Monday, February 02, 2015

Super Bowl 49- Calling Plays

As I was watching the game last night, I was reminded of a post I made in 2010 about the tough life of a play caller. One of the toughest lessons I have learned over the years is to not out think the pressure situations- put it in the hands of the best player.

1 timeout.... 2nd and goal... it becomes a potential 'throw away down'. I personally don't like an inside slant in that position, 

When you call it- the QB,Wilson is placed in the trigger puller of 'yes' or 'no'.

What Wilson saw was the 'open window' that the YES/NO alert made it a GREEN/GO.

The execution of the play was worse than the call- but I can't defend the call. The 'rub' was not vertical enough, the alignment was too tight to the run box, the route wasn't as sharp and physical to the ball for that part of the field, and the throw was too soft. If the stack was a little wider, the rub a little more vertical, the slant a tad sharper and more physical, and the throw a tad firmer- the Seahawks win.

You HAVE to give corner Malcolm Butler credit for an AMAZING rocket step.

So as you read what I posted in 2011... it is still the same... a good call works and a bad call doesn't... but that would not have been my call in that spot. Naked with a walk in or throw away? Yes  Give to Lynch and use timeout? Probably on 3rd down.......

Life of a Play Caller

When a coach is planing for a game- he is putting into his mental rehearsal a lot of information. First, he knows his team and players. He has watched them live and on film and he knows both strengths and weaknesses. He knows how healthy they are. He knows who is likely to perform under pressure and who is likely to choke. He has certain plays and players he trusts and he has certain others he does not.

Secondly, a coach tries to guess what the other team knows. As an opposing coach breaks down his team, what does he see? Who is he impressed with? Where does he see weaknesses?

Both coaches see schemes- and almost any coach knows the strong and weak match-ups of scheme. Behind the scheme are philosophical beliefs that have strengths and weaknesses as well. Some teams are very good against your philosophy and scheme- and other teams create real issues.

Thirdly, there is the plan and practice of the plan. What was new this week? How did it look? Was it repped enough to a point where the players can execute it in the game?

Finally, there is the game condition itself. How is the game going? What is the weather, field conditions, momentum?

There are many different styles and ways to call a game. I see it being very similar to playing a par 5 in golf. The drive is the field position- are we in the fairway? Then there is the risk and reward- do we lay up or go for the green in two? And you can always out think yourself a little- what is the other guy going to do? Is he coming with the blitz or will he back off in a zone?

Now- let me add one other factor- PLAY CLOCK. A good play caller has to immediately call out personnel, formation, and play- you really get no time to weigh pro and cons. That is why the excellent ones have experience and mental rehearsal to quickly pull the trigger.

The bottom line is this: it is kind of stupid to ever say "That was a dumb play call" unless you are privy to all the conditions I have described above. That is why it is very, very rare for me to even entertain the idea of questioning a play call. I tend to be a very supportive coach in that area.

To the common observer -


I have had coaches tell me that I called a good game- it feels good- but the bottom line is this- only I know when I botched a call- which means I put the formation to the wrong side of the field- or I messed up the personnel- or I called something that I knew the players struggled with- or mis-spoke.

Next time you are at a game- don't fall into the temptation of saying 'that was a dumb call'- it might have been a brilliant call, but it just didn't happen. I have had dumb calls go for TD's and great ones lose the game..... it is that crazy of a sport!

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