FRONT PAGE SPORTS - Football Pro '95
                        PLAYING & DESIGN TIPS

2nd edition notes: The first part has been left almost wholly unchanged.  There
is much advice therein that is not directly applicable to coaches that don't
play with a joystick, but much is still useful to all.
        The second part may contradict the first, especially where I say what
I like to do... this is because in the first part, I'm speaking about playing
at home against the computer, while in the second, the assumption is that the
game is profile vs profile, against another coach's plays, plans, and profiles.
Therefore, different plays are most effective.

0) - Introduction:
        At Compuserve Sports Simulations Forum, I have noticed a lot of
messages posted from beginners who regularly lose to the computer when 
playing FPS FB'95.  Some of the messages ask for help in a specific matter,
but most are general: 'Help! I'm losing, and I don't know what to do!".
        A lot of excellent advice has been given in the forum on playing and
play design, but little on creating and building a team in a career league.
        This file is a general guide to all aspects of successfully playing
the game, especially in a career league.  
        The first section deals with:
                - Playing (active, with a joystick) advice
                - Play design
                - Profile (Play choice) design
                - Drafting
                - Training camps
                - Trading
        The second is for on-line leagues, and expands on the Play Design
aspect, as well as on Profiles and Plans.  It also includes a weekly strategy
        Most of the advice herein is what I have followed to build up my team,
but a large part (especially with the play design area) has been taken from
advice posted in the Football Section (and now in the Other Football Leagues) 
of the above forum.  I have lost (in about 6 seasons) only 3 games to the 
computer, even after redesigning most of the computer's plays so it is more 
competitive, so my advice will probably be helpful.  Of course, it could be 
joystick skill or luck in drafting, but there must be something useful in 
        I have tried to put advice in here that will move a team from a
2-14 to a 9-7 record, rather than more esoteric and specific advice that will
help the already-good players.  In other words, this will be more helpful to
the beginners.
        If you read this and believe that there are some places where better
advice can be given than the one that I have written, please let me know.  
The advice herein is guaranteed  to be 'good', but not to be the best for
any situation.  It may always be possible to give better advice.  If you have
some such advice, let me know, and if I receive enough material to rewrite 
this, I will do so.

Without further ado, here it is:

Part I: The Team.

 1) Building through the draft:
        Due to differences in starting points, computer teams usually pick
WRs and DBs in the first rounds, with RBs and DL being next, as well as the
better Ps and Ks, with OL and LB often lasting for a long time without being
picked.  Of course, there are exceptions.
        The most important area to consistently improve is the Defense.  LBs
will almost never be drafted by the computer teams early since their stats
are much lower than other positions, but if you want a good DB, you have to
pick one early or trade for it.  So it seems that a good choice on your first
draft pick generally is a DB.  Look for Speed and Agility, but he must have
decent Endurance and should not be too weak.  As far as Hands is concerned, 
it is useful but not as necessary as being able to cover and to make the
tackle.  Interceptions are optional, coverage and good tackling necessary
for a good defense.  (That is, turnovers may fall into your lap, but you have
to be able to stop the drive to give up few points).
        The above being said, if your team is having problems winning, and
there is an excellent RB or superb WR (and in most drafts at least one or the
other is available, and don't forget to consider TEs that may be weak but
have excellent Speed and Hands), remember that one player will have _much_ 
more impact on offense than on defense.  To improve your run defense, you will
need to improve at several positions, while to improve your run offense all
you need is an excellent RB.  For RBs, Speed is _most_ important.  If he is
to be the feature back, he _needs_ good EN (60 min, 70+ almost necessary).
Hands are optional, but if they are below 65, be prepared to fumble a lot.  
In any case, don't pick up a QB unless he's the improved version of Marino.
QBs need to pass through too many training camps: you will be unable to get
one that makes a difference in the first season, and if you are having trouble
winning, you want something that will help _now_.
        Conclusion: if there is a franchise offensive player available in the
first 3 picks, grab him, and use the other two picks on defense.  You _must_
pick at least one of your top 3 picks on defense, especially DBs, since you
can work around a lack of depth on offense but not on defense.

        Following picks: The good guys are gone.  What do you look for?  OL
are usually still available, as are DL.  Speed is important for all defensive
players, and often you can find a very fast DL who is otherwise decent but
not good enough to be drafted early even into the late (6+) rounds.  _Always_
look at EN: you are drafting these guys to make a difference, and they can't
help when they are in the trainer's room.  For LBs, Ac and Ag are quite
important, but the computer does not look at them: if you find a LB with high
Ac, Ag, En, In, for example, and his Sp and St are not absolutely horrible, 
you may want to take a chance on him, and hope his Sp or St goes up a lot in
training camp.  After all, your later round draft choices are 'hopes' anyway:
they will not immediately improve your team, and if they don't pan out, you
can always drop them during the next draft.

 2) Improving in Training Camp:
        There is not much to be said here, but this is very important: every
year, at each position, pick an ability to improve, and put at least 40%
(50% is better) in that ability.  You will get more points on three abilities
if you put 50/5/5 than if you put 20/20/20.  Also, improving 3 pts on 3
abilities does not seem as helpful as improving 11 points in the most important
abilipy.  Next training camp, you should then pick a different ability, since
after an ability has been improved it is harder to improve it again.
        Exceptions: for RBs, you want to constantly put at least 10-15% on 
EN every year, since an injury to a RB will do more to throw your team off-
balance than anywhere else.  For OL and DL, you want to put at least 25% on
St every year.  For QBs, In is _useless_ (except for trading) if you are 
always going to control the QB, so don't put more than 5% there.
        Never put 0% on any ability unless you don't mind losing 1-15 points
there (DL and Hands come to mind).
        For DBs, Speed is most important.  For LBs, either Speed or Str.  
For WR, Hands is most important, although Speed is a close second.  For RB,
Speed is most important, but Ha and En should be constantly increased.  For
QBs, Str and Di are quite important, but En should be constantly increased
since rookie QB usually come in with very low En.  For OL and DL, St is 
obviously most important.

 3) Trading:
        Trading a player for an equal-ability player can greatly improve
your team.  Since most drafts are glutted in WR, your team will often have
quality backup WR.  Often, you can trade these for those positions that are
hard to pick up in the draft (RB, QB), or for those where you need more depth
than at WR (DB).  Since it takes years to build up good QBs, and since a
human-controlled QB does not need IN, you can often trade for an excellent
QB with a low IN, far more easily than picking one up in the draft.
        If you can trade an offensive backup for a defensive starter (ex: 
TE2 for a LB who would be LB4 on your team), do so: trading bench for starters
is always helpful.  But remember than you need to be deep on defense, and try
to have at least one quality backup at each defensive position.
        Trade away players with high trade value but that are not very good,
such as a LB with high Sp and St but low En and Ag, or a RB with 33 En.  The
computer does not know how important En and other secondary statistics are
in the long run, and often undervalues players with low primary stats but 
high secondary stats, and vice-versa.

Part II: Playing

 1) When to play:
        Some new players may consider that they are better off using Basic
or Normal (I always use Normal) Action modes, since the computer seems to be
better than them.  But, this is false: if you can't do something, such as 
pass, or run past the LOS, or defend man-to-man, don't do it.  But some
actions are as easily done by the player as by the computer.  Consider: if 
you have a LB reading the QB, he will remain in the middle and cover the QB
if the QB takes off, and slowly react to a pass.  If you take control of the 
LB, you can still watch the QB, and have a faster reaction on runs and passes.
There will always be something that you can do at least as well as the
computer, and by playing it you will eventually get to be better than the 
computer.  Start off with something simple (taking control of the ballcarrier
after a handoff or reception).

 2) Defense:
        On defense, you can't take control of a DB unless you use a very wide
field view, or a pattern may take the receiver you're covering off-screen.  
Since you want to stay close to the LOS to stay in sight, there are basically
two choices: take control of a pass rusher, or take control of a short-zone
        If you take control of a short-zone defender (note that defenders 
who are covering the FB or the QB also count in this, since they will usually
remain in the middle since the FB blocks and the QB stays in the pocket), you
should control one in the middle rather than on the side of the field, to 
get maximum benefit of your better control.  First, read to see if it is a 
running play (see if the OL is backing up with pass blocks or making immediate
run blocks, or if both RBs are heading forward together).  If it is, follow
the play (don't overrun it: it is easier to dive to make up extra distance
than to turn around if the RB has cut behind you).  If it is a passing play,
wait in the middle: look for anyone cutting towards the middle with a crossing
pattern: that is your responsibility, but also keep a portion of your attention
on the QB, to see if he takes off with the ball.  If a RB goes out and the 
linemen also go out, the play is a screen to the RB and you must move sideways
to get an extra defender there.  Move around the OL to the outside, to force
the RB back to the inside where there will be help.
        If you take control of a pass rusher, there are three pass rushing
methods.  The simplest is the delayed inside blitz with a LB off the LOS.  
Wait a second or two for all the blockers to find someone and start blocking,
then come up through any lane that has opened up.  The next is the outside
speed rush, best done with a LB or DL who is far enough to the outside that
he has remained upright.  Inch the defender up before the snap so he is closer
to the LOS that the other defenders, then on the snap go straight upfield and
around the nearest blocker.  Often you will end up going all the way around
the blocker and hitting the QB from behind.  The last method may be combined
with either of the above two: notice that when you are moving away from the
blocker that has you, usually you can come right off the block.  So, make a 
strong rush up the field to push the blocker back past the QB, then back off
the blgcker, freeing yourself, and you should have a clear path to the QB.
Since it is rare that you can depend on pushing the blocker that far back, it
is best to start with one of the first two pass-rushing methods, and use this
one only when you find that you cannot get by all the blockers, and that it
is easier to push back and spin around than to try to make a wide detour around
a RB.
        Diving: you should only dive when you _have_ to.  That is, if you 
won't reach the ballcarrier otherwise.  The only exception is: if there are
several other defenders right behind you, and no blocking available for the 
ballcarrier, then a dive will a) make a fumble more likely, b) stop the 
ballcarrier immediately if it works, and c) if it fails, it will slow the
ballcarrier so that your nearby defenders can then make the tackle on a slowed
RB.  But never dive if you are alone and there is open field behind you, 
unless you are certain you can't reach the ballcarrier otherwise.

 3) Offense:
        You should play offense at the Normal Action setting.  The only real
difference is that the computer will run the RB after a handoff until you
take control, which is necessary since it is too hard to see where the hole
is on an inside run.  Let the computer guide the RB through the hole, then
take control and move him toward the largest open space available.  On a
passing play, give the QB one second to back away from the center, then 
immediately take control (by moving the joystick, usually backwards), and
click button B to activate the first receiver.
        The most important (and hardest to achieve) aspect of playing offense
successfully is to read the defense.  Before snapping, take a look: if there
are too many people close to the LOS to drop back into deep zones, it is most
likely a man2man defense.  If there are receivers uncovered (with no one
directly in front of them), it is most likely a zone.  You should know which
pattern in the play are likely to work against a zone or a m2m (more on this
in the Play Design area), and so before the snap you can have an excellent
idea of which pattern you will throw to.  If you have a quick In pattern to
the TE, odds are that the defender covering the TE will not be able to cover
it.  Then, you have to read the LBs: if they come in, the TE will be open: if
they turn around (because they are dropping back into a zone), the TE will
be open.  Similar quick reads are available for most patterns, but you _can't_
try to make all the reads for 3 patterns after the snap: you'll be sacked.  
The more you can read before the snap, the better off you'll be.

 4) View:  I hate the pattern boxes that come up: they are too small to show
you if the receiver is heading towards a defender, and so large that they
block up the screen.  To get rid of this problem, I drive my offense _down_
the screen, so the boxes come up behind the QB.  I use the large downfield view
to see if the receivers are getting open.  Although it is a little harder to
see when the players are small, the benefit is that I can see all the patterns
at once.  Even if you play with a narrow view, you should move to a wide view
for a few seconds before you snap the ball, to try to read the defense.
        On defense, I use a narrow view centered on the QB, since I almost 
always have control of a pass-rusher.

Part III: Play and Profile Design:

 1) Profile design:
        This will be very short.  Usually, you will call your own plays so 
your profile does not matter much.  Just adjust the substitution percentages
upwards so your people are better rested.  This'll make a great difference
in the 4th quarter when your starters have sat out several more plays and so
are more rested.
        I'll say a bit about _strategic_ play design here:  You generally 
want to run your best plays (patterns, zone defenses, etc.).  Once you have
a play that works, you will want to call it often.  But constantly calling the
same formation will cause you to tire out those players that are in that play,
while other players are fully rested on the bench.  So, if you have a play
that works well, it is a good idea to have the same play (pattern, coverage,
etc.) from a couple of different formations, and to use different people in
each formation.  If a LB is pass-rushing, you may want to make the same play
with a DL instead of that LB, just in case you are in a game where 3 LBs are
injured, so you can run that same defense from a 4-3 or even 5-2 rather than
a 3-4, when you have only 3 LBs left.
        On offense, if the TE remains in to block, use your TE2, to give your
better player a chance to rest.  If you are running a play where the FB will
not be able to get in front to lead block, use your lowest-ranked RB, to rest
the other RBs.  If a receiver is just running a clear-out pattern for another
receiver, use a backup.  Since on offense you know who is unnecessary in a 
play, it is so easy to put in backups to ensure that starters remain fresh
and uninjured, that it is almost a crime if you don't do it.  Just be aware
that when you are playing a human opponent, he may be able to figure out
what you are doing by who you have in there.

 2) Play Design:
        This is it:  the big one.  I have several other files uploaded in
the football section that deal with a _specific_ defense, so I'll try to 
remain a little more general in the descriptions here.
        2.1) Defense:
        What is a 'poor' defense?  Barring freak plays, there are two ways
for an offense to score on you: either with a long play, or with a long drive.
        So, you want a defense that:
                a) does not give up long plays,
                b) does not allow consistent short-medium yardage gains.
        Another method is to give up either a or b, but completely shut down
the other.  Personally, I think it is better to try for both a & b.
        Zone Defense:
                I don't use zone defenses, for 2 reasons: a) if the offense
gets good pass protection (such as from a roll-out), it is too easy to create
a long pass play where the first receiver clears out the deep zone towards the
inside, and the second receiver through runs a corner pattern or 20yd-out and
ends up uncovered,  and b) if a slow draw is not caught in the backfield, all
the defenders may have their backs turned, allowing a long gain.  This is also
a problem when the QB scrambles.  If you play in a league with no human
competition, this is not as much of a problem, and zones may be useful.
        Zone seems workable inside the defense's 15yd line, where deep passes
are not a problem, and where the Interception possibility of a zone offsets
its weakness against the run.  
        If you do use a zone, it is best to have the inside LBs Wait for 
about .5 seconds (to prevent their turning around too quickly against a draw), 
and then Read.  The same can be done with other defenders that are defending 
the short zone.  This helps against the run.
        A useful zone to run in long-yardage situations is one where 4-5 
defenders all run a deep-zone (10+ yds), giving up the underneath completion,
and the rest of the defenders pass rush.  The computer will either take the 
short pass, or get sacked.  Be careful using this if the offense's receivers
are much stronger than your DBs, since you will not have so many defenders
back that you can afford to miss tackles.

        Man-to-man Defense:
                To defend against the bomb, it is best to have all defenders
Shade...Deep on their man-to-man defense.  To make sure that all 4 receivers
are covered in a 4-WR set, have your 4 DBs cover Non-Backfield, in order of
Speed.  In a 3-WR set, the 4th DB will end up covering the faster RB, which
is often good enough (the slower usually stays in to block).  If you want
to make sure all are covered, have a LB cover Backfield on the fastest RB.
Personally, I don't use the 5th m2m defender, preferring to have him either
rush or run a short zone.
        The above defense ensures that defenders remain behind the receivers,
thus stopping the long bomb.  However, short patterns like hooks, ins, and outs
will then be left 'open'.  That is, the defender will be there to make the 
tackle, but will be behind the receiver, thus giving up the completion.  To
avoid this, consider that we have 4-5 people on m2m.  We can use 2-3 others
to run short zones (either delaying and Reading, or delaying and Zone Defense),
thus defending the short passes also.  This gives us 3-5 defenders to rush
        I consider that the above defense takes care of both defensive
priorities as follows:  First, since the DBs are shading deep, that stops the
long bomb.  Secondly, any receiver running a short pattern will have m2m 
coverage, plus _may_ run into a short zone.  Thus, while short completions can
happen, it seems unlikely that the computer will string together enough short
completions to make up a long drive.  If the 2-3 zone defenders always include
a short outside zone to either side, then only in-patterns may be against
single-coverage, thus the only completions will be to an area where the 
receiver will have defenders on all sides, preventing a catch-and-run.
        The Rush: having considered the basic pass defense, what do we do
up front?  Since we believe that the above defense generally prevents long
passifg drives, we then want to have the line stop the run.  To do this, have
all the DL use some Run Rush (Balanced is usually best, but if your nose
tackle is fast, Conservative will work for him, as this allows him to move
side-to-side more easily).  In obvious passing situations, Pass Rush is the
best logic for DL.  Generally, linemen stunts don't work well enough to risk
the big hole that might open up if the offensive play is a run towards where
the stunting lineman started.
        LBs have three basic rushes, as explained in the Playing section.  
For computer controlled blitzers, if you have a strong LB, I'd move him as
close to the LOS as possible between the defensive guard and end.  Usually 
the offensive guard will not pick him up quickly enough, and if he's strong
he'll blow through a block from the side or the poor RB that stayed in to
block.  If you have a fast one, have him Run Defense..Aggresive (to get him
to make his first move into the backfield) and place him outside the end, so
he can make a speed move, or else have him Run Defense..Balanced and have him
start about 3-4 yds behind the nose tackle, so he does a delayed blitz up the
        Number of rushers: generally, I have 4 defenders on m2m, 2 zoning on
the short outside zones, giving me 5 rushers.  I move the strong LB to either
side of the nose tackle, then take control (all this is before the snap, so
set up the LBs pretty close to where you want them) of the fast LB and move
to the outside.  If I see a 3-WR set, then I know that S2 is covering a RB,
and I may decide to move both LBs for an inside rush, and take control of 
the S2 and either zone in the middle, or add him to the rush (if I am really
looking for the sack).  In most situations, I believe that the more pressure
you put on the QB, the better.  Also, inside pressure is more effective than
outside because: a) when the QB is pressured from the outside, he can take 
off up the middle for a good gain, b) you are more likely to knock down the
pass and c) you are more likely to scare the QB into throwing the ball out
of bounds.  However, if you are simply not getting to the QB (the pass 
protection is just too good), then take control of the fast LB and just zone
out in the middle.  Unless you are in a long-yardage situation, or the WRs are
slow, I don't reccommend a 3-man rush.  Giving a QB time to pick a receiver
is not a good idea unless you can cover all the receivers for a long time.
        Goal Line Defense: This is quite a problem.  As we will see in the
Offensive Plays section, it is easy to create a pattern that will get a
receiver open against single coverage (at least open enough to complete to,
if not to run after the catch).  Fortunately, we can use a zone here, since
it is very unlikely to see a draw near the goal line.  Split up the defenders
across the field and have them all Delay for .2-.5 seconds and then Read.  If
you delay too long, they may stand still too long to step up and stop the run,
but if you don't delay long enough, they may turn around as if to cover the
WR who's coming right at them to block them.  The closer to the LOS the 
defender is, the less he should Delay.  Also, you don't need both a short
and a deep zone, but you want to have several defenders across so that it's
not too easy to overload any one defender's area with multiple receivers.
Since with all these defenders Reading the play and some of them starting 
wide you should get excellent outside containment and pursuit, you want to
force runs to bounce to the outside.  Have those zone defenders that are near
the middle of the field move up close behind the DL, and pack the DL as close
to the center as they fit.  Personally, I use a 4-man line at the LOS, and 
add a fast DL right behind the rest of the defensive line.  If you have a very
strong DL, you may prefer to have all the linemen at the LOS to force the RB
wider, but I prefer to use that DL's 80 Speed to fill the hole at the point
of attack, since my weaker DL may give up a hole inside, even packed as it is.

        2.2) Offense:
        An offense's goal is to move the ball into the end zone.  To do this
over a season, you need either to a) be able to score from a distance, or
                                  b) be able to consistently make a short-
                                  medium gain while avoiding losses.
        I don't worry about a.  If you have the personnel, you will break
tackles and run away from the defense without having to design plays for it,
and if you don't, then you won't.
        What you want is to be able to consistently run the ball, and to 
consistently complete the short-medium range passes.
        Actually, the best advice on getting a good running game is: get a 
good RB.  With poor RBs, you will have trouble running with the best of plays,
and a good RB can usually gain yardage in a game in any situation.  That being
said, let us consider some good running plays.  (Note: this is the weakest
part of my game, and the following advice is not as 'guaranteed' as the rest
of the file).  See part 2 for new discoveries .
        For both inside and outside runs, I like to run draws (delays).  This
allows the receivers to take any pass defenders deep so all the RB has to 
worry about is the DL and the rushing LBs.  To run the draw, have the QB drop
back about 5 yds before handing off.  If the run is then going up the middle,
have the RB move in front of the QB so that the QB does a forward handoff.
This shortens the distance the RB has to run to gain yardage, as well as 
shortening the yardage lost if someone breaks up the middle and makes the 
tackle immediately.  For both outside and inside draws, have all the receivers
(and the TE) go at least 10 yds downfield (a defender with his back to the 
play is almost as good as one blocked to the ground, and a lot easier to 
        On outside runs, you may want to have the guards pull: if you can get
yards with it, good for you.  But I have found that my fast RB (and who wants
to run outside with a slow RB) just outrun my guards.  If I delay the RB long
enough for the guards to stay in front of him, then the DL coming up the
middle will get the RB, forcing me to keep the guards in to stop those DL.
To get a lineman out in front of the RB, take the near side (to where you are
going) Tackle, have him Move out about 2 yds, then have him Block..Lead To
the outside and a couple of yards upfield, then either have him 
Block..Fire Out (to go upfield looking for DBs) or Block..Nearest Defender 
(this will usually be an inside LB, so this will seal off the inside).  
Meanwhile, have the near guard and center Block..Push Right (if the run is to
the right), as this will cause them to look to block the person on their right
hand side, holding up the DE on that side long enough for the RB to get
outside of him.  I say Push Right because getting a small piece of the DE on
the side of the play is more important than blocking the DT well, in most
        For inside runs, there's not much to say.  Push Left and Push Right
will cause an OL to look to double team to that side, while Fire Out will 
cause him to block someone directly in front of him, or to head upfield if 
there is no DL right in front.  I like to have the center and one of the guards
Fire Out, so that one of them heads upfield and blocks a LB.  Then, the FB
blocks the other LB, and (hopefully) the safeties head upfield with the TE.

        Since you don't know whether the defense will go into a zone or a m2m
defense, you want all the passing plays to have a pattern that will work 
against a zone and a pattern that will work against a m2m defense.  By 
making a quick (and usually easy) read at the LOS or immediately after the
snap, you can immediately decide who is going to be open.
        Sure, this sound nice, but can we find patterns that will consistently
be open against either a m2m or a zone?
        The defender in a zone will always go with the deeper receiver.  So,
running an upfield pattern through a zone will cause a sideways pattern 
through the same zone and behind the upfield pattern to be open.  For example,
if the TE runs a seam pattern, he'll take the LB deep (at least 10 yds, until
the LB turns the TE over to the deep zone defender).  Until the LB drops the
TE, his zone is uncovered: you can either run a quick RB with a curl or a
seam or an in pattern into it, or you can have the flanking WR run a 5-7 yd
in pattern (start it diagonally until 6 yds, then cut straight across the 
field), or you can have the opposite side TE (if it's a 2TE formation) run
a 5 yds square in.  All of these should be open enough to throw to (remember
that an if pattern is a short pass, and will be both quick and accurate).
        Another good pattern is to have the flanking WR run a short post 
(5-6 yds upfield, then a 45-degree angle across the fiel).  This will take
the short outside zone both deep and to the inside, and will later take the 
deep zone defender to the inside.  If you have a fast TE, have him run a short
(3-5yds) out pattern to that side.  He'll get outside the short defender and
be wide open, plus he'll have a nice stretch of clear sideline, since the WR
has taken both of the defenders on that side to the inside.
        If you have a fast RB, use a formation with double WR to one side.
Have both the WR run posts, taking either the zone defenders or their own
m2m defenders to the inside, and run the RB for a quick flare pattern to 
that side.  Since the RB will probably be covered by a LB who has no chance
of keeping up with him, the completion is automatic and good yardage should
        Against a m2m defender, the following pattern works great: run at a
30-45 degree angle to the inside (where 90=across the field) for about 5 yds,
then cut to a 30-45 degree angle to the outside for about 2-3 yds, then cut
to a 90-degree angle to the outside.  The defender's first turn will be to 
the inside to keep up with your original inside move, and he will have to 
end up making a 180-degree turn to follow on the out pattern, while the 
receiver is making two cuts of about 70-degrees each, thus keeping his speed
up.  Furthermore, since the receiver went inwards first, the throw ends up
being shorter than most out patterns, and he will have more room to the
outside after the catch.  This pattern is so deadly that it is the reason
why I developed my defense with the 2-short outside zone defenders, since my
excellent DBs were getting consistently roasted by this and I needed to get
additional help to the outside for them.
        Also against m2m, another useful pattern (especially for the TE) is:
upfield for 5 yds, diagonally inwards (30-45 degree angle) for 3 yds, then
straight across the field.  The initial up move will cause the defender to 
remain behind the TE, and since the throw is short and accurate and the TE
is in front of the DB, the TE should have a good chance to catch the ball
(this works best if the TE has excellent Hands, and Speed is good to force
the defender to turn upfield and give a larger cushion).
        All of the above patterns are quick, and have quick reads.  Although
(with the exception of the out vs m2m and the RB flare) they are not designed
for the catch&run, they should avoid sacks and consistently gain between 5 &
10 yds, which is all that is necessary to move the ball down the field.  
These patterns are why I have placed Hands as the primary attribute for WRs.
Often the WR will get hit right after the catch: if his Hands are good, he
will catch the ball, but if they are poor, he will not.  Since there should
be someone open on every pattern, Speed is not as important as the QB's 
ability to realize who will be open in time to throw the ball.
        You will not have time to scroll through 4 or 5 receivers to see if
one is getting open.  It is best to have only 2-3 choices and make quick 
reads.  This being so, it is best to keep as many pass blocker in as possible:
the only ones going out should be your 3 primary receivers, plus maybe one
other receiver used to clear out a zone.  NEVER send all 5 eligible receivers:
you will not be able to scroll through to #5 before being sacked, and you
should not need that many receivers to flood a zone.
        One last passing advice: if you have a fast QB or a poor OL, roll-outs
are an excellent way to add pass protection.  Don't have the OL move sideways
since they will often be too slow to block the DL as they go by, but use a RB
or the TE to add pass protection to the side you will roll out to.  If you 
have a fast QB, you can even have a good running game by changing a rollout 
into a QB keeper.  (My first season I had disgusting RBs, so my QB ran for 
about 700 yds, almost all of them off rollouts).

Conclusions:  The above (rather sketchy and disjointed) advice should be
helpful to beginners.  The advice assumes that you are playing in a career
league (of course, if you are not, you can just ignore the Drafting and 
Training Camp sections), and that you actively play the game rather than
just coaching.
        If you will just coach the team, most of the advice is still helpful,
but some aspects of defensive and offensive design are different: the greatest
difference is that the computer will not do pre-snap reads for open receivers,
so patterns where the QB has a longer window of opportunity to throw to the
receiver once he's open should be used (don't have the flanker run an out,
have the TE run it, otherwise the QB may not have room enough to throw the
ball to the flanker by the time he realizes the flanker is open, etc.).

Reminder:  Once again, I welcome suggestions for improvement and additional
advice, and I'll try to keep this updated about every 2 months if I receive
good suggestions or if I come up with something new.  The above advice has
been rather general: if you have need of help with something specific 
(game only, not system requirements, etc. please), I'm quite willing to help,
and I check the Forum about 9 out of 10 days.  Send me mail, or post a

Good Luck                                               -Sly

Part II:
        Following is advice on Play and Profile design for new coaches in an
online football league.  Much of this could be obtained by seeing the plays
of successful coaches, but many play design ideas are actually hard to figure
from the plays that use them, since they're quite subtle.

1.0: Overall game plan:
        Your plan is to beat the other team (obviously, ).  There are three
main ways of making this more likely:  a) have a better team.  b) have better
plays.  c) have a better plan.
        It's hard, at the pace of these leagues, to quickly improve your team.
You'll have to use what's available, which brings us to the point of maximizing
your team's strengths.  Use what's good on your team, try to deemphasize what's
weak.  If you only have one good WR, no good TEs, make that WR primary on most
patterns, and _take_him_out_ when he's not primary, to rest him.  Ditto for
RBs: if you only have one good one, use him to run the ball, and for nothing
else.  Clearout receivers should always be backups, and if you have a fast but
weak RB, he's excellent for being a pass receiver out of the backfield while
resting your primary.  Don't use your best RB's energy pass-blocking, or your
only good WR's in run-blocking.  If you're sweeping left, put at RT a backup
OL, with good-enough DI that you're not inviting a holding penalty on a useless
        Use QB2 to make inside handoffs, since the only stats that matter are
AC, AG, and HA.  Short zones by LBs usually don't require much movement, so
don't put your fast LB1 at a short outside zone... put a backup LB with good
AG and HA, and rest LB1.
        If you have many good WRs and few RBs, use mostly a 3-WR and 4-WR set.
If you have many RBs, start keeping a TE back to pass-block, while sending out
RBs to run routes.  It is always easier to make the most of scant resources on
offense than on defense.
        Play design is dealt with elsewhere.
        As far as the game plan is concerned, it should a) have a good idea, 
and b) should not have an obvious weakness.  Don't always use a m2m, don't 
have the DL bunched to the inside, nor split to the outside, in all of your
plays.  Not only could a tendency get exploited, but perhaps your most common
defensive play does not match up well against the other team's plays... but by
occasionally throwing in a different defense, you could cause a loss on a play.
And to stop a drive, one play is often enough, especially if you have a good
long-yardage defense.

1.1) Offensive game plan:
        The offense has three main objectives.  First, when the score is tied,
you want to move the ball consistently down the field (either fast or slow,
but you want to make sure the ball gets moved).  When you're ahead, you want
to do the same, but at a slow speed... although you should not force plays so
that they take more time but may be less likely to continue a drive.  When 
you're behind, you want the offense to move the ball quickly down the field,
especially with plays that have breakaway possibility.  However, speed of 
movement should not be forced so that your chances of actually getting anywhere
are greatly lowered.
        Since you want to be able to achieve all of the above objectives in
any game depending on the current score, it may be helpful to categorize plays
based on their location.  For example, it really makes no difference whether
a short pass is listed as Pass Left, or Pass Right... but you can create your
own gradation.  Let Pass Short Left mean a quick short pass, where the receiver
is likely to catch and run.  Pass Short Middle is a possession pass, such as 
a 5yd stop pattern, where a catch is more likely but run after possession is
not, and Pass Short Right be a screen.  Then, if you're behind, you'd rather
avoid the middle passes, since you want to keep running plays that have a 
chance to break big, while if you're ahead, you'd prefer to go for the middle
pass, to consistently move the chains a little bit at a time.  You can do 
similar things with Run Left/Middle/Right/GL/RazzleDazzle, to set up in your
profile which type of plays get called so they are appropriate to the situation.
        Also, your plan should reflect your team's strengths.  If you have 
plays that are very consistent gainers, then on 3rd & 1, you may wish to always
call these plays.  But if you have a problem driving the ball, you may consider
2nd & short or 3rd & short as a chance to catch the defense in a blitz or 
other short defense, and go deep on them... as long as the play is quick enough
to avoid a heavy rush.  If you pass better than you run, then in a tie game
you want to pass, at least until you're ahead.  The reverse is true if you
run better than you pass.  Remember, though, that defense gets tired faster
than offense, besides being harder to rotate people on defense.  So a long
drive with many plays will tire out the other team's defense, as well as 
giving your own a chance to rest.  Then your rested D could stop the other 
team quickly, giving you the ball back before his D is rested, and you then
run off another drive, etc...
        Two main considerations are left... pass short or long, and run inside
or outside.  This is mainly dictated by your personnel, especially the OL.  
        To run inside, you want a strong OL, and a strong RB, preferably with
good AC and AG.  A lead blocker with good AC is useful, so the ball carrier 
does not have to delay waiting for him.  To run outside, you want a fast HB,
a fast, strong FB (since his block becomes really important), and strong 
receivers and TEs.  A fast QB helps in outside running since then the HB has to
wait less for the ball before starting to move.
        Always remember, though, to try to run both inside and outside, at
least as a token.  Any good coach will shut down any team's running game with
any other team, if it is clear that you only run inside, or only outside.  Even
if your inside running game looks poor, the 4-6 times you do it in a game might
actually work well since the other coach has widened his defense to stop your
outside running.
        Short vs Long passing actually depends on your plays more than your
personnell... where do you feel most comfortable?  However, you want to be 
able to do both at least adequately.  Long passing requires either a good OL,
or a fast QB so you can rollout.  Short passing depends mostly on your WRs and
TEs having good HA, and a QB with high ST to zip the ball in, and good IN to
throw to the open receiver.  To throw deep often, you should have at least two
fast WRs, one to clear deep and the other to catch in the cleared area.
        It is possible to get long gains by throwing short, especially to 
backs... but by occasionally lobbing the ball deep, you cause the other team's 
coach to drop his safeties a little further back, helping you run the ball and
also pass short.  Thus, every team should have at least the threat of a bomb
active on every possession.
        In conclusion, you should pick a plan for your main offensive focus:
run inside, draw inside, toss sweeps, counter-trades, short in/out patterns,
deep outs with rollouts, deep posts, RB flares, etc.  It's best if you can 
find a couple of different thrusts that you can perform.  Then, use that
focus enough to get benefit from it, but not so much that it becomes profitable
for the opposing coach to change his defense to stop your main focus at the
expense of giving up most other types of plays.
1.2) Defensive game plan:
        The defensive philosophy is actually much simpler.  The score really
matters only to predict what the opponent will call...  Your goal is always
to stop the offense, and force a punt.  Turnovers are nice, but it's useless
to play for them, as you'll get them more based on the matchups and the HA of
the offense than on any particular defense.
        Again, you want to have a plan that calls mostly plays that are suited
to your team.  If you have good AG at DB, m2m is good.  Good AC & HA indicate
that a zone may be better suited.  Also, how much pressure your DL puts on the
QB indicates how much blitzing you'll have to do.
        But, just as with offense, you shouldn't be predictable in any game.
This is different from being predictable from week to week.  You should not 
have a plan where, on every down, you always rush 4 or 5 defenders up the
middle, and never cover the slower RB.  The reason is that if the opponent
guessed what you will do, then his plays will work every time.  He needs 2-5
1st downs for a scoring drive, so if occasionally you have a different type
of defense called, you could stop him after a first down or two, if his plays
are set up to defeat your basic defense.  But if all you call is one basic
defense, you risk having him figure out a way to beat you with an inferior
team and plays that overall are not that strong, just because they happen to
work against that defense.
        You should always have a chance to call both blitzes and drop-back
defenses, and both m2m and zone.  Probably your best option should be called
the great majority of the time, but don't set yourself up in a situation where
all you call on 3rd & long is one type of defense.  Maybe all he calls is one
type of offense that is particularly suited to that defense, and he'll convert
50% of 3rd & long situations.
        If you plan (or need to) blitz a lot, you will have to use m2m defense
most of the time.  The reasons for this are as follows:  a m2m defense only
needs 5 defenders to cover everyone, while 5 zone defenders cannot cover the
whole field.  A zone defense almost requires 7+ defenders unless you wish to
give up some area.  Most patterns that defeat a zone are rather quick and easy
reads if they're open, so a QB facing a 5-man zone will usually get rid of the
ball quickly, meaning the blitz was wasted.  Finally, in most m2m defenses, 
you'll have someone chasing the receiver... even if he's open for the catch,
there's someone coming to tackle him.  But in a zone, it's possible to throw
the ball to a receiver that's uncovered, ending up with a big catch & run.
The chances of this become greater as fewer defenders are left back in the 
zone.  Therefore, it is difficult to use a zone with a weak DL, unless you
resign yourself to getting no pressure, only rush 2 or 3, and drop all the
others back into coverage, hoping the QB will make a bad read and throw into
        The conclusion is the same as for offense: pick a defensive idea that
your team and plays seem best suited to run, and call it often enough to get
benefit from how well it usually works, but not so much that you will not be
able to stop some drives if it doesn't work out on any week.

1.3)  Weekly adjustments:
        Aaaah, the fine game of cat & mouse, played every week by dedicated
coaches looking for a chink in the opponent's armor.
        The _most_ important idea here (and perhaps overall) is that your
opponent should not be able to predict with any decent accuracy what you will
be doing.  This means, first, that you do not run the same gameplan, profile,
and group of plays every week, except maybe when you've gotten such a 
reputation as a tinkerer that your opponent will figure you'll never offer the
same gameplan two weeks in a row.  Secondly, it means that you don't make any
180 degree changes in your philosophy.  
        For example, one week you rush 5 men 90% of the time.  Don't change 
that to 10% next week, and 90% 3-man rushes. It's predictable.  Let's say that 
one week your opponent never throws to his RBs.  So you don't cover the RBs.  
Next week, how do you cover them?  First, you don't end up never covering them 
- your opponent may have seen that from the last week's games.  Second, you 
don't _always_ cover them - your opponent may guess that you were setting up a 
trap for him, and figure out that now you will cover them.  Instead, set up a 
mix of cover/noncover.  This way, whichever your opponent guesses, he won't be 
right.  Even if he guesses the mix, he won't then be able to set up his offense 
to take advantage of a weakness.
        Other tendencies to avoid on defense are:  always blitzing from the
same side, or from inside/outside.  Playing m2m or zone.  Rushing few (2/3) or
many (5/6).  Always covering shading deep/short or non-shading.  Bumping (and
whether everyone bumps, or just selected defenders).  How deep your LBs play
in their short zones, or your S in their deep zones.  Defensive line splits,
and their pursuit logic.  Starting depth of your m2m defenders.
        Note that it's not necessary to have some plays that differ in all of
the above areas.  You could combine a change in defensive line splits with a 
change in pursuit logic with a change in the depth of LB zones, quite easily.
The important thing is that you should not have any of the above areas constant
over _every_ one of your defensive plays in a week.  It doesn't matter really
whether you only have two types of defenses, as long as there is some 
difference in each of the above areas between the two types.  Remember that
preparation wins games... and it's much harder for your opponent to prepare
against you if you offer two radically different defenses which you call about
at an even rate.  He won't know which to set up plays against... and if he
sets up so that his plays work about 50% of the time, that will very rarely
translate into a win.
        Offensively, the following areas should not be fixed to any particular
constant:  QB rollout vs drop-back, and how far he drops.  RBs blocking vs
running patterns.  If RBs block, whether they step up for the middle blitz,
outside for the outside rush, or just in front of the QB.  Use of slanting
patterns with slight turns vs sharp cuts.  Use of RB screens.  Running inside,
or outside, or from draws.  Running with tosses vs handoffs.  Use of motion.
Whether WRs run downfield on runs, or block.  Whether you run left or right,
or strong/weak side.  Whether you run behind or away from the lead back.
Whether you throw to your fastest, or 2nd fastest WR.  Etc.  Ideally, you 
should have some plays such that each of the above areas has both (or all)
choices represented in some play (or plays).
        The easiest way to make quick wholesale changes is to have some plays
of all types in your playbook.  Then, each week, decide what plays you don't 
want to use (make sure you have runs outside & inside, passes short quick and
short delayed, screens, etc), and save those plays as Specific.  Then, they
won't get called (unless they're set up to be called in particular situations,
in which case you'll have to edit the profile... too much work for me), and
you won't have to change your playbook or your profile, just load the play
and save it as a new type.
        Again, remember that you should have a defensive and offensive 
philosophy... what you think will generally work best.  Weekly, you may have
to change that slightly for different opponents, but in general your strengths
will not alter too much.  You can't really prevent your opponent from keying
in to your strength.  So what you want to do is to, besides your strength, use
all sorts of different plays.  Every defense or offense that is set up to
defeat a particular type of play is weaker against general plays than a more
general defense.  So you want to punish anyone that sets their plan up to 
exactly take advantage of your tendencies, by having lots of different types
of plays, so that some of these plays will burn their too-adjusted plays.
        This will prevent your opponent from adjusting too strongly to your 
strength and allow you to keep using it.

2.0) Profile design:
        I don't adjust my profile too much each week, preferring to rely on
play changes (activating certain types, deactivating others).  When you make
profile changes, it's best to only change a few key areas.
        The best areas are generally 1st & 10 from your 5 to their 5, 3rd & 
short, and 3rd and long.  If you only make changes to these areas, it takes
little work to reset your profile for the next team.  If you make changes all
over, you'll end up with a patchwork profile, where you don't know why some
calls are being made, six weeks after you noticed that 2nd & short bombs work
really well against a particular team.
        Generally, I leave 3rd & short, and inside either 5 yd line, alone.  In
these situations it's best to be predictable and go with your strength, and
daring the opponent to stop it, than trying to be fancy and calling an 
innapropriate play.
        A large change in your team's play can be made by changing the
percentage of running plays on 1st down, with >5 minutes to go.  Little work
is required, and this affects a relatively large percentage of play choices.
        As with type of plays, it's best to make some changes each week, but
not so much that you go away from your strength.  You should only be tricky
if you're so much an underdog that you figure you can't win except by trying
the unexpected and getting lucky, like constant 1st down bombs.

2.1) 2-pt conversion:
        Should you go? or no?  That is the question.  In general, going for
2 will, especially if you have a good short-yardage offense, net you more 
points.  Personally, I feel that in the 1st half, a 6 or a 7 point lead are
quite similar, but an 8 point lead is much bigger, since it changes the
opponent's playcall logic.  With a 5 point lead (either way), or being down
by 2, or up by 1, its quite better to go for it.  With a tie score (especially
in the 2nd half), it may be wiser to just take the lead.

3.0) Play Design:

3.1) Offense
3.1.1) Offensive Line:
        The offensive line has two major duties:  Protect the pocket on drop-       
back passes, and open up holes on inside runs.  Less important is to be able
to get outside to lead block on outside runs and screens, and to avoid
penalties.  I rank these latter duties as less-important simply because they
depend far more on the OL abilities (speed, ac, ag to get outside, in/di to
avoid penalties) than they do on play design.
        The first question about the OL is: what kind of split to use?  wide-
splits are useful when running inside, since a tight OL could create a wall
through which the RB may not fit.  They are also useful when rolling out, since
then the OT is far enough to the outside that he will pick up an OLB blitzing
rather than letting him go by to run into the QB who's rolling out to the side.
They are also useful on screens, allowing the DL to slip by them more easily,
freeing themselves to go downfield and block.
        A tight split is far more effective in protecting the pocket, since
it can create a wall through which LBs blitzing up the middle may be unable
to pass even if not blocked.  On short-yardage runs, a tight line is less 
likely to let a DL cut between blockers and hit the RB in the backfield.
        Personally, I use a tight line at all times.  The ability to stop the
middle blitz is too important, and I disagree with the idea that since the AI
is not smart enough to pick up on tendencies, there's no reason not to 
telegraph what kind of play we're about to run.  So I only use one kind of 
line split, and I feel that if you'll only use one type, the deficiencies of
a tight line are less than those of loose line.
        Pass blocking - (we'll include blocking RBs in here, also):
        Most quick sacks occur when an OL looks to the outside for someone to
block, and a nearby DL or blitzing LB squeezes by to the inside of them before
they can turn to the inside.  ST and AG help against this... AG to turn quickly,
and ST to be able to stop rushers even from the side.  A priority of the 
blocking AI is to stop rushers from the outside in.  Thus, the OT will look
to block the OLB first, which causes the OG to look at the DE.  If there is 
only one DT, the C will block him, but if there are two, and both OGs look at
their respective DEs, one of two DT will go right by the line.  Another 
problem is that sometimes, with a 4-man line and a blitzing OLB, the OG will
look at the DT, the OT will step out on the OLB, and the DE comes between the
OT and OG for the sack.
        There are two ways to deal with this problem.  The simplest is to 
know that the OL will protect the outside first, and always keep one (or two)
RBs that Pass Block in the middle.  This works if you have strong RBs, so
they can stop a strong middle LB who has had 5 yds to get his momentum up.
The other is to force the OL to block to the inside first.  Note: most quick
sacks come up the middle, but by giving up the outside you're inviting a slower
pocket collapse.  Do this only if you have a quick-pass type of passing offense.
        There are two ways to force the OL to block to the inside.  One is to
have the OG Wait for .1 or .2 seconds before pass-blocking.  The reason I'm
not too hot on this is that with slow DTs and fast DEs, the DEs may not have
been picked up by the OT before the OG stops waiting.  So the OG will still 
turn to the outside.  Having them delay longer invites a high-AC DT to blow
right by them.  The way that I prefer is to have both OGs Block...Lead to
a very short distance inwards (very short).  This moves them to the inside,
making them more interested in blocking the DT than the DE, which is added to
by the fact that they will be facing slightly inwards, so as they turn out to
the DE they scan by the DT, see him, and start blocking.  Also, you don't give
up a speed move to the DT, since they will start blocking if the DT tries to
go by.  Just don't forget to have them Pass Block at the end of the Lead To,
or they may head upfield.
        The weakness of both of the above schemes is:  we're still giving up
the DE between the OG and OT, if the OLB comes in.  However, this is a far 
less important concern:  from what I've seen that kind of sack occurs about
1/5 to 1/10 as often as the up-the-middle sack by a DT or blitzing LB.  And
moving the OT inwards like the OG gives up the outside speed rush by either
a LB or a fast, wide-set DE.  The OT must guard against speed rushes far more
than the OG, so we can't afford to have him take even a short time to shift
inwards.  But since the OG-OT hole is exploited quite rarely, it is not too
important to specifically guard it, not like the OG-C holes.
        The RBs logic should be complementary to the OL.  If the OL gives up
the inside rush, at least one RB should move to in front of the QB and block.
If the OL protects the middle, then the only rush is likely to come from the 
outside.  If the pass is to be quick and short, any outside rush is likely to
get there too late and is therefore irrelevant, so both RBs should head out
to run routes.  If the pass may take some time, one or both RBs should block
to the outside, on the side nearest them.
        Another way of avoiding the rush is to rollout, especially with a 
fast QB.  Have the TE on the rollout side Pass Block, or a RB Block..Lead
for a short distance (to get him in front of the QB), then have him Pass block.
The QB can do a half-rollout to shorten the distance to an out or corner
pattern, or a full rollout to buy time for a deep crossing route or 20yd out.
If the QB's rollout is moved up to within 4-5 yds of the LOS before looking
for receivers, then he's likely to take off as soon as he sees pressure.  A
fast QB can get some good yardage that way... but be aware that the upfield
movement may take you into the area defended by a short outside zone, causing 
the defender to come up for the tackle or sack.
        You should avoid having receivers or RBs pass block from motion.  You
want to know exactly which hole a backfield blocker will protect, and this is
impossible from a motion.  Shifts are OK, though.

3.1.2) Pass Routes:
        At least 3 receivers should be sent out on every pass route.  There are
three main types of pass logic: timed pass, where the QB makes no decision.
1-receiver patterns, where the QB only looks at one receiver until that receiver
is open, and then throws to him.  The other receivers in the pattern are there
to open holes in zones for the primary receiver.  The most common is a multi-
receiver pattern, where the QB checks through 2-5 receivers.  In most cases I 
don't like 5-receiver patterns unless the QB has high IN, since by the time
he gets to the 5th choice, a 5-man protection scheme is likely to have given
up a sack.  Still, it could work against poor pass rushes, or with very short
patterns and a QB that can make quick reads well.
        Aside from timed throws, there are two types of routes: timing routes,
and continuous routes.  A timing route is one where the receiver is making his
break and looking for the ball just before the QB gives up on the receiver 
ahead of him and looks at him.  When it works it's unstoppable, especially by
m2m defenses:  by the time the defender starts turning with the receiver, the
ball is in air.  Its weakness is that since the read is so quick, a QB will
often see that the WR is turning away from the nearest defender but does not
realize that the throw will be towards a defender who's sitting there waiting
in a zone.  Also, a good bump may throw the timing off so that the receiver is
not looking for the ball by the time the QB looks at him, and he will then be 
ignored, even if he's wide open.  The last problem is that it takes a good 
deal of time to set up the timing, and WR trades or injuries can throw off a
whole playbook.  For the latter reason, the perfect timing as described above
is not really the target... generally, a little leeway is given, so that the
WR has made his turn a second or so before the QB looks at him.  It's not as
effective, but less vulnerable to being disrupted.
        Continuous routes usually are done with 1-3 receivers.  The routes are
of the type where a slow read by the QB will not harm the pattern, like 
crossing routes, deep hooks with long comebacks, posts, flys, slants, and 
corners.  Since the QB only looks at a few receivers, he has plenty of time 
to see if a receiver is open, and also can come back to the same receiver a 
number of times.  The benefit is that misreads are decreased, and the QB will
rarely miss a wide-open receiver to force the ball into coverage on a bad 
read.  The main problems are that often the QB holds the ball waiting for
a receiver to get open and gets sacked or hit, and also that it's almost
impossible to run out patterns as part of this play... a late read means that
the QB has no room to lead the WR since the sideline stops the pattern, and a
good HA DB can come in while the WR is stopped and waiting for the ball to get
to him, and so get an INT.
        It is possible to combine the two types of patterns in a play.  For
example, if an in-pattern is primary, it can be treated as continuous.  Then,
two out patterns can be timed, and a RB going out on a seam route is also
        In all Check Receiver plays, use all 5 receivers the QB can look at,
even if it means looking at the secondary receiver 4 times in a 2-receiver
pattern.  This gives you more control over the QB's decisions, rather than
relying on his IN (which in my experience, even with 88 IN QBs, seems to be
rather lacking).  A continuous pattern if it's not primary, could be the 3rd
and 5th receivers, if you only use 4, rather than just setting it as the 3rd
and waiting for the QB to cycle through 4 and then 2.  If 2 was a timing 
pattern, then there is little need to go back to it once the QB has already
checked it off once, and it might lead to the QB forcing the ball to some
receiver that has finished his route and is going who-knows-where.
        It is wise to provide a check-off route to a RB as the 3-5 receiver
in most patterns.  Often a RB running a short in, or a flare, will be open 
enough to catch the ball, even if not to gain good yardage, and this is
preferable to throwing into coverage or getting sacked.  But don't make the
QB look for this pattern too early, else he'll throw there often for a high %
but small gains.
        If you run in-patterns from 4-9 yds deep, be aware that in a m2m 
defense any defender who's covering a RB that is pass blocking will end up 
effectively running a zone about 5-7 yds deep in the middle of the field.  For
the same reason, don't ever have a RB run a flare to the same side as a TE-out.
The m2m defender on the RB will go sideways and end up inadvertently double-
teaming the TE.  The RB should go out to the opposite side, or else run an in-
pattern, without going so wide so as to take his man to the outside of the TE.
        A TE out is effective, but unfortunately puts many restraints on other
patterns - there should be a receiver running a route outside of him, or no
one will clear the short outside zone defender, who will be waiting for the
pass.  The receiver should not run an in (except at least 3yds deeper than the
out), or he'll bring his man towards the TE's route.  For the same reason, the
receiver should not fake.  In short, the outside receiver must run a line, post,
or fly pattern for at least 2 yds deeper than the TE's pattern, at which point
he should not make a sharp cut, so as to keep pushing his man or the zone 
defender away from the out.
        An in pattern must avoid the defenders waiting in the middle for any
blocking RBs, and if two+ in patterns are used, they must be clearly separated,
either in depth or in time.  Two ins should never be run towards each other,
unless one is less than 8 yds in depth and the other at least 12+ yds deep.
        Hook patterns are very effective against m2m, and well-combined with 
rollouts.  Hooks in the middle of the field may be risky against certain zones,
but it's not too hard to push an outside zone inwards, and have a hook come back
in that area.  With a rollout, it's very hard to defend, since the defender is
behind the receiver, and the throw will end up being rather short.  Just don't
expect yards after the catch.  And remember, if the hook is deep, that the
short zone has to have some other receiver to keep it occupied, else a quick
defender may step back in front of the receiver and intercept the pass.  A 
very deep hook does not have this problem, but takes a long while to run.
        Corner and post patterns can punish zone defenses that step up to stop
the run.  They don't have any real weakness, but are not high-percentage passes
and should not be considered part of a ball-control offense except as far as
they force the defense to lay back, opening up the short passes.  Fly patterns
are useless against m2m, except against bump&run coverage if the defender
misses the bump.  However, they also punish short zones, especially since by
heading straight upfield rather than diagonally, they don't give the defense
as much of a chance to turn around and catch up to the receiver after he's 
gotten behind the zone.  I don't like any of these patterns as primary since
they are not high-percentage passes, but by putting one in most patterns, you
force the other coach to avoid crowding the LOS, lest he get burned deep.

3.1.3) Running the Ball:
        The most important principle of running the ball effectively is: have
the players to do it with.  If the DL is camped in your backfield or the HB
can't beat the nose tackle to the outside, you won't be able to run.  But if
you're not in such dire straits, here are several ways of running the ball: Types of Runs:
        There are four main types of runs:  First and most basic is the lead
by the front RB into a hole, followed by the ballcarrier.  The second is the
solo run by the ballcarrier into a hole, either in a 1-back offense to spread
a m2m defense, or with the other RB moving away from the flow of the play to
draw his man away from the run.  The third is the delayed handoff, usually
followed by a solo inside run.  The last is a toss or handoff, where the 
ballcarrier goes wide enough that the OL is not very important.
        The hole system I use is as follows: odd holes are to the left, even
holes to the right, with holes 1 & 2 being next to the center, and the numbers
going up as the hole is outside more and more offensive players.  Hole 0 is 
usually used to denote an up-the-middle draw, where the RB picks his run
        Formation: I generally consider it best to run from a formation where
all the RBs are far enough off the LOS to be standing upright.  If they are
closer, they can Pass Block more effectively... but if the QB calls a Run
audible, the QB will usually turn around and toss the ball to the nearest RB
while that RB is getting up from his 3-pt stance, so he'll stop, wait, and
get the ball 4-5 yds in the backfield, standing still.  If he's up, he'll come
forward for the ball, and get it only 2yds deep, moving forwards, which means
that fewer of the run audibles will be stuffed for negative yardage.
        Lead runs: I consider these the most important runs to use effectively.
Since we are not drawing away the defenders, they are not as likely to be broken
for 10+ yds, but since the lead back is blocking the first defender to the hole,
they are less likely to be thrown for a loss.  Against a team that does not
penetrate into your backfield, you'll usually be able to run anyway... what you
want to do is to prevent a better team from shutting down your offense by
tackling you in the backfield on 1st down.  These kinds of runs are best done
behind a strong FB, with a HB that has good AC & AG (SP always helps, but is
not as necessary as outside runs), and good ST (since a lot of these runs will
be for short yardage, picking up extra yards by knocking tacklers back is very
important).  Note, however, that these runs need not be inside, and if they
are outside the tackles, SP becomes more important than AG.  If both of your
RBs are equally deep, you may want to have your HB go sideways a little towards
the hole before heading forward into it, to give the FB a chance to get there
and make his block before the HB follows him.  Also, it's best if the HB is 
moving for several steps towards the hole before the QB gives him the ball, so
that he gets the ball moving at speed.  Sudden changes in ball direction are
hard to defend against, and hard-charging defenders going for the QB may not
be able to turn to the RB before he goes by.
        Solo runs: These are run similarly to the lead runs, except that it's
unnecessary to have the ballcarrier delay to let the lead blocker get in front.
They can pick up more yardage if they go by the LOS, but are more likely to
get stuffed by an inside blitz.  In short, they're good 2nd & long type of runs,
but not 3rd & short.  They are not effective against a zone defense (since 
they don't spread it as much as a m2m defense), but if your OL overmatches the
opponent's DL, they may be very useful against a defense that uses mostly m2m.
Since you're looking to spring the RB through the hole, SP & AC are most 
important, although AG helps in having the RB bounce to another hole (since no
lead blocker is used, the exact hole which the RB goes through is not very
important).  IN is also useful in this regard.
        Draws (delayed handoffs) are run similarly to either of the above two
types of runs, except that instead of the QB waiting near the LOS for the 
ballcarrier to come by and handing the ball off to him while the QB is standing
still and the RB is moving fast, the QB moves back to the RB who is waiting,
and gives him the ball.  It's usually better if the RB moves to in front of 
the QB so that the play uses a forward handoff, and this both maximizes the
ball movement on the handoff and also minimizes the loss if the play is stuffed.
This play is most likely to get stopped in the backfield, especially by a Read
defense.  However, m2m defenders turn around and go with their man until some
time after the handoff... by delaying the handoff, a m2m defense could have
all of its players, except those that are pass rushing, with their backs to the
handoff.  So if the RB then gets by the LOS, a large gain usually follows.  This
should not be run against any team whose DL overmatches your OL, or against one
that likes to use Read defenses.  It is especially useful for teams that have
a fast RB with low ST (since driving back tacklers is not important here), and
no lead blocker, or weak WRs.  ST does not matter when running a fly pattern to
push the defense back, and if the RB is fast and shifty enough to make it out
of the pocket, he may face no defenders until a 8-10 yd gain has already been
        The above description mostly assumes that the run will be inside (at
least originally) the hash marks.  The same principles apply to running off-
tackle, or slightly wider.  The major difference is that since a defender coming
in does not have to go through the OL, it is more likely that a defender will
hit the ballcarrier in the backfield.  However, since the only blocks by the OL
that are important is usually the one by the near-side OT, these runs can be 
used to avoid the perils of running behind a weak OL.
        The last kind of run is a wide run, with a long path for the
ballcarrier, that is intended to end up with the ball being carried up the 
sideline, or near to it.  The ST of the OL is practically unimportant here, 
while the SP/AC/AG of the near-side OT becomes important (since you want him to
get outside before the LBs, and be able to make a block not too far away from
the middle of the field that clogs up the pursuit, causing several other 
defenders to waste time detouring around the block).  SP for the ballcarrier is
        Usually the QB will move out a little before making a toss or a handoff.
If the handoff is in the middle of the backfield, a quick DE will prevent the RB
from getting outside of him... so then you need the OT to block the DE, and then
the OT cannot slow down the pursuit.  To get the RB outside the DL before he
gets the ball, it may be useful sometimes to use a Timed Pass as a toss 
replacement, since the toss is only accurate within 5-7 yds.  On the other hand,
having the QB move too far will give the defense the chance to hit him before
he hands off or tosses the ball.  When the RB gets the ball, he should be in
full stride (making tosses a little more effective than handoffs) towards the
sideline, maybe slightly forwards also.  Since this is also a semi-delayed run,
the receivers on the run side should go upfield at least 6-7 yds to turn the 
defenders around before blocking, and may in fact keep heading upfield for 
10-20 yds if they are fast but weak.  If the lead RB is used as a lead blocker,
he should peel off early and head upfield to block.  This will both cause his
m2m defender to slow his sideways pursuit, and also may allow him to slow down
several defenders if he gets to the first before they are moving at full speed
sideways, since blocking the first will cause the others to make a detour.  If
the RB peels off (away from the ballcarrier's path) late, he usually will not
be able to block the first defender and so will not have as much use. Blocking:
        For run blocking, generally Fire Out will be the most common block.  
Not only is it effective against a DL in front of the OL, but also if there is
no DL in front, then most often the OL with this logic will head upfield to 
block a LB or DB.  One or both of the OL on either side of the hole should use
Block..Nearest Defender, since you don't want them heading upfield to lead the
way and ignoring a DL at the LOS but not right in front of them.  For an inside
run, the lead blocker should use Fire Out logic, so that if the hole has not
been plugged, he will go through it looking upfield.  For an outside run, 
Block..Lead To should be used to get him to a spot, and there Block..Nearest
should be used for short outside runs, while Block..Fire Out should be used
for wide outside runs.
        For a wide outside run, the near-side OT should pull to lead the way
(use Move To to get him away from his spot, then Block..Lead To so he doesn't
let some defender go right by him).  The OG should Block..Right (for a right-
side run) or Block..Left.  Note that he is blocking _towards_ the run.  While
his block won't be as effective, all that you want him to do is to delay the
DL on his outside shoulder for a little.  Having him block towards the run 
causes him to turn that way, so he'll block the outside DL instead of a DL 
slightly inside of him, which is what you want.  If he's really quick, you can
have him Move To one step to the outside, then Block..Nearest Defender, instead.
        A defender with his back to the play is almost as good as one fully
blocked... and you don't need strong WRs to achieve it.  Generally, having the
WR head upfield instead of blocking will help running plays more.  The only
exception is if the RB is running outside to the WR's side, and there is a 
short zone defender with the Read logic out there.  In this case, you want the
WR to block that defender to give the RB a chance to get outside.  But don't
even bother trying it with a weak WR... he'll delay the defender for half a 
second before getting knocked down, and furthermore by stopping to block he'll
also end up not driving his m2m or the deep zone defender upfield away from the
        TEs on outside runs (if the run is to their side) should be used to
seal, rather than lead block.  That is, they should go upfield a step or two
(to get by the DL), and then block the first defender that heads by them from
the inside.  By blocking this defender, they can help the OT create a nice
logjam around the hash mark, delaying pursuit by several other defenders besides
those that were actually blocked.  If they lead, they can block one player, but
won't usually create an obstacle in a useful spot.  On outside runs against
m2m defenses, the tackler is usually the player that is m2m on the ballcarrier.
If the TE or the FB can head him off around the hash marks, or can block someone
ahead of him, slowing him down, he won't be able to hit the RB from the front,
and if he hits the RB from behind, you will have a good gain.  Therefore, the
first focus of an outside run is to get the ballcarrier outside the DL without
getting tackled, and the second is to slow down the pursuit from the inside, on
the defense's side of the LOS.  By the way, the third focus is to get the 
outside defenders either heading upfield, or blocked... this is third because
there will not always be a defender waiting outside, while there will always
be the DE there as well as the pursuit from the inside.

3.1.4) Balance:
        This is very important.  Lack of it can stop even strong offenses, and
proper use of it can help weak offenses move the ball.
        There are several aspects of balance: consistent vs explosive plays,
inside vs outside plays, runs vs passes, strong protection vs lots of receivers,
etc.  To be balanced does not mean to be equally strong in both aspects, nor
to be equally focused.  All that you have to do is to be strong enough in the
area that you don't emphasize that your opponent cannot key onto the area that
you do emphasize without a good deal of risk.
        The most important (and also, probably easiest) balance to achieve is
inside vs outside plays.  The reason for this is that this is the case where,
most directly, one strength will lead to the other also working well.  If you
can't threaten the other team inside, they will shift the defense outwards and
stop your outside plays.  And vice-versa.  The reason why it's easy to achieve
balance here is that we don't need to worry about achieving this balance with
both passes and runs, or actually with either.  That is, you don't need to be 
able to run inside... as long as you use inside patterns (ins, RB ins, posts,
TE stops, WR crossing routes, seam patterns by TE or RB, etc.) to threaten the
inside of the defense.  Similarly, if you can't run outside, then run inside...
and use HB flares, out patterns, and QB rollouts to punish the defense if they
gang up inside.  The important idea is not to both throw outside and run
outside, or at the least, not to be unable to either pass inside and run inside,
or pass outside and run outside.  If either your runs or your passes threatens
the defense's outside, he cannot shift inside.  So if you have some plays that
threaten the inside, and some that threaten the outside, regardless of which
are runs and which are passes, you then prevent the defense from keying in on
what area of the field they should defend.
        Balance means that your opponent does not know what area of the field
you will attack, or with what type of play.  This becomes very hard to achieve
when consistently facing 2nd or 3rd & long.  Therefore, the most important 
consideration in most 1st & 10 situations is to avoid plays that don't gain
any yardage.  Lead runs, short passes, and screens can be used even by weak
offenses, with a good guarantee that yardage will not usually be lost.  Of 
course, strong offenses may be able to run other plays and be very likely to
gain positive yards.  Don't get too predictable, allowing the defense to move
up too far on 1st downs, but remember that a consistent 4yd play is better on
1st down than one that usually gets 8yds but may also sometimes lose a couple.

3.2) Defense:
        The defense is in a different situation from the offense.  Not only 
must you achieve balance in your playcalls (so that the offense cannot predict
what will work in any particular situation), but also each play should be 
balanced.  If you put a play that gives up a kind of offensive play, then it
should only be used in a situation where you can either afford to let the 
offense run that play successfully, or in a situation where you can predict 
with very high confidence that the offense will not run that play.  Since this
is not possible in most down & distance situations, your most common defensive
plays should not have any glaring liability, especially not one that is common
to all or most of them.
        So you need to have several different defenses (in order to avoid your
opponent's figuring out what you'll be doing at any time), and each of those
defenses should not be greatly vulnerable to either the inside run or pass, or
to the outside run or pass, or to the short pass, or to the deep pass.  Don't
despair, probably nobody has actually fulfilled this goal too thoroughly.  As
long as you can use two different, major, effective defenses, you should be in
as good a situation as most of the coaches around.

3.2.1) Overall type of Defense:
        In section 1 I describe a good base for a m2m defense.  This is what I
generally use, although since human opponents will key on a constant type of
defense, I use many different variants.  The major changes between plays are:
4 or 5 man rush.  Blitz from the inside, both from the inside, one inside and
one outside from the opposite side, one inside and one outside on the same
side, or both from the outside.  Also, varying the depth of the outside zone
defenders, how long they wait, and varying the DL splits, can be used to avoid
presenting a particular front that may be vulnerable to a particular type of
run or of pass protection.
        The major weakness of zones is their vulnerability to runs.  Against
a zone, you can run outside because when you run to the strong side you have
more offensive players there than defenders, and if you run inside, the zone
defenders will be slow to react, especially if you run a WR fly through their
area.  To avoid this, I recommend that the short zone defenders use Read
logic rather than zone, in a situation where a run play is not out of the 
question.  All the zone defenders should Delay from .2 to .6 seconds to avoid
turning around too quickly, but make sure that they don't delay so long that
they can be burned by a quick fly or seam pattern.  If you don't rush too
many defenders, usually you can spare a LB or two to m2m defend the RBs.  This
causes them to pursue outside runs very well, and if the RBs Pass Block, the
LBs will effectively zone in the middle, about 5-7 yds deep.

3.2.2) The rush:
        There are three ways to get a good rush from a defensive player.  The
simplest is a speed rush from the outside, beating the OT on SP and AC.  The 
most effective is to set up the concentration of the OL on other defenders, and
have a LB or delayed DL rush by an OL who's not looking at him.  The last is 
a simple power rush, using superior abilities to get by the OL.  Since this is
not really affected by logic (as long as the logic has the player rushing 
rather than guarding the LOS), we don't need to consider it.
        A speed rush is rarely effective, for several reasons:  The OTs usually
drop back quite fast, and also look outwards first.  The rush takes a little
time, so RBs have time to see the LB coming and step in front of him.  Lastly,
if the QB feels the rush, when he takes off he's going away from it.  However,
a good outside speed rush can set up the inside unblocked defender, and can
actually get to the QB if the offense commits to guarding against the inside
pass rush.  More importantly, a fast outside rush can cause negative yardage
runs on outside runs, and forces inside runs to stay inside, where the DL has
a chance to make the tackle.  While the outside rush should not be considered
as the main sacking weapon, it sets up the inside rush while simultaneously 
being the more effective run defense.
        The most effective pass rush is the inside rush by a DT, DE inside a 
blitzing LB, or an inside LB.  The reason is that the OL looks to the outside
first... and a fast defender who's too strong to be blocked from the side can
then blow by inside of the OL who's looking outwards and is too slow to turn
back to the inside.  The problem is that the OL must be enticed into looking
outside by another defender, thus a couple of defenders (or even more) need to
be used in creating a rushing lane for just one.  An outside LB blitzing will
cause the OT to look to block him... a fast DE can slip between the OG and OT.
If he doesn't, the OG steps outside to block him, freeing the DT... but either
the C or the FB can pick him up.  Either sending in a lot of defenders is 
required, or more commonly, sending in 4, with 3 of them being on one side of
the center.  The hope then is that one will get double teamed, and one (who
will usually be set back from the LOS) will be left unblocked.  The weakness
here is that this defense is weak against an inside run to the side where only
one pass rusher is set.
        A good rush is usually the most important and easiest aspect of a 
successful defense.  To get the rush, you only need 4 or 5 good defenders,
while a successful drop-back defense needs 7-8 good coverage people, and also
a rush from the 3-4 rushers is still desired.  However, if you're going to 
depend on the rush, you need it to be consistently effective.  This is why I
recommend using rushers that are set off the LOS.  A rusher on the LOS that 
slips by the OL will get to the QB so quickly that the QB will not have time
to get rid of the ball, while a set-back rusher may allow a quick pass to be
thrown.  However, it's more important not to allow good pass protection than it
is to get instant pressure.  A delayed blitzer that almost always gets to the
QB may not get too many sacks since the QB will see him coming, but can be 
used to prevent deep patterns from being run, or multiple looks at the same
receiver, and will in the long run help you more than a quick blitzer that may
get to the QB very quickly or not at all.

3.2.3) Coverage: There are two major types of coverage: m2m (man-to-man), and zone.  
Zones depend more on your DBs HA and AC, while m2m defenses require SP & AG.
Zones are most helpful against good WRs and a poor QB, since the QB will then
make bad reads and throw into coverage.  Since high WR stats are not necessary
to get open against a zone, and a good QB will pick out the open receiver even
against a zone, they are less useful against poor WRs and a good QB than m2m.
Also, m2m coverage will almost always give up an open receiver after some time,
so if the other team gets great pass protection, a zone may be more effective.
        There are three types of zones:  The general whole-field zone, where
an overlapping (usually 4-5 short and 2-3 deep) group of defenders each cover
some zone.  The short defenders should Wait for .2-.5 seconds, to make it 
harder to clear out a short zone with an upfield pattern, or to push an outside
zone inwards to open up the HB flares and TE outs.  Also, since these zones are
very weak against the run, it may be more effective to have the DL run rush or
read, and to have a LB with high SP/ST cover the fastest RB (since he will then
move with him on running plays).
        The most effective all-around zone, although a little weaker in coverage
against the quick pass, is a zone similar to the above, except that the short
zone defenders (or some of them) use Read logic instead of Pass Defense..Zone.
Their zones will not be as well-defined, and if their IN is low they may end up
not covering someone in their area, but on the other hand, those defenders 
Reading will be much more effective against the run, since they will not turn
around and be drawn downfield by a WR running a deep pattern through their zone.
        The last zone is one that gives up part of the field.  Easily the 
safest area to give up is the short zone (within 9-11 yds of the LOS).  If 
used in a situation where a 10-12 yd completion is unlikely to hurt you, you
can use 4-6 defenders to thoroughly cover the patterns deeper than 11 yds, and
then can send in 5-7 pass rushers, making it even harder to complete a long 
pass.  This defense is very effective as a surprise on 3rd & long, but be 
careful if using it constantly... if expected, a RB screen, dump, or quick TE
pattern will always be caught... and if the receiver is strong, he may break
a tackle and gain good yardage, since there are not too many defenders left
back to make the tackle.  Use it often only if all the DBs are good tacklers.
        M2m defenses are often combined with zones.  The most effective 
patterns at getting open from m2m defenders are sharp in or out cuts, therefore
the additional zone defenders should mostly help with these patterns.  
        There are three common types of m2m coverage: normal, shade-deep, and
bump&run (b&r).  B&R is the most effective at covering 90-degree cuts, since
they slow down the pattern, and if the block is missed, the sharp cut by the
WR gives the DB a chance to catch up.  They are vulnerable, though, to the
45-degree cuts of slant & post patterns, and should not be used against good
WRs.  Shade-deep is the safest coverage, but really leaves the sharp-angled
cuts wide open.  It should be used only in situations where a 5-10 yd gain is
not a problem, or with excellent zone support in the 4-10 yd area, both against
crossing routes and against out-patterns.  It is also the best coverage to use
with an all-out blitz, to avoid getting burned on a deep pattern.
        Normal coverage is not as vulnerable to sharp cuts as shade-deep, and
not as vulnerable to slants as b&r, but on the other hand neither is it 
especially useful against any particular type of pattern.
        The depth at which m2m defenders start is very important.  A large
cushion gives the WR the chance to influence the DB into one direction and 
turn in the other, opening a large distance between the two.  A small cushion
does not have this weakness, but in this case the DB needs to be at least as
agile as the WR, since he will attempt to move right with him at close range.
        As a last note, I prefer to have my pass-defenders use the Pass 
Defense..Aggressive logic.  I haven't seen so many defensive Pass Interference
calls (especially not against DBs) that I'm worried about an early hit, and
coming in hard for the ball can often knock it away from a receiver without
great hands.

3.2.4) Run Defense:
        There are several ways to shut down a run:  have a DL slip the OL and
make the tackle, have the DBs head forward and group tackle, or have a good LB
mirror the RBs movements and make the tackle.
        The hardest one to control is the DL stuff.  The success of the DL is
greatly based on the matchup with the nearer OL, and on the blocking scheme 
used by the OL.  To give yourself the best chance without giving up the pass
rush, use Run Rush...Aggressive.  Run Rush...Conservative is excellent at 
having the DL move sideways with the play to strip blockers (OL or lead back)
from the play, freeing the LBs and DBs to make the tackle.  However, it gives
no pass rush at all.  Run Rush..Balanced is a mix, giving poor pass rush with
decent run containment.  Read takes too long to make a stuff behind the LOS,
but gives good run containment combined with better pass rush than Run Rush..
Balanced or Conservative.
        Overall, my favorite means of shutting down a good running game is to
have my best-tackling LB cover the other team's fastest RB on every play.  On
every run, he'll be moving in the same direction as the faster RB (who usually
carries the ball), and therefore will have to be blocked or will make the 
tackle, unless he's so slow that he just can't keep up with the RB.  This can
be easily combined with m2m or most zone defenses, and with all other types of
run defense or pass rush.
        As described in the zone-defense, having the short zone defenders Read
is a good means of having them get into the play on a running play.  To get
the back defenders into it, there are two ways:  either have them wait a long
while (.5-.8 seconds) so that a handoff will usually occur before they turn 
around with a WR trying to push them deep, or have them start behind the 
center of their zones, so that they move forwards for a few steps after the
snap.  Neither of these plans work really well against a delayed handoff, but
that's what draws are designed to take advantage of.  And if you try to over-
emphasize either the wait or the forward shift, you can get yourself burned by
a quick fly or seam pattern by a high-AC receiver.

x.x.x..) Conclusion:
        The thoughts above were actually easy to figure out and write down...
the hard part comes not in understanding them, but in implementing them.  I 
haven't followed all my advice with all my plays & plans, merely because it
often was easier to just keep doing the same thing, the same coverage, etc.,
rather than go into each play and change some small thing.  Remember, I don't
consider anything above as trade secrets, nor as the ideas of an expert.  
Rather, they are the knowledge that all successful coaches should have as the
base of their skills, and the actual success will then be determined by how
well you implement the ideas above.
        Also, there is no guarantee that the ideas above are the best, or even
that they will work for everyone.  As a case that pretty much proves my point,
my Arizona team is 1-5 under my coaching... it's a poor team, but clearly just
the above will not make you an instant winner.  Execution is the most important
thing on the field, and all personell and game plans are merely used to try to
get the best execution... which will not occur with poor plays.  In the end,
following this advice may help you avoid some pitfalls... but will probably 
not lead you to the playoffs unless you have something unique of your own that
you can add to this.
        And therefore, good luck in taking the handoff and getting some 
yards on your own (or so to speak )

My email address is 75051,1016.  Although I'm rather busy, I haven't yet been
so busy that I've failed to respond to anyone.  If you have a question about
anything contained herein, or about something not included, I'll probably be
happy to respond.  And if you have suggestions for improvement, additional
tips, or other advice, I'll certainly be happy to hear them.

                                                -Sorin (sly) Stana
last updated: 4/23/95

                        Front Page Football Tips III

        This is a continuation of the previous two parts that I've written up.
This will be much more specific than the other two, and will be less useful
when by itself than the other two.  To be more clear, this article will 
describe individual pass routes, run routes, blocking schemes, pass rushes,
zones, m2m coverages, etc, without making much effort to help the coach put
them all together into an effective package.  The previous two articles will
be very useful in producing the package from the tools described herein.

Part A: Offense:
A.1: Pass routes:
        Square-in (square-out).  This route has the receiver start off going
straight upfield, then make a 90-degree cut to the inside or outside.  The
receiver can be looking for the ball from the LOS (in which case it is best
to run this pattern at a length of about 4-6 yds), or can start looking for
the ball just before making his cut, in which case the pattern can be run
deeper without having the QB throw it like it was a fly pattern.  Often the 
QB will throw the ball as if it were a stop-hook, with the receiver merely 
turning to catch the ball.  This is not a problem, since usually a m2m 
defender will be pushed back by the upfield part of the pattern, and won't 
turn around in time.  AC is important in this route, since you want a quick
start off the LOS to push back the defense.
        Curl-in (curl-out).  This route has the receiver start off by going
upfield and somewhat (up to 45 degrees) towards the outside.  Then, he makes
a cut to the inside, going as a post pattern for a couple of yards, then makes
the final cut, straightening out the pattern to go straight across the field.
Directions are reversed, of course, for out patterns.  The receiver can be
looking for pass immediately if it's a really short out (in patterns shorter
than 4 yds are not reccommended, since they may run into the DL), but more
often start looking right at the point where he makes his first cut.  This
pattern is never thrown as a stop, since the receiver maintains his speed 
throughout.  The double cuts work very effectively to shake off m2m coverage.
A weakness is that the first cut immediately loses any nearby defender... so
the QB thinks the receiver is open, but because the receiver maintains speed,
the throw is far ahead of the current position of the receiver, perhaps 
ending up in the zone of a nearby defender that was not shaken off with the 
first move.  This patterns works well with a high-AG receiver, who can make
the cuts without losing speed, but AC is not really important.

        Slant-in (slant-out).  Rarely run as an out, this pattern covers
ground sideways in a hurry.  The receiver starts off at about a 45-angle to
the inside, and after going to the desired depth, straightens the pattern out
to go straight across the field.  This pattern works best for a fast WR, who
can use his speed to pull away from the defender without making the QB throw
a long pass.  The out pattern works better because m2m defender naturally
shades to the inside, so the receiver can start off with a larger gap... but
on the other hand, there is less room to pull away before the sideline stops
the pattern.  This one works well against bump&run, because the defender's
first move is towards the LOS, but he never gets to bump the receiver who is
heading at an angle away from him.

        Seam/Fly.  This pattern has the TE or WR head straight up the field.
Too simple to work against most m2m, this is very useful in several
situations:  if the defense is running a Read or a Zone, and they leave a gap
in the area where the pattern is running to, then a quick throw by the QB
can hit the receiver before the defense can close the gaps.  More importantly,
if the receiver is big (high ST), then a bump&run defender may be unable to
slow him down, and since the defender has to make a 180-degree turn, this
pattern can get big people open downfield against a bump&run defense.

        Corner/Post slant.  This pattern is very quick, and has the receiver
head upfield for 2-4 yds, then make a slight (about 30-degrees) cut to the
outside or inside.  If thrown, the pattern ends up receiving the ball past 
10 yds, which makes it one of the quicker deep patterns that can be run.  The
move can cause an opening against m2m defenders for an accurate QB, but makes
it easier to cover with b&r coverage.  It also slows down the pattern, so
zones have more time to close into a gap that the receiver is going towards.
This should be run instead of the fly if normal m2m coverage is expected.  
Since m2m defenders shade to the inside, this works better when thrown as a
corner pattern, though it's easier for the QB to be accurate when thrown to
the inside.  A slight lean of the pattern's first few yards in the direction
opposite to that where the ball will be thrown can be used to force the
defender to make an initial turn away from where the ball ends up being 

        Hook.  There are many version of this pattern.  All end up having the
receiver coming back towards the QB at some angle.  Some have the WR start
a post pattern for about 2 yds then cut it back to the QB, in order to avoid
having to make a full stop, turn, and start moving again.  Looking for the 
ball before turning, can cause the QB to throw the ball right to where the
receiver is currently.  That only works with a strong-armed QB, and a WR 
with good AC/AG that has pushed his m2m defender well back.  A weakness of
this pattern is that in order to get good yardage, the pattern must go rather
far downfield, so it requires good protection.  For this reason, it's often
used together with a roll-out.

        Fake & Fly.  This pattern goes about 8-12 yds downfield.  The receiver
stops and fakes, then takes off on a fly pattern.  It takes a while to run,
but it can be very useful against a zone if the receiver ends up stepping
into the deep zone before faking.  Then the deep zone defender can be faked,
and may not turn around quickly as the receiver runs by him.  Best used with
good AC receivers.

        Curl.  A very effective pattern out of the backfield, this is run by a
RB from the backfield like the curl-in.  The difference is that after ending
his initial out-move, he goes upfield a little to avoid turning back into 
the DL when he turns back to the inside.  Since a RB is often covered by a LB,
this get him really open.  It works against zones, too, since the short zones
have usually turned around to cover deeper receiver by the time the RB 
crosses the LOS.  The only weaknesses are that it takes relatively long time
for a short pattern, and that a wide DL rush can bump into the RB, making the
pattern take even longer.

        Flare.  Another effective backfield pattern, here the RB simply starts
looking for the ball while going out towards the sideline.  Sometimes he first
heads at a sharper angle upfield at first, so he gets in front of the QB since
the QB will not look at him until the RB is in front of him.  Works best when
a fast RB is uncovered, or covered by a slower LB.  Also works against some
zones with a clearing pattern run by the outside receiver.  Its main use,
however, is against a constant bump&run defense, because usually the defender
who is bumping the RB will head forwards and get caught up in the OL/DL pile,
then have to chase the RB from behind.

A.2: Pass Blocking.
        The most dangerous rush comes up the middle.  There are two ways to
stop this.  The first is to commit a RB or two to step in front of the QB.
This is easy, works against all blitzes without any real weakness, but has
one problem:  if you allow the LB to penetrate and get speed before being 
blocked, your RB may get run over, or simply run by if he's not facing the
hole where the LB is coming from.
        The second is to force the OG to stay inside, to stop the middle blitz
rather than turning to the outside.  This can be done by having them Stop 
before blocking for .1-.3 seconds.  It can also be done by having them
Block/Lead To for a step or two to the inside, then start Pass Blocking.
        If the QB makes a half-rollout, then any LB that it Blitzing rather
than Run Rushing will start heading towards him, so he will run into the near
guard.  But this does not help against a Run Rush, and makes the QB take 
longer before he throws the ball.

A.3:  Run Routes.
        There are two major types of inside run routes.  The basic is a 
straight-into the hole move, close enough to the QB to get a handoff.  This
works well with an OL that has good AC, since it is quick and they won't have
much time to get into their blocks.  It's effective against run defenses
because they don't have much time to step up into the holes before the RB
crosses the LOS.
        The other is a change of direction, where the RB starts off in one
direction for a step or several, then changes to head towards the LOS but in 
the opposite direction.  This is used against a m2m defense, so the LB 
covering the RB moves away from the running direction for a step or two.  It 
is also better used with a slower but bigger OL, since the delay in the 
backfield gives the linemen a change to get into their blocks and knock down 
the DL.
        For outside routes, there are two types.  The first is one where the
QB immediately tosses the ball.  This one is relatively safe, because the
RB is usually close to the LOS when getting the ball and moving upfield at
some angle, so he can't lose too much yardage.  The weakness is that the toss
can't go too far, so it's not too effective on sweeps unless the RB and QB
have very good HA.  This works best with a strong RB, so if he is hit he can
use his forward motion to pick up yards.  In this play it is assumed that the
RB heads about equally upfield and towards the sideline, so he ends up 
crossing the LOS around the TE's location.
        The second type is where the QB takes a couple of steps in the
direction of the run before tossing.  This can draw the defense towards the QB
before the toss, and also allows the RB to catch the ball further to the 
outside.  The weakness is that a quick ouside rush can get the QB before he
tosses the ball.  Also, since the toss is longer and the RB is moving away 
from the QB, there is a chance of a fumble when the QB gets tired, on in field
conditions different from those used for practices.

A.4: Run Blocking.
        When running outside, the OL doesn't have much use in the running 
game.  It only needs to prevent a quick penetration by the DL that can get to
the QB before the ball is released or to the RB before he gets moving outside,
but doesn't have much to do afterwards.  In these kinds of runs, it is more
important to have a couple of big TEs/WRs outside, with the ST to knock down
a defensive back or two.  The OL should block quickly, with an immediate
Block..Fire out, of Block..Push sideways, to avoid having a quick penetrating
move by a DL.
        When running near enough to the middle of the field that the OL can
get into the play, most of the OL should be given a Move..To logic past the 
LOS, ending in a Block logic, so they look to go upfield rather than turning
around and blocking a nearby defensive player who has entered the offensive
backfield and is now behind the play.  Although this risks allowing
penetration into the play, the additional downfield blocking against the LBs
and DBs is more than worth it.  This is because in this situation, an OL will
stop and block any defensive player that they encounter while moving, so that
if the OL moves as a group, any DL will be bumped into by an OL, and so there
will be no DL who is not blocked (or at least an attempt made).
        Generally, in any 2-back set, the ball should be given to the 2nd back
past the QB, and the first back should be given a Block...Lead To logic
through the intended hole.  TEs can be given a Block..Lead To logic so they
look to block immediately, or a short upfield Move..To logic so they get 
behind the DL, if they don't have the ST to try to block a defensive lineman.

Part B: Defense:
B.1:  Pass Rushes.
        There are two major types of rushes:  down linemen only, or blitzes
in addition to down linemen.
        For down linemen, there are several schemes to get by the OL.  A
useful one is a slant rush, where the DL starts slightly to the inside of an
OL (either G or T), and takes a slanting rush at an angle to the outside,
past the Ol in front of him.  If he is quick enough, he may get past the OL
without being blocked, and have a clear angle to the QB.  If this is done 
against the G, another wide DL should be placed outside and given a Run..Rush
Aggressive, to draw the OT out and back, giving the inside DL room to go 
between the G and T.  This can also be done against the offensive T, and is
very effective against deep QB drops or rollouts.
        Another scheme is the straight-ahead overload on one side.  Here, a
DL is placed outside the T, another placed on top of the T, and a third over
the OG.  All are given Run..Rush-aggressive logic so they go hard upfield.
If the T goes out to block the outermost DL, then the G has to step out and
block the next DL, and the C has to step out to block the third DL.  If any
of the OL is too slow, his DL will go by him and have a clear path to the QB.
If the T does not go out and blocks the outside DL, then that DL will be free
to go around the corner.  This works best with high SP/AC DL, since it depends
on somebody beating their OL on speed and takeoff.
        A third scheme is the DL blitz.  With this, a DL is placed back a 
couple of steps off the LOS, and between a couple of other DL.  The front DL
engage the OL, and this leaves nobody to block the back DL, if all three DL 
are close enough together that they are bunched up against a pair of OL.  This
works best when tried against one of the C-G gaps, since it gives a shorter
path to the QB for the back DL than the G-T gap.
        A good general guide to pass rushing is to overload one side of the
line, or the inside.  Splitting up the DL and allowing all to simply try to
beat the OL in front of them works much less often that putting too many 
defenders in one location to have enough blockers to stop them.
        When blitzing, the general guides are either to line up enough
blitzers and DL against one part of the OL, or to set the blitzers back to 
give the OL time to start looking for DL to block, so that the LBs can run by
them before they react.  The problem with lining up blitzers in one area is
that committing too many people to one side can leave the run defense weak 
in other locations, but if the run defense is especially good or in a passing
situation, this weakness could be ignored.
        A general consideration is that for most pass rushes, Run Rush..
Aggressive works better than Pass Rush.  And it's more effective against some
runs, too.

B.2:  Zones.
        First, there are two types of zones.  A Read zone is less effective,
but is an excellent run defense.  A normal zone works against the pass, but
is not effective against the run.
        In all cases where a zone defense has both underneath and deep zones,
it is best to have the underneath defenders Stop and Wait for .2-.7 seconds.
This allows the receivers to go by them while they're looking into the
backfield, so they don't turn away from a run.  Also, by being underneath 
the receivers, they can come up underneath patterns that are intended to drive
the defense back and turn around, like square-ins, outs, and hooks.
        If a mixed run/pass defense is wanted, having 2-3 underneath defenders
Read and the back 3-4 defenders Zone works pretty well.  Generally, I like to
have at least 3 defenders, and usually 4, in the deep zone.  Giving up the
underneath pass is much less costly than getting burned for 20+ yds.  
        In general, a zone defense either depends on having a lot of defenders
around the ball, using a 3-4, 4-3, or 4-4 zone, or on a heavy blitz with 4-5
defenders across the field.  The blitz doesn't work well against teams that
like short, quick passes, but works well against teams that like to go deep,
or in long-yardage situations.  The zone with many people dropping back works
against teams that like to keep RBs back to block and only send out 3 players
into the pattern, since they can't really overload the defense that way.
        A last zone to consider is the mixed zone/m2m defense.  If two
defenders are used to zone, they should be placed short and to the outside,
most of the time.  M2m defenses need more help short than deep unless they're
bump & run, and so it's necessary to keep the helping zones short unless in a
situation where giving up an underneath completion is fine with the defense.
Again, the defenders should be pausing for .2-.8 seconds, for the same reasons
as above.

B.3:  M2M coverages.
        All m2m coverages should have up to 4 defenders m2m on the
non-backfield players.  If there are only 3 non-backfield players, the 4th
player will go m2m on an uncovered back, so make sure the 4th one has decent
ST.  A 5th defender can be placed m2m on the fastest RB.  This should be the
best coverage LB, or a strong DB.
        If using bump & run, don't start the defenders closer than 4 yds off
the LOS, so there is less chance of a defensive holding penalty.  Also, in
this case, use a deeper supporting zone with shorter waits, in case a DB 
totally misses the bump.  Also, it's generally safer to have the defense
Shade..Deep after bumping, if deep zone support is unavailable.
        A useful m2m defense is to use 7 men, double-teaming a pair of WRs.
Then, have the two DBs that are double teaming pause for .0 or .1 seconds, to
allow them to get underneath their receivers.
        A useful combination against teams that like to use only 3 receivers
in the pattern or those that like to keep throwing to their one or two best
WRs, is to run a 2-man or 3-man m2m defense with about a 4-man single-depth
zone, or a 2-2 zone.

B.4:  Combining.
        When putting together a pass-coverage/pass-rush package for a defense,
the important factor is the run defense.  In general, a coverage that is weak
on run defense should be combined with a rush that is weak in run defense only
in long-yardage situations.
        The following pass rushes are strong against the run:
a balanced, wide-split DL.
an outside blitz.
a 3-4 man rush with Run..Balanced or Run..Conservative.
        The following are weak against the run:
an unbalanced line.
an inside 5-man rush with no one outside the OTs.
any balanced, inside-loaded DL set.

        The following coverages are strong against the run:
Read zones.
Bump&run m2m coverages.
        The following are weak against the run:
Deep zone help.
All-zone coverage.
m2m defenses, with no one on the RB.

last updated: 10-29-95
Sorin 'sly' Stana