Watching Game Film with Chip Kelly

It’s been fun this season seeing how Chip Kelly’s offense has translated to the NFL — how he’s evolved what he did at Oregon for professional players and multiple quarterbacks, how defenses have responded, and how his Eagles have responded to those responses. At 6-5 the Eagles are both in position to make the playoffs but on no one’s Super Bowl radar; it’s a transition season, and with some clear downs as well as ups, it’s been an overall productive one headed into December.

Learn stuff

Learn stuff

But another fun element has been that Kelly has — whether graciously or against his will, I’m not sure — submitted to a number of quick film breakdowns of various plays throughout the season, and he’s been fairly honest and open as he’s covered not only his famous spread-to-run concepts but also more traditional play-action, screens, and even some defense and special teams. I’ve collected links to most of the better ones below, though note that some of them are longer videos where Kelly’s Xs and Os session is only one part, and the rest can largely be ignored and is sometimes a bit misleading.

There’s lots of great scheme stuff to pick up here, but pay special attention to the little coaching points and mnemonic devices Kelly throws in to help his players remember. Whether or not Chip is successful with the Eagles remains to be seen, but there’s no question the guy knows a lot of football.

Dual-screen (motion swing screen and slow-screen to tight-end), inside zone on goal line, bracket coverage

Two-gap technique for defensive linemen

(more…)

In 2013, Charlie Weis Has It Right

Charlie Weis, in 2005:

Every game, you will have a decided schematic advantage.

weis

Decidedly trying

Charlie Weis, in 2013:

As I sat there and watched the last four or five games of that Austin guy at West Virginia just tearing it up as both a wide receiver and a running back, I think that football sometimes doesn’t have to be as cerebral as some people try to make it, and I think that it’s a copycat business.

Pulling out the infamous “decided schematic advantage” quote is always a bit of a cheap shot at Charlie, but I still think it’s fascinating to see how his thinking has evolved as he went from the mountaintop of Super Bowl wins and ten win seasons at Notre Dame to the “pile of crap” (his words) he’s dealing with Kansas. The 2005 quote is a paean to winning by abstract thought, where chalkboard doodles decide games. It’s stated in the most bold way possible, but it’s not that far from what most coaches at least try to do.

His 2013 quote, by contrast, is a paean to common sense. In it he’s making three points, all of which are undoubtedly true:
(more…)

Football Coaching Resources

Below is a collection of some of my favorite football coaching resources, broken down by topic. Rather than list everything I’ve ever read or watched, I’ve tried to streamline it to my favorites. Make sure to check frequently — I’ve got a link to this page at the top — as I will be adding new resources over time, and feel free to email me with further suggestions. Enjoy!

A good start

A good start

General Offense

  • Finding the Winning Edge, by Bill Walsh. The bible. The book’s strength — literally everything is in there — is also its weakness, as every page is a relentless surge of information. I include it here under offense as that is where it has influenced me most, but it covers almost every aspect of football. This is a great article on this brilliant, flawed, mercurial book, and its brilliant, flawed and mercurial author.
  • Developing an Offensive Gameplan, by Brian Billick. Exactly as the title implies, this slender book is an efficient, no-nonsense primer on how to prepare a gameplan for an upcoming opponent. It focuses not only on scheme but also on personnel and other, broader strategic elements as well, including red zone strategy and generating explosive plays.

Passing Offense

  • The Bunch Attack: Using Compressed Formations in the Passing Game, by Andrew Coverdale and Dan Robinson. Although nominally about “bunch” formations, this is my favorite resource just about the passing game. It presents a comprehensive system — which can be run from bunch or non-bunch formations — and presents countless variations and, most importantly, responses to various coverages and techniques. Also great are Coverdale and Robinson’s three-volume set on the quick passing game. e here for volume one, volume two, and volume three, and as a DVD package.
  • Concept Passing: Teaching the Modern Passing Game, by Dan Gonzalez. Drawing on west coast, pro-style, run and shoot and other influences, Gonzalez weaves together a “conceptual” approach to the passing game in a way that quarterbacks can execute and can be adapted to almost any offensive system.

(more…)

Bill Snyder: Miracle Worker

Given the success Kansas State is having (again) under Bill Snyder (again), it’s good to spend a little time thinking about how the 73-year old wonder does it. And, unsurprisingly, the reason K-State is winning now is the same reason K-State was winning before: because they play with great effort, great discipline, and they do all of the little things right (they also have some pretty good players, especially their quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown).

Always building

Rightly or wrongly, coaches tend to look at football teams as reflections of their coaches: A hardworking team reflects a hardworking coach; an arrogant team an arrogant coach; a disciplined team a disciplined coach; and, most damning of all, a soft, undisciplined team for a soft, undisciplined coach.

There’s no doubt that Snyder’s teams reflect the man — driven, earnest, and, well, maybe even a little bit fanatical, as Tim Layden’s great piece explained a few years back:

When Snyder was 28, fresh from a year as a graduate assistant to John McKay at USC, he was hired to coach at Indio (Calif.) High, and he tried to have himself hypnotized so that he might compress six hours’ sleep into an hour’s trance. “The hypnotist just told me, ‘That’s not the way it works,’ ” Snyder says.

At Iowa, where Snyder coached under Hayden Fry from 1979 to ’88, his dissection of passing plays would reduce his fellow coaches to snickers. “Bill would’ve described a play for about two minutes, and he wouldn’t even have reached the point where the quarterback releases the ball,” says Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who was the linebackers coach on that Iowa staff.

Snyder has worn the same style of coaching shoes for two decades. When Nike stopped making the model in the 1980s, he hoarded as many pairs as he could find, and now on the sideline he looks like a character from That ’70s Show.

(more…)