|06-13-2008, 02:42 PM||#1|
|^|Punter of Gnomes|^|
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Long Beach
offensive and defensive schemes misconceptions
Lots of misconceptions out there regarding offensive and defensive schemes and what they mean to a team and the players playing within them. For instance, the huge misconception about the 3-4 is that the guys up front need to be massively huge. I'll clear that up later on; for now it was just an example. For all you football noobs out there, or football fans looking for more of a coach's insight, look no further.
Many people overlook the fact that Quarterbacks of any kind are typically a "system" QB.
Many coaches bring their system with them where ever they go, and look for Quarterbacks that fit the mold of their system. For instance, you wouldn't catch Peyton Manning running a June Jones Run'N'Gun scheme where he could be exposed as an immobile statue waiting for the deep routes to develop. But you will, and do, catch him in a more classic offensive scheme utilizing 2 short routes, a deep route and a first down route: to maximize the usefulness of that quick release and keep him from getting abused back there.
You either find the right QB for your system, or you adjust your system or create a new one for a QB who feel you can scheme around. If you think calling a Quarterback a system QB is a knock on their abilities, you've a lot to learn about football.
West coast offenses are not always heavily lopsided on the pass end of the run-pass ratio.
This is a huge misconception. Many people associate west coast offenses with a scheme like Andy Reid's in Philly, where the passing routes are very diverse and passing to the variations of routes are the main aspect of the offense. However, West coast offenses have many variations. There have been several which were very run oriented, Denver's version under Shannahan the highlight of such offenses. What makes an offense a "west coast" offense are two factors.
First and foremost are design-scripted plays being a big part of the offense. In other words, passing plays which are intended to get the ball to a specific target at a specific time regardless of coverage, usually in the shallow areas of the field, in an effort to let the reciever gain yards after catch. Lots of screens, short crossing patterns, digs, flares and wheel routes are perfect examples of what is considered a west coast offense. A good west coast offense can actually pre determine their first 10 to 15 plays of the game and have success doing it without having to adjust the gameplan. The other main factor is the widened use of option routes which are routes designed to go one of two or sometimes three ways based on the coverage the defense plays.
And always remember: There are many variations of this sytem. West coast offense is over used as a description really, because no one uses the same form of it anymore.
There is a two tight end offense
Completely false. There are two tight end sets. But not offensive schemes. And there are many variations of two tight end sets, the most common in today's NFL being the Singleback formation - a formation using one runningback. The trend was hot for a year or two but has died out some with the failure on many running back's part to be successful running without any lead blocker. Most teams began motioning one of the TEs to the backfield to block, thus nearly entirely defeating the purpose of a Singleback formation.
Spread offenses use 4 WRs in their base offensive set.
Not entirely true and a misconception caused by Madden video games. A spread offense is a scheme which relies on using more than the basic two WR sets more often than using said two WR sets in an effort to spread the defense out and maximize running lane potential and enable the QB to have an easier time pointing out blitzers, coverages and get a better feel for the defense. Usually it's done with three wides, just enough to pull a LB out of the box in some situations, or draw more nickel defenses which only further raises the chances of a big running lane than drawing a LB into coverage. It does not mean using 4 wides every play. In fact, doing so is a nice way to get your QB injured in time. It would also prevent you from running effectively with any consistency. Less blockers means harder to find lanes, which often means more runs to the outside.
There's the 3-4 and the 4-3. That's it.
If your speaking about front 7 alignments, then yeah, nowadays, thats about all there is. But simply being a 3-4 or a 4-3 base front doesn't at all explain what kind of scheme you run. Each front has many, many variations on how they are run, called, designed and played.
The main differences are in aggressiveness and coverages. Some 4-3 schemes, like the now infamous "Tampa 2", rely on tough man stopping power up front, passive zone coverages and occasional aggressive blitzing from the linebackers, and strong over the top help from safeties in a cover 2 assignment playing deep. While an offense like say the NY Giants, who also run a 4-3, are much more aggressive. They rely on pass rushing and push from he linemen, and emphasize tenacity and speed from the linebackers to stop the run, and keep a safety closer to the line to help support those backers.
The 3-4 scheme is more aggressive
Entirely not true. Generally, the 3-4 was designed with the intention on disguising where the fourth rusher is coming from. The 4-3 has four down linemen, so you'll usually see 4 men rushing unless there is a blitz, then there would be five rushers. In the 3-4, with 3 down linemen, the fourth rusher is not considered a blitzer. So when an offense knows there will be a fourth rusher, because there almost always is, but has to figure out which one to of the four linebackers will rush it begins to cause confusion on every down. It's not so much extra aggressive as much as it is more complex for the offensive line and quarterback to work against.
The fifth rusher would be considered a blitzer. And there are 4-3 schemes which send fifth rushers more often than you'll see some 3-4 schemes do. A perfect example of this is the Patriots. They run a 3-4, so many are so quick to comment on the aggressive nature of their defense. Completely wrong. They run a more relaxed 3-4, which is actually quite similar to a 'Cover 2'/'Tampa 2' defense with a 3-4 front. Thus all those "bend but don't break mentality" comments from analysts during New England's last SB run (prior to losing to NY). Relax, stay put in your area of the field, make a play when you can. No chasing, leaving your post and being the cause for a huge cutback run. Give them only what they can get, nothing more. Bend but don't break.
Whereas, say, Wade Phillips' version of the 3-4 front, utilizes a fifth rusher almost every other down they use a 3-4 formation in Dallas and asks his players to aggressively swarm the ball and leave their post in an effort to make an earlier tackle - at the price of risking, as I said above, a huge cutback lane for a TD.
Aggressive is not better or more effective. Aggressive is a preference by some coaches. Same with passiveness. Not anymore effective than an aggressive D, it's simply just a preference.
3-4 needs huge guys up front
Not entirely true. What you need is muscle mass. DEs who are quick enough to stay in an OTs face and strong enough to keep them off the OLB. You don't need to be huge to do that. You just need to be strong enough, mentally as well as physically, to do it. And DTs (Nose tackles in a 3-4) who are powerful enough to neutralize the center and delay a Guard from reaching LB level and blocking him.
Again, you don't need to be massively huge - in fact, you want those guys to be pretty nimble too, not just powerful - you just need to be strong mentally and physically. Speed rush ends and push generating DTs fail in the 3-4 because their athleticism doesn't stretch to their pure strength. Not their size. But again, you need not be massive to do it - there is no such thing as an undersized DL, just a DL not strong enough to do the job needed of them in a 3-4 front.
Cover 2 is a scheme the Buccs and Colts run
Wrong. Very wrong. Cover 2 is a type of defensive playcall that has existed for decades now, which utilizes two deep safeties in zone coverage. There are many ways of using it, with all sorts of zone assignments or man coverages in front of the safeties. But bottom line, a cover 2 is a play. Not a scheme.
What the Buccanners and Colts run (among some other teams) is referred to as the "Tampa 2", as opposed to the cover 2. That is referred to as a scheme and not play, because the entire scheme of the defense is to utilize many different variations of cover 2 playcalling - man to man on one side with zones on the other, zones across the board, man across the board, etc. - while always maintaining their two deep safeties in cover 2.
That's pretty much all the average guy needs to know about offensive and defensive schemes. If you've read this and learned something, excellent. If you've read this and knew it all already, even better. But if I've been able to prevent one more ignorant poster from saying something like "Player A is too undersized for the 3-4" or "Player B is just a system QB and not really a good QB", then this entire post was well worth typing.
|06-13-2008, 02:43 PM||#2|
|^|Punter of Gnomes|^|
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Long Beach
4-3 Defensive Lineman
Two specific types of DT's are needed whose assingment differ from one another and different techniques and alignments make the two unique of one another also. Defensive lineman in this formation usually play a one gap responsiblity where their main responsibility is to attempt to split 2 blockers while not giving up any ground and maintain assigned rush lanes.
Figure one shows gap designations to clearly help define a DT rush responsibility in the run and pass game with A gap between Center and Guard, B gap between guard and tackle and so on. Figure 2 is a technique scale showing where the player is to line up. A "0" technique DT lines heads up on the center, 2 technique heads up on the guard and so on. The odd number designations have the player lining up in gaps such as a 3 technique player on the outside shoulder of a guard and a 5 techniqe player in the outside shoulder of the tackle.
The 2 DT's aforementioned in this alignment are as follows:
Nose Tackle: A tall bulky player in the desired 6'4" 320 lb range is utilized mainly as a run stuffer. His alignment will normally be a "0" shade technique to the weak side (side opposite tight end). This player must possess tremendous core strength to move an anchored blocker in the run game and pass protection as well as have long arms to raise them while rushing the passer in hopes of cluttering a QB's throwing lanes and batting down passes.
Under tackle (3 technique): This player, as mentioned, normally lines up in a 3 technique position on the strong side. His role is greatly expanded from the nose tackle. This player must be very athletic, strong, and agile at the same time. He is responsible for his gap designation against the run but is also relied upon to apply the bulk of the interior pressure on the quarterback while maintaining his assigned rush lane. By effectively pushing the pocket applying pressure and hopefully sacks, he also shortens the depth of the pocket not allowing the QB to step up giving the outside rush more of a chance to reach the QB.
3 technique DT's are some of the hardest players for NFL talent evaluators to find due to the fact that NFL big men are not always as athletic as takes to play this position. The competition for their services is so great that these players, when on top of their game, demand some of the highest salaries in football. A deep rotation of DT's (wave players) are also an asset as to keep these big men fresh for 60 minutes.
In this defensive set, the DE's are the pass rushers. The players given the enviable job of grabbing headlines rushing the QB. Different coaches employ differnent variations of the defense so the style of player they covet can vary. Some coaches prefer DE's with a smaller body type who bring an explosively quick first step as an edge rusher to effectively beat tackles to the edge reaching the QB from the backside. This style of player isnt always the adequate vs. the power run game and normally attempts to play the run on his way to reaching the QB as opposed to having a run first assignment. This is the desired body type in Dungy's new Tampa 2. Other philosophies search for somewhat larger players who can equally play the run and rush the passer as well. On the strong side, the players usually have to beat a tackle and tight end alike to apply pressure so the strength attained from the extra bulk helps to play stout at the point of attack. Think Will Smith in (NO) or Aaron Kampman (Green Bay). The stouter players usually play the bandit position (SDE) while the the quicker players usually line up on the back side in attempts to come from a short corner.
34 Defensive Line
There are 2 basic schemes surrounding DL in a 34 set. One gap, and 2 gap. A 1 gap player has responsibility of just that. His job is to man one gap in the run game whether it be "A" gap (between OC and OG), "B" gap (between OG and OT) or "C" gap (between OT and TE)c and not give any ground. The technique these 1 gap tackles use is to explosively burst upfield with at quick first step as trying get into the backfield to create problems for play development. This has become the most prevalent style of DL play in the NFL largely due in part to when it is employed effectively and with the interior rush getting penetration, it allows LB's and CB's to drop into coverage quicker thus becoming more effective.
A 2 gap DL has much different responsibilities. His job is to explode into offenseive lineman occupying more than one blocker at a time allowing the linebackers to run free and make tackles. His responsibility is to man the gap on either side of him.
34 Nose Tackle (NT)
The nose tackle in a 34 base set has several different responsibilities than a tradition 43 DT. His ideal frame is short, compact, and stout with exceptional strength. As opposed to a 43 Tackle, he doesnt need to be taller with long arms to put an arm up in passing lanes on throwing downs because pass rush isnt his first responsibility In the run game his job first and foremost, is to occupy the Center with enough leverage that a guard must help block him. He can never allow the post snap line of scrimmage to be pushed back. Normally in pass rush, his main goal is to push the Center back into the pocket far enough as to not allow the QB to step up in the pocket avoiding the outside rush. A good Nose Tackle who does his job well is essential for this defense to be successful.
Defensive Ends or "5 techniques" (DE)
They are also first and foremost run stoppers. Their ideal frame is tall and athletic in the 290 lb range and good strength. Taller players are preferred for this position as they usually have long arms to disengage from blockers in the run game. Usually lined up in an elongated 3 point stance, they also must explode into the OT hard enough that he cant be blocked by a single tackle or guard. If this player occupies both blockers, he successfully completed his job allowing the linebackers to run free. He is also responsible for manning the gap on either side of him in the run game and collapse the pocket in the pass game not allowing the QB to step. The 5 technique player must possess good lateral movement to string a play out to the sideline as well. But the modern day NFL has made this player into a predominant one gap attacker and disrupter be it in a slant or gap scheme. The success of a defense can rely heavily on the ability of this player to be a finisher.
Last edited by ICON; 06-13-2008 at 02:46 PM..
|06-13-2008, 02:45 PM||#3|
|^|Punter of Gnomes|^|
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Long Beach
A gameplan is the the entire "plan of attack" for a team on offense and defense. The complexity of a gameplan is actually very deep, and there's much more to it than what the announcers mention of it. For example, it wouldn't be just "stop the run and establish the run." There is so much more to even that simple gameplan mentality.
Gameplans consist of a base mentality or concept that is comprised of your goals for that game on both offense and defense.
You base this gameplan mentality on what your opponent does well and does not do well, their key players, their scheme, and your best chance to exploit the weaknesses while concealing your own. Then you prioritize them in order of most importance to least importance. Sort of the base plot line if you were writing a story.
For example, if you feel the running defense on the opposing team is weak, then you make establishing and continuing the inside run priorty #1 on offense. If the opposing offense has a great WR that threatens your defense, you could make double coverage on that player your first defensive priorty.
The way in which you prioritize things should always reflect what your opponent does well. However, whether your list is prioritized with ways to counter your opponent first (a defensive, protective approach) or ways to attack them first (an aggressive approach) is a big part of the gameplan in itself. This could vary from game to game, but it mostly varies from coach to coach, Offensive minded Hc's tend to have priorities that attack, while defensive ones tend to show a protective list of priorities first. But again, this could vary from game to game.
The defensive or offensive scheme that the team runs plays a big role in what gameplan is created for that game. The gameplan must be comprised of concepts that your team is capable of doing.
Some schemes, for instance, one that relies on zone coverages, probably won't benefit at all from making blitzing a top priority and thus would never make that a focal point of any of their gameplans. Your gameplan has to match your scheme, just as your scheme must match your players.
For more on schemes both offensive and defensive, read the Football Schemes: For Dummies guide written earlier in the Football FAQ.
Playcalling is the most intimate part of the gameplan. If the list of priorities that were made based on the offensive/defensive schemes and the other teams' strengths/weaknesses is the base plot line for a story, playcalling is the actual script.
To assemble an effective gameplan you need to map out the best plays you are capable of running that reflect your priorities. For example, if your top priority on offense is to attack a teams very weak and exploitable weak-side cornerback, then you'd want to include lots of plays in the gameplan that are designed to isolate your reciever on that side with that particular corner. As well as any other plays that have that reciever as the "hot read", or in Madden terms, "hot reciever", where that reciever takes priority in the QB's progression.
Again, this is what makes the scheme so important. A team has to be able to execute many forms of gameplan, and the scheme must be capable of being adjusted. The plays in the scheme must have several variations for this reason, many of which may sit at the bottom of a playbook never called until the one day the coach feels the need to make that play part of his gameplan.
The gameplan is vital in this aspect. It determines which plays are brought into a game and practiced during the week. A playbook could have upwards of 300 to 400 plays sometimes, even more. But not all of them are run during the course of the season; it's more based upon the selection of 100 or so plays (sometimes more, sometimes less) made by the coach or coordinator for that gameplan. These plays are then practiced during the week and sometimes printed in words on paper for the QB to wear inside that QB wrist band so that he can find the number that is called to him and read the play.
This does vary from coach to coach, but in the modern NFL with the vast, deep playbooks of today, this has become very common.
Actually calling the plays is an entirely different issue, and we'll get into that another time perhaps.
It has become vital for coaches and coordinators to be able to make adjustments to their initial gameplan. Because coaches are constantly trying to outsmart each other, both sides will make changes to what they planned to do based on what the other team is doing.
It becomes a constant chess match between coaches, constantly trying to incorporate what they see the other team doing into their plan of attack and deciphering ways to counter the other team without straying too far from the original gameplan.
Some coaches strive at this and actually prefer very vague initial gameplans so they can narrow it down at halftime and pinpoint the exact changes that need to be made during the game. This can be positive in that it enables you to keep your gameplan diverse from the start and key in on your opponents gameplan before commiting to anything completely. But it can be negative in the fact that it can sometimes leave your team exposed with no direct course of attack out of the starting gate.
Gameplans are the planning of which way(s) coaches plan on handling an opponent's offense and defense. The way that plan is structured is important, because it can mean the difference between being over aggressive, and much too conservative.
While the structure of a gameplan varies as much as how it's structured, it's importance to any game and for any coach doesn't. A great gameplan executed well by a decent team can beat a great team who had a poor gameplan for that game.
SOON TO COME
Quarterbacks; An Guide to:
Runningbacks; How to:
Wide Recievers, The Making of:
Offensive Linemen; All you need to know about:
Cornerback Owner's Manual
Safety: Behind the Scenes
|06-13-2008, 04:01 PM||#8|
Just hanging out.
Join Date: Aug 2005
|06-13-2008, 04:08 PM||#9|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Orlando, Florida
Jack Del rio
What about the important "Off season" threads I have become accustomed to ::
Good stuff, thanks.
|06-13-2008, 04:26 PM||#10|
Anybody want a peanut?
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ceti Alpha V
I'm glad you explained what the West Coast offense is (or isn't). There really is no such thing anymore. Walsh expanded on philosophies pioneered by Brown and those concepts have been adopted to fit each Coach's personal philosophy. However a lot of coach's find out what their players are good at and build their offense to those strengths. It's not always about the scheme. Notice how we started running longer passing patterns toward the middle of the field and more shotgun once Cutler was starting to suit his experience and big arm. The reality is outside of terminology, nobody's offense can be boxed into any one category. They are more reflective of the personnel on the team and the character of the coach than what any one coach created.