Everything old is new again.

I linked to this terrific post of Chris Brown’s a few days ago.  Something about it reminded me of another piece I read a while back.  I was going crazy trying to recall the other bit, when suddenly I had a brain flash last night, dug around in my bookcase and found The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football, by Paul Zimmerman.

The book was published in 1984, and I haven’t looked at it in years, but for some reason this passage on page 226 stuck in my head:

… To someone who’s never seen the single wing, believe me, it can be a thing of beauty… In college it’s been abandoned, and why I’ll never know, because it seems that some of those nifty running quarterbacks would be just right for the run-and-pass tailback duties…

In the pros, its drawbacks are obvious.  Your passer couldn’t take the pounding.

“I’ve reflected on the single wing,” [Bill] Walsh says.  “Those blocking schemes would just chew up NFL defenses.  You could double-team every hole and trap at every hole.  You’d have six men blocking three.  Plus you’d have the power for the sweeps.

“Joe Montana might be able to play tailback, to run and pass, but you wouldn’t let him do it unless you had another Joe Montana to spell him…”

I wonder how tempted Walsh was to revisit that when he had arguably a better single wing QB on the roster in Steve Young.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

8 responses to “Everything old is new again.

  1. Nola Dawg

    Why not try it at an underachieving franchise? Take a franchise that doesn’t currently have an outstanding quarterback, but one that can run and pass, draft Tebow next year, pay the two QB’s combined what you would pay 1 top QB, and experiment. I realize this is probably only me dreaming, and it would take the perfect storm of events (mediocre qb + underachieving franchise + coach with enough familiarity/willingness with the system etc.) but I think it could work, and could be an alternative to paying Stafford a billion dollars. Although I think we can all agree Stafford is worth a billion dollars. Go Dawgs!


    • 69Dawg

      It might work once the rookie cap is in place but as it stands now any 1st pick QB Teablow included would get paid the huge bucks. The secret would seem to be drafting multiple Spread QB,s in the late rounds. These would be the guys nobody else wants at QB. I guess you could go the undrafted free agent route also.


      • Nola Dawg

        Agreed. Definitely couldn’t do it with a 1st round pick. I’m really curious to see if Tebow makes it as a first rounder. I think he falls to the 2nd round, which would make this doable.

        Note: While I won’t be surprised or upset if Tebow gets picked in the first round (there seems to be a lot of people on both sides of this argument), I will simultaneously vomit in my mouth and forsake NFL football forever if the team he goes to employs the jump pass.


  2. Wait and see what Pat White’s able to do out of the Wildcat this year…


    • Hobnail_Boot

      Though I can’t stand the Dolphins, I was thrilled when they drafted White. It’s time the NFL got an injection of offensive innovation.


  3. David

    re: Steve Young

    I remember reading a while ago that Walsh had been tempted to use Steve Young in a single wing formation, but never actually got round to it. Searching the web, I found this reference:

    This is not the first time that NFL coaches have been tempted to resurrect the single-wing. Howard Cosell wrote, in his 1991 book What’s Wrong With Sports, “One thing I have found very interesting in my conversation with (Bill) Walsh is that he regretted he never tried the single-wing formation with the 49ers. He felt that Steve Young could have run the formation to perfection, and that the league’s defenses would have had a difficult time stopping the old formation.”



  4. Timely! I just read this book for the first time and immediately regretted not having read it sooner.