Sometimes it's like watching a baby deer learn how to walk. Watching improvement is rewarding though, and makes it all worthwhile.
That's not a typo - he threw for 400 and 5 TDs, and ran for another 180 (1 rushing TD) - all using concepts in this system! This same player passed for right at 1000 yards all of last season. A.C.T.S. has truly given definition to the offense, and allowed the coaching staff to be completely accountable to the player (instead of the player only being accountable to the coach).
While everyone is set in what they are doing schematically, the great news is that the ideas in Part 1 of my iBook series (found HERE) can help you TODAY. The ability to communicate your intentions on a down by down basis cannot be emphasized enough, and this series will allow you the tools to not only augment what you are doing this season, but align your off-season goals as well.
Speaking of off-season study, Part 2 of the series is due out in the December time frame, with Parts 3 and 4 to be released in the Spring. I
I've said many times that a complete system should not only have all the answers to defensive problems in a self contained environment, while remaining "learnable" for players. To this, I will add that a great system will generate more problems for defenses as the season moves on. This is especially applicable in high school and college football, where teams typically exchange the previous three games as a general rule. Carefully considered, and offensive plan one week can help create dividends for the coming weeks as well.
As an example, let's take one formation idea that is underutilized in many offenses: "stacked" or "bunched" receivers. Though the vanilla TV commentator will point out how the tight alignment of receivers will provide natural "rubs" vs man defenders, there are two important things to consider:
- Proper route running technique and selection will give receivers ample opportunity to defeat man for man defenders without wasting receivers (deploying players on a pass play with no intention of getting open for a pass).
- Defenses today are well coached in defending such alignments. Even at the high school level, defenses have answers to simple rub or pick plays.
This second fact is something that can be used to the offenses advantage. For instance, let's look at some opponent scenarios:
- This week: Multiple 3-4 pressure team that blitzes a lot
- Next week: 4-3 Cover 4 team
- 3 weeks from now: Best opponent; Cover 1 press team
This week's mythical opponent plays loose man and 3 deep zone mainly, and creates pressure by attempting to overload protections by bringing 4 rushers to one side - outnumbering most 6 man protection schemes as they typically distribute blockers with 3 to a side:
A couple weeks ago, the #1 ranked 5A team in Missouri squared off with the #1 ranked 6A team in the state. The 5A team prevailed that night, 35-21. I am admittedly biased, as the 5A Fort Osage Indians are a client of mine.
I asked their coach, Ryan Schartz, if he'd write a bit on how they have benefited:
Last winter my offensive staff and I knew we had a group of players suited to throw the ball. Our run and shoot system was by no means broken, but it did limit some of the the things we wanted to be able to do. After reading Dan's book Re-coded and Reloaded, it dawned on me that this was the system to use. Installment started in the spring and continued into the summer. The language that he uses allows players to learn quickly. Our kids have commented several times that it is much easier to learn than our former system. His system was an easy transition as it has many run and shoot concepts built in. One of our main objectives was to be able to get our RBs out in to routes out of the backfield. The Gonzalez system more than allows an offense to use all 5 receivers. The best part, though is the rhythm passing and progression allows the QB to make his reads quick and decisive. After using parts of it for the first 3 weeks of the season, we have noticed that there is much flexibility in attacking defenses. This is all coming from at team that traditionally runs the football 80% of the time. Dan has been terrific! He is readily available to help explain and give advice. Although we have not changed much of our run game, his passing system has been a wonderful resource for our program.
Fort Osage High School
I have always thought this: the most successful head coaches are defensive guy who let their offenses go attack opposing defenses. History is littered with great defensive minds who prefer to try to keep scores close, only to end up in the coaching recycle bin. History shows that the most successful coaches (winning year in and year out) are often defensive minded guys whose offenses STRESS the defense:
Even in college football, the last two "dynasties" (USC and 'Bama) were led by defensive head coaches who schematically stressed opposing defenses with their offense (on a side note - Jim McElwain, former OC at Bama, now at head coach at CSU - does a superb job of blending the shifting-motioning-formationing attack with no huddle delivery). The thing is, these two schools' rosters were/are filled with NFL talent few could match.
But, in principle, we learned that perhaps more defensive head coaches (and offensive head coaches, for that matter) should take a cue from what is working; if one is to feature a power running game, the way to maximize an offense's potential to break a defense is through the use of tempo. Just this weekend, we were given three major examples of this:
Michigan State at Oregon:
In a truly great matchup, an outstanding defense simply could not keep pace with the balance and tempo that Oregon presented. On the go-ahead touchdown, Oregon catches MSU spinning to an 8 man front (resulting in 1 high safety), leaving the defense vulnerable to the "4 Vertical" pattern that results in the score.
BYU at Texas
After intercepting a pass in the end zone just before the half, the Texas Defense had given up 2 field goals at the midway mark. The box score, however, reveals the inability of the Texas Offense to keep the ball for any time, allowing to Cougar offense to hammer away at the Horns. This wasn't the 1980's BYU offense that passed on virtually every play; BYU had 59 rushing attempts to go along with 27 pass attempts - numbers only reached in an uptempo mode.
Jaguars at Eagles
The snapshot of the Eagle's second half drives who the ability to remain balanced. With the exception of the 68-yarder in the 4th quarter, each was a mixture of runs and short passes. Even the big play was delivered off of play action. Again, the key is the ability to give the defense a 2-dimensional threat.
While there are adjustments made during intermission, coaches know the "halftime adjustment" moniker that has overrun TV and radio broadcasts is not what it is portrayed in the media. Certain elements of the existing game plan are emphasized, and while there are "tweaks", wholesale changes that have not been practiced simply do not happen.
What happened in these three cases is this: good defenses simply could not hold up to the offensive barrage. Michigan State's defense was lauded as the nation's finest, and still might be. Texas' defense only gave up 6 first half points, despite being put in bad situations. The Eagles were able to create more opportunities for themselves because of the nature of their attack.
Operating from a no huddle environment allows the offense to be MORE physical because they can call more downhill runs while still making the defense honor the pass, giving them more opportunities to test the soundness of each play. Anyone whose ever coached can realize HOW CLOSE every play is to being a big gain for the offense; simply giving the offense more chances to give playmakers the ball AND punish the defense physically also simplifies the defense for the offense.
There are very few reasons why an offense should play a grinding, low-output style of offense; the refusal to accept change simply is not one of them.
For many, the NFL preseason is a chance to catch up on entire seasons of House of Cards on Netflix or NCIS on DVR. But I actually look forward to it, as it is a chance to look at what coaches are teaching. While the media may refer to what they see as "vanilla," I see this as a chance to gain valuable insight as to the base offense and defense being installed during training camp.
One thing in particular I look at are different ways teams feature a given receiver. While the old standard of simply putting your best guy at X (the wide receiver opposite the TE) is time tested, the ability of a defense to negate easy completions to the split end is simply a matter of choice. Sure, there are other vulnerabilities, but most defenses would like for the offense to "take what they give em". This is because it represents the lowest threat level to the defense, and thus not always what an offense should strive for.
Below, the X at the bottom of the picture clearly has a rolled corner, who is supported by a safety to his side. If an offensive coach will allow a defense to simply take away his best receiver BY ALIGNMENT, that coach is showing a serious lack of accountability to his team.
In Dallas, I'm interested to see how much Dez Bryant will line up at Z (the strongside receiver/ to the TE side) in 3 Receiver sets. This is normally where Williams lines up, but I know Scott Linehan featured Megatron this way in Detroit. By placing him to the tight end, away from 2 wide receivers, he will get some sort of soft corner. in many instances.
Below, Calvin Johnson is "starred" while one can clearly see the strong safety rolling down on the tight end side. Because of the presence of a tight end (and thus an extra gap for the defense to cover), most disguises are predictable. Combined with 2 receivers away, which almost always results in a "3 over 2" look by the defense, the result are almost uncontested short completions to that player. Further, even though the free safety is seen running back to the deep middle, note the distance he must travel in order to affect a throw to Z. In other words - he will be on the dead run (and uncontrollable drop) just to get there, and almost worthless in making getting back to the side he came from.
Dallas aligned Dez at Z for a handful of snaps early this preseason, which tells me they have a larger plan in this regard.
In New England - the machine keeps on rolling. What I love about watching the Patriot offense is how they simply attack defenses from the kickoff until the clock hits "00:00". There are no "probing runs" called to test a defense; every play is an act of surgery. Here, the Jets propensity for press man is met with a stacked alignment by the receivers to the offense's left, helping gain a free release into the pass defense.
I'm eager to see how they incorporate recent acquisition Tim Wright. With their use of personnel and formations, combined with tempo,
As I tweeted earlier this month - one of the few coaches whose offense I will DVR in the preseason is Chip Kelly. His is an offense truly based on synergy, where the whole equals more than the sum of its individual parts (yes, I am a Texas Grad). Kelly features players based on using simple concepts, and moving players around within those concepts.
As an example, the highlighted player in green (Z) represents the spot Maclin has played (where Jackson played last year) this summer. By moving people around Z, coverage can be standardized for him, and because of the constraints of the offense, relatively simple pitch and catch opportunities can result.
The nuts and bolts of his offense are twofold:
- It's an offense based on a downhill running game
- The QB doesn't need to be the runner people think you need to be in the spread, but the defense must still account for it
This results in very standardized coverage techniques by the defense, even at the NFL level. From there, the Eagles just play ball. But what really sticks out to me is the culture of toughness the receivers play with. Last week, Celek took some hard shots on a couple of great receptions, and Maclin came back from a scary moment to make some nice catches. Toughness allows a coach to attack the with screens and crossing routes, and generate explosives while minimizing turnover risk.
Great player + Ball = Explosive plays.
There is no excuse for failing to give one's best player the chance to affect the outcome of a game. I have written of (and illustrated with video) examples of how coaches should reciprocate the accountability they demand of players in my latest iBook, Coaching Concepts, Developing an Offensive System Part 1. For high school coaches out there, these elements can be added THIS SEASON without changing your current system.
That's what I think about when I watch one of the four elite NFL quarterbacks play. Everyone has the WILL to win; significantly less have the will to PREPARE to win. In particular, I have a special fondness in the way Tom Brady operates. He spreads the ball around with surgical precision, even though (with an exception his elite tight end) he currently has a very ordinary receiving corps by NFL standards. With an exception of a few years in the mid-2000s, this has been the case throughout his career.
The Patriots offense is a wonderful blend of personnel groupings, mismatches, and tempo. They are always attacking a weakness in the defense, and Brady's mastery and preparation are wonderful to study. Watching Brady - or any of the elite quarterbacks - always gave me the desire to replicate their methods. I've always been in awe of watching the greats spray the ball around, and especially hitting different parts of the same pass pattern. Though it is easy to replicate plays and concepts, it is decidedly more difficult to guide the quarterback's decision making. UNTIL NOW...
Now, there is a communication system that allows you to guide your passer's decision making on an every down basis, and what we have done is published an iBook with video and presentations to support that teaching.
Furthermore, the manual outlines a basis for game planning and aligning play installation and teaching to make the most of precious practice time. But, even better than that, the highlighted material can be assimilated into your offense WITHOUT CHANGING YOUR CURRENT SYSTEM.
That time of the year is upon us, where coaches are doing the teaching that will determine the fate of their respective seasons. As this teaching goes on, it is important to note that while we have the best laid plans beginning last offseason and through the spring and summer, we must always strive to improve - to be the very best we can for our teams. This is why I teamed with Keith Grabowsky on this project.
As the first of a four part series, the groundwork for developing your offensive system to account from the game's newest trends will be set. Teaching points borrowed from my Quarterback Manual are shared with video and presentation formats that will allow you as the coach to give your players a competitive advantage.
Great care was taken to share to share the access I have been granted, allowing insight to the NFL and college football's top offensive systems. I know many coaches that have a thirst for knowledge to better the young men they coach, but not the requisite connections to gain special access. Regardless of style of play, this resource can help you RIGHT NOW.
Get it HERE.
After numerous technical challenges, I am happy to announce that my new ibook, Coaching Concepts: Developing an Offensive System is now available. It was a long road, but it will be worth it. The content is dynamic, with over an hour of video embedded. Most of all, information such as "Navigation Tags" will help your offensive system RIGHT NOW, without changing the system you are installing.
What is the beauty to be found in great systems? To me, it is not just the ability put up huge numbers. Rather, it is the ability to teach - it is the ability to take the complex and turn it into something very easy for players to execute. My consulting clients know that they can get a flood of updated information from me throughout the year. To be clear, these updates don't necessarily mean something new; instead, they are often "tweaks" to the existing.
One such update (without necessitating a change in structure) is the revival of "Mesh" in this passing game. I learned the principle from Norm Chow when he was at BYU. Though the success of the pattern cannot be debated, few can argue the time commitment required to make it work the way Chow's BYU teams or the way Mummy/ Leach deployed their versions of the attack. Proving the flexibility of the system, we have found a very inexpensive alternative teaching method.
In the route tree we used, we simply augmented the definition and technique of the "6" route:
Even for younger players, the technique explanation is simple: run a 4 (hook), then run a 2 (short in). After all, 4+2=6. Running the "mesh drag" in this manner has several advantages:
- The initial stem provides an additional quick throw vs. pressure
- It is more effective vs. match up zone, as the hook stem is something a LB will drive on, and redirect to on the re-start
- This vacates the area for the backside drag better than the traditional mesh
- It is obviously less expensive than traditional mesh
- The timing provides a Third Fix outlet on the backside
From this simple adjustment, along with the stair step technique that is taught with standard drag routes vs. man coverage, one is able to assemble an exciting array of possibilities. This pattern has been extremely successful in 7 on 7 this summer, as it not only compliments the "471" pattern (seen here), but the weak side B wheel pattern as well.
Another variation inspired by the checkdown techniques of Steve Spurrier's teams, combined with DRIVE, is shown here:
How inexpensive is this tweak in teaching technique? My son's 7 on 7 team has been able to throw and catch both of these passes (along with Stick/Levels with RAM, 471, 220, and 09 A Badge) for scores in the last 2 weeks.
PS - days away from having my iBook available for purchase.