Chad Henne and the rest of the starting offense looked pretty good in their preseason game against the Bucs the other night. I saw a lot of three and four wide formations along with a lot of shotgun. Henne was quoted as saying that he didn't like the shotgun because he had to take his eyes of coverage in order to get the ball. But it appears he is getting more comfortable with it.
I liked the formations because our offense the past few years has been very conservative, a lot of two TE, a fullback, and only two WR looks. That obviously limits what you can do passing the ball. And when you can't run it well out of those formations you aren't going to fool the defense when you decided to throw it. Using more three and four wide sets could mean that if you pass well out of them it could open up the running game using those sets.
What I most liked about the offense was how aggressive Henne was. On every drive he attempted at least an intermediate pass with the goal of getting a big play. The highlight of the game was a stutter and go route by Marshall along the sideline where Henne hit him with a pretty accurate pass. Marshall then did what he does about as well as anyone and broke a few tackles on the way to the endzone. What Henne saw was that Marshall had one on one coverage, meaning there was no safety deep to help the corner that was covering Marshall. When we get this coverage we need to be throwing Marshall the ball nearly 100% of the time.
Sparano talked during the offseason about big plays and their effect on the offense. He correctly concluded that we didn't have enough of them last season and that in order to win more we need to find ways to get more of them this season. So far it seems like the team has taken this to heart. I hope it continues into the regular season because its hard to have a good offense without passing the ball well. And its hard to pass the ball well if you don't threaten defenses deep.