Friday, February 21, 2014

You don't get style points in football

Anybody who knows me understands that i am a voracious reader especially of anything football. They also know that I try to be as strategically sound and systematic in my play calling. These two things lead to this article.

"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy."
Colin Powell

The problem that I've run into lately with my reading is the blurring of objectives. The burring ofthe strategical   overview with tactical decisions made during a game. The last time I checked the rule book - the only objective of the game is to win by outscoring the opponent. I've searched through the entire book and in no place do you get any style points. My problem is that in many coaches eyes I feel (according to their articles) they would rather be able to write a strategic article then win their games. 

The best principal I ever had gave me a great book years ago about goal setting and priorities. (I forget the name now although much of the content has stayed the course.) Basically it said is that you only could have one #1 priority and that ALL decisions eventually fell before this priority. Example if your #1 objective as a person was to move up - all your decisions would be first based on that. If your #1 priority was to be a moral person - those same decisions would be first based on the moral fabric and then if that fit based on moving up.

That asme is true in football. If your #1 goal is to prove a theory then in a game you might make the best decisions for your theory and not winning a game. A the reverse is true. In the majority of cases these too priorities often have the same best first choice but there are situations where what happens once the game starts makes decisions based on these two different priorities mutually exclusive.

Let me explain this with the following scenarios that are directly related to the flexbone. (I am sure that there is a crossover into other systems if one looked)

Scenario #1
The only reason for running the rocket is to answer stunts and blitzes on the first two phases of the triple,

The past two years I have had some very good talent - especially at halfback. One of our halfbacks won the 200 meters in the Eastern Finals. The other is almost as fast. We have run an inordinate #'s of rockets. In one game with our quarterback out and the defense basically saying - "you will give to the fullback or run the quarterback," we basically became a rocket team. We had 55 at the half  without an option quarterback. 

Now I'm not saying we were unsound - we were not outnumbered or out leveraged. It was just our best play given the time, opponent, and our personnel. If you went by the above statement - we should have ran triple and grinded it down the field, thus keeping the opponent in the game.

Scenario #2
The follow play is the best short yardage play in the offense. I've seen people say thats its the only short yardage play you need.

A college team was on espn - two years ago. In breaking down the game the option team had 4 3rd and shorts and 3 4th and shorts. Everyone they ran the follow but the last. Everyone the defense read and stuffed the follow play by outnumbering it after the snap. (any play can be stopped) Apparently the defense knew this play was "unstoppable" in theory also.  Might have lost the game on these 5 plays.

Scenario #3
I heard an option coach at a clinic say their #1 goal was to control the ball 60% of the clock. (Winning was #5 on the list.) This is a lil backward. The coach said they fought for this. They strived every game for this.  What happens if you break every play and the other team struggles but moves the ball. You might score 50 but never win the time of possession. Its easy to see that having this as your #1 goal is a false sense of priorities. Are your ball carriers suppose to fall down so you can run another play?

Scenario #4
There is an internet article I've seen on multiple sights stating that if you don't make the quarterback read out of stunts in a game you are "enabling him." (This article was sent to me so I have no idea how it originated nor am I trying to condemn the person who wrote it. As I've said many times, there are many ways to skin a cat!)

Just like any other triple team we start off with a base of reading our way out of stunts. However, if our quarterback cant do this in a given game (speed, angles, etc.) I am not going to lose the game to prove he can. Anyone who's heard me knows we have tags that can take this problem away. (loaded schemes, blocking half the stunt, etc.) I am not gonna lose the game to get to speak at a clinic.

Take this idea further. If you have a theory that all your players could swim naturally and threw them into a pool in order to prove it. If one of those players started drowning, would you let him drown to prove your theory. NO! you'd throw him a life vest. THROW YOUR QB a life vest. ENABLE your team to win.

There are many more scenarios that prove this theory. The point is, you have to have a great system based on sound theory, but once the game starts that theory is put on the back burner in the place of winning. If this was figure skating and you got style points I would agree with these pundits. However, it doesn't matter how it looks - I'll fix that later in practice - the one with the most points wins. (I'll work on reading back to back again next week!) So until that changes - I'll live by the same theory I often tell the kids "FIND A WAY TO WIN!" Although I love the flex, I'm not married to any theory or concept. If the only way I could win was with the "side saddle T" I'd run it. (Now there's a historical reference for you guys to look up - it really was an offense.)


Robert said...

I'm seeking to revive the sidesaddle T,, but in children's football.

James Wright said...

Awesome article and great advice. Like always...
Jim Wright