As one who is an admirer of the rhythm of the Zampese/ Coryell passing system (and I'd have to call you a communist if you weren't), one could say that few things in offensive football are prettier than the QB taking a rhythm drop, hitting a quick post as the receiver crosses the defender's face, and turning a short pass into a huge gain.
A staple play of the system is SCAT 525 F POST; from Zampese/ Coryell to Turner to Martz to all the others who descend from this lineage, this play was sure to figure prominently in the play selection.
While his predecessors switched personnel groupings to get the desired player in the F position, Martz added the ability to simply call 525 Z Post/ H Post/ X Post to give the play even more formation flexibility. Whether it was Faulk, Bruce, Holt, Az-Hakeem, or Proehl, Martz's Rams could dial up anyone to run the quick post. The play is designed to isolate the Post runner (hopefully vs. no short hole player) for a quick rhythm throw and catch.
There are only 2 caveats:
1. The post runner is not to chop his steps -- this is an absolute in this offense in general
2. The post MUST cross the face of the man over him.
If #2 DOES NOT happen, the passer hitches up, and swings his eyes backside, to the 3 man pattern created there. While the likes of Aikman, Warner, Fouts, and even Everett have shown the ability to do so, I would place this on the higher end of the spectrum, as far as degree of difficulty is concerned.
As a solution, I offer BANDIT, which is a variation of BRONCO, the backside option route discussed here
Using the RAM advantage principle, the passer is able to assure a clean 1 on 1 to the slot; because of the option route rather than a "locked" quick post, there is a place to go with the ball even if the slot cannot get inside.
On the Cowboys' first 3rd and medium last Thursday, Dallas dialed up 525 F Post. The Raiders had a 2 man disguise, only to come up with a Zone Blitz.
The Cowboys have Miles Austin (#19) in motion to give him the release he needed as the post runner; however, the blitz forced Tony Romo to make a protection check at the line, delaying the snap and making Austin come to a set position:
RAM rules dictate to throw away from rotation, but to throw TOWARDS a blitz, as we want our eyes on protection problems first. At the snap, the blitz is picked up; however, there is simply no way for Austin to get inside the LB (#53) buzzing out to him:
From the QB's point of view, one can see the clear advantage of being able to hitch up, allowing the receiver to pivot out, as his access inside is denied, resulting in an easy completion:
The corner will be cleared by the outside receiver, and the QB will not be stuck holding on to the ball with no place to go, as Romo was on this play. Furthermore, if the QB was treating this is straight zone because of the protection check (the zone blitz was nullified), the popular Y CROSS pattern is available for the passer away from rotation. Because the passer's eyes are on MIKE instead of locking in on the slot at the onset of the play, he can bring his eyes all the way our in front of the cross. The route technique affords the crosser the ability to defeat the match technique:
As the season moves along into every team's "crunch time", I am busy catching up with clients, watching games and practice clips, and offering suggestions where I can. Aside from the camaraderie and relationships, this is the part I really miss: the game-planning. Getting to specific problems and specific solutions with specific players in mind is always fun.
For this reason, I've always loved studying NFL tape. While many have felt that NFL offenses were too homogenized, there are always been those who push the envelope. A highs school or a small college has more in common, roster-wise, with the NFL and than it does with a Division 1 powerhouse. I say this because a small college or high school's depth is much more similar to a pro team's roster - where the dropoff from a starter to a backup might be HUGE - in contrast to the revolving door of Parade All- Americans that can be found on top college rosters.
Further - this year in particular - those who follow the NFL have seen an overarching effort in attacking defenses. More and more teams are in the no-huddle mode on a regular basis, and still deploying a full array of pass concepts. And while zone-read concepts are in play, they are used judiciously or not at all, because of the lack of depth at that position; this is certainly a concern in many high school situations I know of. In fact, I think the pendulum has swung, with "generic" spread systems being more prevalent at the COLLEGE level with little variety from team to team.
I also think that for these reasons, the flexibility of the system we have in place allows us to take advantage of whatever physical match ups we can dictate. In the system described in "Recoded and Reloaded",
I took the best ways I know of assigning pass routes, and sequencing them for the QB.
For the purpose of calling pass patterns, we use a numbered route "tree" to call the frontside receiver's assignments. This innovation eliminates confusion when moving players within a formation -- one of the keys to dictating matchups. Much is said about "dictating matchups," yet I find it interesting that few systems allow for this without an inordinate amount of memorization on the part of the player.
More importantly, these is a way to communicate WHERE THE QB PUTS HIS EYES. Getting people open on a pass play is of little importance if there isn't a corresponding way to have the passer ready to throw there in a given time. We accomplished this by designating Advantage Principles that isolate defenders, and Concepts that stretch those "2 on 1s". From there, we have "3rd Fix" outlets that break into the QB's vision. In our nomenclature, this is referred to as ACTS.
Using these principles, we can dictate (from one play to the next) the thought process we feel will best deliver the ball to the intended receiver. We built a system of teaching in which "new learning" is minimized. Still, there are situations where some defenses required extra cues for the passer. In today's no-huddle environment, the old "catch all" of sending instructions in with a messenger is no longer an option; it is also poor form for a coach to ask a player to execute something he has never practiced before.
These "cues" would be something similar to the navigation system in my car: I would have a standard route to follow (A.C.T.S.), but if there was an obstruction, the computer (the coach) could direct me to an alternate route. These "Navigation Tags" would fit right in with the normal mode of play calling, allow a coach to guide his passer mid-drive, and best of all, allow practical solutions that can be built into practice and can be called upon whenever the situation arises.
Having this means of communication allows the offense to attack a defense to the fullest extent, without the benefit of a 14-year veteran QB. This allows one to be flexible with pass patterns, and can take advantage of a great plan on the part of a coaching staff.
There are 3 Navigation Tags; for the purpose of brevity, I will give brief explanations, and go into depth with the FALCON tag.
RAIDER - code for "Read Advantage to In/Under" We are telling our passer we want to take a look at the frontside throw through the coverage, but if not, go immediately backside to a High/Low we have built for you. When developing full-field pass patterns, defenses can overplay the frontside route, and recover on the backside. For us, an "UNDER" is any check release or short route holding the window open for the IN.
DRAGON - in this system's use of half-slide protection, where the back checks frontside and drags backside on any of our Drag tags (below), "DRAGON" tells the QB to stay with the called crosser for an extra count, and go straight to the back's drag from there. In communicating, the call below would simply change to LT BROWN 8 A BADGE DRAGON.
FALCON -- our code for "Flash At LOS; Otherwise - Normal." Here, we use a WHIP tag on the backside of a standard pattern. WHIP serves two purposes: first, it allows our QB (or coach) to signal a "press man beater" based on how the defense is aligned. Below, diagram 1 is a "rub" for #1, and #2 is a "rub" for #2. Second, the man setting the rub continues on an IN route, so that the passer has a completely intact pattern, from frontside to backside.
Once the selection is made, the QB needs to confirm if the RUB is successful at the snap. If it is, he's letting the ball go. If not, he would use the same process he would on the given frontside pattern (471 is shown below). Once again, versus zone, the pattern still has the feature of a backside in as the Third Fix for the QB.
Navigation Tags allow the coach to control where the ball goes based on the game situation, without the need to wait for a the next offensive series. These tags also hold the coach accountable to the game plan by giving specific instructions to the offense in the present tense. Most importantly, it removes much of the guesswork for the quarterback; it assures that the offense will be the "last to have the chalk" on a down-to-down basis.
A SYSTEM FOR CREATING EMPTY SETS
I have always been associated with multiple-formation offenses, and I view the ability to line up in a no-back set as a simple extension of this philosphy. We've developed nomenclature and rules that not only shorten formation names, but provide easy-to-grasp alignment terms as well.
In order to align receivers, we use the following:
Using the above terms, we can combine with terms that move our B (or his sub) to the following spots below:
Using the above formula, we can incorporate POWER PLAYERS (TEs, H-Backs, FBs) into our empty package. Being able to jump in and out of these sets from different personnel groups (as part of a normal no-huddle attack) can stress a defense, as defensive calls must either be standardized or as part of a "check" package. Either way, a predictable response can give the offense an upper hand. The key remains having a system of formationing and play calling that eliminates NEW learning.
From 1 TE/1 RB, the option route by the back is helpd by the stack. W is now a true "walkaway" player, and there is a greater chance to get into the space vacated as M goes strong. We use the RAM Advantage Principle here.
The presence of 2 tight end bodies on the field often requires a defense to account for 7 gaps in the front, often leading to some type of 3 deep coverage. A basic pattern for us is shown below. Again, there is no new learning, based on the 3 route stems that are universally taught in the offense.
Our TROJAN grouping features 4 WR and a TE/ H-Back. Not only can we run all our basic routes, like the DRIVE combination below, but the defense must also make some telling decisions. How will they handle 3 receivers away from a TE/FL set?
This formation also gives the DIG on "LEVELS" a bigger body running the route - against the S linebacker instead of the W. Here, the M is removed even further to the three receivers, putting S on an Island.
Best of all from this grouping, there is the possibility of 6 man protections. Many times, when the defense sees the running back leave the field, they will attack with a 6 man pressure or play zone with 3 down linemen. Below, we use the NUMBERS Advantage Principle to direct the passer to the best possible combination.
If the defense responds by putting 3 down linemen on the field, the presence of the H back allows you to run QB power or zone; these plays can be run as a check package at the line -- once again taking advantage of being a no-huddle offense.
Sometimes, EMPTY sets can benefit the passing game even when the defense goes with a 3 down front. Here, the offense uses empty to get a 3 down front and minimize the pass rush; it then uses sweep action to dislodge defenders in the way of the pattern. Once again, a basic pattern is used.
HAVING A PURPOSE
The moral to the story is that EMPTY sets are an effective tool if used with a purpose. Like anything else, they can get a predicatble response from the defense, or create more space for a receiver (or runner). As discussed in my previous blog about gameplanning
, there are also great ideas that can be gained from a protection aspect.
When I put out my second book
in late February, it was a departure from the terminology I used when I was coaching. As I had previously mentioned, the impetus was an attempt to create a structure so that little guys (like the one below) can start learning real passing structures, as opposed to the trick play fest (that, or 1-receiver routes) many teams will run at this age. While most of the feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive, there were some detractors, expressing concerns that the pass system was not simplified. All I have seen is proof to the contrary.
Despite being as green as you could be (only 2 of our 11 kids have played organized football before this summer), the progress has been outstanding. With just one initial installation meeting, the rules, route tree, and backside tags used were introduced. I made parent participation mandatory (which also gives them ownership and understanding, curbing questions like "why won't you let my son play quarterback"), and the basic nomenclature was laid out using the same PowerPoints seen here
. The assimilation has been astounding!
We used 2 of the 3 Advantage Principles, and have installed the following possibilities backside:
- Slide (we are calling "half" - as a 5 yard in is half of the basic 10 yard in
- Beam/ Box (backside streak reads and switched streak reads)
Over the course of summer 7 on 7, we'd hit all 4 different advantage routes for scores (Flag, Seam, Post, and Hook), as well as Wheel, Drag, and Switch routes. Even more astounding is the availability of the THIRD FIX -- the principle that allows us to attack the full width and depth of a pass defense. When a group of 8- and 9- year olds can digest this, it is hard to give credence to claims by a few who think the system presented is "too advanced for high school players."
Moreover, I keep getting notes like the one below, from one of my clients in Ohio:
"Two years ago my staff and I went on a search for an offensive system that would help incorporate all of our schemes into an organized pattern and read system. We were lucky enough to find Dan’s first book and implemented his stuff into our program for the 2012 season. We finished with an undefeated season and over 5000 yards of offense. We changed all language and didn’t miss a beat. It is that simple. This past off season Dan’s new book Recoded and Reloaded really brought things together. Dan’s new book is as comprehensive, thorough and simple as they get. We have been lucky enough to have 5 straight All Ohio Quarterbacks at our place over the past 10 seasons. We have had a tremendous amount of team and offensive success over the years. Some coaches feel you shouldn’t mess with successful schemes. We believe you should continue to find better ways to do the things you do well. I can say without reservation we found that in Dan’s new book. Our skilled players have a much better understanding of the offense and our Quarterback has a complete understanding of his reads and progressions. We decided to have Dan fly up to Cleveland and spend a weekend with our staff. Dan is fantastic to work with and the whole weekend was spent on the passing game. We did not have to gut our offense and start from scratch. We found, in Dan, a way to re –language everything and have the ability to add in any of the best schemes at any time. I can tell you this, we have had several years with 5000 or more yards in a 10 game season and I feel we are more explosive in the passing game than ever going into camp this season. How the system uses advantage routes as a first progression has proven invaluable. In addition, the backside route system is fantastic. I find myself hoping the advantage route and the concept are covered so we can get to the third fix!! I would recommend his book to anyone searching for a complete system. Lastly, I would recommend having Dan come see you and your staff as he is a fantastic teacher. Five months later he is sending updates and texts as he develops new things. Great stuff!!"
Head football Coach
Willoughby South High School
The further my clients get into the teaching phase of this pass system, the more convinced I am that this structure of calling pass plays is superior to what I did previously. Many coaches are hesitant to make such a leap (overhauling a system that had worked so well for so long), but I felt like it was an opportunity to offer the teams and coaches I work with a “catch-all” system of passing that could be taught to literally any level of player, but could also attack a defense with virtually any pattern structure.
Likewise, high school teams that have switched to the system have reported a great ease in installation, and have added their feedback to improve the overall system in general. Because of the frontside tree (seen by some as too cumbersome), we are able to make adjustments that bring not only flexibility, but minimize learning burden as well.
In this post, we'll look at some very inexpensive (from the offense's standpoint, in this way of teaching) adjustments to the "Big 3" patterns in this offense: Stick, Verticals, and Drive.
We first examine STICK:
The diagram above represents the way I learned the play, with the backside “Glance” or “Quick Post” providing an individual Advantage Route, discouraging defensive rotation over the Stick/ Flat combination. This setup, however, had a “point of no return” when the passer chooses the glance; if he chose incorrectly, there was no way to get back to the stick/ flat combo. However, if we deepen the depth of the Stick, giving a receiver more ability to adjust, we can now give the passer the best of both worlds:
Further, with the rules built in to our system, we can alter the QB’s thought process, without the need for a Sideline discussion in between series:
The 9 is NOT an individual Advantage Route, and we can tell adjust the Z’s route when we don’t need him to be on a post. Because the passer’s eyes will be inside, there is no need for a post. Because of the system, we can adjust a receiver’s assignment without burdening memorization. Another example of a situation specific adjustment could feature this pattern in anticipation of tight man coverage:
Another nifty adjustment that takes advantage of a team’s gifted option-route runner is seen below. Using the RAM principle, the W is always in a bind. A complete write up on this can be found.
We are also able to incorporate the option route from 3-1 sets, utilizing the option route described above and mating it with the popular “Y Cross” pattern:
Though this pattern isn’t technically a member of the vertical game, I included it in this article to give an example of how to attack a specific response by a defense. The changeup above specifically attacks a pass defense’s attempt to cover up the 3x1 Four Vertical pattern, with M and F riding the #3 and the S walling off the #2 receiver:
Once again, our system can help a QB navigate the murky waters of a pass defense, and use Streak Read adjustments to or away from the 3 receivers. Keep in mind that the streak read is a univeral route in this system; the core routes of the offense are taught to all position groups so that there is no new learning when making such an adjustment.
We are also able to “slow down” the locked seam for the QB, and try to manipulate the S who is taught to wall #2, once again with no added learning burden:
This method of re-distributing rules on the backside also greatly aided the DRIVE pattern; the utilization of a THIRD FIX of the passer’s eyes frequently finds a receiver the defense cannot account for.
Getting the ball to a drag route in a vacated flat area is a primary goal of the DRIVE pattern. Once again, we are able to attack defensive responses without increased learning burden, and without changing the picture for the QB:
DOT is a tag that stands for "Drag with an Outside Two;" the "2" route enters the area that was previously occupied by the back. Since we are wheeling him to the frontside, this a cheap, easy way of creating the same look for the QB.
The biggest story in pro football this past offseason, unfortunately, had nothing to do with football. And while nothing can approach the gravity of that situation, it does leave an affect on one of the most dangerous offenses of the past decade. As training camps open around the NFL, many are concerned with personnel turnover in New England, and what it means for the perennial Super Bowl contender.
So, I dug back into the film vault, and went back to 2006. Randy Moss was a disaster with the Raiders, and Wes Welker was still a Dolphin. They had just lost two starting receivers (David Givens and Deion Branch), and were relying on journeyman receivers Reche Caldwell and Jabbar Gaffney. Still, this was the Patriots, and Josh McDaniel and Bill Belichick still had Tom Brady, who had won three championships with receivers who were not quite household names. What I found was a team that did what all great offenses do: they ATTACK, while at the same time minimizing its weaknesses. While TV analysts like to talk about player matchups, these matchups are dictated by scheme, and no one schemes better than the Patriots.
Below is an example of how formationing can provide a unique advantage for the offense:
With 2 tight ends on the field (Daniel Graham and Ben Watson) they are able to dictate a single high safety coverage. By condensing the splits of the outside receivers, the corners are forced to loosen their cushion. The result is the first completion of the ball game on a speed out to the receiver at the bottom of the screen. This is an example of an easy completion that was "manufactured" before the ball was ever snapped.
Easy completions will also come in the screen game; over the years, few have been as productive as the Patriots. Here, Kevin Faulk is about to get a big play, with a convoy of blockers in front to lead the way. My guess is that Leon Washington would fill that "receiving back" role this year. From an explosion standpoint, there is a great deal of potential here.
Way before Wes Welker was taking apart defenses, the Patriots made heavy use of stacking receivers. Below, the blitz called by the Colts takes away any ability by the defense to play 3 defenders over 2 stacked receivers -- the only way to avoid losing a receiver in man coverage. The blitz is easily picked up, as the Patriots are in a 7-man protection. The motion man cuts under the X on the LOS, and the offense gets an explosive play with a relatively easy throw and catch.
Below, the Patriots' alignment is noteworthy, aside from being in an "Empty" formation. First, they are in their basic one-back, one-tight end personnel grouping does not give the defense any advanced warning of a no-back formation (and thus no cue to blitz/ zone blitz); the Patriots have the ability in their system, even from this formation, to check to a 6-man protection -- thus nullifying an overload from 2-deep. Second, FB/RB Heath Evans is deployed wide to the right - using up a corner on him, and making the SAM cover a wide receiver. And this is all pre-snap!
The play uses what I call the RAM Advantage Principle, in which the QB has a "2 on 1" pattern on either outside linebacker, and he simply "Reads Away from Mike" to gain an advantage. Brady has a "Hook" pattern (known as "Stick" in the West Coast Offense) to the right and a "Double Slant' pattern to the left. The red circle shows the MIKE already to Brady's right; all the slot receiver on the left has to do is cross the W's face for a big gain.As illustrated in my latest book on the passing game, RECODED AND RELOADED, we have a very similar staple using the RAM principle; the only difference is the use of an option route by the weakside slot. With M going to the right and W being wrong no matter what he does, a big play is the result:
As the play develops, one can see M continuing to the right, as the slot gets inside of the weakside defender. Another big play on a throw and catch that is relatively easy (please don't mistake, I am not minimizing Tom Brady's greatness; what I am explaining is how they manipulate every situation to their advantage, while many coaches will attempt much lower percentage methods of attacking).
Here is another Scoring Zone opportunity, this time against the Chargers. While there are man-to-man elements in this play, the highlighted combination is in anticipation of the zone defense many teams will employ in this area of the field. Watson will drag across the front of the end zone, attracting the weak safety, while X works the back line.
As the play develops, you can see the ball on the way to the open spot, with Reche Caldwell racing for the touchdown. The burst release puts the corner in a precarious position, as his "help" was absorbed by the drag route in the front of the end zone.
Below shows a play that is a descendant of the Run and Shoot "Choice" route. An easy way to read this pattern is what I call the third Advantage Principle in my book
, the NUMBERS read. Basically, the single receiver side features a pattern to attack a single-high safety defense, while the multiple-receiver side attacks a 2-high defense. The contour of the secondary clearly shows 1-high, and X at the top runs a burst out - an adjustment on the traditional 6-step speed cut out.
As the play continues, one can see how open X is as he catches the pass; this is an uncontested 14-yard gain, Brady could have been throwing to a trash can on the sideline and it would have been just as open against this defense.
The true beauty of the Patriots' offense doesn't lie in the eye-popping Fantasy Football numbers they produce. It is how they take very good defenses, and find ways to attack. Here, the offense takes advantage of a very well-coached Jets defense. First, the stacked receivers on either side forces the Jets to play "3 over 2" on both sides -- something we noted earlier that a well-prepared team SHOULD do. But, the Patriots also deploy the RB as a WR; "empty" formations trigger the Jets to check to max blitz. The defensive rules are contradicting themselves with this formation. After all that ruckus, the RB shifts back to the backfield. The middle linebacker upholds the blitz check.
But, once again, the Patriots already know this and are taking advantage. With the max blitz call, one of the 3 defenders at the top of the screen (assigned to play "3 over 2" just a few seconds ago) must now cover the back. The Patriots run a popular 3-man combination, but force the Jets to cover the back's flat route with a man furthest from him. The result is an easy touchdown.
So how did New England do back in 2006, after they lost 2 starting receivers and before acquiring Welker and Moss? 12-4, losing to the Colts in the AFC Championship game. They did so by creating situations for their receivers that are relatively easy to execute by degree of difficulty. What it requires is a quarterback to make the throws on time, and in the face of duress; they have that department covered.
It's been said that the future is in the past, and if 2006 was any indication, the Patriots offense will be just fine in 2013. The coaching and quarterback play raise the level of all the players in the system; while many teams seem to find ways to waste the talent on the roster, the Patriots find ways to squeeze every ounce of production from everyone they put on the field.
Will the Patriots be better once Gronkowsky is healthy? Of course they will! But, as I've discussed here, the Patriots won't just sit back and let let defenses dictate to them.
Every year, I spend a considerable amount of time breaking down football's most productive offenses. This off-season, I took considerable time with the Oregon offense, having watched every offensive snap from the past 2 seasons. With all the speculation regarding Kelly's jump to the Eagles, I decided to invest the effort in developing an educated opinion for myself.
Few systems have captured the imagination of a fan base the way Coach Kelly did at Oregon; it is no understatement to say that Oregon's attack has influenced football at every level. My study shed light on some findings that contradict common opinions of his system. I also made observations that lead me to believe his system can succeed at the NFL level, as well as some areas where I believe it is imperative to revamp the current structure in order to be successful.
Contrary to popular belief, the system itself looks more like Noel Mazzone's offense than it does that of Rich Rodriguez. In other words, the QB is less of a designed runner and more of a point guard. If I had never studied an Oregon game and simply read articles or listened to TV commentary, I would get the impression that the Ducks majored in the zone read. My study, however, showed that they actually run a relatively low number of GIVE/KEEP runs. A great deal of the rushing yards accumulated by the QB in 2012 were off of scrambles; further study of their run game shows how they gained advantages without necessarily committing the QB as a runner.
What I did see was a very effective selection of ways to keep the numbers advantage in a single-back environment. Here, the motion man fakes sweep action that continues to a wide flare, tying up the DE and the cutback player:
The endzone shot of the same play reveals the backside tackle is blocking the backside DE all the way (clearly not a read) and then #22 widening with the motion man's action. The TE attached will climb for Sam and the RG will zone up to #46. This is a great way to get a 5 man box look, even though they have an attached TE.
Of course, the TV people are saying, "here comes the Zone Read" -- although nothing could be further from the truth.
Once again, Kelly gives the defense (and TV commentators) the illusion of the ZONE READ, while running the traditional inside zone. The backside TE (#15) fights through the defensive end's shoulder and the ball is handed off. If this were a read, the nosey cutback player would have dictated a pull. This is not an isolated incident in this game, so cannot simply be a "missed read."
One pretty unique way of controlling the defense that I was was the changing the point of attack WITHOUT changing the blocking scheme. Below, the play called is POWER RT. Oregon will set the back to the call side, receive the handoff going left, and jabstep back to the right.
Kansas State, however, rolls the backers strong, giving them an unblockable defender at the POA. Also of note is the tight shade of the defensive end on the offense's left. The QB makes a call and the RB takes the handoff to the left, but CONTINUES on a sweep to the left. The line still blocks power to the right, and the defense reacts to the blocking scheme. With soft corners at the top of the screen, Oregon gets a sizeable gain.
Same D/D, formation, and play call. KSU's defense is slightly different with the backers in a more blockable position because of M's position relative to the centerline. The backside defensive end (now on the offenses right), however, is much wider. The call executed is the normal POWER to the left.
Is the defensive end the key? Possibly. Whatever it is, the use of quick screens and sweep actions are much more prevalent for the offense than QB keep/read plays in the offense.
In the passing game, Kelly's offenses reveal a great deal of quick rhythm, ball control passes. The read scheme is also more sophisticated then what they are usually given credit for. Here, Oregon runs "Stick" to the top of the screen, and "Levels" to the bottom. They are using what I term the RAM advantage principle on this play. Quick motion by the RB is used to force the defenses hand, and the MLB is forced to run with the back, isolating the WLB to be high-lowed.
Oregon will, as one might imagine, uses various gap schemes to protect play fakes. Here, the right guard pulls to sell the look of a run to the defense, only to reveal it is actual a play action pass attacking the vertical seams. The play action game is a big part of the attack; the big part of the passing game that I think needs tinkering is in the depths that their passes attack.
Many skeptics are on record questioning whether or not Chip Kelly's spread system can make the transition to the NFL; part of this is is due to the uninformed opinion that the QB is a designed runner in the system. My study tells me this simply isn't the case. So while Vick's ability to run is certainly an asset, I don't really see the zone read being the core of the offense, as the Redskins have done with RG III. The read game will be present, but not to the extent some would think.
In terms of delivery and coaching of an offense, I think the Eagles will be ahead of the curve. I think that quality reps are the key to execution, and they will be practicing faster than any team in the NFL.
My one reservation in watching Oregon's offense is the depth in the pocket by the passer. Oregon's QBs didn't really take a true drop, instead catching the snap and simply "hitching up" from that depth, and were at the pretty much the same spot, no matter what the pass. In the NFL, offenses need to attack at different depths, and the apex of the drop needs to match the route. In other words, a passer needs to be ready to throw just before that pattern comes open, rather than just holding the ball staring into that space. Drops need to be timed with the depths of routes. I think that this sort of refinement is a major area that Pat Shurmur will bring to the offense.
I am also interested in seeing what adjustments will be brought about in terms of communicating the play from the sideline to the field. Clearly, Coach Kelly is an innovator in this arena. I am curious as to how that is adjusted as players are released or traded, and end up on opposing teams. Every player that leaves Philadelphia will be an intelligence source for the opposition - something he did not have to deal with at Oregon.
I'm sure these questions have already been answered internally. The true hallmark of the offense is how it makes fast players seem even faster with the use of tempo and formationing. Given the versatility of the Eagles' receivers, running back, and tight end as threats in the run and pass game, I think they will give NFL defenses unique problems this year. I don't see the system as a gimmick in the NFL; rather, I see it beginning a trend that others will follow. They already have in New England.
Here's proof of how the system is being picked up - a player diagramming plays:
Sorry I haven't posted in a while; the end of the school year and transitioning between sport seasons is hectic. I will let you know that 7 on 7 has started for my son's team, and they have picked up the offense extremely well. We are using all the different stretch concepts, as well as 2 of the 3 Advantage Principles. Needless to say, my conviction to this system of teaching is even more strengthened, especially given the positive feedback I have gotten from high school clients installing the system this spring.
I have, however done some extensive study on some of the best offenses at both the professional and collegiate level; my next blog post will be my thoughts on Chip Kelly's offense, and how I think it will project to the Eagles, having watched every play they ran from last season.
I hope to have something up soon; in the meantime, I'll be posting a guest article for Coach Grabowsky's blog shortly.
I often see/ hear discussions amongst coaches contemplating which they prefer in a play calling structure -- numbered routes or concepts? My response -- why not both? As covered in RECODED AND RELOADED, we have combined the use of a numbered route tree for the fronside, tag words to delineate backside responsibilities, and the read concept in each play call. We are still able to use a very high tempo, and yet do not leave so much to simple rote memorization. This allows us to move players around, and still let players play fast.
I have had several clients install the system this spring with tremendous feedback. The terminology is easily assimilated, and the conceptual adjustments introduced with the updates allow not only for clear understanding, but for flexibility for the coach as well. One of the clearest signs of this is the first-hand experience so far with my son's 3rd-grade 7 on 7 team.
With just one installation meeting for the players (along with supplimental handouts and powerpoint presentations), I've been very impressed with not only retention, but execution as well. In addition to the full route tree and basic backside IN tags, we also installed SWITCH, DRAG, and HIDE (for my son's team, we are calling it HALF -- as in half the distance of a regular IN) tags. Moreover, two Advantage Principles were taught: Individual Advantage Routes, and the RAM principle.
When we refer to the term “Advantage Principle,” we are talking about more than a singular route in a pattern, although sometimes the two meanings overlap. This is because this “advantage” can sometimes be expressed in multiple routes or combinations.
This system defines three Advantage Principles that can be employed at the onset of a pass play:
- Individual Advantage Route
- “Read Away From Mike”
In our vernacular, RAM stands for "Read Away from Mike." We will build two stretches, one on either side of the formation, and simply attack a two-high defense by throwing away from the drop of the MLB. While some coaches might think of this as an advanced idea, it actually simplifies the thought process for the passer because it ensures a 2 on 1 in favor of the offense. We are teaching 2 RAM patterns:
Our simplistic terms allow us to dictate the stretch we want the QB to think about; the route tree and tags allow even the youngest players to build pictures in their minds. See for yourself:
Feel free to contact me through the consultant contact form with any questions.