Cincinnati Bengals - Contributions To NFL Culture - No Huddle Offense

No Huddle Offense

A No-Huddle Offense was commonly used by all teams when time in the game was running low. However, Sam Wyche, the head coach of the Bengals in 1988, along with offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet, made the high-paced offense the standard modality for the ball club regardless of time remaining. By quickly setting up for the next play (often within 5–10 seconds after the last play despite being afforded 45 seconds) this hindered the other team's defense from substituting situational players, regrouping for tactics, and, some suggest, increased the defense's rate of fatigue (This is attributed to the belief that the offense dictates when a play starts so they tend to be more mentally relaxed and prepared for the start of a play where the defense must remain on a higher level of alert before the play starts). In response the NFL instituted several rules related to this tactic:

  • Allowing the defense ample time for substitutions (if offensive substitutions are made);
  • If a player's injury causes the play-clock to stop, the player must sit out at least one play; and
  • Charging a time-out to a team when a player is injured within a certain time period of the game.

The hurry-up tactic was used by the franchise during the late 1980s while Sam Wyche was the coach. A rival for AFC supremacy during this time was the Buffalo Bills, coached by Marv Levy, who also used a version of the no-huddle offense starting with the 1989 season. The Bengals had beaten the Bills three times in 1988 (pre-season, regular season, and the AFC Championship Game). Marv Levy threatened to fake injuries if the Bengals used the "no-huddle" in the AFC Championship. Coach Wyche was notified that the Commissioner had ordered the "no-huddle" illegal for the game. The official notified Wyche and the Bengals' team just two hours before the game kickoff. Wyche asked to talk directly to the Commissioner and word immediately came back that the "no-huddle" would not be penalized. Coach Levy didn't fake injuries in the game, but installed his version the next year, 1989. The Bengals first used the "no-huddle" in 1984. Most of the high-profile games (the various games for AFC titles and regular season games) between the two led to these changes in NFL rules. Wyche also first used the timeout periods as an opportunity to bring his entire team to the sideline to talk to all eleven players, plus substitutes, at one time. This also allowed trainers time to treat a cut or bruise and equipment managers time to repair an equipment defect.

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