Part II of Q&A with Eleven Warriors on the Spread and Urban Meyer

You can find it here:

RRF:  In your study of Meyer’s time at Florida, what were the issues when Meyer’s offense failed?  In other words, what are the necessary predicate conditions for his approach to succeed?

CB: … The other issues they had on offense at Florida — and look, he won two National titles there, which isn’t too shabby — largely were focused on a couple of areas. One was, somewhat inexplicably, Florida’s red zone touchdown percentage cratered after Dan Mullen left. In 2008, when Tim Tebow was a junior and Meyer won the BCS championship game, against conference-only opponents Florida scored touchdowns over 70% of the 43 times they were in the red zone. The next year, in 2009, again only against conference opponents, they scored a touchdown only 29% of the 41 times they went into the red zone — and this was still with Tebow as their quarterback! That drop in touchdown percentage explains almost all of Florida’s drop from 43 points per game to 26 points against conference opponents from Tim Tebow’s junior to senior seasons. (I’m excluding non-conference opponents since we all know that a few games versus directional U can really skew the stats. And all stats are via the invaluable cfbstats.com.)

Read the whole thing.

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 NFL.com.

- Dana Holgorsen recruits a dual-threat quarterback.

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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 SI.com, 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.

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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.

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Peyton Manning (and Tom Moore)’s Indianapolis Colts Offense: How a Handful of Plays Led to a Decade of Success

For thirteen seasons — spanning three head coaches, two Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl victory, four NFL MVP awards, and countless incredible games — Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts. In eleven of those seasons, the Colts won at least ten games, including for nine straight seasons, not counting 2011′s disastrous Peyton-less year. But now Manning is a Bronco, in a new town, playing for a new team, and in a (somewhat) new scheme. I am not as confident as some that Manning’s injury won’t prevent him from playing at the incredible level he played at for so many years, and I am also not as sure of the Broncos coaching staff as some. As a football fan, however, I want nothing other than for Manning to take the field this fall, clad in Denver orange, and to light up the NFL all over again. But time will tell on all of that.

You know what I'm callin'

Yet what Manning accomplished during his time with the Colts cannot be undersold. The yards, the touchdowns, the records, and, most of all, the wins are testament to that. Yet what really interested me was how they did it. Specifically, how Manning and the Colts — for thirteen years — ran the same tiny little cluster of plays, from the same tiny little cluster of formations, with the most consistent personnel in the league, and brutalized NFL defenses year-in and year-out. The obvious answer was they had some pretty good skill players during that time, from Edgerrin James to Marvin Harrison to Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokely, Dallas Clark, and Joseph Addai. And even more obvious is simply that the triggerman, who was constantly checking and audibling and gyrating at the line to get exactly what he wanted, was simply so good. But that alone doesn’t answer the question of why they were so good yet so simple; one could make a pretty good case that if you have the best, most experienced, and most in-tuned quarterback in the league you could out-complicate defenses.

That’s not the route the Colts went, however, and much of it had to do with the ornery fixture on the Colts sidelines who called Manning’s plays (though what they did was more of a conversation than traditional “play-calling”), Tom Moore. Moore, whose coaching experience goes back to the early 1960s, became a Colt the same year Manning did, and the two shared a symbiotic relationship until Moore semi-retired in 2009 and then fully left the team sometime later. And together, using the simplest tools around, Moore and Manning made great music.

“I can give the playbook,” [said former Colts backup quarterback, Jim] Sorgi. “There is not that many teams they’re going to play who don’t know what they’re going to do. It’s all about execution. Their coaches are like, ‘We’ll tell the other team what we’re doing. They got to stop us.’ That’s what they do. That’s what they’re all about. And not many teams have been able to stop them yet.” Sorgi said he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the Colts’ offensive personnel. He was on the Colts longer than all but nine players on their current roster. He worked with Manning and former offensive coordinator Tom Moore, who installed the system that perennially keeps the Colts among the top teams in the league.

“Being there six years, I helped put in a lot of the information that they use,” Sorgi said. “But sometimes, how much you know doesn’t really matter. It’s about executing against him.
“I can give the defense all the information that I can, and it’s, ‘Can we get to Peyton? Can we knock him down? Can we get to him before the ball’s out?’ You can know what route’s coming and still not cover it.”

Jim Sorgi was not kidding.
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*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 amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.it, and amazon.es.

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] smartfootball.com. I truly hope everyone enjoys the book.