Originally written on Player Perspective  |  Last updated 6/21/14

The late Raiders owner and general bad-ass Al Davis in younger days.

A lot of wonderful pieces have been written on Al Davis since he passed away. Up until Ice Cube’s 30 for 30 documentary aired I knew a little about the Davis and the Raiders’ storied franchise–but not a whole lot. And it’s a shame too, because Al Davis has contributed to two major things of interest to me: Vertical offense and creative marketing.  The marketing side of his contributions is covered fairly well in the 30 for 30 documentary. And reporters are doing a great job explaining his impact on the NFL’s passing game. I think that this is the best description (fairly brief and easy to understand) that I’ve seen.

In short Davis help change offenses from stretching the field horizontally to stretching the field vertically. That means rather than covering the field side-line to side-line, Davis looked to cover it from the line of scrimmage to the end zone. Before Davis started extensively using rarely called formations offenses weren’t really in the business of “attacking.” Offenses looked for ways to exploit defenses, sure, but Davis wanted defenses to work for every stop.

What does all of that mean today? Well, I’d say a few things.

Stretching the field from the LOS to the end zone makes football way more watchable. Some of the most boring games we see today are ones that involve a lot of short screen passes, stifled runs down the middle, and Wide Receiver jams that should have resulted in deep plays. The more of play action that takes place at the LOS the less watchable football is–especially when you’re watching on TV. Bringing football the length of the field puts more of what’s happening in view.

Think about the fact that even with modern broadcasting abilities, we probably see about 1/100th of what happens on that field. When all of play action is smash mouth running, covered blocking, and crowds of bodies blanketing the play there’s not a whole lot to see. Vertical offense help take football from a game you kinda have to love and be there to appreciate to a game with broader appeal. Without  guys like Al Davis and Don Coryell and, to an extent Bobby Bowden, I doubt we’d be seeing receivers like Calvin Johnson do much stuff like this. And I doubt there’d be such a stage for guys like Lil Baby Darren Sproles (I gotta stop calling him that!), LeSean McCoy and other pass-catching running backs that rely on space to make it do what it do if not for Davis inspiring more use of the slot.

I feel confident in crediting Davis and the aerial pioneers with my love of the NFL. The ideas they implemented created a ripple effect. Once offenses were altered, defenses followed suit. And being obsessed with defense the way that I am, I love that the emphasis on the passing game has caused defenses to present a variety of looks for my personal enjoyment!

For a great article on Davis, check out this one from SI’s vault.

Steve Jobs contribution to the NFL is actually sort of related if you’re thinking about “modernization” of the game. NFL teams are moving their playbooks to the ipad at a fairly quick pace. I’m interested to see which teams will be the slowest to embrace the new technology. I think the use of the ipads is a great thing. I haven’t seen exactly how the playbooks look on ipad and I don’t know all the capabilities, however, I can fully imagine players getting somewhat of a second life experience with the ipad letting them more fully envision their roles, the moves of other players, draw on the screen the way that coaches draw on the chalk or white erase board. Seeing little men on a screen sounds so much better than dry ass Xs and Os.

And then there’s this:

In a lot of ways, this is exactly what tablets are meant for: easy access to data via wireless networks, high-quality photos, and portability. And from a coach’s or player’s perspective, imagine being able to quickly sort through a large set of plays, look at them in a stylish graphical presentation, see animations of them in action, and more–or to download a photo of the last play seconds later.

Related Posts:
  • Crank That Bubble Screen: Eagles and Cowboys Edition
  • Why Is The Eagles Defense So F****ng Complicated!
  • My Top 5 Favorite Football Blogs and a Thank You to Readers
  • Top 10 Angriest People in the NFL After Week 1
  • Why I Said Ochocinco to New England Patriots Would Be A Mistake
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Iman Shumpert was motivated by Nikola Mirotic clothesline

Dwight Howard keeps Houston Rockets away from elimination

After Bulls go down in flames, is Tom Thibodeau next?

Chris Simms: Brother doesn't get chance because of last name

Report: Roger Goodell to hear Tom Brady's appeal


Brett Favre: Tom Brady didn’t cheat ‘by any stretch’

Le’Veon Bell: ‘Marijuana is not an important thing for me’

Indiana dismisses two players after marijuana citation

Charity: Ronaldo didn't donate $8M to Nepal earthquake relief

Alex Rodriguez not bothered by Jorge Posada’s remarks

Carlos Gonzalez: From potential MVP to potential albatross

Eight moments that led to the Bill Simmons-ESPN divorce

Netflix won't rule out streaming live sports

Four remaining NFL free agents who will produce in 2015

Poll finds voters who think MJ could beat LeBron 1-on-1 now

WATCH: Tim Lincecum slips during delivery, eats it

Mayweather once ordered pilot to pass Ricky Hatton’s plane

Poll: Curry tops LeBron, now America’s favorite NBA player

Analyzing the measurements from the NBA Draft Combine

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez injured, end of season in doubt

Pelicans put irrational faith in Dell Demps by firing Williams

Corey Kluber rides the high strike into history

Browns’ Dansby thinks Pats tampered with headsets in 2008

Boxing News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Is Tom Thibodeau done in Chicago?

Kluber rides the high strike into history

Lightning show themselves as Cup favorites

What’s going on with Stephen Strasburg

Relating to Peverley while cheering on his comeback

Rose responds to Webber: He ‘is delusional and still in denial’

NBA Playoffs power rankings

Gibson: Cleveland fans are 'classless'

Five NFL rookies who won't live up to the hype in 2015

10 biggest wild card college football teams in 2015

The state of bullpen usage in 2015

How the 76ers got it right with the new logo

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.