Hanging Your Hat With The Power Play

Old School Power Play

 Today I would like to talk about making the power play the "go to" run in your offensive playbook.  Offenses have been running the power play as their bread and butter money run for decades now. Regardless of the trends that occur every couple of years on offense, you are always going to see the power play run by 90% of offenses at the High School, College, and Pro level.  The big buzz in the NFL right now is the "READ" game and adding option concepts to NFL schemes.  If you watch the Redskins with RG3 or the Niners with Kaepernick you start to get the feeling that some NFL franchises are welcoming more and more college schemes into their offensive arsenal. But what you will also notice is those teams still run the good old fashioned power play with gap down, kick out, and backside guard wrap.  I would like to discuss the power play in today's offense and how you can package it with Jet Sweep to make it a read theory.

Follow the Trend
Since it is the day after Round 1 of the 2013 NFL draft, I think we should take a look at the common pattern in today's game.  Regardless of whether you coach Pop Warner, Junior High, High School, College, or the NFL the game is becoming all about athletes in space and potential with upside.  Guys are being drafted on potential alone and their explosive athletic ability.  The Rams traded up to draft a 5'8" wide receiver? What happened to the long, lanky, rangy receivers? Well nothing really happened, it just so happens the 5'8" kid is the most explosive and dynamic player in space.  He creates problems for the defense because of his explosiveness and versatility.  The offense has an unlimited amount of ways to get this type of player the ball.  Look at some of the defensive players selected.  Production was nowhere near as big of a factor as athletic ability and potential.  The first and only QB selected was chosen based on upside, athletic ability, and potential. How does this tie into today's topic?  Well think about the potential to get Tavon Austin the ball on the perimeter built in with the potential of E.J. Manuel, or RG3, or Kaepernick running the power play!!! Now I realize that in the NFL you don't want your QB running between the tackles, i am merely making a case to illustrate how effective this scheme can be in Junior High or High School when you utilize your best players to put pressure on the defense. 

Let's get back to the topic of running the power play.  The play in itself is so simplistic in its nature, but so effective in it's execution.  You have simple gap down theories play side, with a straight forward kick out block by a fullback, and a back side guard wrapping to give you an extra helmet play side.  It is a downhill run.  It creates a mind set for your offense. It toughens your defense by making them defend downhill, hardball runs.  It creates tremendous play action possibilities.  I really can not think of a reason any offense would have to not run the power play.  Now when you add the Jet Sweep package and make it a "READ SCHEME" you are adding versatility to the concept while still hanging your hat on base principles.  To me, that is the way to play fast and effective football.  We are creating problems for the defense while refining base skills for the offense.  I take it a step further with my offense and only run power to the strong side.  That gives me the ability to fine tune my offensive lineman and get them extremely efficient in the execution of the play because their assignments will not change.  It also helps me streamline my communication process which in turn leads to a faster tempo.

I will go more into depth on the power play and packaging it with the Jet Sweep in the Video portion of the blog.  I will cover it with base power blocking assignments and then the slight changes we make when running the "READ" portion of it.  As always I hope it helps, or at least gives you something to think about.


Play Action Off Jet Sweep

Its All About Speed

 The Jet Sweep has become a staple running play for many offensive systems over the last 20 years.  Even though you are seeing it from shotgun spread teams now, it actually started as an under center play.  In fact I personally think it was harder to stop from under center wing looks because the motion was a lot shorter and harder to account for.  From the shotgun however the Jet is becoming a much more dynamic play because it is being packaged with other plays. It is also being packaged with read concepts which makes it even more potent.  Today I would like to discuss Play Action pass possibilities off the Jet and how to disrupt the run fits and rotations of the defense.

Attack More Than Just The Edge
The reason the Jet sweep is so important to some offensive schemes is its ability to attack the edge or perimeter of the defense.  Today's offensive mindset for a lot of teams is to put speed in space.  One of the reasons for that is the realization of how hard open field tackling really is on a defender.  The other reason is the horizontal pressure on a defense helps create vertical running lanes on the inside of the defense. When you are talking about high powered offenses they all usually have the same characteristics.  They have the ability to run the ball to the edge, they can run the ball inside, they slow you down with screens and draws, and they have the ability to play action pass with players that stretch the field.  Now, you still have teams like Alabama and Stanford who just wear you out all game but at the high school and junior high level you wont always have the lineman and backs to do that.  One of the ways you can create space in the run game is by attacking the perimeter, and play action passing to slow down support.

Adding To Your Package
In keeping with the theory of playing fast football, we need to look at how we can add play action passes into our offense while still staying simplistic enough to keep the learning curve to a minimum.  Again, all the greatest plays in the game are worthless if they are not executed at full speed with a clear mind.  All too often I see offensive guys who try to throw every new play they see or hear into their scheme.  I'm not saying you should not add things to your playbook, but when you add something you should think about the carryover from other concepts in your scheme.  As far as up tempo is concerned, you must always consider the verbiage and communication involved.  I've always been a huge fan of Jon Gruden, not only his offensive mind but his passion and intensity.  But let's be realistic here "Flip Right Double X Jet 36 Counter Naked Waggle at 7X Quarter" is probably not the best way to communicate to High School players in an up tempo offense.  What we want to do here is build play action passes into an already existing offensive package.  For us we like to use the Jet Sweep as a base play, as a read play, and as a play to run counters off.  So adding play action passes into our jet package helps us slow down run support and safety spin while still staying within the structure of our offense.  I will talk in the video segment about running base 5 step passing concepts and then adding a route concept to take advantage of secondary rotation.  I will also talk about protection and making sure you can marry your protection schemes to your play action so your lineman have the ability to play fast and be efficient protecting the QB.  I've said this in other posts but want to reinforce the notion of keeping the QB on his feet when throwing play action passes, especially if they are designed to take "SHOTS" down the field. It's very frustrating to see something in coverage you like, get a play called at the right time, only to have the QB get crushed.  When throwing play action passes do everything you can to protect the QB.  Again most of the concepts being covered will be discussed in the video chalk talk so please take the time to watch the video.  I hope these ideas help you build an explosive offense.


Up Tempo Offense


Today I want to talk about something I really enjoy and that is up tempo football.  I fell in love with this style of offense about 8 years ago and it has been pretty good to me the entire time.  I am going to discuss what I think are the major advantages of up tempo football, and then I will go through on video an explanation of an up tempo drill we use with our offense.  It is very important to understand that if this is going to be your standard mode of operation you better try and do everything in your program this way.  Its a lifestyle not a hobby, and you only get good at it by doing it.

The one thing I really like about up tempo football is the amount of flexibility it has.  Your pace of play has no regard for talent or schemes.  How many times do you sit around in the off season and think about your schemes?  What are your thoughts? Do I have good enough lineman for that? Is my tailback my feature player? Can my QB make all those throws? Do I have receivers that can stretch the field? Will I be able to find 2 or 3 tight ends? Or if you are like me, the off season gives you 9 million ideas on new plays you can run that you got from clinics, college bowl games, or NFL playoff games.  The great thing about tempo is it does not matter what your scheme or talent level is.  Any team, at any level, can play up tempo football.  What it really boils down to is a process of streamlining your communication skills.  Think about it.  Football is the only major team sport that actually huddles during live game time.  You never see a basketball team, or baseball team, or soccer team, or volleyball team, or hockey team actually huddle while the game clock is moving or the ball is in play.  So what is the purpose of the huddle?  Now I was not around during the early developmental days of football, but my guess is the huddle was used as a way to communicate assignments to your offensive players without the defense hearing what you are saying.  Another interesting thing to look at is football conditioning was usually based around this principle.  Football players are generally trained to make short explosive bursts while allowing for some rest in between.  That is because the average football play is 6 seconds long with approximately 25-35 seconds between plays.  So whether you are a Pro I team, Wing T team, Spread team, Air Raid team, or Flexbone team up tempo is a definite possibility if you are willing to change everything you learned about offensive communication. You must also be willing to train your players in a whole new fashion.

So let us take a look at some of the advantages of being up tempo.
1)For me it fits my personality
2)More practice reps
3)Makes more players accountable
4)Make conditioning a factor early
5)Eliminate multiple defensive fronts
6)Eliminate multiple defensive stunts
7)Attempt to negate defensive substitutions
8)Put pressure on defensive play caller
9)Make defenses prepare for schemes and pace
10)Help prepare your defense for up tempo offenses

Now in order to accomplish these things we have to PRACTICE THIS WAY!!!!!  Again we are attempting to streamline our communication process to make things quicker. The only way to practice communication is to practice communication.  Your entire practice periods that are team sessions must be ran from no huddle operating procedures.  Your weight room should be up tempo.  Your meetings should be up tempo.  Your walk through should be up tempo.  You need to establish a mindset within your program that says "THIS IS HOW WE OPERATE."

The biggest thing you need to incorporate is video taping every practice.  We will never stop team periods so an individual coach can instruct his players. The coaches will have to learn how to coach players on the fly.  We are constantly working on instructing players while we are moving to the next formation and getting the next play call.  I love it this way because it keeps assistant coaches on their toes. I have seen way to many practices where assistant coaches stand around 85% of the time while 1 or 2 coaches run the whole period.  Even the guys running the scout group have to learn tempo so they can get the scout group in the right look for each play on the practice script.  With that said, you must now be able to incorporate film time into your practice schedule so your coaches and players can see the mistakes that were made and be given ample time off the field to correct them before the next practice.

The last part of this discussion and the part I will talk about on the video is how we practice changing pace on offense.  I see a lot of great up tempo drills from college practices and even some great 2 minute drills from NFL offenses.  The only problem I have with that is in most of those videos that is the only pace practiced.  If you are truly going to be an up tempo team, then changing the pace will be as important as keeping the pace.  Defensive coaches are very smart, and when they know you are up tempo they are going to study your manner of operating.  How fast do you snap the ball?  What is the trigger?  Is it the center's head?  Is it the QB'S leg kick?  In disguising and adapting their defense to up tempo teams they will try to gain every advantage possible.  That is why an up tempo offense learns how to work at different paces to alter the speed of the game. We always want the defense on their heels, and we want to dictate scenarios to the defense.  The same can be said about tempo.  We control the tempo and we want to dictate the tempo to the defense.  We have what we call tempo drills on air everyday.  These drills are simply 11 offensive players lining up in formations and running plays on air.  We are going to jump in and out of different tempo's and snap counts to drill our kids on the change of pace of games and individual series.  This is where we double check our communication process.  It is a chance to work on changing pace but also to work on our method of communication.  It is a chance for the signal caller and play caller to work together.  This is a chance for players to learn the importance of quick and efficient personnel changes.  

I will briefly describe in a video how we run the drill, and then when spring football starts I will video tape the drill and show you how we actually do this.  I hope this helps your program.


Teaching QB's Curl/Spot/Flat Progression With Footwork


 I had a chance recently to do an instructional video on teaching and developing young QB'S. As a Head Coach that coordinates both sides of the ball I sometimes forget that I cut my teeth as a QB coach when I was a GA in college. The everyday life of a High School Head Coach gets bogged down with red tape,  trouble shooting, and crisis management. It felt good to actually speak on the fundamentals of one position and get back to the days of just being a position coach.  With spring ball right around the corner it was nice to get a taste of coaching the little things again.  In the  off season it is real easy to focus on schemes and to go to clinics to find the newest trends in the game of football. Talking about the footwork of the quarterback position was a nice reminder of why I fell in love with coaching in the first place.

The curl/slide combination has been a staple of every passing offense for over 30 years.  It never mattered whether it was Air Raid, Air Coryell, West Coast, Fun and Gun, or Run and Shoot. It never mattered whether it was High School, College, or the NFL.  This combination was going to be a part of everybody's drop back passing game.  In my opinion that is what makes a play a great concept. It stands the test of time. All things in football are constantly changing to try and stay ahead of the opponent. The great thing about the curl/slide combination is I teach it the same way I taught it 17 years ago when I first broke into the coaching business.  Now, the version I am going to discuss today is a Curl/Spot/Flat version and that is because it fits the rules of my passing game a lot better than Curl/Slide/Spot.  It also makes it a little easier flat throw for my QB than the immediate slide route by the number 2 receiver.  Some may argue that the stretch on the conflict defender is not as good, and i would agree but I do some things with motion from the backfield that help get the proper leverage we are looking for on that conflict defender.

There will be no diagrams today because the video is 47 minutes long and covers everything from routes, to protection, to QB progressions, to Hot throws, to QB footwork and proper spacing.  It also talks about coverages and what we like and do not like.  I mention a simple tag to help vs Robber or Quarters teams and different ways to use the back in protection depending on the front and possible blitz scenarios. I hope you find the video useful and it helps you get your QB'S better.  

Stay tuned for the next blog on up tempo drills to help offenses get used to not only the pace of the game but the change of pace in games.  With spring ball coming up hopefully i can add some good practice video footage that helps.