New season's resolutions
Jeff Bryk - Raiders

Now that we're on the brink of a new season in the XFL, it's time for the league's coaches to take a step back and think about the battle ahead. While everyone's record is still at 0-0, there's a window of opportunity to prepare for the season properly.

The best thing a coach can do is to put themselves in a position to win. It's no accident that some coaches are successful year after year. While wins cannot be guaranteed, there are ways to make the most of your team's chances to win. There are some simple general principles that you can follow, above and beyond the nuts and bolts of play design that you can use to help maximize your chances of winning, and the successful teams are already using them.

Don't beat yourself. One of the ways that FBPro is very much like real football is that bad plays and mistakes are drive-killers. Removing plays that don't work from your playbook is the most important aspect of this. Replace them with better plays, even if it means writing several new plays each week. It's also very important that you make sure in your profile that your best plays get called. They don't do you any good if they're not getting used.

Another drive-killer is the sack, and we all know that FBPro is prone to lots of sacks. Make sure that you have adequate blocking if you're playing a sack-happy opponent. Run against the blitz to help nullify its effects. These may be commonsense answers, but in a league where 19 of 30 teams had 50 sacks or more last season, the benefits of countering the pass rush cannot be stressed enough.

Another important principle is that variety is the spice of life. Remember that all those individual plays need to make up a coherent attack when combined. This is especially true in the passing game bcause of the way coverage is assigned. If that slow FB never does anything but block on passing plays, why should an opposing defense even bother to account for him in coverage? Even though it's easiest to get the ball to very talented players, each eligible player will present a threat that the defense has to account for over the course of a successful playbook. Another aspect of variety is making use of the entire field. If you throw out patterns and run outside on offense, the defense's job has been made easier because they can concentrate on part of the field. While it's often advantageous to attack at an area of the field where you think the defense will be thin, it's also helpful to keep the D honest by using the whole field.

The flip side of this is that on defense, using a variety of sound techniques will help get the job done. If you live and die by the blitz or any one technique, you will be easy for a good coach to beat. Varying your plays will force your opponents to stay honest and use a variety of their own techniques to attack your defense.

Finally, you need to scout. It's that simple. Although good coaches vary their games to different extents from week to week so their next opponent won't know exactly what's in store, scouting is essential so you will know what you're facing.

Following these principles will give you a better chance of winning the game, though your skill with the game will be the final measure of your success. Imagination and innovation can help put you over the top, but they must be accompanied by commonsense fundamentals of the sort covered here.