In the NFL, schemes are constantly evolving. Plays can become outdated in the span of a quarter. But a handful of teams are adjusting to life in the modern game by borrowing strategies from a most unlikely source: the boring offenses of the 1970s Big Ten.
The NFL has spent the past few years getting smaller and faster, with speedy wide receivers who are as light as 170 pounds. Knowing that, NFL linebackers and defensive linemen also shed weight, creating a league of (relative) Smurfs.
But, NFL observers say, the league is now experiencing a backlash from a cabal of coaches with heavy Big Ten influences who prefer, well, heavy players. Their idea? Find the biggest players you can find and run simple, powerful schemes. It is a trend that former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah, now an analyst for the NFL Network, said was the story of the off-season—the explosion of bigger players to counter the shifty speedsters.