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Game Planning and Play calling

AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 3:20 pm
Just reading on various boards and you normally hear about how a coach didn't adjust or how play calling is predictable. Maybe how we should have ran this formation or not ran another, but I was curious why game planning and play calling aren't talked about more from how coaches normally do it.

So I thought I'd try my best to explain some of it. If any other coaches, specifically Dorgan can throw in their 2 pennies, that would be good too.

Game Planning:

Normally after a game on sunday, you tend to re-watch film and grade your own players for your position. So usually on a sunday, I would have grade my TEs on their effort, assignment and technique. Same for passing plays, adding routes and how their supposed to be ran too.

Usually after you go over the previous games, and talked to the specific players you get film from the other team. This usually happens by tape exchange from the coaches. In the NFL, you have access to ALL the games ever played. So your video games, can create a cutup for that position coach.

Organization of Duties:

Usually the OC gives each position coach a task. For instance, The OL coach may just focus on DL fronts. For example, the Bears run a 43 defense. So how many fronts have we seen them run against the formations we run in our offense.


43 over
43 Under
43 wide
43 swim
43 wink

Goal line



So that OL coach checks out the front, and then you get a good look on how they line up.

The TE coach usually will see where the LBs are lined up specifically the SAM and where he is in relation to the TE.

You're WR coach may be checking out CBs and any their alignment.

QB coach and OC could be tallying and drawing out their blitzes they run by down and distance.

RB coach may be focusing on Lbs and safties.

So basically after they watch film you get a sense of how to attack that defense. The video guys and scouts also give you a player scouting report so you may target specific players too. But keeping this to scheme and the general ways to game plan, is my goal right now.

So basically now you are breaking everything by down and distance, and have it all over the offensive meetings room on the dry board.

So you see ok, they run a lot of 43 over. The OC may ask the OL coach what pass protection should we use for that. How many protections and concepts do we want to install? How many concepts have been successful out of the 3 games that will be carried over on in the game plan and eventually your call sheet.

So you may get the OL coach saying. Ok on a 5 or 7 step drop let's run BOB protection. Who knows you have that successfully installed anyways? If so, then because of specific blitzes they run, you may tweak some things just for them. Ok they blitz couple Lbs. So let's move the RB there, and then have the LB come as the "hot" Lb, where Eli can see, and get the ball out. We can also have the line slide as well.

So during this phase you install protections and concepts. So because Peppers is a beast let's run more quick game, and 3 step passes. We can install rollout, bootleg, and sprint out protections, while adding more slants and screens this week. On the other hand, the staff may say let's add more 5 and 7 step concepts because we feel our Wrs can take adv. of their secondary.

Xs and Os:

Now you get an image of how their defense lines up. So you may add new plays to install in the gameplan or install plays existing in your playbook for this defense.


4 Wide Set: Dime personnel, 43 front. That 43 front is typically a 43 swim front and they bring a sky safety with single high on top.

We feel that Smith and Nicks can High/low the safety, D. Manning by running C1 beaters such as NCAA concept on them, which is a 3 level vertical stretch that high/lows the single high.

SO something like that is the next step. Except you install your formations and then use how they line up in previous games as a guideline.


During the week now, you create cards and show how you want your scout defense to lineup based on the cards,and run that play. You may have installed new plays for this week, so this is the time to rep it. You do this during walkthrough, inside drill(running plays) and Pass skelly for passing plays.

Play calling:

So now you have all these plays and formations installed. So during the week you are creating a call sheet for this game. A call sheet is basically the Xs and Os in play terminology broken down by the OC to how he calls the game. Normally the standard way to do this is break everything by down and distance. On this call sheet you have timeouts, personnel packages for this game, opening scripted plays, half time adjustments, and so on.

Packages installed may be 4-10. For example:

NASCAR Personnel( Fast Wrs)

X: Nicks
Z: Manningham
Y Smith
H: Cruz

So that's our 4 wide fast WRs...

Regular: 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB

X Nicks
Z Smith
H Manningham
Y Boss

So you could have any amount taking adv. of individual players on their defense. Maybe NASCAR is effective vs them, so you use that personal more. For example before the play. NASCAR, NASCAR, Double Slot Strong Left X return all 9s on monday. That could be one of the successful plays we run.

Now play calling is based on what the OC is getting upstairs in terms of information. Usually after the first scripted series OR 2, the position coaches down stairs ask the players. IS what we studied or game planned for the way they are lining up? Now you get two answers.. YES or NO. If yes, we are fine, if no, you make adjustments and ask. So I would ask my TE player. When we line up in I pro left, is that LB at a 70T? If he says no, he is more ally, then we tell the guys upstairs.

But once the game is flowing the guys upstairs may see certain trends. But in terms of specific play calling Gilbride or any other OC would read from his call sheet.

For example:

3rd and (1-4)

1. Passing Play 1. Running play
2. Passing Play 2. Running play
3. Passing PLay 3. Running Play
4. Passing Play
5. Passing Play

So exchange the terms "passing play" or "running play" with specific terminology. Like I pro left 36 power. Shotgun-Double Slot right, 24 draw.

And basically now you are doing this for each down and distance, AND irregular down and distances too. So you may have a section for any down or 20 yards. So when we go 3rd and 30, we may have a few plays broken down in for that situation. Some really good OCs organize their call sheet in much detail.

But that's why as fans you may see some bread and butter plays ran over and over. Fans call this predictability, however the way the call sheet is broken down you see plays will repeat themselves in some fashion.

One aspect for creating a call sheet is also the statistics of what's going on offense. For example, how many total plays do we avg a game? Let's say 100 plays. Now in our system I want it to be 50-50.

SO 50 running plays and 50 passing plays. Now how many 3rd downs did we face this year. From there you keep breaking your call sheet down accordingly. Then that's your frame work. You then tweak it depending on opponent and your game plan.

But just thought I'd try my best to explain some of things going on behind the scenes on how coaches game plan. I am sure if anyone else who coached has something to add please feel free. I know Dorgan has a lot of experience, so maybe he can comment on a few things.

But game planning and play calling is more involved then what it may seem. Also, due to the dynamics of play calling you WILL get plays repeated. Remember your call sheet is finite, so in a course of a game you may get a down and distance to come up often for some reason. So that means you may see more plays from that section come up.

Hope this helps though.
Not sure why there are no comments here...  
Kevin_in_Pgh : 9/29/2010 4:32 pm : link
but thanks for posting - interesting stuff for those of us without any coaching experience.
Informative per usual  
Big Blue '56 : 9/29/2010 4:35 pm : link
Thank you
I have no coaching experience but wonder if you can explain...  
Dan in the Springs : 9/29/2010 4:48 pm : link
why don't they ever make any good play calls?

For example, I keep rooting at home for "The Annexation of Puerto Rico". I really think this is a good play but I'm always disappointed.

Hmmm.... good question..  
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 4:54 pm : link
Who is the best person to blame? Let's blame Gilbride for not installing that into the game plan. If he did, then from there we can blame Eli for changing the play at the line. So in conclusion my answer gives all fans the flexibility to 1. blame Gilbride, which is always the popular pick. However if one hates Eli, then it always gives them the latitude to blame him too. On the other hand, the perpetual pessimistic person can go with the other choice and blame both if they chose.
I say both  
GMANinDC : 9/29/2010 4:57 pm : link
Great read!!  
Saos1n : 9/29/2010 4:59 pm : link
Thank you!!
Thanks Anish  
micky : 9/29/2010 5:01 pm : link
I'm sure that even as you game plan, during the game a lot of adjustments are on the fly. I guess the idea is not to get too much off it even when things don't seem to pan out.
Appreciate the break down.  
SCGiantsFan : 9/29/2010 5:05 pm : link
Any basic rule of the number of plays listed for a set down and distance? I believe in running a play till the other teams stops, or adjusts to that play.

In the course of the game, say you have only three plays for a set down and distance, the defense might have seen all three plays and be that much more prepared for each option. Would it be more like 8 plays? Just wondering.

This couldexplain why line backers looks so good on a certain play. They have seen the play already. The anticipate and read their keys and attack what they see.

A+ thread.  
Giantology : 9/29/2010 5:05 pm : link
Would read again. Thank you Mr. Patel.
Semipro Lineman : 9/29/2010 5:07 pm : link
the lack of adjustment argument is one of my pet peeves/BS complaint on the site. I know damn well adjustments are made in the game but we aren't there on the sideline to see them being made. Your explaination of how a game plan is developed was informative and extremely well written. Thank you
Is there a way to force people to read this before signing up  
Kyle : 9/29/2010 5:13 pm : link
And posting?
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 5:13 pm : link
Usually in the adjustments section you have your adjustments. From what I remember when I read Bill Walsh stuff, he said that everything should be laid out so calling plays would be easy. Some said he scripted plays for a whole half. Not sure if he did that or not, but the thing is you want things to go smoothly. Hence a well designed call sheet. Usually you see an adjustments section on a call sheet, but that's up to the individual OC and his ability to be organized. I have seen terrible call sheets in my day. It's a cluster fuck of plays not organized. But from what I understand having an adjustment sections helps. It's like in chess where you try to think moves ahead, and put your plan B and C there. However, it's limited.. If the circumstances during a game are such, that it kills your game plan you're basically fucked.

An example is if you study for chapter 1, 2 and 3 on a test and the professor tests you on 3 , 4, 5 and 6. Chapter 3 or in this sense, a certain % of plays you can run, but the rest due to pass rush or penalties could hurt you big time.

So making adjustments on the fly work, but remember you're calling plays you basically installed and practiced throughout the week.
I'm always amazed  
SwirlingEddie : 9/29/2010 5:14 pm : link
that there's enough time to work this all out and practice it sufficiently between games.
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 5:19 pm : link
That's my pet peeve too. I know adjustments are being made, but we as fans don't:

1. Attend offensive game planning meetings
2. Call sheet
3. Head set

And the funny thing is you get fans commenting how adjustments aren't made. Oh, I bet they are made, now if they work or suck is a different issue. But I can assure you shit was adjusted but now if the whole game plan is shot because of something, then basically you're going to be fucked. It's not like you can keep calling shit you didn't install or practice.

Another issue is how good the information is coming from upstairs. People are so zeroed in on Gilbride and Eli, but remember Gilbride is on the sideline. He relies GREATLY on the guys upstairs telling him tendencies and what the hell is going on.

When we go 3 X 1, they keep bringing the safety down. Let's go play action, freeze the safety, and high/low the single high. Our matchups on the outside can beat their Cbs. So shit like that is what's going on upstairs, which you need to call a play.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge on this...  
okiegiant : 9/29/2010 5:24 pm : link
it was a very informative thread.
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 5:28 pm : link
That's usually up to the OC, however you normally calculate how many offensive plays run during a course of a game. Let's say 70.. Now let's say for math sake, my system is 50-50 run/pass.

35 Passing plays & 35 Run plays

Now how many 3rd down plays do we run a game or per year? How many irregular plays do we run a year? Irregular defined as fucked up situations like 1st and 30 or 2nd-35 or 3rd-20.. How many normal down and distances? Normal d/d defined as 1, 2, or 3rd 10.

So take that mathematical gymnastics, and break it down by how many situations you are in. Then tweak it based on your gameplan of attacking. Then install formations/plays to that design.

It really is an art and a pain to do. But thank god computers and saving the call sheets.


That's why coaches work insane hours. I remember I was like a zombie when I coached. I had no clue what was going on in the outside world outside of football. Game planning, meetings, practice, game... Then when you're free your talking football, and when you're not talking football you're watching football. And if you're not doing that, you are recruiting ( college only). In the pros, I am guessing you are dealing with media and other shit to take up your time.

That's the reason coaches, for the most part hate the media. They'd rather be working on their game plan , watching film cut ups made by the video guys.
Anish this is interesting.  
Scrub : 9/29/2010 6:04 pm : link
I have a question on your sample of I think it was 3 w/1-4 yds to go. You had:

1. PassPlay A 1. Run A
2. PassPlay B 2. Run B
3. PassPlay C 3. Run C
4. PassPlay D
5. PassPlay E

Does this mean that if the coach calls for Run B, it is in a formation that the QB can audible to Pass B (whatever they are), but if he calls Pass E, it either is in a formation that can't be switched to a run, or it is a directive to not audible, just run the play as called?

Is that why on some plays there is frantic switching players around, because on non-audible play was called, but it is clear that it is a likely FAIL because of the D alignment, so the QB has no choice but to try to put the personnel he has in the positions to run one of the other plays.
whobetta : 9/29/2010 6:05 pm : link
I thank you for providing extreme incite to a very convoluted and multi tiered system which we fans get agitated with on a weekly basis.

If you don't mind, I'm wondering exactly then who is NOT to blame? I mean. If you are the HC or the OC. You should notice whether there r problems within the system. How do you deal with them on a personnell basis? I mean people are saying "fire X, fire Y) while others say that's not possible. (Sorry long winded as just have a lot rattling around) now certain staff members might be harder to replace right away take Gilbride as his offense is throughout the team, but if we are not "adjusting" properly it would seem its 1 of 3 things.

1) The "observers" upstairs are not recognizing correctly ( this seems like a fairly easy replacement as all you need is to find people who canm recognize opponent schemes more consistnetly. Like a code breaker some see the path others might not or take too long etc...
2) The players are doing a bad job of communicating information on field and/or aren't "executing" properly. Now we can all see when we false start and or hold or fumble or miss a block wiffing. Those are obvious but I feel like the "execution" excuse for the most part is that. The staff uses it ad nauseum to the media. Now if x,y and z players contuinually fail to execute how do you deal with that? Just reward them with more playing time. Shoot son if you don't wanna get it dine I got 10 guys that would love to step on your grave and kick some ass...

3) The last part is that the OC and his system are just not good enough. Now while that is broad ill try to explain... What I mean is that on one hand the call sheet could be a fuckin mess and the OC is just not prepared enough each week or hasn't designed enough plays for every situation. Or should use more normal plays when in those "abnormal" situations because they actually work instead of a 50/50 chance of puttinhg team in a further hole.

I'm sure there are more issues and maybe I just touched on a few but I feel like say the Saints have ok WR a great QB and an ok OL. They also have good RBs. Now on a pure talent basis one would think these players grade out pretty close overall as a unit. But what is it about them that makes them so "invincible"? This is where a lot of frustration comes from...

Is there a way to analyze their offense ( I know you had done play by play breakdowns of our games in past). Is it a matter of 1,2 or 3 as mentioned above or is there a 4 or 5?

Anyway this just a lot of what I'm thinkin and feeling. And althought doesn't get expressed in such a manner each Sunday as the game moves to fast. Its just that I'm more confused and dumbfounded by what transpires on gameday

I know that was long sry.

whobetta : 9/29/2010 6:10 pm : link
Small edit...

3) Was supposed to be it falling on the QB, in this case good ole Eli. I missed it because I don't think anyone believe he is the problem...

The Gilbride piece was an offshoot of the 1-3 possible issues...

(I'm on my bb so, yah)

some of the smartest and most successful people I ha  
alligatorpie : 9/29/2010 6:39 pm : link
have met were totally dislexic and could never pull this off.

BUT they were the types to look at a system and somehow immediately - they saw the weak point and the bullshit part.

If they coached football (they make alot more money doing what they are doing now, vs coaching) they would probably be able to pull plays out of thin air with reasonable expectation of success, once having absorbed the game and seen the opponent.
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 8:17 pm : link
Hey man what's going on?

No, those are all different plays. Run 1 may be out of I pro formation, while Pass B might be out of Shotgun. But whatever the case may be, when it's 3rd and in between 1 and 4 yards, those are the total plays available.

Now it depends what personnel is on the field too. Don't forget to take that into consideration. I may call NASCAR personnel for Pass 3, so the running plays be for regular personal. So again it all depends, AND the personnels may not match up.

Not sure why the other plays would fail. I would need a head set to hear what was called and what the heck is going on. As a fan it just looks like a cluster fuck, still doesn't explain anything. It could be the wrong personnel in, wrong play, can't hear the play, or coughlin wants to change it to a run or pass, when something else is called.

I hope that helps explain it.
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 8:38 pm : link
You bring up excellent and valid points and raise even better questions.

All those are real world variables that occur when coaching a team. This happens at ALL levels if football. The hardest thing I noticed is not knowing what's going on. For example:

What are they saying in the head set?

What does the call sheet look like?

If I was in the meetings I would know the overall game plan so I can understand what the overall plan is to attack an opposing defense.

Now if the problems are personnel related you can tell the HC and he can relate that to the GM. If not, then in install you can create new plays and formations to better suit your personnel. The created formations and personnel packages then can be installed and new plays created and practiced throughout the week.

Remember now, in this system there are a lot of option AND choice routes. So in theory, I know Gilbride basically stresses can coverage and any defense can be beat because the players adjust based on these pre snap and post snap reads. But if there is a severe personnel issue, there is only so much you can do. Unless you tear it down and add run something else, which is hard to do week to week because game tape will uncover what you're trying to do eventually. So your tendency breakers will be stale.

I would do the game break downs like I did them couple seasons ago. But that will get you only so far. You need the coaches tape from various angles to make it go faster for one AND give you 100% of what's going on.

Eli could be at fault if he is calling or changing plays at the wrong time. But I have not seen Eli get blasted by the coaches on the sideline. Gilbride appears to talk to Eli and it looks like an exchange of ideas. So that leads me to believe stuff is ran correctly from his end, but without being there and not having the stuff mentioned above it makes it hard.

That's my main point.. Fans want to find the problem or issue, but as fans it's impossible. We don't have the information to answer who is wrong or right.

I hope that helps, that's a lot of questions and issues you raise. Def. good stuff, but not sure I got all of them.

Nice job,  
dorgan : 9/29/2010 8:46 pm : link

I'll try to augment this tomorrow when I get some time.

Been on the run all day and it's time to have a beer or ten.

Great Info  
mrslappy : 9/29/2010 9:06 pm : link
whobetta : 9/29/2010 9:21 pm : link
I def appreciate the response...

I guess the heart of my issue, is and I hate feeling like I am blaming Gilbride over and over, but just seems where my conclusions are taking me (however information lacked they may be)

I understand that the system at the moment (and maybe a lot of coaches systems) is a multi-tree route based system that allows for options depending on the coverages...

Obviously TC or KG have to know where the issue is, whether its any of the 10 possibilities, unless the person or area of fault changes EVERY week. there has to be some sort of consistency that is noticed after weeks and weeks of analyzing it.

Now obviously in media transcripts we are not going to be told what that problem may be. and so we get the very cliche vanilla responses, which I am ok with because I understand you don't want to give away mama's secret recipe or call out players/coaches what have you.

but on the INSIDE, I just don't see how a HC can allow the issues to persist. I mean the same people are playing week in and week out (for the very very most part). We have 53 people in theory that should potentially be able to step up if person X (now I am talking about a player) is the "weak link". My argument here is that can the second string really be that much worse if person X is screwing the pooch on a consistent basis?

This is how I come to the conclusion that it is not Eli, there is too much scrutiny and plays well and is the one that seems to put in the most work. It seems obvious it wouldn't be him. but at this rate, there isn't just 1 person that could really ruin a team aside from a handful of guys that handle the ball all the time. Center messing up snaps/counts etc... or a OL just getting beat (but that is super obvious) by the DLmen...

So I find that it would be hard for it to just be 1 or so people that are "not getting it" or "have no clue how to adjust their routes". It is fairly easy to bench 1 player. but the team as a whole seems to have issues, so either we are giving contracts to players that other teams wouldn't touch with 10 foot poles or there is something BIGGER...

I think I saw on SNF or MNF during a Saints game where they were describing their offensive scheme (in a very general sense). they run alot of 4 receiver formations (2 on each side) and they are ALL GO ROUTES, at least initially... the receivers then have the ability much like the Giants system to break off the deep go routes to something else. I don't know or remember exactly what they showed.

my initial post was trying to say that if you evaluated the 2 offenses and their "talent" levels or switched teams etc... we could be viewed as fairly equal. I am not trying to be a homer, but I think that Eli, the wr's rb's etc... are all very good. Not sure about the Saints OL (but i assume its better)

so with a fairly equal talent level how does their "system" seem to make their offense almost unstoppable.

that is the main crux the main WTF that just boggles my mind. I just have so much trouble wrapping my head around this what seems to be a glaringly obvious and underwhelming OC or should I say OVERwhelmed.

It obviously is hard for a HC who we all know is beyond stubborn to a fault, to admit that his system, his guy might be the reason that their are severe issues with the O...

Adding that to the fact that it is much easier to replace 1 player for another that may or may not play better when the current one is not performing well for a OC whos system is entwined throughout the entire 11+ people that take the field week in and week out.

lastly I will say that I think TC and his staff did alot of good for this organization, but if Kevin Gilbride is the problem (which is my conclusion as I made above) that we cannot have 1 without the other. They are a packaged deal. This probably also makes the decision to make a change that much harder as replacing 2 coaching mainstays would be very hard.

Ok, now I'm just rambling because I start losing trains of thought...


That's the thing though.  
AnishPatel : 9/29/2010 9:42 pm : link
We don't know whose fault it is. It could be everyones to some extent. Gilbride could be at fault or he could be fine. we don't know that. The offense has been good overall. We can put him points in general, but we do have games where we lay an egg.

As far as the second player screwing the pooch, again we don't know. Remember now, all players are getting graded. So it depends on the second player is doing in practice, on scout team, and so on. The Coaches will know who to start and who is not cutting it. It's very easy to rip any coach, but we don't know how they are graded and what they scored. If they scored well, and not getting PT than it's the coach's fault. If they suck, and the fans are ripping any coach, coordinator or position, then it's our bad for making a conclusion without proper evidence based on 100% fact.

Dan in the Springs : 9/30/2010 1:14 am : link
great read - I need to spend some time reading/absorbing the wonderful information above. My post above (about the annexation of puerto rico) was a joke - sorry that I posted it and ran.

Thanks for taking the time to educate me on my favorite pastime. It will make it more enjoyable for me!
AnishPatel : 9/30/2010 8:17 am : link
Hey man, don't worry about it. I know it was just a joke. Glad you liked it!
ctc in ftmyers : 9/30/2010 9:12 am : link
Brake down and thread. Thanks.
SMitch2 : 9/30/2010 10:07 am : link
Great stuff, and a very interesting post.

I think coordinators can get myopic -- they get so far down into their sheet and specific down and distance vs. formation lists that they fail to see the forest through the trees so to speak. [e.x. You call a run play. It gets you 8 yards, you call similar run again 5 yards, you call another similar run again 7 yards. I think sometimes at that point the play-caller says well, 1.) we just can't keep on with the running playsó too predictable and 2.) The play sheet says down and distance field positions, we have to use pass play X, Y , or Z. And sometimes it's just as simple as call that damn run play again until they stop it.]

Also, how do game plans handle what aligatorpie was alluding to? You can spend all week building those play sheets, but there are always underlying assumptions made that go into it. If, once the game starts, a huge hole is blown into the plan because one of the assumptions proves terribly false (i.e. Player X on the other team is not blockable 1 on 1 as hoped, or the other team is doing something new). How often does a plan allow for fall back positions or a set of counter plays for bad circumstances? [i.e. this is what we'll do if they are getting quick pressure everywhere; if their star DE is killing us, this is how we'll slow him down; or we assumed they'd be running a lot of zone coverage, but they've switched up and are playing man, here are a set of plays to attack man]
AnishPatel : 9/30/2010 10:58 am : link
I can see how you think that. That's a logical way of looking at it. However rarely you see OCs just running the same play over again. It may work for one game, but when I game plan, as the DC, next game that's not going to work.

Also, OCs may try to set up the defense. Show them a play, and run it, even if it doesn't work throughout the game. So in a critical down and distance, you may run an off shoot of that play. Let's say play action or some a straight pass from that formation we ran from. Fans aren't keeping tabs of that so sutble things like the art of setting up the defense gets lost in the fold.

You want to mix things up throughout the game. Bill Walsh used to be a big fan of making gameday easy for the play caller. That's why he scripted plays sometimes to half time. So if it's 3rd and 10, he may run the ball. 3rd and 1,and he may pass the ball. So that once the script ends, the teams are confused at how the game is being called, so then you can really fuck with the defenses mind.

Also, remember coaches upstairs are constantly telling you new things upstairs. So you are listening and reacting to that. That's one of the issues of being on the sideline. That sparks another debate of do you coach from the sideline or upstairs? I personally hate being on the field. If I ever become an OC at any level, I like being upstairs, where I can concentrate, and see shit for myself. When you're downstairs you're at the mercy of the guys upstairs telling you useful stuff so you can best call the game.

Furthermore, from the point you make we do have bread and butter plays which we run to death. For example:

07 (superbowl year) Running concept - Power

08 - Counter power, or how I would term it Power G with the guards taking a counter step first.

09- Change in passing concepts from curls and comebacks to stuff farther down the field.

One running play has stayed constant which we run a lot usually near the goal line or once our passing game as taken off. DRAW out of Shotgun is this bread and butter play. How many times do we run that to death? At one point we'd go Shotgun Trips Right and draw from there, especially during the 2 min drill.

So see we do run same plays, but not just willy nilly. We set the defense up first before kicking them in the nuts. Then we run other stuff, perhaps more passing concepts from that look or formation, and then hit them back again.

Think of it as a boxer. You can keep hitting him in the face until he blocks it, or run different combos, with them ending with a face shot, to keep him off balance. I think in the football sense, we are doing that without being very obvious. But again, this is stuff that fans like you and me may not see in the tv telecast and in a world of commericals so quickly. Add beer to the mix, and the avg fan certainly won't realize that.

The second paragraph brings up a great question. That happens a lot. You have a set game plan and that is translated to your call sheet in terms of plays called to execute that game plan against a specific defense. However, say something happens on the player end that fucks it up. Yeah you have adjustment plays, but it is a kick in the ball. I am only allowed a finite # of plays I can practice, rep, and install. It's not like I have 1000 plays on my legal sized call sheet. I have limited number maybe 70-90 plays, and that's it.

Think of it this way.. You have 70 plays and I have 70 plays. My plays are carefully picked and created based on what I saw on film to exploit your defense. We practiced these plays all week long, and now I am confident we can beat you. Except something goes wrong. My OTs have a horrible game and we have lots of penalties. So now I have to refer to special section called Irregular Down and distances which are 1st, 2nd and 3rd and 15-30 yards. If my OTs stink, now my game plan of bending your secondary over and owning it is hurting.

Let's say I installed mostly 3, 5, and 7 step drops taking adv. of your secondary personnel. My guys of Manningham, Nicks, and Smith can own your guys. Also, let's see you bring a safety down, which is called a sky safety. So that leaves a single high up there. So now I practice different ways of high/lowing him so that I can run single high beaters. So I am feeling good as an OC. Let's say I am even good to think ahead, of just in case there are issues, in my adjustments section I have 15 plays to run just in case. Now... big time trouble. BOTH of my OTs can't pass protect. Peppers is owning our guy! So I make slight adjustments like keeping our Rb back rather than running what I originally game planned for which is Bradshaw on a LB in space. So my adjustment is keeping him back there when in reality we, as a staff, gameplanned to clear out and isolate the RB 1 on 1 with the backer. Dallas runs this play with Jones, and it's called steamer. When I coached with Coach Garrett, we ran that play all day long.

But I have those 15 other adjustments I can run. If I can't pass protect, my 70 plays is screwed! Now I can call 20 plays. A lot of running plays I can run, and 3 step drop and maybe 5 step drops. Everything else is tossed out the window. Fans say, why didn't we run screens. Usually, OCs have some screens built in, but that depends. What if my game plan was technically sound in attacking the secondary, but my players are not executing and thus now it's effecting me? So I can't really re-design a system, I am stuck to my game plan. I can't do anything else. That's the reality of what goes on. It's not like I can tell Eli to run the option or anything.
SMitch2 : 9/30/2010 11:50 am : link
Thanks for your response. Very insightful stuff.

Just a clarification on what I was referring to about calling a play over and over -- I was only speaking of reusing a series of similar plays (run or pass) repeatedly during 1 single game where it was already working. I understand about keeping the D off balance by mixing it up, and/or using a look to set up another play, but if something is working well, why voluntarily get away from it?

i.e: I've seen many instances of where several run plays exclusively have gotten the team to the 4 yard line -- hasn't been stopped on the drive at all -- and then the OC dials up a spread-pass with no run threat, I assume because he either wants to try switching it up or because his play-sheet says that he should do so in the goal-to-go situation. But it seemingly ignores the flow of the game. The OC's got the D all nervous about the run that they haven't been able to stop, and now goes empty backfield and takes that threat completely away. I think that's where fans feel an OC is out-thinking himself with the call.

On a similar note, sometimes it seems like TC talks about run/pass balance like it's an end in-and-of-itself, but if the other team can't stop your rushing attack, there is no benefit to being 50/50 at the end of the game. In that case, I would think you'd want to be skewed toward the run (60/40 or 70/30) because it was working (or vice versa with the pass).
AnishPatel : 9/30/2010 12:12 pm : link
Yeah I hear what you're saying. Basically continue running what works, until they adjust. The answer is not sure why coaches wouldn't do that.

I know I would stick it, but also run other stuff based on it. Remember they would be trying to adjust to your successful by adjusting their fronts and tagging different players. For example, 43 wink, SAM Alley, WIll dog, C2.

So the front is an 43 wink, with a seperate tag for the Sam, which means he has to line up in the alley, with the Will blitzing, with a C2 in the back.

I think if a concept is successful like running or passing it will go back to the game plan. Say we game plan for running, and have limited plays for passing, and our passing attack works. Yeah we can call the passing plays, but since our game plan revolved around running, we want to add that in so that the defense isn't on to what concepts we are running. Maybe that's the thought process. I know I would stick to the concept that's working, but I wouldn't be obvious about it. I would mix another concepts to give them different looks before going back.

A good game plan has many formations where ALL he concepts can be run from. So you can run the same running play out of all formations, or pass certain concepts out of those passing formations.

So maybe it's a matter of over thinking, or maybe you are trying to combat their adjustment to your success by exposing another weakness now you see.

I would need a head set to hear what's going on. Maybe Eli is calling or changing some of the plays too. That is a realistic reason, as well as, Coughlin asking Gilbride for a certain play. These are some of the factors we would know if we had a head set and could hear the conversations.

So maybe we see them adjust, and we have a C2 beater ready. So instead of running again, we go with a play we have that can beat that adjustment. Or maybe we run play action then, because the safety is cheating down. Yes, running would work, but now we set them up. So instead of running, running, running, running, running, running endzone, TD. We may want to run, run, run, run, play action for a big play. Call another play or two before going back to the run.

Another thing I am not sure people know is the back up Qb or someone inactive has a paper and pen with a clipboard where he documents all these plays throughout the game with the result. So if you see a play that works you can go back to it. So maybe we want to set them up. Or if the running game is working, we may call a pass based on their adjustments. Remember, everything is dynamic and constantly moving, hence the chess game going on.

You may have success, but they are trying to do something to adjust. So that's when you may want to beat that adjustment and hit a home run, even though the running may work.
good stuff anish  
ITaLiRiCaN : 9/30/2010 7:48 pm : link
thanks...Any chance we get a defense version? =]
AnishPatel : 9/30/2010 9:14 pm : link
I have no idea, how the defense does their stuff. I am guessing Dorgan can best answer that. I do know they find out what concepts and run and tally them on the grease board. After that, not sure, because during the same time we are in meetings. I always wondered that too actually.
Mr Patel  
Tuckrule : 10/1/2010 6:53 pm : link
possibly the best and most informative post I have ever read on BBI. To a fan like myself who never played the game this really gives me some great insight as to what goes on. I really appreciate the time and effort you put in to this. My hat is off to you.
Great Read  
xwreckingxcrewx : 10/1/2010 10:33 pm : link
For those interested, another great read is Brian Billick's: Developing an Offensive Game Plan. Addresses many of these thoughts and discusses how coaches come up with the run/pass ratios per scenario that Anish was talking about. Worth a read. Thanks Anish for your insights.
No worries,  
AnishPatel : 10/2/2010 12:01 am : link
After seeing the same stuff about game planning and play calling throughout the week, I thought some details of what goes on might give the avg fan insight to what's actually been done.
BIG FRED : 10/4/2010 11:59 am : link
Awesome stuff .
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