Saturday Brings New Dynamic to Dynamic Attack

The Packers scored the second-most points in NFL history last season, yet there is room to grow. With Jeff Saturday teaming with Peyton Manning, the Colts used the no-huddle to consistently make the most of their possessions. Expect an even higher-tempo approach from the Packers.

At indianapolis, Peyton Manning and Jeff Saturday were the straws that stirred the Colts' no-huddle drink.

It's that no-huddle experience that makes him such an intriguing fit with the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers went no-huddle periodically at times last season, sometimes to change up the tempo — or "dictate" the tempo, as then-offensive coordinator Joe Philbin put it last year. Other times, it was used to keep favorable personnel matchups on the field.

With Saturday, the no-huddle figures to play a larger role in the Packers' arsenal for one easily overlooked factor.

In 2010 — the last year together for Manning and Saturday — the Colts ran 1,088 plays from scrimmage, good for second in the league and nine plays behind Atlanta.

More plays means more opportunities to strike for big plays. A faster tempo potentially means an extra possession, which means another opportunity to score points. A pedal-to-the-metal approach means additional ways to force the issue with the offense's edge in personnel.

Not that the no-huddle means a hurry-up attack. Playing in fast forward gives the quarterback the ability to slow down the game at the line of scrimmage. A Manning or Rodgers can just as easily win the play with his brain before the snap as he can with his arm after the snap.

It all starts at quarterback. If Manning is the NFL's line-of-scrimmage valedictorian, Rodgers might be its salutatorian.

"On the field, they both know the entire offense," Saturday said last week. "The thing that maybe impressed me the most about Aaron when I first got here is he knows all the offensive line checks, he knows where to put us, why we're going there. That's important for a quarterback to know where every piece fits. You feel comfortable that as long as we're on the same page, no matter what the call is, as long as we're all doing it the same way, we can block it up and he can make plays down the field. That was the same way with Peyton. As long as we all knew who was responsible for who, we can move the ball up and down the field. They're very comparable in that way."

Saturday could have followed Manning to Denver. Instead, he chose Green Bay. While nobody will come out and say it, a big reason why the Packers wanted Saturday and Saturday chose the Packers is the team's desire to increase the tempo on offense.

"Especially as much up-tempo stuff as Indianapolis ran during his time there, it's going to transition very well to some of the stuff that we're going to do," said Rodgers, providing a clue on what's to come offensively.

It was a productive approach for Indianapolis, where Manning and Saturday routinely won the line-of-scrimmage chess match. For eight consecutive years, from 2003 through 2010, the Colts finished in the top four in points per drive, based on figures compiled by Football Outsiders. From 2003 through 2006, the Colts topped the chart, followed by second in 2007, fourth in 2008 and 2009 and third in 2010.

As Saturday told Packer Report for a lengthy feature in the new magazine, almost nothing translates from the Colts' offense to the Packers' offense. For the Packers to incorporate more no-huddle, with the offense being controlled by Rodgers at the line of scrimmage, it will be up to Saturday to master the Packers' offense.

It's a challenge he's embracing. While Saturday laughed at the word choice during his interview with Packer Report Magazine, playing any other way would be "boring."

"I feel a little bit like a rookie," Saturday said last week. "I'm in the book a lot more than I've ever been, or at least the since the '90s. That's quite a while. It's fun, too. It kind of refreshes you. You get back in the book. you look at different things and you see how different philosophies pick things up in different ways. Obviously, I haven't got the whole thing figured out Day 1, so it's going to take me some time."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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