Chip Kelly on Designing an Offense

When I was hiring staff, I wanted to hire a lot of smart people. Then let’s sit together as a group and say, ‘Alright, what did you do in the quick game? How do we want to do it in the quick game? This is what we did here. How did you call it in Cleveland, (offensive coordinator) Pat (Shurmur and defensive coordinator) Bill (Davis)?’ (Wide receivers coach) Bobby (Bicknell), came from the Buffalo Bills: ‘How did you do it?’ How did (offensive line coach) Jeff Stoutland do it in Alabama? And then we came up with what is the best way for the 2013 Eagles to run it. And we did it in every phase: the screen game, the quick game, the drop back game, the run game, all those things. What’s our two minute offense going to look like? It’s a collaboration from everybody we put together on our staff. And everybody has a say, and we’ll all talk it through, and then we’ll, as a group, decide on what is the best thing moving forward.

That’s from Chip Kelly’s most recent interview post practice. Most so-called innovations are the result of a bunch of guys sitting in a room trying to figure out if what they are doing makes sense. Do it enough — and thoughtfully enough — and focus on what your players can do and how it all fits together, and the wrinkles and interesting stuff will take care of themselves.

Alex Gibbs Denver Broncos (Terrell Davis) Outside Zone Cut-Ups and Explanation

As always, very good (somewhat old) stuff from Alex Gibbs on the outside zone running play. Note that Gibbs recently rejoined the Broncos as a consultant.

Of course there’s a lot more where that came from. (Hat tip to togfootball.) Also try eight hours of Alex Gibbs talking with Dan Mullen, Steve Addazio and others at the University of Florida several years back:

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New Grantland: What Drafting Matt Barkley Means for Chip Kelly’s Plans for the Eagles

It’s up over at Grantland:

Kelly’s staff in Philadelphia further supports this view. Kelly said he wanted offensive and defensive coordinators with NFL coordinator experience, and in Pat Shurmur and Billy Davis, that’s what he got. Throughout this offseason, Kelly has made clear that he wants the Eagles to be something of a laboratory for football ideas, whether it be X’s and O’s or the science of peak athletic performance.

But this line of thinking still has to be tempered with a bit of realism. Kelly is clearly bright, committed, and open-minded, but the idea that he can step into the NFL and runany offense — spread, pro-style, West Coast, Coryell, Wing-T — seems implausible. He shredded college football running a very specific attack based on very specific principles, and the mathematical advantage he gained from having his quarterback be at least some kind of a threat to run was a central tenet. He might be able to adapt his offense to his players and coaches, but this is not the same thing as continuing and growing what worked at Oregon.

Read the whole thing.

Paragraph of the Day: Cal Bears/Packaged Plays Edition

The highlight of [Cal’s] practice for me was during the team periods I was standing about 5 yards away from Tony Franklin. I was right next to him so I could hear each play call. What was slightly shocking to me was how often they attach quick game concepts on the backside of runs. Nearly every single run play there is a quick game or screen component tied on to the backside, and sometimes routes are tagged frontside as well. They call quick concept backside so often that they actually have to call/signal for the backside to BLOCK when they just want a designed run play. The hot new thing is combo [a.k.a “packaged”] plays … 2 in 1 or even 3 in 1 plays… EVERY PLAY is a 2 in 1.

Read the whole thing here.

Smart Links – QB Accuracy, Hook and Lateral, Free Shipping, Star Wars, Evaluating OLine, Wittgenstein – 3/8/2013

Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said that accuracy in a quarterback is overrated. Seriously.

ShakintheSouthland on the hook and lateral.

Promo in the Smart Football Shop: Use the code “SPRINGTIME” to get free shipping in the Smart Football Shop.

College football’s best individual passing games since 2005. Also check out the best passing seasons since 2005.

– What was neoliberalism?

How Disney bought Lucasfilm. I enjoyed this; Bloomberg Businessweek has turned into a surprisingly good magazine.

Assembling the “billing block” as the bottom of movie posters.

Matt Waldman on the disconnect between evaluating and drafting talent.

Bruce Feldman always has interesting takes, this time on the low road many star NFL offensive linemen took to success:

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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.

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  • (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.

 

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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.