It has been strange and interesting not coaching football this year. Part of being away from the day to day grind has given me a chance to do a lot of watching and personal evaluation.
I took notes all year long on things I observed- most of them little tiny details that I would normally not see.
I thought I would share these for some of my coaching friends- things to think about as the game continues to change/ grow.
All teams do it all now. Multiple fronts/multiple coverages/multiple formations/ multiple personnel packages/ multiple plays/ multiple concepts. I think the winning teams find a great way to simplify... complex but not complicated. I think it has gotten down to concepts on both sides. Teams with great systems and language do have an advantage.
I think of the checkers now now as: "BOX numbers- 1 on 1 match-ups- 3 over 2 alignments and the APEX position".
'PACE' and 'CHECK'
Just about all teams are using some type of pace principles-
The count and check look is also a big part of football
RPO- 'RUN PASS OPTION"
I'm expecting a rule change on these, but the run pass plays now are really popular, especially with athletic QB's.
All the college guys I talk to say that some teams are getting eaten alive by not protecting their signals- the other team knows what they are calling. Defensive coaches are most susceptible.
All of these trends are putting a premium on MANY athletic defenders. If you don't have a lot of fast defenders in this modern style of football- you will get worn down and lit up. It is not easy to play defense anymore...
but a great defense still beats a great offense.....
- KICK-OFF AFTER A PENALTY- I have seen way too many kick-offs this season where the kicking team is kicking with a 15 yard gift and they just bang it out of the end zone. Surely there has to be some consideration/system where you can alter the kick... squib/sky/directional to try and pin the offense deep. I personally don't like the onside kick here- too easy to lose field position. But I do think there needs to be some thought on disrupting the return and make the other team execute that situation.
-FAKE ONSIDE- I have been talking about this one for a few years now. When you score late and have the other team EXPECTING an onside kick. If you have timeouts- you can show onside kick by formation- make the other team go hands team and then squib a deep corner kick- have a great chance to pin the other team deep and get the ball back with outstanding field position.
-USING THE WIND- Using either multiple kickers or a specialist- have your kick-off guy learn how to kick line drives and sky kicks and take advantage of wind. A high kick into a still wind will fall straight down and you might have a chance to get that one.
-PACE SCRIMMAGE KICKS- I think it is good to have fast punts and field goal teams - especially when the ball is on your hash. A fast sub of 11 and kick cause the defense to burn a timeout- end up with 12 on the field- prevent them from subbing a special return or block team..
-HIGH SCHOOL KICKING-
Consider using FG punting in bad weather situations. It is a great way to angle a kick out of bounds in bad weather.
-practice free kick after a fair catch rule
-Don't be afraid to punt on 3rd down in bad weather or 3rd down and super long. If you have shown it a few times... line up in punt on 3rd and fake it... then you can punt on 4th down.
Use reverses and fake reverses on kick returns - put 2 men deep and practice how to time up reverses.
Finally, assign specific things for your assistant coaches to look at during kicking game situations
GAME SITUATIONS- Practice and Teach
CODE THE CLOCK- I think we need to spend more time teaching how game clock matters and things we can all do to save time or bleed time. Come up with a CODE.
SOLD OUT SIDELINE - I want to see players engaged/alert/ and participating from the sideline. Echoing calls- watching- encouraging- serving
LINEMEN MOVING- Have your linemen work on slants/stunts/twists more than straight up techniques- use skill guys to help work one on one techniques-
CONDITION WITH THINKING AND EXECUTION- Don't just run sprints- rehearse mental and skill when tired
CULTURAL IMPACT ON PLAYERS?
I think we need to spend more time asking players what they are thinking.....
What is their favorite 3rd and long? What play do we call that they do not like?
What drills do they hate? How can we help them focus and prepare?
Things to consider.....
Entitlement/Leisure……….are players softer or different?
Mobile…….. summer /time limited- weekend
One Sport Emphasis...Impacts numbers
Opinions- ESPN/Talk Radio……. messaging
Winning Edges- Things We CAN control
Conditioning and Fitness- including nutrition/flexibility/rest/ inflammation management
Intensity in competition
Schemes- balance of big toolbox, but not confused
Relationships- more coach/player time
know your job- do your job- everyone matters
Playing as a team
Outside Voices----- Locker room talk- Who Do We Listen to?Where does our pressure come from?
DEVELOPING FOOTBALL IQ
I think we need to consider how we teach players about teams and competition....
One thing I have considered is teaching the 'Mindset of The Week'
Here Are the Categories:
Games Where You are Favored by a Lot
Games Where You are Favored
Games that are a toss up
Games Where You are a big underdog
In Pre-season Camp, I think we should spend time on HOW GAMES GO:
Types of Games- Do WE HAVE A PLAN?
Early momentum or early difficulty
Down by more than 1 score
Down by a lot
Big Hole but digging out
Situations a Lot of teams don’t handle well:
4th and short- be careful on defense
practice pinning teams inside the 10 or 5
2 min drill/ 4 min
red zone mindset vs spread- bend but don’t break
resting players is an art
Have you ever considered how many factors work against the dynamics needed for team success? These factors are external AND internal.
And, the foundational principles required for team success are found primarily in traditional values that are being lost in our secular society.
THE GOLD STANDARD:
Let me begin by saying that there is no such thing as a perfect team and I have NEVER watched a perfect football game. It's funny how mistakes that can cost you from winning are often made in games you win- it's just that a team overcame those mistakes.
But the reality of never achieving perfection is no excuse from an intentional and passionate pursuit of perfection.
A Championship Team:
Is made up of individuals who are pursuing an ideal of a TEAM- where group success will be valued higher than individual success. But group success is enhanced by individuals giving their individual energy and talents with everything they have.