New Grantland — The Future of Playcalling: “Packaged plays,” Tecmo Bowl and a revolution in how we define “football play”

It’s now up on Grantland:

Admittedly or not, most fans think of real-world play calling as a slightly more complicated version of this “Tecmo Bowl model.” The offense’s job is to “keep the defense guessing,” and the defense must “guess right” to make a stop. On some level, even with their lengthy play sheets and reams of data, professional coordinators are engaged in a version of this same psychological battle, employing little more than educated guesses about the opponent’s tactics. Until recently, even the best, from Bill Walsh to Bill Belichick, have been playing what amounts to a complex game of Tecmo Bowl, improved only by the marginal differences coming in the form of various checks or audibles by the quarterbacks.

That seemingly straightforward screen pass to Ryan Grant suggests that now things are no longer so simple. There’s a new game, and it takes those time-tested plays and blends them into something new. It blends them so seamlessly that it threatens to upend the very idea of “run” and “pass.” These are the “packaged plays,” and because of them real football is ahead of the video games — both old and new. The answer to “What play was that?” is no longer so simple, because it’s increasingly “All of them.”

Read the whole thing.

  • CleanXMen

    People have been using packaged plays in the Madden football game for a while. Throwing slants in combinations with screen passes, etc, etc

    Sometimes I wonder if video gamers can have one advantage in that they can simulate somewhat like footballish rules over and over again, thousands of times, and find interesting advantages.

    Regular football practices don’t get quite as much practice time-

  • Jerry Gordon

    HMMM…Sounds like triple option football to me…Qb gets the chalk last…..Obviously, Weeden is a great one….the question I have is: how many QB’s can really execute these decisions effectively, especially at the HS level

  • CleanXMen

    haha, yes, true, true. Even the best strategy has to be re-tweaked and re-examined as the counters and counter-counters come.

    by the way, not sure if Chris is aware of it, but has
    redrafted some smartfootball chris brown articles into video game
    football doctrine.

  • I think this could work fine for a highschool offense if you scheme well and keep it as simple as possible. My question is involves the blocking schemes. I’m worried about having linemen down field if the hitch isn’t open. Any ideas on how to prevent that?

  • Confusing wording, just want to prevent linemen getting downfield too fast.