Just a quick example of things we put in last season:
One thing I really think a lot of teams fail to capitalize on is the opportunity to build off of similar techniques; in doing so, it is maintained that a team can carry considerable more offense, and also use more players in the process. Below is an example of an installation plan:
Using the above example, we can illustrate how the installation schedule can make for layered learning. With 6 installation practices, the first 3 are used to lay the foundation. Whether it is a run or pass scheme, the assignments build off of previous teaching. We go even further than that in the way we arrange slides.
For example, our frontside combinations are, very straightforward and easy to learn. We teach the "code" - the language we speak -- and then we teach the route numbers, and voila! - the whole frontside system is assimilated. Of course there is the need for technique teaching and repetition, but the actual assignments are taught. On the backside, we give them rules, and the sequencing of variations, down to the illustrations, helps facilitate learning.
Once "RULE" is explained, the next tag to to decipher is "SWITCH," which is just the exchanged releases of backside receivers:
"RUSH" - which stands for "Rub Under Switch" is next:
Along with these terms, the concept of "RULE in the absence of any tags pertaining to you" is addressed:
With sequencing like this, players can build an understanding of their roles, even with incomplete information. As more is installed, there is comfort in seeing the application of rules, rather than confusion. To take it a step further, one can see how additional installation strengthens this foundation of learning, rather than weakening it.
Below, another contraction tag is added: DOT, which stands for DRAG with an OUTSIDE 2.
Further, the rules for motion can be added, along with the idea of condensed splits. Here, a bunch formation is utilized, and the introduction to releases and spacing can be noted:
Lastly, the notion of 4 receivers to a side can be applied, and a method to communicate this.
All the while, simple progression concepts are being placed, and simple keys for the quarterback are hammered home. The key point here is reinforcing the same pictures - pictures that most offenses ask the QB to decipher. It can be proven here, however, that the sequencing is important in gaining cognition.
As the summer 7 on 7 draws to a close, this is the time where refinements are made from the wristband we use for summer work to the specific variations we will use when Fall Camp opens. There are obvious changes needed because of coverage looks they will get in 7 on 7 (primarily 2 man or some derivative), and we want the QB certain pictures.
For example, this pattern...
...will be installed like this in the fall to highlight our installed play action protection, as well as the obvious bind a apex defender will have to overcome when run fits are a factor:
The constant evolution in the the organization of the offense continued this spring, which included a re-organization of the running game (no changes, but a re-grouping in order to make learning/ installation more fluid and systematic):
Likewise, adjustments to the running game must be made as personnel clarifies itself. For example, part of the mission of our "Adjustment Run" category is to attack the "bubble" LB. If there was not a suitable H-back/ Fullback to run the "Iso" play, some different alternatives must be considered in attacking the ILB:
Because the passing game takes the most reps, coaches must rely on spring and summer work to aid in fall installation. If this is the case, new learning of offense is negated, allowing focus on the physical execution of techniques and situational thinking. If the proper course of the offense had been plotted, there should be little practice time on assignments. In addition to situational thinking, the coach can focus planning on protecting formations, personnel groups, protections, patterns, and runs as installation is formulated.
The discussion came up with a coach in which a coach voiced his staunch belief that he would not have 5 man protections in the Scoring Zone. The reasoning given was pressure. While this aligns with "traditional" football thinking, it does not maximize the potential of the offense. The argument can be made that one must have these facets (5 man protection and empty sets vs pressure) in order to truly dictate to the defense.
One of the keys for us is the pictures we create and keys we coach for the QB. The route stems we put around our advantage routes provide consistent pictures, and we give directions on every play that allow for quick decisions.
How one plans is, of course, critical, but the point must be made that matchups cannot be ignored. Here, the supposed "vertical space" lost as one approaches the end zone is gained by attacking a slower player with more lateral space:
Also, "ALERT" packages are built in to give the most advantageous situations:
Alerts are neither tie consuming nor difficult. In fact, they save time, because one can practice vs. very specific looks. Because of ACTS and our system of play calling, my 6th grader literally has it as part of his plan (Plays 82 and 100):
Additional protectors DO NOT necessarily assure the passer more time, because a well-coached defense can always get 1on1 pass rush matchups. Here, the illustration is made of the 6th protector having little effect, but the QB anticipating and defeating the rush, despite not being the Advantage Route in his progression:
The result: more space in more situations for your players. Ever watch a player being asked to cover or tackle a player they know they don't physically match up with? Here is how a pressure defense responds, when there is no longer the certainty of how they will be attacked:
As high schools are making the last push towards summer break, football coaches are often drawn back from the mindset of the off-season to the serious planning stages for the season. One of the major benefits of the method we use is that we keep the number of "active" calls to what is practicable. It does, however, require discipline, as additions must be accompanied by taking something off of the active list and back into the ready list.
Moreover, even the same ideas (in this instance, a pass pattern) will be presented differently in the fall than in the spring. Below, notes for the fall are seen highlighted in purple. We can see that the first note reminds the coach that a play action element will be included, while the second note clarifies the desire for a 7 man protection. Being a 3-Level structure necessitates this answer for zone blitzes that might be prevalent on long-yardage situations.
The last notation in the above image refers to what I call an "ALERT" - predetermined packages that allow for very specialized concepts. If the look we get isn't what we want, we simply call "Alert" to change the entire call.
Further, each pass call is evaluated, based on effectiveness vs. basic coverage categories (below). A coach can then glean the worth of a given play in relation to its versatility. For example, a pass that is effective vs only man coverages might have a very specific situational need, or not at all. The staff must then decide
Understanding value is not only a key principle in the business world; it is critical in football as well. Below is a partial picture of a report done on one of our clients in 2016. Studying data is essential in not only saying "this is what we are good at" -- it also allows to guide teaching, installation, and the subsequent direction of the offense -- despite continuity of the system as a whole. In the example below, it was derived that diversification in the schemes taught was not an issue; rather, the teaching in what many consider to be "ZONE" schemes could be adapted to mimic the "GAP" teaching. Variations could be acquired by simple tags, rather than new ideas.
Systems are to have answers to all problems that opponents can present; it is critical not to have only sound play concepts, but have teaching emphasis that aligns with game time distribution as well. Below is an example of a play distribution model we began in 2012 (and published in Recoded and Reloaded in 2013), based on an average of 66 plays per game:
Though the flow of each game cannot be predicted, the situations of each can be practiced and packaged. And while the rest of the world begins to relax for the summer, football coaches are studying themselves harder than ever.
Something I have familiarity with is MAN TO MAN COVERAGE (and how to beat it). On a State Championship team in Texas (Shameless plug: Go Cats!), our coverage schemes were almost purely man coverage. Then, I graduated and played at Texas, where DBs actually had black t-shirts emblazoned with the motto “Real men play man-to-man” – every day in practice was a grueling, 2 hour challenge on beating press against a defensive backs room was littered with All Conference and All American players. But – this all made me a better player. And, it made me realize that pressure was many times brought on THE OFFENSE. After the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos in Super Bowl 48, this point was made HERE.
Many people will incorrectly associate man coverage with pressure. While it is true that teams can blitz out of man coverage, recent study has revealed a higher percentage of zone blitzes at many levels. A man coverage call will not cause a pass rusher to “rush harder”; what happens many times is that the offense, because it has not effectively prepared itself to deal with (and dispose of) man coverage, will resort to tactics that take the onus off the play caller, but add to the burden of the player. One example, and a personal pet peeve of mine, is calling exclusively quick routes in this situation. As someone who has been asked to run a slant vs. an inside leverage corner over and over again, I can attest that it is not an easy task! Neither is expecting a completion on fade after fade. What the QB needs is to see separation; what the receiver needs is the opportunity to make the defender indecisive, to turn his hips, and the chance to separate.
As with many cases, the New England Patriots teach us a great deal about football common sense. I went back into the last few drives in their epic comeback against the Falcons, in which the point is made demonstrated – one must maintain a diverse attack vs. man coverage, and feature route stems that allow people to separate.
Score: 28-3, Falcons; 7:51 left in the 3rd; 2nd & 7
To the casual observer, this looks like a simple check-down off of smash, but the brilliance is in the details. The receiver (a RB no less) doesn’t just run a 5-yard in; he creates separation with a fake “sluggo” move – “the stair step” backs the defender off and allows an easy completion.
In the same drive, the Patriots faced a 4th and 3. Once again, the pattern gave Brady 2 options that fit our criteria. The pattern also gives quick rhythm throws vs zone; we refer to these as advantage routes.
The first touchdown of the comeback is scored on a pretty typical pattern in this situation; of possible interest is the propensity of the Atlanta defense to play zone in the scoring zone, despite majoring in man coverage elsewhere. Of note to this basic pattern structure is that the Patriots seem to have an entire series of adjustments; the one run on this play features a “shake” route to feature vs. match coverage.
Score: 28-9; 14:51, 4th Quarter; -12 yard Line
The ability to max protect in addition to free releasing 5 receivers is illustrated. The Patriots use the TE and RB to check for blitzers, then “chip” before releasing, and throw a deep comeback off of a stutter-go stem. The route stem puts the defender in doubt, and once again attacks based on the premise that man defenders need to be made to cover; man defenders’ abilities are enhanced with solely quick throws. The drive results in a field goal, bringing the score to 28-12.
The pattern used in which the Falcons got a “pick six” has been widely analyzed. New England’s adjustments within play focus, however, are given much less attention. From 3x1 sets moving forward from the interception, the Patriots attacked the single receiver side vs. 1 high, and the multiple receiver side vs 2 high. We’ve simplified this reading process with our “9er” Advantage Principle. A critical 3rd & 11 is converted with just over 7 minutes in the game…
In the scoring zone on the same drive, Brady & Co. encounter 2 Read once again at the 6. Using a combination New England uses frequently down here, the inside receiver runs a “read” route (basically an 8-yard option route), while the outside receiver has the option of getting open on the back line, or running a fade vs Cover 2, which opens up space for the read route to break out.
Now 28-20 with 3:17 left in the game, the Patriots face 3rd and 10 on the -9. Deftly picking up the blitz from the slot defender, they are able to defeat a zone blitz scheme with a “SAIL” (our term for “7 After Inside Leverage) route. Why is this discussed in a man coverage article? Because the man techniques are often applied within a zone; the Falcons even bring over #32 to match with the Pats’ Hogan. There is not only the theme of sound protection principles (avoiding “hot” throws when possible in long yardage situations), but the principle of the offense not succumbing to the defense’s desire to allow the quick, easy throw and rally downhill on the ball.
With 2:34 left in the game, the New England offense again goes with a 3x1 set, and again attacks the single receiver, as another comeback route is thrown and caught as a defender must open his hips on deeper stems.
Right after Edelman's circus catch that will forever be on future highlight videos, the Pats get right back down to the common sense approach to offense, this time with what we call a "Bengal."
In overtime, the onslaught continues, as the offense breaks down the ability to react of the defenders. It needs to be emphasized that the calls we are highlighting ALLOW for even more soft, easy completions. It is the ability to make defenders play on their heels that allows for prolonged success and possessions, which also affects the pass rush.
As mentioned in the clip, it seems as people get caught up in RPOs and utlra-fast tempo, there is a problem when that IS ALL a team does. There are fundamental principles to attacking defenses that are forgotten many times. We are then reminded to look at models of simplicity and common sense to put us back on track.
The point of evolution is to give rise to diversity, and ensure the survival of a given species. A good offensive system is a living thing, and likewise, must evolve. Homer Smith, perhaps the most intellectual football coach of all time, taught me that great pass patterns generated more of themselves.
Many of the lessons Coach Smith shared with me still live on in our QB manual:
In order to have the ability to evolve, a truly complete system must be able to adapt to the personnel available in a given season, in addition to giving the coach the ability to truly turn the players loose behind the full firepower of the offense.
Some key points to consider:
In 2 of the next 3 Super Bowls, the Patriots encountered the same defensive structure and philosophy (the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, and the Falcons in Super Bowl 51), and threw 37 and 43 completions, respectively. While it is easy to point to the skill of the quarterback, few would argue that Brady plays with receivers who are on the lower end of the NFL’s skill spectrum. How did they do this? By making man coverage players ACTUALLY have to cover, and by attacking interior defenders who found themselves in peculiar positions, the Patriots were able to possess the ball when others could not. Simply, they made man defenders turn their hips.
On a high school or college field, offenses can get some very similar match ups, as zone teams will rely on man techniques in match-up zone coverages. In the following teaching clips, it is easy to see how the principles explained can be valuable.
In surveying the landscape of many offensive systems, there is a feeling that points are being left on the field in many instances. Though many teams have similar basic structures, features are not put in place that assure the maximization of the tools at hand. Most of us coach in situations where the traditional talent is not overwhelming to the opposition; it is thus the responsibility of the coach to make the difference and maximize potential.
My original association with Coach Kontsis was after using the terminology in CONCEPT PASSING; however, I convinced him of the value of our current format. This is what he had to say:
We contacted Coach Gonzalez during the spring of 2010. We brought him in for a full scale installation clinic. He installed his entire passing game. Within two years, after taking over a program that was 0-36, we had the best season in school history, going 8-2 making the state playoffs for the first time in school history.
This year we took over another program and immediately installed Dan’s entire Pass Offense. Our starting point was Dan’s New Book, “Reloaded and Recoded” as well as latest release, “Developing an Offensive System – Part 3: Teaching.” We decided to invest and once again become a client. The amount of information is extensive, but covers every facet of an offensive system. Some of the materials include, but are not limited to: film teaching clips, cutups, protections, PowerPoint route concepts, summer install, game management, QB Manual, attacking coverage’s, etc.
Although his system is very broad, the terminology is very easy to learn. There is virtually no memorization whatsoever. Wide Receivers’ are able to play in the slot or outside because the system tells everyone what to do as opposed to learning route concepts through memorization. This year, our first at the school, using Dan’s Pass Offense, we led our conference in Total Offense. We averaged over 400 yds. per game going into the last game of the season. Our QB threw for 2,500 yds. and led the conference in passing. Our tailback had 27 catches, and 1003 yds. rushing for over 1,400 multipurpose yds. Our WR had a conference leading 80 catches for over 1,100 yds. while our other WR had nearly 700 yds. finishing 2nd in the conference.
Needless to say, Dan’s system produces great results. Dan is always assessable and will answer any and all questions. For the most part, I have been working with Dan for 7 yrs. and couldn’t be happier. I highly recommend the Dan Gonzalez Passing System
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach
Oak Hills High School
So thankful for the chance to speak at the Dallas GLAZIER CLINICS this weekend, and to all the coaches who came out to see me. Here is a copy of my presentation, along with the video that went along with it:
Living in Allen, TX and using this outlet to not only stay close to the game I love, but to help pass on what I have learned from some of the game's great coaching minds.