Does a fast paced NFL offense tire out the defense more than the offense?

NFL broadcasts of Philadelphia Eagles games are full of shots of the opposing team’s defense struggling to catch its breath. The announcers often discuss how Chip Kelly’s fluid, no-huddle offense wears out the other team’s defense due to its pace–even though the Eagle’s time of possession tends to be lower than that of offenses of otherwise similar quality.

2 Answers


  1. The offensive players probably practice this way all the time. While the defensive players may only practice this at some times or never.

  2. During a run play the offense has 9 guys blocking, one guy doing nothing (QB), and one guy running hard. On defense you have 11 defenders fighting through blocks trying to sprint to the ball. This is much harder work.

  3. During a pass play you have 5-6 guys standing next to each other blocking (easier than run blocking for lineman). You have 4-6 defensive players trying their hardest to get around these blockers. This may be the most strenuous and tiring activity there is on a football field. At the same time you have WRs running routes – at most 2 of these are deep routes. The defenders are expending more energy covering them because they don’t know where they are going. (Equivalent to basketball where playing D is more tiring than running an offense)

  4. These schemes run players off and on the field quickly. I ran one for several years at a high school. I almost felt bad because no matter how good the other players were the coaches weren’t prepared and gave their team no chance. Your defensive substitutions need to be spot on. [In the NFL there are rules regulating offensive substitutions, in that the offense must give the defense time to make a substitution without worrying about too many men on the field]

  5. With any offense, even the most sluggishly ran, the offense will wear down the defense faster than it wears down itself. Running at a faster pace just accelerates all of this.

  6. The defensive coaches are so worried about the frantic pace that they don’t do their basic jobs. They are worried about their players being tired and substitutions and they aren’t seeing how the other team is scheming them. This is really the genius of the up tempo. That people are so quick to blame the quick tempo on the success of the offense that they don’t look at the schemes being used to execute.

  7. There are however teams just not with enough coaching/football IQ that don’t get it. You run up to the line on a quick snap and the other team LBs are still looking at coaches for signals. This does happen in the NFL too. I have seen the Patriots line up for sneaks 7-8 seconds after the previous play and the d-line isn’t even set. Guess what they have done it 50 times. Why aren’t your players ready? I blame this 90% on the coaches.

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