The gift that keeps giving: Buddy Ryan’s playbook

Check out this gem from the early pages of Ryan’s playbook (linked to in the prior post):

The double smash pass concept with the runningback deep down the middle

One of the great all-time pass concepts is the “smash” concept, which I’ve previously discussed at length. In the concept, the outside receiver hitches up at five yards while an inside receiver runs a ten-to-twelve yard corner route over the top. This creates a “vertical stretch” on the corner, which is particularly potent against a two-deep Cover Two defense.

The smash is probably best installed with some kind of routes on the backside that attack the middle of the field, that way to keep the safety from overplaying the corner route. Many teams, however, teach the smash to both sides as a “mirrored” concept. This is good, but the problem can come when both safeties overplay the corner route.

But there is a counter. If a team’s safeties overplay the corner route on the smash, you hit them inside. You can have the outside receiver run a delay route back underneath and then upfield underneath the safety, but even better is simply to send someone unexpected into the vacated area: the runningback.

In the example, you can see Oklahoma State call this against a two-deep shell run by Texas A&M. They had overplayed the corner routes, so the variation was simple: throw it deep down the middle to the back in the vacated area. Were Texas A&M to have shown a blitz the quarterback would have checked out of the play (as there were only five protectors), but so long as they got a base two-deep look, the play was there. You can see the result in the video below, after the jump.

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Buddy Ryan’s “Polish Goalline” tactic

Reader Alex sent in the below page from Buddy Ryan’s old Houston Oilers playbook. I have to say I haven’t seen this tactic before. Count the number of defenders:

My question is, given the current state of NFL (or college) rules with run-offs and so on, would this tactic still work? Seems just like Ryan: clever and devious.

Update: Alex also tracked down evidence of other “Polish” schemes Ryan employed:

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Brave New World: Watching film (game and practice) in real time on iPads

What do West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen and Supreme Court Justice Scalia have in common? Answer: They both take their work home with them via their iPads. In Scalia’s case, the Supreme Court staff and his law clerks load the casebriefs and cases on his iPad for remote viewing. For Holgorsen, it’s film — practice, WVU film, opponents, film, and so on. As he explains in the linked clip (beginning at the 1:50 mark), coaches and even players nowadays frequently take video home on their iPads or even download it on the fly to review and continue the process of getting better. He even mentions that some schools give iPads to all of their players.

Very interesting, and increasingly available to teams at all levels. And, after the jump, is a photo West Virginia QB Geno Smith tweeted of his aforementioned iPad with game cutups:

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The so-called “wide nine”

Apparently the buzzword around the NFL for sounding like you know what you’re talking about is the phrase “wide nine.” This refers to a technique the Philadelphia Eagles have used this season, where the defensive end in a four down lineman front slides a few inches or a foot or so to the outside and sometimes will tilt towards the quarterback. It is, in short, the defensive end getting in pure position to rush the passer. It’s called a “wide nine” because the technique, i.e. the specific alignment, of defensive linemen is categorized by a numerical system often credited to Bear Bryant (and also to Bum Phillips). The “nine” technique is the one outside the tight-end.

Greg Cosell of NFL films gives a decent version of the overly glowing if not mystical analysis of the technique below. (Of course the offense has only one tight-end, so the right defensive end isn’t really even playing a nine technique at all, but such details must bow before the intrinsic coolness of calling something “THE WIDE NINE.”)

Obviously there’s no magic to this: it’s just telling your defensive ends to pin their ears back and to rush on passing downs. Indeed, moving those defensive ends out that wide opens up all manner of attendant issues, issues that the Eagles opponent’s have routinely exploited this year. Specifically, by aligning the defensive end so wide the end has farther to go to get to the quarterback and, in the clip above, the left defensive end is so focused on rushing the passer he doesn’t bother getting a jam or chip on the tight-end. Moreover, this technique (it’s a technique if anything, there is no such thing as the “wide nine defense”), obviously opens up all kinds of issues in the run game: the defensive end aligns so wide the interior offensive linemen can quickly get up to the second level defenders like the linebackers, and the defensive ends are easy marks for traps, draws and counter plays as they sprint upfield.

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Grantland Blog: The 49ers and the ‘Wham’ Play

It’s now up:

On Gore’s first big run, with just a few seconds left in the first quarter, the 49ers lined up in a “trey” set with a wide receiver to each side and a tight end and wing or “H-back,” Delanie Walker, each lined up to the right. The goal of the “wham” blocked run play was to leave Suh unblocked. As shown below, Walker’s job was to perform the “wham” block on Suh as he crashed upfield — a surprisingly simple block because Suh would be so focused on getting in the backfield that he wouldn’t see it coming. This freed up the other linemen to block Detroit’s linebackers, which they did.

Read the whole thing.

Combining quick passes, run plays and screens in the same play

Given that humans lack clairvoyance, there is no such thing as the perfect play-caller and thus much of the development in football strategy has centered on how to get into (or out of) a given play because the defense is well suited to defend the one that was called. Indeed, quarterbacks have called audibles at the line of scrimmage for decades, and a few years ago the hot idea was calling multiple plays in the huddle.

Let's not make this too complicated

Most famously, Peyton Manning was supposedly given three plays to choose from on every down, though this was likely a bit of hyperbole. Calling two plays in the huddle remains very common, however. The method for this is simple: Two plays are called in the huddle, and then at the line the quarterback either confirms the first play (usually by saying a color) or “killing” the first play which indicates that the second will be run (by saying “kill” at the line). For example, the quarterback might call “Red Right [formation] 24 Wham [run to the right] and 70 curl [pass play].” At the line he’ll either say the confirming word (i.e. “Black! Black!”) or will kill that play so they can run the pass play (i.e. “Kill! Kill!”).

That’s all well and good, but is still cumbersome and, most importantly, the defense can still make the offense wrong after the quarterback has made his decision at the line. Moreover, with the rise of no-huddle offenses, there aren’t as many opportunities to call multiple plays at the line and have the quarterback check into one or another. The name of the game for defenses is confusion and movement, and even at the lower levels you never know how a kid might react. Increasingly, the answer to this has been to package concepts together, such that the quarterback has different options depending on what the defense does after the snap. I previously discussed packaging quick passes with five-step or dropback passes together. This is a great concept, but is quarterback intensive: the quarterback has to look for the quick pass and then reset his feet with depth and then go through another progression — not something every quarterback can do.

The answer has been to combine plays but to simplify the reads for the quarterback. There are three main forms this concept can take: (1) a base run play with a simple pre-snap backside pass concept built in; (2) quick passes combined with a draw play; and (3) quick passes combined with a screen pass. I’ll discuss each in turn.

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Quadruple option: Zone read with multiple pass options

Awhile back I talked about the potential for a “quadruple option,” where a zone-read or other spread option run was married with a two man pass concept. The idea was essentially an extension of the traditional base run packaged with a bootleg pass, just combined into one play.

quad

There are obviously issues with keeping linemen behind the line of scrimmage, but it’s an intriguing concept though not a simple one for the quarter. Indeed, I’d seen it, but only rarely.

Well, I just stumbled across a recent example of something similar (though technically it doesn’t look like there were actually two pass options on the play). Watch the first play that Pittsburgh scores on in the video below:

Although this was successful, it’s not something I expect to see too prevalently, as the feedback I’ve heard from most coaches is that it’s a lot to put on a player; that the bubble read for the triple option in the spread is usually all the quarterback can handle. Nevertheless, for those bold enough to try it, the above video shows that success is possible.

The Gods of Probability Laugh

Via the Mathlete:

In this week’s slate of games, there were 93 punts from opponent territory. Of these 12 came with the game within two scores and 3 or less yards to go. The ultimate chicken of the week goes to Frank Solich at Ohio (NTO). Facing a 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 36, Solich decides to “trust his defense” and punt the ball away. The gutless decision of the week is based on situation and not result, but man does the result really make this one good. Ohio punter Paul Hershey boots the ball 11 yards and Buffalo proceeds to march 75 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Ohio lost by 1.

Amazing. Also, Buffalo has the 91st ranked rushing defense in the country.

Funky name, good site: FishDuck.com’s breakdowns of Oregon’s schemes

This is a fan created site that does a good job breaking down Oregon’s schemes. What a huge advantage it is to be a fan of a team like Chip Kelly’s — very fertile material, and this site does nice work in analyzing all of it. Check it out.