Keeping Force Rules Simple

Simple Force For Success

One of the things I like most about the 425 is your ability to make force rules simple for your players and declare the run fits as easy as possible.  For the sake of today's blog I will keep this limited to 2 Back 21 personnel groupings.  I played 3-4 under fronts for 10 years and teaching read force was always a tough deal for me.  Keep in mind that read force is occurring between a safety and an OLB so it requires 2 players being on the same page and reacting accordingly.  I choose to play a 7 Tech Defensive End which is inside eye on the Tight End.  I know a lot of people do not like playing a player in a position where he is reached by alignment, and vulnerable to easy down blocks because of the angles involved.  My answer to that is I sacrifice those things to easily define my run fits on the back end.  Now my down safety knows he will always be the force player and my FS knows he should always run the alley and fit off the Mike LB.  I can now identify the blocks those players will see and the techniques needed to defeat those blocks. When I was playing under fronts with read force i had a problem finding a real good Sam LB that could play in a 9 tech with the ability to wrong arm and close down blocks while also effectively defeating the reach block.  The safety side of that was easier because on the back end you are just making the 9 tech right no matter how he fits the blocking scheme.

When dealing with lower levels of football like High School, Junior High, or Pop Warner you have to keep time constraints and athletes going both ways in mind when developing your schematics on defense.  I chose to be a 425 team because of the simplicity, not the complexity.  All things considered the 3-4 odd front stuff is definitely harder on an offense but it is also harder on a defense.  Especially if you want to go all out and try being a 2 gap team.  Because I have a lot of players that play both ways on my team, my time to teach them is cut down tremendously.  I need a scheme that is simple to teach and understand but also very flexible in nature. My defensive end is probably also a fullback or offensive lineman for me, so playing him in a 7 Tech makes things a lot easier on him and my staff.  The thing you have to sell him on is the fact he may not make as many plays on paper as a 3-4 outside LB, or as a head up or 9 Tech end.  A lot of this discussion is pointless because most people today are trending towards playing without a Tight End, and that DE now becomes a 5 Tech anyway.  But that also helps me defend my argument by saying if we see a Tight End twice a year the 7 Tech adjustment is easier to make.  You take a Sam LB who is playing in space 90% of the time and then ask him to play as a 9 Tech on a Tight End, and i think you are asking for trouble.  Now if he only plays Sam LB and has 5 days a week to work techniques vs. Tight Ends then I can see your point.  The great thing about it is you have the ability to fit your scheme to your players and your schedule if you are flexible enough to teach more than one scheme.  A great example of that to me is the military academies and the flexbone.  They run a system conducive to the players they are able to recruit.

At the end of the day it comes down to what you feel you can teach best, and what you feel your players can learn and play the best.  If we all had to play the exact same thing what fun would this be!!!


Don't Watch Your Game, Coach It!!!

Had a great time back home on Long Island doing a clinic for my High School, Valley Stream Central.  The best part of the clinic for me was finding out I needed to take a closer look at some of the things we do in our program.  My goal for the clinic this year was to discuss the "operating procedure" of the offense as much as the literal X's and O's of the offense.  It's so easy sometimes to just get caught up in the X's and O's and draw up a million new plays.  Unfortunately it's not always new plays that turn your offense around.  More often than not it's the execution of the plays and the structure of practices that determine the success of the scheme.

After several discussions with their coaching staff about what we thought the problems were last season, and what we thought the answers were, we decided to take another look at game film from last season.  This time though, I tried to focus on how defenses were playing them set by set in games to determine what sets were better for them and if there were any tendencies.  Their original concern was that every defense seemed to be overplaying the jet sweep and that they did not have any answers last season.  After reviewing a bunch of games we came to the conclusion that teams were overplaying the jet in some formations but not others. What I found out while talking to the staff was that most guys got consumed with the point of attack and the ball carrier.  I immediately started thinking to myself that we probably have the same problem, and that the answer would be assigning assistant coaches "jobs" on game day.  When I say jobs what I mean is individual keys for the coaches to look for so they can establish the problems on game days and then find the appropriate answers in that 2 hour game window.

I have never been a "series" or "sequence" coach in terms of calling offensive plays.  I know there are some offensive systems where the play calling is almost dictated directly by which defenders are making plays.  Now I do realize that almost all offensive coordinators are doing this to an extent, but some do it exclusively and the play calls are verbatim off the sequence or series of plays run and who made the tackle.  The thing that I do appreciate about that is the offensive coordinator feels like he has answers in game for the problems that are occurring.  More importantly I think the staff now has defined roles to identify the problems during the game and they don"t just watch the game.  Let's be realistic here, there can never be an appropriate solution until you fully understand the problem.  How many times have you watched film after a game only to realize the problem is different than what you thought you saw live?  It happens to me all the time and I stare at that film and think, How dumb am I?  By assigning your staff to watch individual segments of the game you can get a better chain of communication that makes it easier to identify and then solve problems in games which is all that really matters.

Doing clinics with other staffs is a great way to reevaluate what you are actually doing with your own program.  Coaching should stay a fraternity, and the constant sharing of ideas only makes our kids get better.  Regardless of all the hype and talk of winning championships, preserving this great game that had a huge impact on our lives while helping mold the future fathers, husbands,  and leaders of our country should be our main priority.