New Solid Verbal Podcast 3/6/2013

I appeared on the Solid Verbal podcast, with Ty and Dan. We discussed the Air Raid, 4-2-5, Manny Diaz’s Texas defense, the read option in the pros, and Bill O’Brien at Penn State. It might be the offseason, but in our hearts it’s always football season.

Smart Links – Warmack, Fluker, and Jones, Leigh Steinberg, Petrino, the GZA, the Quesarito – 3/6/2013

It’s draft season, but don’t just study quarterbacks and receivers. The big guys up front need some attention too. This clip of Chance Warmack, DJ Fluker, and Barrett Jones is as good of a place to start as any:

Leigh Steinberg on agents, sports, and representing athletes. After a slow start, I thought this was a very interesting and wide ranging discussion, of particular interest to would-be directors player personnel or GMs (or owners!).

Bobby Knight has a new book called The Power of Negative Thinking. Seriously.

Welcome to Hell!

SBNation on Bobby Petrino. Although a bit vague and inexact in trying to describe Petrino’s attack, the focus of the piece is in the right place, however, in that it tries to understand Petrino’s worldview through his obsession with schemes and tactics.

The quest for the Chipotle Quesarito.

Bill Gates on the book Why Nations Fail.

The GZA interviewed by… Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

A more realistic mock NFL draft.

New Grantland: Are Alex Smith and Andy Reid a Good Match in Kansas City?

It’s now up:

But there are lingering questions about both Smith and Reid. I’ll let others address whether the Chiefs overpaid for Smith, but I’m still not so sure that the fit is as good as it would seem. As is West Coast offense tradition, when Reid’s offense was at its best, it was as much about throwing vertically — with deep passes to Terrell Owens or DeSean Jackson breaking open a game — as it was about short passes underneath. Smith has never been known for his ability to throw the ball down the field. And of course, one of the biggest knocks on Reid in Philadelphia was that he would never stick with the run; much of Smith’s success in San Francisco came when supported by Harbaugh’s deep commitment to a power running game.

This is the specter that hangs over this trade and the marriage of Smith and Reid: the specter of, well, Jim Harbaugh (scary thought).

Read the whole thing.

Designing a Complete Passing System — Excerpt from Dan Gonzalez’s “Recoded and Reloaded”

The below is an excerpt from the new book by passing guru and friend of Smart Football, Dan Gonzalez, titled Recoded and Reloaded: An Updated Structure for a Complete Passing Game at Any Level, which expands and builds on his earlier book, Concept Passing. You can find the book on Amazon and CreateSpace.

For all the talk in football about “systems” — the Air Raid system, the West Coast Offense, the Run and Shoot, a Pro-Style System — there is very little discussion of how does one go about building an effective system, and what makes a system effective. There are a few cliches that everyone throws around when discussing systems, that each seem to contradict each other: they have to “have answers” while being “simple”; they have to be “easy to learn and communicate” but be “flexible” enough to account for “multiplicity”; and they have to be “cutting edge” and “new” but still rely on “sound football principles.” This isn’t to say all of this can’t be accomplished — I believe they can — but it’s clearly not easy. I put a significant amount of thought into this as I wanted to rework my existing passing system.

I began by trying to simplify the existing system. But, while simplifying a structure to accommodate beginning learners is relatively easy, as all you may need to do is simply be a matter of stripping away layers from a complex organization, you might be left with something very incomplete. You might be “simple” but not have “sufficient answers.”

Because of my coaching background, a system overhaul required not only accommodating the most basic in features; the ability of the scheme to “grow” into a complete pattern system is a non-negotiable as well.   So what makes a pattern system complete?  As a fledgling coach, the great Homer Smith’s influence on how I conceptualized the passing game could not be overemphasized.  His willingness to correspond, send me game and drill footage, and converse with me crystallized my vision of what I wanted in my system.   The first page of my quarterback manual reiterates what he imparted to me, namely the characteristics I’ve outlined below. It’s my belief that any well designed passing system must have all of these traits.

  • (1) It gives receivers the opportunity to defeat tight man coverage.  This is more than simply having one or two “pick” plays (Figure 2-1) that a team uses.   It encompasses development of release and separation techniques on individual routes, and the emphasis of accuracy and timing on the part of the passer, and having viable options that can separate from man coverage on every pass play.

1

  • (2) Prevents conflict between receivers.  Figure 2-2 shows an example of receivers whose pass routes “bleed” into one another.  In other words, the routes are so close in proximity that two defenders can cover three offensive people.

 

2

Our stretches are designed to isolate a specific defender, and make sure there is enough space so that one defender cannot cover two receivers (Figure 2-3).

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Sentences of the Day: Bill Walsh Edition

TIGHT END — Ideal size: 6-41/2, 245

Requirements for a tight end depend heavily on the system being deployed. It’s almost a necessity to find the athlete who best fits your system of football….

[...]

Now there is one more type of tight end — the great, all around type who is a Hall of Fame type. He is so gifted that he can do all of the things you would usually require two types of tight ends to do. That type of player makes this a unique position in the NFL. One man who can do all these things, the great, all around tight end becomes the essence of the National Football League. And there have been very few — John Mackey, Mike Ditka, Jackie Smith, are the only two who have made the Hall of Fame.

Interestingly, I believe Tony Gonzalez of Cal this year has the potential to become that type of all around great tight end.

Pretty good prediction. You can read the entire thing here, and read the full set of Walsh’s analysis of various positions here, which are interesting throughout.

Football Coaching Resources

Below is a collection of some of my favorite football coaching resources, broken down by topic. Rather than list everything I’ve ever read or watched, I’ve tried to streamline it to my favorites. Make sure to check frequently — I’ve got a link to this page at the top — as I will be adding new resources over time, and feel free to email me with further suggestions. Enjoy!

A good start

A good start

General Offense

  • Finding the Winning Edge, by Bill Walsh. The bible. The book’s strength — literally everything is in there — is also its weakness, as every page is a relentless surge of information. I include it here under offense as that is where it has influenced me most, but it covers almost every aspect of football. This is a great article on this brilliant, flawed, mercurial book, and its brilliant, flawed and mercurial author.
  • Developing an Offensive Gameplan, by Brian Billick. Exactly as the title implies, this slender book is an efficient, no-nonsense primer on how to prepare a gameplan for an upcoming opponent. It focuses not only on scheme but also on personnel and other, broader strategic elements as well, including red zone strategy and generating explosive plays.

Passing Offense

  • The Bunch Attack: Using Compressed Formations in the Passing Game, by Andrew Coverdale and Dan Robinson. Although nominally about “bunch” formations, this is my favorite resource just about the passing game. It presents a comprehensive system — which can be run from bunch or non-bunch formations — and presents countless variations and, most importantly, responses to various coverages and techniques. Also great are Coverdale and Robinson’s three-volume set on the quick passing game. e here for volume one, volume two, and volume three, and as a DVD package.
  • Concept Passing: Teaching the Modern Passing Game, by Dan Gonzalez. Drawing on west coast, pro-style, run and shoot and other influences, Gonzalez weaves together a “conceptual” approach to the passing game in a way that quarterbacks can execute and can be adapted to almost any offensive system.

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Musical Chairs: Packaged Plays and the Evolution of “Option” Football

This article was written by Keith Grabowski, offensive coordinator at Baldwin Wallace University. You can follow him on twitter at @CoachKGrabowski, and see his monthly columns at American Football Monthly, where he posts new articles on the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

pistol-cropThe option play has gained a resurgence in football with the popularity of the spread offense. Relying heavily on the run, option football forces a defense to be disciplined and play their responsibilities. It’s still a very sound way to attack defenses, but requires a commitment to running those base plays over and over. The spread has allowed teams that attack with option and to carry an effective passing attack that utilizes the spread to get the ball to players in space. The zone read and bubble have become a staple for spread option teams as well.

Option is no longer limited to teams who utilize the traditional dive back, pitch back type of runs. Two-in one plays or packaged plays are the new trend in offense that has the stick-draw concept at the forefront of this trend. What teams are finding ways to do is to isolate a defender in space and make him be in two places at once which makes one of those spaces a clean void to attack.

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Smart Links – Woody Hayes on the Triple Option, Lighter Linebackers, Hugh Freeze’s Recruiting, Cam Cameron, Snickers – 2/14/2013

Share Valentine’s day the right way: with Woody Hayes serenading you with his explanations of the triple option (“The NFL doesn’t even try it.”). Go to about the 18 minute mark.

Also make sure to go to the 9:30 mark to check out the fashions. (I have some Woody Hayes related shirts in the Smart Football shop.)

Some thoughts on Cam Cameron as LSU’s new offensive coordinator.

Bruce Feldman on Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze’s recruiting.

Ronald Dworkin has passed away.

– Tragedy: Maker’s Mark is watering down its bourbon.

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Urban Meyer at the Ohio Coaches Convention 2013

Always good stuff here:

Super Bowl Special Offer: The Essential Smart Football for 99 Cents

As a limited time Super Bowl offer, I’ve made my book, the bestselling The Essential Smart Football, available in ebook for Kindle for 99 cents. Get it here. (And if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it using the free Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.)

This offer will expire and the price will go back up after the Super Bowl this weekend — make sure to act quickly. You can read more about the book here.

book

Limited time offer