generally the face of the league, and injuries to them, more than anything, can completely destroy a team's year. Goodell is a businessman, and he knows this.
The second reason is that Trent Green almost died on the field. Well, not him specifically, but the rules to protect quarterbacks are necessary and honestly overdue. In the sixties, linebackers and quarterbacks were roughly the same size. It was also a much less accurate league. Now, quarterbacks are generally immobile, 6'5 targets depending on the proper function of like six very fragile ligaments to operate their offenses, while linebackers are 6'5, 240 pound mutants who run 4.5 40s.
So now that you have quarterbacks defenders are loathe to hit and wide receivers that can come out of their cut five yards earlier, you have the rise of complicated wr formations designed to confuse offenses and take advantage of talent differentials while doing so before a standard defense has any hope of disrupting the quarterback.
Speed has become the name of the game.
Teams are shifting to the 3-4 to counter this and to take advantage of the surplus of talent coming out of the college ranks. As far as players, 4-3 college ends are converted to 3-4 OLBs, 4-3 DTs are shifted to 3-4 DTs, SLB become ILB, etc. A 3-4 also gives you more creativity in theory. Instead of overwhelming a team with brute force, you can confuse them with speed. You have far more linebackers (the defensive position most inundated with talent) who can just go blitz happy. Now that these linebackers are also able to run with running backs, well, yeah.
Now here are the Panthers, a 4-3 that seems quite happy just to stick to their roots. Fox has always been a 4-3 guy and always will be, but there's always been one thing Fox's defenses have done: gotten chewed up over the middle and underneath. Why is this? Because it's the plan. And it has worked.
If you watch the way the Panthers play defense, they completely change once a team reaches their own twenty. Plays between twenties are opportunities for turn overs and for the other team to make a mistake. Corners use outside leverage to force wide receivers over the middle, where a traditionally poo ruining safety is ready to make their day awful (mcree, harris, minter, etc). They never get beat deep, and once they get in close to the end zone, where the field is smaller and there's less room for exotic routes, then they exert their force where they're strongest: the back seven.
So, to recap, we have numerous offenses transitioning to a spread style that emphasizing taking advantage of complex routes to confuse the defense and break big long running plays. QBs are having great success simply being accurate with the ball. Essentially offenses, due to rule and player changes, are shifting into a style that fits perfectly into what the Panthers want them to do. Pass all the time. Pass as much as you want. Go nuts between the twenties. Every pass is a chance for a batted ball, a fumble, a jacked up moment, and occasionally a missed block. We'll see you at the twenty, where Reggie Bush isn't going to overpower anyone. (speaking of, this is why the Panthers traditionally do so well against the Saints passing game).
But Fiz, if there are more players coming out that are fit for the 3-4, doesn't that mean there will be fewer players for the 4-3? In theory, yes, but remember in the nineties teams like the steelers made killings drafting players that didn't fit other team's 4-3. Numerous veterans will be jetted after the draft and training camp that fit our defense perfectly, and that's when the Panthers will pounce. Furthermore, there's no telling what slow 3-4 end that freefalls next friday and saturday is actually a perfect fit at UT for the Panthers.
Now what does this mean for the Panthers offense?
YOU CAN GOUGE 3-4 TEAMS WITH THE RUN MUAHAHAHAHA
now of course there are lots of exceptions to all of these rules and I'm just outlining a general trend and not hard and fast rules to live by. But whatever I was just thinking about this so I decided to write it. Now I'm going to go back this totally hot chick lying in my bed and maybe grill a steak i dunno