5 Idiotic Statements Football Coaches and Parents Make

8 Dec

by Coach Curtis Peterson
Strong Football.com

Yep, I said it. These statements are idiotic. Not that you’re an idiot if you’ve said them at some point.  I know I have from time to time, but there is most definitely a clearer way to get the point across to the players. Usually that way tells the player the solution too, where as these statements do not.

1) “Block Somebody!”

The most dreaded statement every offensive line coach can hear. I’ve heard defensive coaches say this before and I want to literally kick them in the face. Block who? How do you know the back didn’t go the wrong way or the QB didn’t boot the wrong way.  This actually happened.  Everyone went one way, the QB went the opposite, and the OL still got boo’d. Couldn’t be anymore obvious who was in the wrong too!

Saying “block somebody” doesn’t tell the kids anything. It frustrates and confuses them. Thoughts could include, “Block who?” or “Well, they must be talking about him b/c I blocked somebody”.

Here’s the problem, the guy who was wrong probably did block somebody, the wrong somebody, or he used bad technique. Instead, when the kid is on the sidelines, tell him details.

For instance, if the center didn’t block back on Power, you could say, “You’ve got to block down, not out b/c the guard is pulling. You’re also standing up, you need more bend in your legs.”

Instead of simply yelling because you’re frustrated, use your eyes and know the scheme. If you can’t or don’t have the ability to do both of those statements, please shut up.

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4 Keys to Running a Balanced Offense

6 Dec

by Joe Daniel

Most coaches want to have balance in their offense. In order to have balance though, a coach needs to define what balance is for his offense.

Balance is not a 50-50 split of runs and passes. Most coaches think of that when they think of a balanced offense. In fact, balance is when the opponent has the threat of you running or passing in any given situation.

To bring balance to your offense, you only need to follow these guidelines:

1. Self Scouting: Each week you need to take film to see what your opponent will see. You may think you’re pretty sneaky, but chances are you have some pretty strong tendencies if you are not self scouting.

Hopefully you have video analysis software like Hudl and this will not take long. Tag last week’s game, then run a report on the last two or three games to see your tendencies in every situation.

Pay attention to down & distance, field position and hash placement when you are self scouting your offensive playcalling. If you have strong tendencies anywhere, plan to break them this week.

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Cajon Special: A Trick Play

21 Nov

Some years ago when I coached at Barstow HS, the head coach, a former Nebraska Nose Tackle by the name of Dionicio Monarrez, would like us to install some kind of trick play into our offensive game plan each week.  He liked to surprise our opponents at key times during a game.  He called the trick plays: “momentum changers”.

One week our opponent was Cajon HS and while breaking down film of them, I saw that they favored a Cover 1 defense in short yardage situations and I wondered what the Free Safety would do if we went empty from a 2×2 formation by motioning our single setback out of the backfield (below).   Would he stay in the middle of the field or would he pick up the RB?

Cajon Special as the play would be called was a simple deception.  The deception was that the inside receiver to the left side was actually an offensive Tackle while our Tight End replaced him on the right side of the offensive line.  The OT was positioned on the LOS, so he was covered by the X-receiver and was not an eligible receiver.

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Smash: The Pass Play

15 Nov

We see a lot of Cover 2 pass defense at our level.  One pass play or “concept” that exploits the flat defender is the “Smash” scheme diagrammed below.  It is a classic Cover 2 beater and is in the playbook of every high school or college OC with a penchant for throwing the ball.

Smash Concept to the slot or TE side of a formation.

Smash is a 2-receiver, hi-lo combination scheme that has the outside receiver running a 6-yd hitch and the inside receiver executing a 12-yd corner route on top.  The idea is to put the CB or the flat defender to the 2-receiver side in conflict.  If he sinks to cover the Corner Route, the Hitch is open.  But if he sits to cover the Hitch, then the Corner is open.  He’s the defender the QB reads to determine where to go with the ball.

The play does more than attack a Cover 2 zone however. Versus man coverage, the corner route is a very good option — so long as the QB lays the ball to the receiver’s outside shoulder. The reason for this is because many defenses that play man coverage use inside leverage to take away the quick slant passes that can gash them for big yards and are easy throws.

The fact that it is the inside receiver rather than the outside one who runs the Corner route can create some favorable mismatches for the offense.  Most defenses put their CBs in man coverage on the outside receiver, while the inside receiver is then covered by either a Safety or a Linebacker.   At our level, it is usually a bumped LB.

Polish Goal Line Defense – A Blast from the Past

8 Nov

Knowing the rules and how to manipulate them is often an aid to coaches as the diagram below will illustrate.  It’s from the Houston Oilers’ playbook in 1993, the one season Buddy Ryan spent as the team’s defensive coordinator. It depicts a special goal-line formation Ryan designed for the end of the half or the end of the game—situations in which there were “less than 15 seconds” according to Ryan.

You’ll notice that there are 14 defenders. The idea is to allow the offense to run a free play, which more than 11 defenders would presumably be able to stop, with the understanding that a penalty has to be taken. The purpose is to force precious seconds to waste away, leaving the offense with less time to maneuver. The wonder is why Ryan stopped at 14 players.

The Polish Goal Line defense was followed up by Ryan’s “Polish Punt Team” which he introduced to football lore while coaching the Philadelphia Eagles.  In a most unusual formation, the Polish Punt Team was designed to prevent a blocked kick or a long runback.  In it, Ryan sent 14 men onto the field for a crucial last-minute punt. At the worst, the expected penalty for too many men on the field would set the Eagles back 5 yards but drain precious seconds from the clock.

To the surprise of the Eagles, no flag was thrown and the safest punt in NFL history was executed without mishap. Was Ryan sheepish about employing such a questionable tactic? Hardly. When asked during the taping of his weekly television show about the propriety of having 14 men on the field, Ryan did note a flaw in the strategy. “There should have been 15,” he snapped.

Stalk Block – Blocking the Perimeter

2 Nov

Stalk Block

If you want to improve you’re outside running attack, one quick fix is to teach your wide receivers how to stalk block.   The technique we teach our WRs is different from what we teach our RBs and is as follows:

First we want the WR to drive hard at the DB and make him think he’s going deep.  “Sell the nine” we tell our wide outs.  We want the DB to start his backpedal which will allow the WR to get proper positioning.

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Psycho Fronts: It’s Not Crazy to Use Them

29 Oct

"Psycho" Front

You’ve probably seen them: defenses in which the D-linemen are upright and in a two-point stance.  They might have one or two DL with their hands in the ground or none and if you’re an old school coach bound by conventioanl thinking, you might wonder if the opposing DC is simply crazy and turn your O-linemen loose on them.  Turns out they are “psycho” and they probably didn’t know it.

While there are very few “new” ideas about how to play defehnse, there’s a variety of ways to hide or disguise a scheme. One way that has gained significant leverage among NFL DC’s is the “psycho” front.  That’s a defense that packs it in along the line of scrimmage and has one or two or maybe even zero defensive linemen with their hands on the ground.

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What’s The Most Important Thing You Teach (Part 3)

19 Oct

You see it all the time: offensive linemen watching the play instead of finishing their blocks.  The result is generally unfavorable for the offense.

As an O-line coach, I cringe at the sight, especially if the o-linemen in question are kids I coach.  I don’t expect to see it with my kids because I spend so much time teaching them to finish their blocks.  For me, after 3-point stance and form tackling, it is the third most important thing I teach and the first most
important thing I want my linemen to learn.

In my approach to teaching O-line play, there are three phases to a drive block:

— the initial contact
— the stalemate
— and the finish

I know of other line coaches who break it down even further but for my purposes and at the level I’m coaching, three phases makes it understandable to my kids.

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Terminology: Neutral Zone

13 Oct

The neutral zone is a no-man’s land.  It is the DMZ formed by the two lines of scrimmage that intersect each end of the ball when it is made ready for play.  It’s as wide as the ball is long.

There are two kinds of neutral zone violations: offside and encroachment.

Encroachment is an offensive penalty.  It’s when an offensive player is in or beyond the neutral zone after the Center “touches or simulates touching” the ball before the snap.  The Center is the only player allowed in the neutral zone.

Offside is a defensive penalty.  It occurs when a defensive player is: 

  • in or beyond the neutral zone when the ball is snapped,
  • contacts the ball before it is snapped,
  • threatens a lineman who reacts before the ball is snapped,
  • or is not behind his restraining line when the ball is free-kicked like on a kick-off.

What’s The Most Important Thing You Teach? (Part 2)

11 Oct

Lead with the shoulder.

I recently read an article in which the author asked if form tackling is overrated.  His question piqued my interest because how many times do you really see a perfect form tackle performed in a youth football game?  Heck, how many times do you see it in any game, regardless of level?

Most tackles are made in the heat of the moment by grabbing any part of the ball carrier to bring him down.  It’s rare that you see a kid break down into a perfect stance before making a perfect form tackle.  Everything is moving too fast and furious while the basic geometry of the game creates too many angles for that to happen.

So why spend an inordinate amount of time at practice perfecting it if we don’t see it on game day?  We have four reasons why we choose to spend extra time each day at practice on the science of tackling even though it is hit-or-miss come Saturday.

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