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Old 09-29-2010, 05:32 PM    (permalink
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Default Game Planning and Play calling

Posted on BBI.


Just reading on various boards and you normally hear about how a coach didn't adjust or how play calling is predictable. Maybe how we should have ran this formation or not ran another, but I was curious why game planning and play calling aren't talked about more from how coaches normally do it.

So I thought I'd try my best to explain some of it. If any other coaches, specifically Dorgan can throw in their 2 pennies, that would be good too.

Game Planning:

Normally after a game on sunday, you tend to re-watch film and grade your own players for your position. So usually on a sunday, I would have grade my TEs on their effort, assignment and technique. Same for passing plays, adding routes and how their supposed to be ran too.

Usually after you go over the previous games, and talked to the specific players you get film from the other team. This usually happens by tape exchange from the coaches. In the NFL, you have access to ALL the games ever played. So your video games, can create a cutup for that position coach.

Organization of Duties:

Usually the OC gives each position coach a task. For instance, The OL coach may just focus on DL fronts. For example, the Bears run a 43 defense. So how many fronts have we seen them run against the formations we run in our offense.


43 over
43 Under
43 wide
43 swim
43 wink

Goal line



So that OL coach checks out the front, and then you get a good look on how they line up.

The TE coach usually will see where the LBs are lined up specifically the SAM and where he is in relation to the TE.

You're WR coach may be checking out CBs and any their alignment.

QB coach and OC could be tallying and drawing out their blitzes they run by down and distance.

RB coach may be focusing on Lbs and safties.

So basically after they watch film you get a sense of how to attack that defense. The video guys and scouts also give you a player scouting report so you may target specific players too. But keeping this to scheme and the general ways to game plan, is my goal right now.

So basically now you are breaking everything by down and distance, and have it all over the offensive meetings room on the dry board.

So you see ok, they run a lot of 43 over. The OC may ask the OL coach what pass protection should we use for that. How many protections and concepts do we want to install? How many concepts have been successful out of the 3 games that will be carried over on in the game plan and eventually your call sheet.

So you may get the OL coach saying. Ok on a 5 or 7 step drop let's run BOB protection. Who knows you have that successfully installed anyways? If so, then because of specific blitzes they run, you may tweak some things just for them. Ok they blitz couple Lbs. So let's move the RB there, and then have the LB come as the "hot" Lb, where Eli can see, and get the ball out. We can also have the line slide as well.

So during this phase you install protections and concepts. So because Peppers is a beast let's run more quick game, and 3 step passes. We can install rollout, bootleg, and sprint out protections, while adding more slants and screens this week. On the other hand, the staff may say let's add more 5 and 7 step concepts because we feel our Wrs can take adv. of their secondary.

Xs and Os:

Now you get an image of how their defense lines up. So you may add new plays to install in the gameplan or install plays existing in your playbook for this defense.


4 Wide Set: Dime personnel, 43 front. That 43 front is typically a 43 swim front and they bring a sky safety with single high on top.

We feel that Smith and Nicks can High/low the safety, D. Manning by running C1 beaters such as NCAA concept on them, which is a 3 level vertical stretch that high/lows the single high.

SO something like that is the next step. Except you install your formations and then use how they line up in previous games as a guideline.


During the week now, you create cards and show how you want your scout defense to lineup based on the cards,and run that play. You may have installed new plays for this week, so this is the time to rep it. You do this during walkthrough, inside drill(running plays) and Pass skelly for passing plays.

Play calling:

So now you have all these plays and formations installed. So during the week you are creating a call sheet for this game. A call sheet is basically the Xs and Os in play terminology broken down by the OC to how he calls the game. Normally the standard way to do this is break everything by down and distance. On this call sheet you have timeouts, personnel packages for this game, opening scripted plays, half time adjustments, and so on.

Packages installed may be 4-10. For example:

NASCAR Personnel( Fast Wrs)

X: Nicks
Z: Manningham
Y Smith
H: Cruz

So that's our 4 wide fast WRs...

Regular: 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB

X Nicks
Z Smith
H Manningham
Y Boss

So you could have any amount taking adv. of individual players on their defense. Maybe NASCAR is effective vs them, so you use that personal more. For example before the play. NASCAR, NASCAR, Double Slot Strong Left X return all 9s on monday. That could be one of the successful plays we run.

Now play calling is based on what the OC is getting upstairs in terms of information. Usually after the first scripted series OR 2, the position coaches down stairs ask the players. IS what we studied or game planned for the way they are lining up? Now you get two answers.. YES or NO. If yes, we are fine, if no, you make adjustments and ask. So I would ask my TE player. When we line up in I pro left, is that LB at a 70T? If he says no, he is more ally, then we tell the guys upstairs.

But once the game is flowing the guys upstairs may see certain trends. But in terms of specific play calling Gilbride or any other OC would read from his call sheet.

For example:

3rd and (1-4)

1. Passing Play 1. Running play
2. Passing Play 2. Running play
3. Passing PLay 3. Running Play
4. Passing Play
5. Passing Play

So exchange the terms "passing play" or "running play" with specific terminology. Like I pro left 36 power. Shotgun-Double Slot right, 24 draw.

And basically now you are doing this for each down and distance, AND irregular down and distances too. So you may have a section for any down or 20 yards. So when we go 3rd and 30, we may have a few plays broken down in for that situation. Some really good OCs organize their call sheet in much detail.

But that's why as fans you may see some bread and butter plays ran over and over. Fans call this predictability, however the way the call sheet is broken down you see plays will repeat themselves in some fashion.

One aspect for creating a call sheet is also the statistics of what's going on offense. For example, how many total plays do we avg a game? Let's say 100 plays. Now in our system I want it to be 50-50.

SO 50 running plays and 50 passing plays. Now how many 3rd downs did we face this year. From there you keep breaking your call sheet down accordingly. Then that's your frame work. You then tweak it depending on opponent and your game plan.

But just thought I'd try my best to explain some of things going on behind the scenes on how coaches game plan. I am sure if anyone else who coached has something to add please feel free. I know Dorgan has a lot of experience, so maybe he can comment on a few things.

But game planning and play calling is more involved then what it may seem. Also, due to the dynamics of play calling you WILL get plays repeated. Remember your call sheet is finite, so in a course of a game you may get a down and distance to come up often for some reason. So that means you may see more plays from that section come up.

Hope this helps though.
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