The tactical - the means, the details - was always founded on execution. That was the prevailing attitude in the NFL from what seemed time immemorial. The infusion of college concepts has changed that. Deception, once seen primarily as a defensive objective, is now a featured part of offensive game plans. Think about the read option, and the multiple alternatives that stem from it. The goal is to deceive and mislead the defense, to betray their eyes. One phrase you always hear defensive coaches repeat over and over is “Trust what you see”. That does not work against the read option, where you cannot be certain of what you are seeing, and thus defending, until it has actually happened. Therefore, the defense is reactive, not proactive. They must wait rather than attack. They cannot disrupt -- they can only respond.
That’s what the college game has brought to the NFL -- the idea that deception on the offensive side of the ball is a legitimate and highly effective means of breaking down defenses. It’s a multi-dimensional expansion of the basic play action concept that for years was executed with the quarterback under center, and more recently, out of the shotgun. The objective with play action (or more accurately at times, run action) was to create a false read for the defense, primarily at the second level. The linebacker reads run, takes a step or two forward to aggressively play his run responsibility, then is out of position to get to his coverage assignment in time. Very few regard it this way, but play/run action, at its core, is about deception.
It’s only logical then to take it to the next step, what college coaches have been doing for years: the more elements you add to the action in the backfield, the better chance you have of deceiving the defense. The defense has more to see, more to react to, more that creates uncertainty, indecision and ultimately paralysis...
I don't think I agree that the college game has brought the idea of deception on the offensive side of the ball to the NFL. I think deception on the offense has been going on for decades now in the NFL. For example, we've been seeing it with the Texans for a number of years. When a team runs the Zone Blocking Scheme the way Denver use to and the way the Texans do now, a part of that scheme is for the O-Linemen to line up the same way all the time and not "tip your hand" as to whether it is a run or pass that's coming. And, after you make several runs in a row that are gaining good yardage, and have the defense thinking run again, you have the QB roll out and hit a WR for a long gain. It's a simple deception, but it can be effective when done right. It's a great deception when the O-Line sells the run, like in Denver this past season, when Schaub rolled out and no one is near him, and he throws a TD to AJ. Then did it again a little later to, of all people, K-Dub!
Offensive deception! I think it's been around in the NFL for a long while. Maybe not as obvious as the "read/react" plays we're seeing now coming from the college ranks, but it's there. JMO!