Beating the Blitz with the One-Back Offense (Bob Bratkowski)

The original one-back offense, the one that can trace its roots back to Jack Neumeier at Granada Hills high school and was popularized by Dennis Erickson, is both one of history’s best offenses and was a forerunner to today’s dynamic spread attacks. Bob Bratkowski, currently the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been one of its oldest practitioners. He coached under Erickson at Washington State, Miami, and the Seattle Seahawks, before striking out on his own in the NFL. He’s most famous — or infamous — for the decade or so he spent as the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, where he coached some dynamic offenses but also was the target of a great deal of fan scorn.

In any event, below is an old coaching clinic he did about beating the blitz with the one-back back when he was with Seattle. The first twenty minutes or so or so is about wide receiver technique and releases. It’s useful stuff, but the meat of the scheme stuff comes after that. Regardless of your opinion of Bratkowski, I always found this a very useful tape.

The Essential Smart Football is Now Available on Kindle

My new book, The Essential Smart Football, is now available on Kindle. You can click on the image below to go to the Amazon store:

The Essential Smart Football

You can read more about the book here, and it of course remains available in paperback.

Smart Links – Holgorsen’s Dual-Threat QB, William Gholston, P.G. Wodehouse, Incompetents – 5/29/2012

My Q&A with Bruce Feldman on The Essential Smart Football, trends in college football, and what coaches I (and you, the reader) would most like to get drinks with.

Spencer Hall reviews TESF (in his own inimicable way).

Blutarsky reviews TESF.

So does Gregg Rosenthal at

Dana Holgorsen recruits a dual-threat quarterback.


Q&A with Ross Fulton of Eleven Warriors about The Essential Smart Football

Talking about the book:

The further benefit to these is when they are used in the no-huddle: The offense can run to the line, line up, call a single, simple concept, and the quarterback chooses where to go with the ball, making the defense wrong, every time. This is in contrast to requiring the quarterback to make lots of complicated checks or audibles at the line of scrimmage or to do that whole everybody-line-up-no-wait-look-to-the-sideline-for-the-new-signal thing. It’s run it and go, and the quarterback is the field general.

On defense the big trend is to take existing defenses, like the 3-4 or 4-3, but to begin using more “hybrid” defenders in the base defense, guys who were maybe considered “tweeners” a few years ago without a true position. These are the linebacker/safety hybrids and the defensive end/linebacker hybrids, who, when facing all these no-huddle or multiple-formation attacks, must be able to both take on a fullback or tight-end at the line, rush the passer, or drop into pass coverage. If you’re going to have any hope of defending a dynamic offense like the one Urban Meyer runs — which is spread but can use power, and can use power but still throw the ball around — then you need to meet that dynamism with more dynamism.

Read the whole thing.

Gus Malzahn Discusses How to Attack Nick Saban’s Alabama Defense

This is from a few months back, but is one of the best one of these such segments I’ve ever seen. Malzahn does a really good job explaining exactly what his thought process was and would be in attacking Saban (and Kirby Smart)’s great Alabama defense:

(H/t RBR.)

Smart Links – Mandel Initiative, Obama’s Football Throwing Motion, Drag Concept, Bear Bryant, Hemingway – 5/24/2012

I did a podcast with Stewart Mandel of, which you can listen to here.

Wherein I critique the President’s form for throwing a football for New York Magazine.

My podcast with CheeseheadTV’s Brian Carriveau.

– Friend of the site Dan Gonzalez now has his own website, and has a great three-part series on his “Drag” passing concept, which you can check out here.

Do yourself a favor and read this.


Smart Links – Solid Verbal, Roll Bama Roll, Algorithms, Kiffin – 5/22/2012

Me on the fantastic Solid Verbal Podcast, discussing Saban, Malzahn, Leach, Quarters coverage, my book, my preferred approach, and plenty more. Always a fun podcast to do.

Roll Bama Roll reviews The Essential Smart Football:

Obviously, The Essential Smart Football is about a lot more than just Alabama football and there is a ton to learn from this book once you get through the Saban-specific pieces. Brown’s articles look at a lot of trends and themes that affect the game as a whole examining how they came about and where they are likely to lead. The only thing more thought-provoking than the subjects he chooses are his insights on them (the pieces on the decision-making process of players and the “constraint theory” of offense being particularly interesting).

This is amazing.

This, on the other hand, is not very helpful.

Bribes and corruption in the other football.


*The Essential Smart Football*

That’s the title, and it’s by me. It’s available on Amazon, in paperback, and will be available in eBook form sometime in the next couple of weeks, but you can order a paperback copy today either here or here. For international readers, the book is also available on,,, and

In the next few weeks I will post additional details on the book and my process in putting it together, but it is a collection of pieces, roughly two-thirds of which consist of older works that have been expanded and professionally edited, and another one-third of which are new. If you’ve read every single thing I’ve ever written you will recognize the portion of the book that is not all new, though as I said I have expanded and edited each piece. But this book  is my considered judgment of what I think constitutes the best and most essential of my thoughts on football — The Essential Smart Football.

I chose to publish this myself for a variety of reasons, among them the evolving landscape of the publishing industry, but I still had a great deal of help — including from my loyal readers — for which I am truly thankful.

If you have any marketing inquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact me at chris [at] I truly hope everyone enjoys the book.

Smart Links – A Beautiful Preakness, ESPN Radio, Dogs, Bo Jackson – 5/21/2012

What a beautiful race in the Preakness. I actually had I’ll Have Another in the Derby (it was luck) but did not attend the Preakness so did not make any bets. But I would’ve bet on Bodemeister, which all but had the Derby locked up until he just couldn’t close. Surely, in the shorter Preakness, Bodemeister’s late race struggle would not be repeated? I’ll Have Another had other ideas.

Q&A with Allen Kenney of Crystal Ball Run about The Essential Smart Football. I discuss difficult questions like, “Who is the Christopher Hitchens of football?” (A tough question.) A more serious excerpt, regarding how one determines what are football’s most important strategies and ideas:

Brown: To some extent it’s going to be in the eye of the beholder. But the nice part about football is, at the end of the day, it’s about two things: winning games and developing men. . . . The hard part in judging importance is that importance is not always so obvious. While there are few geniuses in football, there are “ingenious” ideas, and those ingenious ideas tend to multiply and reproduce throughout football very rapidly. And, yet, those who came up with the ideas may not have the talent or the circumstance or even the fan support to see the benefit. In football, innovators are not always rewarded.

In a lead in to a chapter I quote Goethe: “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”

Me on ESPN Radio, 1080TheFan.

Burnt Orange Nation on TESF.


Bo Jackson’s Greatness.


Smart Links – Big East Coast Bias, FIVE (yes FIVE!) Verticals, Relegation, Facebook – 5/18/2012

My Q&A with Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias about The Essential Smart Football and more. Me:

The basic arithmetic of the game at every level of football right now is this: Almost every good team is one-back based [(even true option teams)], which means they can throw the four verticals and other passing routes, against which defenses would like to play two-deep safeties. But increasingly the quarterback is a running threat of some kind, so defenses would really prefer to play with one deep safety or else they are outnumbered in the running game. Eventually — just like the reactions to the original T-formation, the wishbone, the pro-set, the power-I, and so on — defenses will figure out how to get numbers where they need to go while defending the passing game against teams (like those Airraid guys) that will find the open grass anywhere and make you pay. And when they do, they will hit offenses like a ton of bricks. But we’re not there right now. And after that, something else will come along. Then it will be time to write another book.

Runningback blaster and sideline drill.

Bill Connelly on college football relegation.

Dana Holgorsen versus Nick Saban, tale of the tape. Quote: “MENTOR: Saban: Bill Belichick, who once sent Saban to Haiti for a shipment of bat fetuses for reasons known only to him. (/bat fetus goes to three pro bowls, signs 6 year deal with raiders).”

Facebook’s IPO as savior of California’s budget.

Two-Gap/One-Gap vs One-Back Zone Option.

The ultimate dot com.

Article about the internet reposted on the internet.

– After the jump, Missouri’s infamous five verticals pass play: