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Shanahan Game Prep

Shanahan Game Prep

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Published by Coach Brown

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Published by: Coach Brown on May 27, 2008
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08/27/2010

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The grand scheme
 
Broncos staff, coaches and players devote incredible hours and resources into providing awinning game plan
 By Adam Schefter Denver Post Sports Writer Two Denver coaches, offensive assistant Pat McPherson and defensive assistant Steve Watson,spend weeks breaking down every formation and personnel grouping from every situation of every play of the past six games every opponent has played.For each play, the two assistant coaches detail an astounding 30 categories, to better understandthe opponent's tendencies. Assistant coaches secretary Dixie Greer enters the information intoDenver's computer database and gets results only a true mastermind could spit out.A look at 284 of San Francisco's defensive plays shows that, on second downs between 1 and 6yards, the 49ers play zone defense 52 percent of the time and man-to-man 48 percent of the time.On third downs between 5 and 7 yards, the 49ers play zone 66 percent of the time and man 34 percent.On and on it goes. Every situation San Francisco's defense has been in is spelled out over 100 pages. Shanahan is told how mind-boggling this is."Oh," he said matter of factly, holding open his playbook, "I haven't gotten started yet." Not a simple planWithin each game plan is a look at the advance work done, the video produced and the brain power Shanahan, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes andtheir army of assistants expend.It is hardly a simple plan. Denver quarterback Brian Griese said the game plan the Broncos prepared for their season opener against the St. Louis Rams was the most complex he ever witnessed.Tight end Shannon Sharpe said he did not remember the Broncos' game plans being thiscomplicated when he left Denver after the 1999 season.Anyone looking at a Broncos game plan could be easily overwhelmed."You wouldn't understand one thing," Broncos wide receiver Scottie Montgomery said, laughing."You could give someone 10 minutes to look it over and tell them to go out on the field and lineup in the right spot, and they could never do it. Never. They'd have no clue. But that's how it is."
Section II - Runs
(45 pages)Developing the planA Denver Broncos game plan is the product of many hours, resources and information:
 
Video games: Video department produces 750 30-minute tapes - 350 hours of coverage - of Denver's upcoming opponent's past six games.Tendencies: Every formation and personnel grouping for an opponent's past six games is fed intoa computer to determine tendencies.The plays: Computer database provides diagrams of Denver's chosen plays. It has about 1,000running plays and 5,000 passing plays on file. For any given game, the quarterbacks must knowmore than 200 pass possibilities.The book: A blue binder, divided into 10 detailed sections including 264 pages.Paper chase: 50,000 sheets of paper per week, 800,000 sheets of per season.Itinerary: Road games include a minute-by-minute itinerary of the trip, including seatassignments and team bed check.Cliff's notes: Broncos coach Mike Shanahan transfers the most pertinent information to anoversized color-coded flipcard he carries on the sideline.Denver's attack kicks off with its running game, an amalgamation of each coach's ideas. Thelargest say, of course, belongs to Shanahan and Kubiak, who study film all day Monday, intoTuesday and begin conjuring up concepts they unveil Sunday."When I leave the office Monday night," Kubiak said, "I have a pretty good idea in my mind of what I think we should do. I go home, get a night's sleep, come in Tuesday morning and go over my notes so I know I wasn't just tired in what I was seeing the night before. Then by about noonon Tuesday, I'll take a draft of things that I feel good about to (Shanahan)."The Broncos' head coach has been through the same process as Kubiak. Together they compile alist of about 25 running plays with more than 100 ways to implement them.Broncos offensive line coach Rick Dennison enters the rushing plays into the team's computer database, which has about 1,000 running plays on file. It spits out computerized drawings of each play against six defenses San Francisco could run against it.Each becomes a part of the game plan for Denver's players to learn.For the San Francisco game, Denver listed 44 running plays: 21 with two backs, 13 with one back, five in the nickel package, seven in short yardage, three in the goal-line set. Forty of the plays were run out of a specific formation, and four could be run with two formations.It must have worked. Against the 49ers, Denver rushed for a season-high 201 yards.The publishing house
 
The Broncos' headquarters is as much a publishing house as a training facility.The Broncos go through 10 cases of copying paper per week - 50,000 sheets of paper - to makeup 18 game plans for the coaches and 53 for the players. With each coach and player given a newgame plan for every Sunday, the Broncos go through 800,000 sheets of paper per season.The two hardest workers at the Broncos' training complex might be the copying machines, whichare forced to retire from the team every two seasons.The machines work overtime, running into the night on Monday and Tuesday, and as early as4:30 a.m. Wednesday, when Greer starts copying game plans for each player to have when hereports to the 9 a.m. team meeting. Section III - Passes (22 pages)Whereas Dennison prints out drawings of running plays, tight ends coach Brian Pariani does itfor passing plays. The Broncos' database has about 5,000 passing plays on file.For the San Francisco game, Denver listed 64 passing plays, which could be used out of four or five formations depending on how the defense adjusted. For any given game, Griese has to knowmore than 200 pass possibilities.Denver Broncos video assistants Mike Mascenik, left, and Steve Boxer prepare a huge amount totape for each game. At left are the tapes for the Broncos game against Buffalo on Sept. 22."The game is so meticulous now," said Kubiak, a backup quarterback in Denver from 1983-91."When I was a player and (Shanahan) was my offensive coordinator, the plays came to us andthey were hand drawn. They were good, but different. Nowadays, there are computerizeddrawings. Every detail, every note. It's just amazing how the game is studied on a daily basiscompared to when I played."Evidence comes from the Broncos' video department, which produces 750 30-minute tapes - 375hours of coverage - of Denver's upcoming opponent each week. Want to see every third-and-2 play San Francisco's offense has run its past six games? Want to see every second-and-9 defenseSan Francisco has run its past six games?Denver's video department has it all on file. And after each game, the 750 tapes are returned tothe department before a new batch of 750 is made up."Until she passed away a couple of years ago, my grandmother (Theo Judd) would write oneform letter every Christmas to send out to the family," said Denver's director of footballtechnology, Kent Erickson. "And each year, she would write in the letter, "Kent's still recordingthe Broncos' games.'"My family would laugh about it and say to me, "Oh, so when are you going to get a real job?' "

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