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.

New Grantland: S-A-C-K: Why Pass Protection Might Be the Jets’ Biggest Problem

It’s now up over at Grantland:

Saturday night was an example of the preseason problem of hodgepodge lineups that haven’t spent much time together. As the game wore on, the Jets routinely failed to pick up very simple blitzes, and the result was sacks, hurries, and, according to some reports,an extremely frustrated Tim Tebow.

Pass protection is extremely difficult. Individually, it’s a brutal ballet, requiring the larger, less athletic human to step backward while a superior specimen (like Jason Pierre-Paul) sprints, swims, rips, spins, or hurdles his way to the quarterback. Collectively, it’s all thatand some kind of diabolical logic game.

Read the whole thing.

Smart Links – Mortality Rates, 4-2-5 straightline, Magic, Double-Stick Shovel, Fitzgerald – 8/20/2012

From Coach Joe, the stick/draw but with a shovel pass instead of a draw:

- Mortality rates for football players (and baseball players).

- Dave Raley on the future of defense: 4-2-5 straightline.

- Short story from F. Scott Fitzgerald.

- Former women’s soccer goalie Mo Isom might be LSU’s next kicker.

- Our long-time fascination with magic.

- Richard Posner on How much is enough?

- Will Apple TV crack the TV market?

New Grantland: Matt Barkley’s Favorite Play — the West Coast Offense Classic, “Sluggo Seam”

My breakdown of west coast offense staple — and Matt Barkley’s favorite play — is now up over at Grantland:

To understand Barkley’s answer, it’s necessary to understand USC’s offense. When Pete Carroll took the head-coaching job at USC, he hired longtime BYU assistant coach Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator. Carroll wanted the vaunted passing offense the Cougars had used for decades to topple superior foes and develop future NFL quarterbacks like Jim McMahon and Steve Young. To go along with that philosophy, Carroll also wanted to incorporate some of the latest NFL schemes, and his two young offensive assistants — former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian and a young Lane Kiffin — were assigned the job of bringing those ideas to USC.

Kiffin in particular relished this task, spending long hours in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers film room with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden was a student of the West Coast offense, the pass-first, timing-based offense designed by former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh. Kiffin absorbed everything he could about Gruden’s brand of the West Coast offense, and quickly USC’s coaches began meshing some of the latest NFL concepts with the core of their offense.

Read the whole thing.

Of course, “Sluggo Seam” is not a secret play unique to Southern Cal. It’s got a long history, but maybe the best Sluggo-Seam-stopper of all time might be the guy who orchestrates the USC’s defense.

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Quarterback Helmet Cam with Kentucky’s Maxwell Smith

I’m generally a fan of these. It’s obviously not *really* what it is like being a quarterback, but it’s useful coaching film because you can see if the QB was looking in the right spot on a given play:

It also reminds me of when former Houston Cougars receiver Patrick Edwards, who is currently battling to make the Detroit Lions roster, wore a helmet cam to a Houston practice:

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Smart Links – Texas A&M, Podcasts, No Punts, Cam – 8/16/2012

Bill previews maybe the biggest wildcard in the SEC, Texas A&M, and the Aggies have finally named a starting quarterback. Below are some highlights from A&M’s most recent scrimmage:

- My podcast with CougCenter, part 1 and part 2.

- No touching 28 in Vikings camp.

- Cam Newton on his rookie year, as well as his need to mature.

- Rocky Long is considering forgoing punts after crossing his opponents’ 50 yard lines.

- GQ with a short piece from Joe Posnanski’s Paterno book.

- YouTube re-imagined: Think channels, not videos.

- Le Tableau Vert.

- Daily deals are dead.

Alabama linebacker play

Solid (short) video from ESPN:

Greg Schiano on recovering fumbles: “Squeeze your butt cheeks”

From an old clinic lecture by former Rutgers and current Tampa Bay Bucs head coach, Greg Schiano. I think I prefer “scooping and scoring.”

You’ll thank me later


We also have our players perform the recover drill. In this drill, we stress three aspects: covering the points by surrounding the football; covering the ball in a fetal position so none of the brown part of the football shows; and, when they recover a fumble, we also ask our players to close their eyes, close their mouths, and squeeze their buttock cheeks.

What happens at the bottom of the pile on a fumble? One thing that may occur is that the opponents may stick a finger in the eye of the man with the ball. What do you do when someone sticks a finger in your eye? In all likelihood, you may take one hand off the ball. The second thing the opponents do is fishhook you with a finger in your mouth, and then rip your mouth with that finger. Again, this action may lead you to take one hand off the ball.

Another thing the opponents might do is to grab you in the testicular area. At this point, you may have no hands on the football, which is why we tell our players who recover a fumble to close their eyes and mouths, and to squeeze their butt cheeks.

Nick Saban on Bill Belichick’s Hybrid/Subpackage Defenders: “Star” and “Money”

Good stuff from Saban on the history of Belichick’s hybrid or subpackage defenders, “Star” and “Money”:

If the video doesn’t start there automatically, jump to the 5:30 mark. Hat tip to reader Corey.

Love it

In a day with a lot of mixed football news, stuff like this is what it’s all about. Some great blocks, too.