For the next several posts, we'll take a look at game planning; more succinctly, I will talk about my experience, and how I learned to assemble a game plan; the mythical defense will be a standard 4-3 defense that bases out of 2-high safety coverages, and but will go to 3 down, and zone blitz on third downs, and bring pressure packages in the scoring zone.
The first REAL exposure I had to the coaching aspect of game planning came from my college coaches (Head Coach John Mackovic, OC/QB Coach Gene Dahlquist, WR Coach Cleve Bryant). Coach Mackovic was an assistant coach for Tom Landry, and much of the organizational philosophy derived from there. Each down and distance category in the open field was scrutinized, as well as field position considerations. The open field categories were
- RUN SITUATION RUNS AND PASSES
- PASS SITUATION RUNS AND PASSES
Run Situations consisted of 1st and ten, and 2nd and 6 or less, Pass Situations were 2nd and 7 or more, and 3rd and 3 or more (there are further divisions by distance to gain).
Field Position categories involved the SCORING ZONE and BACKED UP offense.
For this initial post, I'll write a bit in regard to the thought process used in regard to RUN SITUATION PASSES. As one breaks down an opponent's base defense, there are two main thoughtsin assembling patterns:
- QUICK RHYTHM, high percentage throws to stay "on schedule"
- EXPLOSIVE pass plays designed to create chunks of yardage
Both pure dropback and play action will be considered for both categories; one of the main tenets of "RUN SIT" passes is to take advantage of conflicting run/pass responsibilties that support defenders are given. While almost every offense I've seen runs some sort of NAKED or BOOT (Diagram 1), we've also a lot of success with the ZONE PASS (Diagram 2). Popularized by Peyton Manning's Colts teams, it features not only the ability to get vertical shots with the look of the outzide zone, but it adapts to multple personnel groups as well...
Also, notice that with the use of nakeds or POWER PASS as a means to threaten edge defenders, the PURE SPRINTOUT is not mentioned as a necessity; recent developments with the spread offense have negated the need for sprintout passes.
The key to this multiplicity is two-fold: First, in the protection scheme (Diagram3), which allows for a backside TE/ FB/ H-back to be on the line, or off the line towards the fake.
The second key is is the use of TEMPO in a no-huddle setting. The COLTS, when operating out of their normal 1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR environment, always ran the ZONE PASS (218 in their vernacular) as a package; any 7th rusher called for an audible to a quick pass such as this example (Diagram 4):
The use of TEMPOS can make this a relatively easy process; the players only need to practice vs. certain looks this way, and the coach controls it all.
With the mindset of quick rhythm dropback passing, passes should represent the basics of a pass system: multi-purpose patterns that feature high-percentage completions vs. zone with built-in ADVANTAGE PRINCIPLES to attack overcomensation by the defense:
Diagram 5 uses the first advantage principle to punish a man-to-man defense, combined with the most basic concept and outlets:
Diagram 6 blends the 4 VERTICAL pattern with a draw fake. No assignments change for the OL; the RB is responsible for the fake. Almost 2 decades ago, BOB SHIPLEY (Brownwood TX Head Coach and father of Jordan and Jaxon) taught me the most effective coaching point: the running back, as he sets to fake, begins yelling "DRAW! DRAW! DRAW!" the defense usually doesnt recognize the voice, but will slow to look for the draw. The passer gets a bigger hole for the advantage route on this pass.
Passes using the RAM Advantage principle should be a part of the RUN SIT as well as the PASS SIT attack versus a defense that bases out of 2 high coverage categories. To keep a defense standardized, a pass from 1RB/2 TE personnel is shown:
Passes using the NUMBERS principle can help versus control a Cover 4 scheme that cross-keys the Backside Safety on #3. In the diagram below, the QB would treat such an instance as "single high" -- and go to the singled up receiver. If the B Safety stays on or outside the hash, he has a high percentage play to the 3 receivers.
Using just a handful of combinations, we are able to mix and match formations and protections to get easy completions and explosive plays versus the defenses seen in this situation. The added tempos, shifting, and motion (the window dressing) can give each pattern 2 or 3 different looks for the defense. It then becomes very practicable to have 12 passes ready in this category, since it really only consists of 3-4 patterns, which as we will see in the coming posts, carry over to different strategic situations.