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Packaging 3-Step and 5-Step Passing Concepts Into the Same Play - Chris Brown, Smart Football

Packaging 3-Step and 5-Step Passing Concepts Into the Same Play - Chris Brown, Smart Football

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Published by: FballGuru on Dec 24, 2010
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Packaging three-step and five-step passing concepts into thesame play
Chris Brown, SmartFootball.com, December 2010
Check out Chris’ blog at 
www.SmartFootball.com Modern defenses are very, very good. Too good, in fact, for successful offenses to expect to beable to simply call some traditional play in the huddle
 — 
ye olde 24 Blast or 42 Boot Pass
 — 
andbe able to simply line up and run it with any hope of sustained success. Not only are defensessound, defensive coordinators and talented defenders have become masters of deception,and the game has increasingly become a mental as well as physical struggle.
Fortunately, defenses aren’t yet — 
due to the immutable laws of arithmetic and geometry whichapply with equal force on a football field
 — 
magical, meaning that all defenses always haveweaknesses. The trick is to find them and, as Spurrier says,to put your kids in position to win. The goal is to try to tilt the advantage back to offenses. There are essentially three strategies:1.
 
 Line up in a formation and let a coach or a quarterback change the play.
You see thiswhenever Peyton Manning or some other NFL guy audibles at the line (though hisoptions have usually been narrowed to two or three before the snap), or when a no-huddleteam lines up and looks to the sideline for guidance. The idea is that, while it is still pre-snap and the defense can still move, it has given away certian clues, including personneland general structure.2.
 
Use multiple formations and motions to confuse the defense or gain an advantage innumbers or leverage.
This approach tries to turn the defense against itself by never givingthe defense a chance to get settled or to identify what the offense may do. Moreover,sometimes the defense simply fails to adjust, and the offense gains some new advantage.The downside of this approach is it leaves little time and fewer clues for the
offense
tomake adj
ustments, but the idea is that “motion causes emotion” (to use the old adage) and
the offense has an advantage in that it knows where it is going. This is the methodemployed by Boise State. 3.
 
Give your players options on their assignments for after the snap.
Just as it sounds, this is
the principal governing all “option”
-esque attacks. The macro idea here, pioneered byTiger Ellison,is that backyard football is not played in a static, overly orchestrated way,and instead the natural inclination of kids to run around and make decisions on the fly
 — 
 and so should it be in real football. This can manifest itself in different ways, from the triple option to the spread option to the passing game.Each play provides a supers
tructure but freedom within it. The idea is you don’t need much else, except for the
players to begin adapting and making the rights reads. As said in Remember the Titans, 
“I run six plays. Split veer. It’s like Novocain. Give it time. It always works.”
 A few years ago, it was possible to achieve unheard of success by designing a new play,or sometimes simply by joining the bandwagon and going spread, especially if you had betterathletes. Now, the innovations are ones of communication and organization; much of the talk this
season centered around Oregon’s fast
-paced no-huddle, particularly its fascinating playcallingsystem.For now, most of the biggest schematic ideas have been hashed out and the question now
 
is how to make it all work together. Packaging pass concepts together
 — 
i.e. putting differentpass concepts, each designed to beat particular pass coverages or families of pass coverages,to each side of the play
 — 
is not new. But it is limited in its own way (more on those limits in a moment), and there are ways to incorporate more of the above ideas into a single concept.
Moreover, when done correctly, it’s possible to continue to be multifariously (and deceptively)
simple, by using the same handful of pass concepts in new ways.
Problems with the traditional approach of packaging pass concepts
. Almost any coach tryingt
o call a pass play, face buried in the Denny’s menu of the playcall sheet, is forced to answer that
age old question: Will it be Cover 3 or Cover 2? (Or Cover 4 or man or a blitz, and so on.) Theproblem is that, no matter how good your pass it is, due to the particular horizontal or verticalstretch it uses, each pass play is better against certain coverages than others. At most, a playmight be good against two defensive concepts, and certain plays
 — 
 — 
are handy utility
 plays to get completions against most coverages but that doesn’t mean that they literally
work 
against everything. One potential solution is to 
 different concepts to each side, againwith the traditional way being to put a 
other.(If you want a refresher on basic pass coverages, check out this piece.) Three problems, however, quickly present themselves with this simplistic answer:1.
 
The quarterback only reads half the field, determined based solely on the alignment andmovement of a couple of defenders. If the quarterback is either wrong or the receivers failto get open, the play is essentially a bust.2.
 
The side the quarterback throws to is usually determined based on the safeties (or
sometimes the middle linebacker). It does not take into account blitzes. It’s possible to
include anti-blitz solutions too, but this becomes yet a third read
 — 
that might beinconclusive.3.
 
Typically, the pass concepts put to each side are effective against those defensiveconcepts, but they typically do a poor job of dealing with interior or floating defenders,who can tur
n a quarterback’s good read into an interception. Relatedly, the pass concept
may not work at all against combination coverages or roll coverages, which can givefalse keys.
The third point is worth elaborating on briefly. Shown below is a typical “packaged” five
-stepdrop combination: the curl/flat combination to one side with the smash or corner/flat combination to the other.
 
 This play should work, as the quarterback ought to see that the defense only has one single safetyand he thus looks to the left side, with the curl/flat combination. But the packaged pass concepts
don’t do anyt
hing to control those interior players. The same would be the case if the defenselined up with two deep safeties and he worked the smash side, to his right. There are ways to
solve this problem, but there’s an approach that solves (or at least greatly imp
roves upon) allthree issues raised above.
Three-step and five-step, together.
The idea for this solution came from two sources: the old
run and shoot “Read” play and the book, Concept Passing,”
 where Dan Gonzalez describessomething similar. The broad idea is to achieve multiple things in one play-call, but to sequenceit so that it all can actually be done
 by a high school or college kid. The run and shoot “readroute” put a “quick” or three
-step-esque (remember that the run and shoot used half-rollouts) toone side, while putting the old favorite, 
 to the backside. See below:

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