In the previous installments of this series, I wrote of some of my early influences and conclusions regarding the quick passing game. I spoke of my college coach, John Mackovic, and his influence on my thinking in terms of releasing receivers and utilizing personnel groupings. I then touched briefly on how I was exposed to John Jenkins' pass attack thorough one of his pupils, Coach Wes Cope. Then lucky enough to learn offense from both Norm Chow and Mike Heimerdinger, I had enough in the resource department to mold a system that not only gave the quarterback a maximum number of options on ever play, but provided an asthetic uniqueness as well. In this part, I'll write about how I blended these ideas, and the thinking and planning behind them.
The mechanics of Chow's "66 F Scat" and Heimerdinger's "Spacing" plays, ironically from pro-oriented striaight drop systems, simply reinforced what the Run and Shoot had taught me: it is viable for the QB to work a quick combination, and then re-direct to alternate lanes of completion, rather than be forced to scramble/ throw the ball away . Further, the best passing teams in football had demonstrated that the best way to progress through a pass pattern was with the passer keeping time with his feet: a covered combination or route meant "hitching up," allowing the back foot to get set to the next receiver in the progression. Moreover, I found that it is better to systematically set up pass patterns to where second- and third-choice recieivers we alwas breaking into the passer's vision.
This method of visioning became apparent to me during my senior season at Texas. I was in charge of our Passing Game Quality Control; though we had some impressive statistics that season, perhaps the most noteworthy was that two relatively inexperienced QBs (Sophomore Shea Morenz and Freshman James Brown) combined to throw 24 touchdowns versus only 8 interceptions that year. Further scrutiny of the interception tape revealed that 2 interceptions came on balls deflected at the line, while 6 happened as our passer was throwing to alternate receivers that were running in the same direction of his vision:
As the QB looks from the primary (in this case the "comeback" by Z) and moves to throw the "in" to Y, he never sees the M linebacker, who initially dropped away, and simply floated into the middle of the pass pattern as our passer moved his eyes across the field.
A pioneer in many aspects of football, Homer Smith was one of the first coaches I read about that recognized this danger in some pass patterns, and structured pass patterns to combat this. I sought him out, and the legendary coach was gracious enough to spend hours on the phone, discussing the nuts and bolts of his pass offense. The result was a blending of Run and Shoot's backside patterns to a called Quick Pass on the front side, though it is important to know that I removed the Run and Shoot's vertical reads (by the receiver). These combinations are what became known as "scan reads" in this system:
In the diagram above, the rhythm of the play involved throwing quick to the right if available; if the combination was not to the quarterback's liking, he would "reset for depth"swinging his eyes to the left. The "A" receiver and the "X" receiver are on assignments that bring themselves into the passer's vision -- this is of the utmost importance, as it allows the QB to see interception danger in front of his targets as his eyes jump (or saccade) across the field.
The goal for me was to be able to apply this principle of outlets to any personnel grouping or formation that we had. The key then, becomes creating the same picture for the quarterback as formations change. The ability to have a system of tagging players (and minimizing memorization) is of paramount importance, so the outlet system shown above can also be illustrated accordingly:
By encorporating rules and tags that create familiarity and attack the entire width of the defense, and structuring the tags to fit to all formations in an attack, an offense can pinpoint the strengths of its personnel, while managing weaknesses. Moreover, the offense can create enough looks, without sacrificing rhythm or repetition, to keep a defense off balance.