New Grantland: Al Davis’ strategic legacy — His role in the development of the “vertical pass game”

It’s up over at Grantland:

When Davis left Gillman’s staff he took Sid’s playbook — and, more important, his ideas — with him.But Davis wasn’t content to stretch the field horizontally; he wanted to get vertical. If Gillman could get a trash can open against a zone, Davis tested how good he’d do if he added his favorite ingredient: speed. Gillman, of course, used “vertical stretches” — passing concepts that spaced receivers not left to right, but deep to short — but for Davis they became the centerpiece of his offense. Indeed, this is what Davis meant when he brought the “vertical game” to Oakland. It was not a matter of throwing deep bombs (though it was sometimes), but was instead the science of stretching defenses to their breaking point. With receivers at varying depths, a small defensive error often meant a 15-yard pass play for Davis’ offense, and a serious mistake meant a touchdown.

Read the whole thing.

  • MJ Deej

    Ridiculously fantastic piece. Thanks

  • Mr.Murder

    Todd Christiansen was the forerunner to Dallas Clark. That was when the Raiders featured vertical emphasis(former BYU arm Marc Wilson) or savvy veteran resurrection Jim Plunkett. The tight end(a converted fullback, from BYU as well) had option routes to always work against the under cover leverage, to always work open.

    Check the Lavell Edwards notes you link(the “four and four” series and the checkdown to fullback trap that accompanies it). Then your link about the Norm Chow 60 series and other Norm Chow links where you connect him to the Walsh/WCO series.

    Then you add Walsh’s comments(love and have that book also) about the end/backs positions and your link here about the option route underneath the vertical flood. Now you connect that with Davis and Gillman on the vertical/horizontal stretch and the development of triangle concepts.

    Each time you reinforced great portions of schemes from recent eras into modern game planning. Al Davis is a pillar of modern play calling and fundamental football in those terms. Quite an impressive coaching legacy.

  • Paul Meisel

    Missing the “four and four” link you mention — where can I find it?

  • Mr.Murder

    Might have been “five and five” and I was in a hurry. Have a practice session due in a few minutes. The fullback runs “five yards upfield and five yards from the sideline” as a boundary control tactic. It was a huge element of their control pass game as a relief outlet pass/checkdown.

    Wrote some notes from the link, cannot find it now, will search it in full later tonight. Think it came from a link the this site referenced(thanks coach Brown). Or from following links he had here and looking into the sites he lists.
    Looking for that clinic notes item this came up:
    Connects Walsh via Qb Virgil Carter, a movement passer for the Bengals(when his name appeared it clicked to me immediately) and it includes an Andy Reid reference.

    For what we try doing it says “four and four” to the halfback side and “five and five” to the fullback side so he doesn’t confuse a specific reference to either read. Halfbacks get out faster on the weak side and are likely to be hot, most of their terminology and scheme  reserve that hot key for fullbacks(more likely to draw a slower interior defender and usually aligned strong where intial defenders are likely to take the tight end). Plus a shallow weak side check draws the backers up on middle crossing routes(matches the Eien diagrams for Y cross and mimics H option).