Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Packaging / reverse checking / and teaching conceptually

So people who have heard me at clinics, read, my articles, or had me in for a private session understand I'm always talking about packages and concepts rather then plays. I thought I'd get a little into it here as my people have emailed me for a clarification.
(This will be more of an overview as time and space does not allow for detailed information. Hopefully, it will give someone regardless of his or her style of offense an idea or two.)

Teaching Conceptually

I have always believed in teaching conceptually. In giving the team / player an overview of what your trying to accomplish and how you're trying to accomplish it with each play or package. By doing this you expand your capabilities to expand the packages and allow the player / team the ability to work through unique grey areas that appear on the field.

(An example of this is a stack Lber behind the hand of key in the triple. Is he inside or outside? If you teach rote and are a pure recognition team then you have to treat him as one way only. By his alignment or movement that can hurt you. Additionally, if the tackle recognizes him differently then the quarterback is taught by rote there is a scheme problem. However, if you teach conceptually (we are reading one and optioning #2 and the quarterback will distribute the perimeter blockers accordingly, you are right regardless of where the tackle calls him. Plus you can make an easy adjustment by just telling the tackle or the quarterback to treat him as outside or inside, since the quarterback will apply the concept and distribute blockers according to the concept.)

In our triple system we teach a number of triple concepts within our offense. they may look and be taught as the following

42 - 48 read #1 Option #2; veer whenever possible; block all 4i's and become double option ("jersey" call)

41 - 49 read #1 Option #2; loop whenever possible; Never block a 4i (read your way out)

44 - 46 (loaded scheme) read #1 Option Support (#3 in Ace or 50; #2 in reduced) Veer whenever possible. Block a 4i (double option) except a 50

43 - 47 (load Scheme) read #1 / option Support (#3 in Ace or 50; #2 in reduced) Veer whenever possible. Block all 4i's and move option out Read #2 Option #3 (turns into outside veer on the run)

When a quarterback has these tools and he has already learned option theory (taught in the off season) he can easily come up with the right call in the package.


"Packaging" is simply taking these concepts, coming up with the proper scheme and giving them tags. It is the grouping together of similar or dissimilar blocking schemes to make a concept mechanically sound. It gives us a chance to never be in the wrong play and never be outnumbered on the option.
(Nothing ticks me off more then a play called that has no chance or one that relies on pure athletic ability. That, in my mind, is not coaching. It's not giving the players every chance at success.)

In the all our concepts, our quarterback is trained to recognize FLANKS as a 50, ACE (4-3), reduced front, and a six man side. (For option plays we do not recognize complete or internal parts of the fronts. Our line rules will take care of this.) All our checks are based the same perimeter recognition so once it's learned - that's it. No more.

For each of the concepts above, the quarterback will have a "tag" for each flank (6 man side is to check opposite) One might read as follows:

50 RED; ACE WHITE, REDUCED BLUE (all the terms are just made up for this example)

The tag places the team into the proper scheme.

Some people have said that this is difficult to teach. On the contrary. The recognition is universal so once it's taught - it's taught. The tags are rote. The quarterback must learn them as a times table but that's not hard. First a cheerleader could memorize these tags. Secondly, rote has been proven to be effort. If, your quarterback won't give you the effort - he shouldn't be the quarterback in this offense (really - you're going to out the ball in the hands of a player who won't memorize - think about it!)
Thirdly, our tags are grouped by structure (i.e. all fruit might be used vs. reduced fronts, etc.) Fourth, there is redundancy in the tags throughout our system. Also, since he has already been versed in option theories (i.e. numbers / sealing the box, etc.) he can figure out which tag goes with which defense.

External Tags

"External Tags" are tags added to adapt / add to the offense for a particular play. It allows us to expand our offense greatly without overburdening the team with great learning. Their emphasis and the emphasis of practice is and aways will remain on the base part of the offense.

An example of "external tagging" is our double options. Although we run double options to keep the ball in the hands of who we want, we do not overburden the offense with them. A double option we like against a reduced front is our "Vegas" call where we pitch off the 5 tech. It might be the only double we practice that week against a 4-2-5 team. So we'll tag it onto a triple. It might be called as "42 ck Vegas"

Since the quarterback knows that "Vegas" can only be used vs. a reduced front it would take the place of a  "Blue" call in the above example of "red, white, and blue." If the defense surprises us, we by calls in the package, revert back to our base - something we have run since day one and have great confidence in.

By doing it this way, we can expand and contract our offense easily to handle potential problems. All "external tags" are taught to the team by rote. This can happen because we only run them vs. one defense.

Reverse Checking

Reverse checking is a method of helping the quarterback out and taking away the redundancy of repeating tags over and over again.

In reverse checking, the play is called in the huddle with the anticipated tag for the predicted defense. In the above example of "Red, White, and Blue," if we were playing a base 4-2-5 team then our huddle call would be "42 Blue" rather then just 42. The quarterback would then only use the other tags if the defense wasn't reduced. Otherwise the quarterback will give a non-sense check (something that doesn't mean anything) to tell the team to stay in the original call.

This method also clears up some grey areas. In the case we started with, if "blue" is called in the huddle, the quarterback knows that we want to consider that stacked linebacker inside unless he is clearly outside.

Practicing Reverse Checking

If you are going to reverse check, then you must make sure that the quarterback knows all the tags (and the team also) So, the first two weeks of practice he will call all the tags at the line of scrimmage. We will simply call 42 in the huddle and he must put us in the right play every time. This will go right through our scrimmages.

We will then start weening the QB off the no help system by every one out of three plays we will help and reverse tag (care must be given to make sure all of the tags are still practiced)

During the year, on Monday and Tuesday, he will call all the tags in our half line. (we cover every flank look in this) On Wednesday and Thursday we reverse tag. Care must be given in your scripts to make sure the quarterback has to check out. If you don't do that. He will get lazy AND the team will get lazy in their listening.


I hoped this helped you. I really believe any system can use and benefit from checking and using tags regardless of your offensive style. As I stated before, there is no reason for your team to be in a bad play or scheme.

Hope you got something from it.

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