Commentary

The Insider: Locked and loaded

Very quietly, the shotgun has blasted its way to NFL dominance

Updated: September 8, 2010, 2:20 PM ET
By David Fleming | ESPN The Magazine
KolbDrew Hallowell/Getty ImagesThe rise of the shotgun in the NFL is evident every time you watch the Eagles play.

In August, to break the monotony of training camp, the Eagles held a night practice in front of 30,000 fans. Eagles Flight Night featured skydivers, a steady flow of freebies tossed into the stands and a dance routine by the cheerleaders set to "Enter Sandman" that even cranky Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich would have enjoyed.

But the real spectacle took place on the field. For two hours, regardless of down, distance, personnel groups or field position, Philly lined up -- for as many as eight snaps in a row -- in the shotgun. Flight Night, indeed. The Eagles' emphasis in practice was the latest evidence of a strategic shift in the NFL. In 2009, for what is believed to be the first time in history, more passes were thrown from the shotgun (55.7%) than from under center.