Offensive Play Help 201

Welcome to Stephen's play design clinic for HFFL owners. So you want to make an unstopable offense. Well, I plan to help you do just that. I will offer you some basic techniques to making efficient plays that complement one another. So if you follow this guide you should be on your way to averaging 40 points a game.

I will go through several aspects of play design - making run plays, Offensive line bloacking techniques, making effective pass routes, quarterback positioning, and the lethal timing attack. If you can incorporate all of these techniques you should be on your way to dominating on offense. Hopefully, this will be one of the most complete expalnations of play designs on the Net.

Coaching WR - A Key to getting the passing game going!

I can't tell you how many times I have been asked - Why don't my wr separate from the DB? Well, the techniques below should help in doing just that.

Pass Routes

Tip 1 - Keep it simple! What am I talking about with keeping it simple. How many times have you seen a play that looks like the following?

You might ask what type of problem does this create? Isn't it the intention of my other wr to pick or scrape off the defenders? Well, yes it is! But remember on most check passes qbs can not throw the ball on a frozen rope - they tend to lob it in there! So by running three Wide Receivers on the same side of the field all you are doing is inviting more Defensive backs to the side of the field. If you are running the triple sets keep the pass very short and very quick! And have two wr break inside while the other breaks outside.

INSIDERS TIP - NEVER HAVE THE WR PATTERNS END AT THE SAME SPOT ON THE FIELD!!! What's the point of having a couple of guys standing in the same spot? You are only bringing extra defenders to the same spot. If you are trying to clear a zone have the wr break and go separate ways. This allows them to cover more area of the field and who knows separate from their defender.

Tip 2- Stretching the horizon - Use all of the field I.. This rule follows along with the previous tip. Simply put -- let's take advantage of the entire field. To do so each and every check pass should have an effective pattern to the left, middle and right side of the field. Why do this? Well, it helps beat teams that commit spot zones to the outside. If you can have an effective middle route then you beat the extra coverage. Likewise if you have a defense reading with middle linebackers the middle route keeps this guy busy and frees up the outs.

Now let's take a look at a very effective play

This one looks relatively easy to follow.

Tip 3 - Stretching the field Vertically - Use of the field II. Lesson 2 suggested making check routes that use the left, middle and right. Well, this tip suggest putting in a short medium and long range route in some of your plays? Why might you do this? Well, if the opposition is pressuring the quarterback he has a dump off pattern. If no pressure and solid man defense is applied then the patterns that take more time to develop but abuse man coverage are in place.

Tip 4 -Timing is critical… How many times have you see a pass thrown to early or right when a wr makes his cut? Well, this is due to the placement of your look for pass logic. Do not always have a wr look for a pass immediately off the LOS. If you have the wr running 5 yards up field and then cutting inside before making an outward cut, simply have him look a little bit after his cut out.

This is probably the most important point. I can't stress it enough. But it's the hardest to achieve and only hard work will let you know when the wr should look. But here's a hint at achieving the timing. Highlight the play. Look at it from different angles and see if the wr ever separates. Then look at the qb at this point… Is he ready to throw when the wr is open? If so you need to adjust the wr's look for pass to a slightly sooner time. If the qb isn't ready to throw skip down and read about how to set up your qb… He needs to be in a passing stance when the wr cuts.

Tip 5 - Proper Spacing - Where should you line up your wide receivers? Have you ever wondered why after the cut your wr doesn't have room to beat the DB? Or why the qb throws the ball out of bounds? Well, it's largely a function of the initial formation. Many times I have seen people trying to run patterns to the outside but they haven't given the wr any room to maneuver or beat the Db. If you are running a pattern that leads a wr to the outside I recommend placing the wr inside the hash marks but not so close to the Tackle that he goes into a 3 point stance. Then you have given the wr room to work outside. Not to mention it reduces the distance that the qb has to throw the ball. So less time in the air -less time for the defensive back to close on the ball.

Tip 6-Taking advantage of blitzing and aggressive coaches!. How can you abuse the aggressive coaches? This is probably the easiest play to design. Simply have a streak pattern on the far outside of each and every play. Then have the wr look for the ball about 3 yards off the LOS. Additionally, you should use a wide receiver that is not your best player on the team (to catch the owners who don't man all 5 potential receivers). Now if this wr has some strength he will beat a bump coverage as well… Thus your qb will lob a pass to a streaking wr. (Be warned some defensive coordinators mix in deep zones with bump coverage - So you can actually move this pattern inside the hash marks and the wr will catch a nice 10 yard pattern) On these plays remember to use the opposite side of the field to run your normally effective routes

Tip 7 - Adjusting to the RedZone. So how many times have you seen teams move inside the 35's (or whatever teams set the fg range at). Well, this one is a function of the length of your pass patterns. As I discussed earlier you have to have room to throw the ball or lead a wide receiver or on a comeback room to separate. Well, when you get down towards the goal line you simply run out of room. So what should you do? My recommendation is to throw the patterns that take the least amount of time to throw or the least amount of room to separate on - i.e. a quick out (timing pattern); a quick roll out where a wr is running a quick out also; a simple button hook to the TE. Or just pound the ball in on the ground when you are in the redzone. But whatever you do don't run a pattern that has the wr running a 20 yard pass pattern for crying out loud. This route will only work from outside the 15 and that's half the area in the profile editor for the red zone situations.

Quick tip - Even though this is a section on check passes, timing passes still work well in the redzone with the exception of comebacks and 25+ yard bombs. Receivers simply don't have the room to run the defender off these types of patterns. Now the wr can still handle a 10-15 yard quick out or 10 yard comeback pattern. Just remember you are working with a short field.

Tip 8 - An Acute or Obtuse problem (sorry couldn't resist the pun on angles). Up until now I have discussed things to do with the wr without touching on the types of passing routes one should run so I better cover the routes. I will run through most of the known wr routes from professional football and discuss their merits in the game. AS you will quickly learn the out patterns are the most effective in the game and it's all a game of angles.

Routes to the Middle of the Field - Before detailing these routes I need to discuss the practice of keeping backs into block. Realize that these guys draw man to man coverage from most good owners. So they only draw dbs to the middle of the field - i.e. where you are trying to pass. So you need to develop all middle pass with enough depth to clear them (8-15 yards). Secondly, if you can make a quick middle route clear the backfield of all running backs so that the middle is not congested with defenders. Other wise a 5 wr set - but make sure you can throw the pass quick enough that the qb isn't sacked (Just for safety put the qb in the shotgun)

The Post - While an effective deep pass in real football, if you have one that works over the middle in this game please send it my way. The reason it doesn't work effectively on FBPRO is simply due to the fact that dbs give the wr the outside when lining up but they take away the inside. Additionally, on most long check passes the quarterback has a rag arm. He lobs the ball and the qb just can't force it in there. (So save this route for a timing pass if you want to try it.)

The Square In - This is probably the most effective route for going over the middle. Simply have your wide receiver run about 8-10 yards up field and then square in so that he's running parallel to the line of scrimmage. (Going back to the initial positioning of the wr you want the wide receiver to be lined up outside the has mark but not on the sideline. This give the qb time to properly throw the ball. Additionally, this route is run most effective at the 8-12 yard depth for several reason. First, any middle defenders covering potential rbs blocking will be close enough to the line that the 8-12 yard depth will not allow them to catch up to the pass. Second, the qb can't throw a deeper square in since ht e separation from the db in these types of routes is minimal at best. Here's an example

Inside Inf. - Use your wr with the highest ac and ag when running a square in. Speed is not as important as the ability to turn quickly!

The middle comeback route - This type route takes time to complete since the wr has to have enough room to go down field and then comeback so that he won't run back into linebackers reading or dbs just standing around covering a blocking back. So make sure you have good blocking when running a long middle comeback route. Now, with comeback routes you want the wr to look for the pass after he starts back towards the qb. I recommend having the wr run atleast 15-20 yards down field - straight line, straight line then angle, what ever is quick. Then have the wr break straight back towards the quarterback. The most effective routes have the quarterback and the wr lined up with one another. So the pass is thrown straight ahead with little left or right movement. This cuts the air time of the pass down.

Once again use a quick and agile wrs on comebacks.

The Button Hook - This is a very effective pattern for the te. Yet, very few people ever use it. Well, let's see if I can get a few people to insert it. Here's how you do it. Have the te delay a few tenths of a second (just to catch those eager dbs that are bumping). Now he takes a few steps straight out (3 yards) then he looks for the pass. If he's been bumped it's a quick 3-7 yard gain. Now if he hasn't what do you do… Well he should continue on his straight line until the 7 or 10 yard mark. Now at this point he angles in at 45 degrees for 3 yards. Next, he runs a few yards (1-4) straight across. Finally, he runs at a 45 degree angle back towards the Line of Scrimmage. So what you have is a candy cane shaped route. (Important tip - try to have the end of the route directly in front of the qb so that the qb is throwing a straight pass to the te at the end of the route.

Insiders tip - this is the type of route I am talking about when I say people should have routes to the middle, and both sides. This can be considered a safety valve route since it takes a few seconds for the te to make the hook. But he can get open on his loop back to the qb.

The slant in - This is an ineffective route in any league that does not allow wr to fake near one another. You simply can not beat the db to the inside and have the quarterback throw the ball consistently on time. So if you want to use a slant in go to a timing attack. (I will discuss this later.) Lot's of people try to have the wr run the slant in by scrapping several wr off of one another. Stop don't even try this. You might be able to get a play to work a few times but it is not an effective pattern to use and it will kill a drive more often than it will work, not to mention the interceptions..

Going to the outside.

The Fade and out - the favorite pass of the Florida Gators and FBPRO! Like I noted above the dbs line up in such a way as to take away the middle of the field. Well, this opens up the outside to the wide receivers. So let's take advantage of the weak defense to the outside (Not a busting the AI but taking advantage of how the computer operates).

Insider's secret - Have I mentioned use a wr with good ac and agility before? Well, it applies here as well.

Here's a variety of patterns that are effective… Just look at them and you will realize why they are successful.

Play 1 simply is a v shape pattern that the wr runs inside at a slight angle and then breaks out at the same angle to the sidelines.

Play 2 beats the db on the cut in and then back out.

(I'll show more of these plays in the timing pass section - an area where you can really exploit the defense.)

Coaching a Quarterback

Tip 1 - Lining up under Center is a mistake. Why do I say this? Well, for two reasons. First, it's increases your chances of being sacked. Second, it makes it harder to find the proper timing on a play. I will tackle both of these problems now.

  1. As you probably know the middle blocking is terrible and a quick defender will simply split the gap. So just use a 5 to 10 yard shotgun formation on all your pass plays.
  2. How does this improve your timing of the plays? Well, have you ever noticed that your wr is open but your qb is moving to the place you assigned him to pass from… I can't tell you how many times I see the quarterback back peddling but the wr has already made his move. So lining the QB up in the shotgun, places the qb in the position to pass quicker!

Tip 2 - To Fake or not to Fake? Should I put in a fake pass? To be honest I see little use for the qb fake - except for slowing down the rush by getting the defenders to jump (not breaking the AI!!! IT was designed to do this) If you want to use fakes use the following guideline. If you are trying to complete a short pass - NEVER use a fake. It simply slow the qb down and the wr has already made his move. If you are throwing a deep ball it is OK to use a pump fake. (But remember the qb is more likely to fumble when pumping if hit by a defender!)

Tip 3 - Teaching the qb to view the field. A weakness in the play design is the ability to have the qb look over secondary wide receivers more than once. But you say you only sent two wide receivers out into the pattern? Here's a tip to get the qb to cycle back and forth on the two wr - simply have the qb look at one wr first and then assign check off number 2-5 to the other wr. You can also do this with 3 wide receivers in a pattern. Simply go wr 2 - check #2 and #4 and wr #3 - check #3 and #5 (or any combination you like). This technique just allows the qb to look over your wide receivers a little more.

Tip 4 - Quarterback Mobility - How should a qb move in the pocket? Should he stand around or roll out? A combination of both make your attack more versatile since a qb that can roll out makes the defense protect the corners. Now, with that said it takes more practice blocking for a roll out qb (I'll save this for the discussion of blocking)

Back to the qb roll out. A roll out can be any where from a few yards to the left or right - to the qb moving to the sidelines. So what good is a short move to the left or right? Once again it goes back to the timing of the pass (Notice that timing is even important on check passes?). If you have a wr making a move to the outside a slight qb roll can cut the distance that the ball has to be in the air down. Additionally, it might cut down on the quarterback throwing the ball to soon. (See diagram) In the above diagram the qb only rolls a few steps. But these few steps put him in a better passing lane to the wr and cut the timing of the pass down.

Tip 5 - A game of Geometry? Have you ever wondered what your geometry class was good for? Well, here's the second example of it's use in the game. Above I talked about the proper angle of the wr route. Well, a key ingredient in this recipe is where the quarterback is when he throws the ball. You want the qb to be in such a position that when he releases the ball he can throw it to a spot that the db can't get the ball. Now I know some of you are saying that's real football but the game doesn't work that way.

Well, it does in some ways. This is especially true on timing passes (I'll detail it more there). So if you are throwing to the middle you want the qb to be in a spot to lead the wr away from the db. So the qb needs to be in the middle of the field if the middle routes is to be completed before the exact middle of the field. By this I mean you want the qb in front of where the wr is running not behind.

Now, on the out patterns you don't have time to roll the qb in front of the wr unless he's crossing or running a slow route. So what you want to do is move the qb slightly left or right depending on where the primary wr is running his route. And you want the qb to be at a stand still when the wr makes his break to the outside.

Now, if you can roll the qb to the far outside then you really can lead a wr - Notice how the qb is outside the wr moving towards his sideline in this play. If the qb leads the wr any he is almost guaranteed a completion since the db is trailing and the distance to the wr has been cut down so that the pass in a quick one.

Here's an example of a stock (yes found on the cdrom) timing pass that puts the qb in such a position that the ball is in front of the wr and out of reach of a defensive back!

Tip 6- Making the qb scramble under pressure. A fellow member of the league recommends adding the run to daylight logic to any pass play so that if the quarterback is under pressure then he moves out of the pocket and scrambles. Remember to put in the logic after all of the check receiver commands. (Some leagues view this as busting the AI so check with your league first - but it doesn't give the qbs that much of an advantage when being sacked. But I am sure some commish will write this rule up and then all leagues will follow suit. Anyone ever heard of the Domino Theory of Communism - well it applies to rule making in FBPRO…just look at the format of all the new leagues rules… they simply copy an established leagues rules!)

The Timing Attacks

(So effective most leagues have outlawed them for the sake of realism! - Make better defense guys!).

Here's what I am probably best known for. But I will be the first to admit that if you rely just on these you are going to get stomped. Why do you say that since many leagues ban long timing passes?

Tip 1 - practice makes perfect. While you might think it's a lot easier to get a timing pass to work, it's not always the case. Have you checked to see if the pass will work if your backup wr has to come in? Have you checked to see if it works on mud? Or late in the game? Etc.… You get my point. Just sim a few games under different conditions and watch the entire thing to see how they holld up.

Tip 2 - Clear the spot you are throwing to with your other WR. Now, before I said keep the wr away from one another. Well, in the case of timing passes many ownere have gone to spot zones to stop these plays. Well, here's a tip to kick their butts. Simply have a faster wr run a straight line route through the spot you will be throwing to. Now, realize that the wr you are using to do this needs to clear this area before the pass is thrown. I like to have the wr atleast 5-10 yards away by the time the pass is away….. This really works great on long comeback routes that take time to throw. It's not as effective on the quick out timing patterns.

tip 3 - Adjust the play for the bump. Well, most owners have been told that the bump will take the timing passes away. Well, what does the bump do to your plays? It simply slows them down. So have the qb wait a few tenths longer to throw the ball (I have found on average it's .3 to .6 seconds on passes in the 20-30 range.) Now if the guy isn't bumping, it could be an incomplete pass. But then again fatigue could correct for this glitch later in the game.

tip 4 - Mix it up. A team that only throws timing patterns is the easiest to beat! Why? Well, they usually only throw to a Max of 3 wr.. So a good defensive coach will realize this and only cover 3 wr! Guess what this gives the defense more spot zone guys or read defenders. So what should you do? Well, I recommend three strategies. First, mix up the wr you use from week to week, and game to game. Never go to the same Wr all game long and every week. Make sure to have a few timing passes to your worst wr - who knows you might get a cheap completion and a cheap td! Second, keep the defense honest by using some check passes and run plays as well. Third, and most importantly, throw to different spots on the field. This means use the middle, use the left side, use the right, and even use the area around the numbers. IN addition to the horizontal game - make sure you mix up the depths. It's just to easy to throw 3 or 4 zones or reads across the field and stop an attack that goes to 20 yards every time. Make the timing stuff vary from 5-45 yards….. Then they have no way of spotting up at every place you throw. They have to decide which are they want to take away. In the end most will opt for the 15-25 yard area. Well, this leaves the 5-10 yard routes wide open and guess what all you need is 10 yards every 4 downs and you are moving the ball effectively!

Above is a middle pass that beats the outside zones!

tip 5 - Learn to use the lob pass. Have you ever asked yourself, what good is the lob pass? Well, that's a good question that many have yet to figure out. The lob is a great way to reduce the time it takes to throw the deep ball. But it also requires working with the play until you can get the wr to run under the ball. The best plays for the lob pass are long fade (or v shaped routes to the outside). On these routes the wr is able to run away from the db towards the spot of the pass. Additionally, it takes the ball out of the qb's hand quicker (anywhere from .3 seconds to .7 seconds - depending on the length of the pass) Now, with that said the lob is most effective on timing passes deeper than 20 yards. (Sorry guys that are in leagues that have outlawed these) Also, lobs don't work as well on quick cutting patterns. But they can be adjusted to the comeback pass…. But you just have to have a long comeback on the wr.

Tip 6 -Throw before the cut. Why are timing apsses effective in real life or this game? Well, it's simply beacues the qb and wr know where the ball is going and most man coverage guys play a wide receiver and not the ball. SO this means that the wr can make a quick cut if the ball is in the air and should be there before the db. If you throw slightly prior to the wr making his break then the db can not adjust quickly enough to make it to the spot that the ball is going to. Yet, if you throw behind or before the wr breaks then the db can react to the ball.

Insiders Tip - Here's the most important point about cutting patterns. When throwing to the spot I have mentioned you want the ball thrown before the cut. So you have to adjust how far the wr will cut out or back depending upon the depth of the pass. If the qb has to throw the ball a short distance the wr should only have to run a few yards after the cut. Yet, if the pass is longer 20-30 yards the cut out should be further. This allows the ball to be at the spot you want the wr to be. Now this does not mean that you can not have a wide receiver run a long ways on a short cut out. You might start him close to the tackle and have him cut out to the sidelines… In these cases you are trying to lead a fast wr across the field (But I think the check pases can do this almost as well)

Tip 7 - Position of the qb to the wr. As with the check passes it's important to have the qb in a proper location. So if you are throing to the outside you can have the qb roll left or right just a little (No further than the tackles though ). This can set up a better angle for the ball to be delivered. Remember the defensive backs take the inside shoulder away. So you want the improved angle on the outside angle. Now with comebacks make sure to have the quarterback set in a place when the pass needs to be thrown… But straight line passes for comebacks are better since they take less time and distance than ones that have to go from the center to the outsides. Notice in the play below the nice straight line route from the qb to the receiver.

Tip 8 - Learn to sub yourself. Above I asked the question how does the play work with subs. Well, here's a tip to keep your best wr fresh. It applies to all situations of the game. If you re throwing a timing pass you know it's going to one wr. So why bother having your #2 or #3 wr on the field, for that matter why have your #1 hb on the field. Sure these guys can draw coverage away from your #1 wr in some cases. But take the time to rest them. Then insert the #2 wr on a timing play of his own and rest the #1 wr. IN most cases a well designed timing play can beat whatever defensive back you want beat.

Tip 9 - Here's a tip for the really dedicated owners (I've actually done this a few times) Not sure how the timing will work in the second half. Well, for most patterns there's really no adverse effect. But long comebacks and patterns that require a series of cuts will be off. So here's a tip. Duplicate your plays and tag them with a 2nd half designation - normal name with a b or a 2 at the end. Yes, have plays for the first and second half.

Benching players - On a similar note I have seen a few really stacked teams make plays where their best guys never played in the first half. Then in the second half they had a second set of plays that had the better players. Most teams can't afford to do this but it really works well with wr and defensive lineman.

Providing Balance with a Ground Game

OK, if you rely on a passing game you can score a lot of points. Yet, if you are too one-dimensional you can be killed. So you need to develop a running game to keep teams honest. Before I go into the details of how to run the ball let's review a few things about the passing game. First, it's easier to throw outside than inside, the timing pass to the 15-20 yard mark is deadly, and qb roll outs are an effective way to set the qb up to find the passing lance. Why did I go over this? Simply put we are talking about using the outside to move the ball. SO let's take a step back and think - what type of running game would complement this - BINGO a middle running game. It's the spot of the field that the passing game opens up.

Now on to how to run the ball.

Blocking Schemes

Tip 1 - Lead blockers? Should you use a lead blockers to run the ball. I've said this before lead blockers are useless against man defenses. They only clog the field up - if running inside or outside. Now, if you play a team that uses zones feel free to use the lead blockers - they are great.

Tip 2 - The Art of Pulling. Very few people effectively use their lineman to block. Most simply apply some logic- pass block , lead block, or fireout, block left or right as soon as they stand up!!! STOP Don't do this!!! You are giving to much control to the OL and it's logic is poor! Ok, what should you do? Well, it depends on the type running you want to do.

  1. Inside blocking - have you ever noticed that the linemen don't really fireout… they move in ways you don't want them to. Well, I recommend drawing a short move to logic no more than a yard across the line of scrimmage. This way they truly fire out. Then assign the block logic you want. TO open up a hole make sure to have the guy on one side block left and the other block right. This way it creates a v shape hole. You can also draw the blocking scheme if you really want to increase effectiveness and have seen where the dl line up. But this takes time to properly master.
  2. Outside running. Most people assign the lead to blocking command or release to. Well, I find it more effective to use the move to command here. Simply draw a guy going parallel with the LOS scrimmage. Once he makes it to the outside point have him cut up field and then after a few yards have him block (It's hard to get him to actually pick up the guy you are wanting blocked)

Tip 3 - Never line up directly under center - Hey, didn't I stress this already? Well, it applies to running also.. By the time the qb turns around to hand the ball off he can be sacked.

Tip 4 - Quickness pays off. Have you ever watched your ol just clog up the lane you are trying to run to… Well, this is probably a function of who you have blocking on that side of the ball.. Many people neglect the Ol's sp and ac. But it's key to getting the blockers on their way. A guy that can fire out in a hurry can open up a hole quickly… So make sure to use guys fit the blocking role such as your fastest OL when pulling.

Tips from Miles - Hey sent me these and I am not sure how they work - try them out.

First, Miles stresses the importance of learning to draw Offensive lineman's movement patterns. Thus, don't just assign block logic immediately (I stressed this above)

Miles recommends a player with "pass look for" logic on will keep their man with them - yet, when you then assign block logic they fail to block properly.

Also, he suggest that if a player is used to block pass then he needs to have look for pass also - if not his man covering him will leave him and roam the field. Therefore he suggest having any backfield blockers wait a few tenths of a second before assigning a block pass command. He suggest that this allows the WRs to clear these men covering the backfield blockers (Neat tip if it works)

The Art of Running

Tip 1 - Two's a crowd in Fbpro. Sorry to tell you guys this but FBPRO is a singles game. Single back set are clearly the most effective way to run the ball. Since most top coaches cover all 5 potential receivers atleast 70% of the time it's not to effective to have full house back fields. All, they do is clog the place up! Now Combine this with the fact that the defense to stop the pass require certain techniques and you can be running effectively in no time.

Tip 2 - The Straight Path is the quickest to a spot. The most effective run I have ever seen is a simple run in between the guard and center. Why? Most defense have to commit to the outside and this leaves the middle open. While, the middle running game will not produce 30 and 40 yards runs often it can be a very effective way of chewing up 3-6 yards a play.

This play abovetakes advantage of tip 1 and 2

Tip 3 - Changing directions can fool the db. Now, when I say the straight path is the quickest I don't always mean a straight line. You can have the running back move slight to one side and then back ( a v shape) before running straight. This will have the db slightly off balanced.

Tip 4 - Draw the running back's path to mazimize his abilty to think? Have you ever seen a hb run up to the point of the path you have drawn and then stutter step or look like he's standing still? Well, let me tell you that it happens a lot. So to prevent this, draw the running path across the LOS… Especially on the outside sweeps. Now, the inside runs can sometimes be effective with a short run to path but I still prefer to control where the HB is supposed to go… It makes the guy run faster and not change his direction so much. (Yeah I know he might not break left or right to pick up those extra yards) But I try to make my runs so that they will atleast pick up 3-5 yards.

Tip 5 - Don't get greedy. When running I have heard several owners say, My running plays work ok but they never pick up the big yards. My response is SO WHAT! When running the ball your philosphy should be that I want to take 2 to 3 downs to make 10 yards. Slug it out guys…. Kill the clock, demoralize the opponents. Such an attack will keep a high flying attack on the sidelines…

PPP note - when trying to make a running profile, I have heard people say I weighted the pp around 60% run… Well, all that means is that in the situations you wanted to run in you might run 6 out of 10… Now, let's evaluate the rest of the ppp… You have 2nd down at 20 percent… Well, you are going to pass more times than run. So to really be effective at running the ball you need to weight the plays at 80% or greater if you truly want to run… This really achieves the running attack more than setting at 60%. Think about the percents in the context of the rest of your profile.

Some of the question I can't answer - Why is Beltway so Lucky or how to slow down Tuscaloosa passing offense? Sorry Jeff, these are ancient Chinese secrets!

Scouting and Testing your Plays. (This applies to the HFFL more than most leagues)

How can you effectively scout?

Tip 1 - First, you need to determine what type plays your opponent uses on defense. Does he gap the Defense line or stack them all on one side. (With the HFFL you can tell due to highlights - so watch the game film guys) Now if the opponent has a tendency to stack his dl to one side - run the ball off the opposite side tackle! Simple as that.

Tip 2 - how do you know a tendency? Well, there are a few programs out there that can aid in this. Logmate can give you a bread down of how many times a play was called and how effective it was. Now to determine when plays were called I just use a piece of paper and open up the log in a word pad. You know the down and distance criteria for the game. So simply make a box as such

1st - greater than 10

1st 6-10

1st 2-5

1st under 2

Then the same for 2nd and 3rd and 4th. Then mark off when certain defense are called. (Same strategy can be used to determine offensive tendencies.)

Tip 3 - What good is all that information I have? Well, a lot since you have highlights of the games. So you see team x calls play z on 1st down 40% of the time… Well, let's go to the game tape and find play z! Now stop and draw the defense on paper.- how far guys lineup of the line, where the dl lines up, etc.… Ok you say I don't know the logic used.

So what are you to do? Well, most teams use some pass rush or run rush logic for the dl - so that's simple enough. Now for the dbs - I bet you it's some sort of man coverage. So make sure you space the dbs far enough off the line as in the highlight. Now, if the dbs breaks towards the LOS he's bumping. If he waits for the wr he's not. Also, if a db is not moving to far from his spot and doesn't move to much left or right when a receiver comes in 10 yards of him - He's in a very small spot zone! Now, this leaves a few players to account for. The LBS! Ok, it's easy to determine if they are blitzing - they go for the qb. If they run to a spot on the field on the field that no opposition player is around they are using some sort of move to logic - move to zone, move to then read, or move to and blitz. Now, if the lbs are in a read they usually move backwards or left to right when it's a pass.

Now how do you determine the pursuit of each player - this is a quick run through - if the player breaks towards the ball he's aggressive, if he plays a parallel game with the LOS he's either balanced or conservative and if he runs backwards he definitely is conservative.

So with all of that knowledge about how player react in highlights you to should be able to design any defense. You might struggle at first but I guarantee you to can make your opponents defense.

Tip 4 - Now what do I do with this play? Well, make some offensive plays to beat it for one. Secondly I recommend this strategy. If you know the guy runs play a on 1st or 2nd name the play pass short. Then if he runs some different stuff in short yards name all those goal line pass. Now if he has some special long defense name them pass long. So you now have 3 play types and you can make a ppp to mimic your opponents. It's simple just weight the ppp on first down with the plays your opponent calls the most. Say pass short 90% on first and pass long 10%. Then in 2nd or 3rd and long uses his long defense - so the ppp would be 90 pass long and 10 pass short… Now make sure to use the copy function. Within 10 minutes you can have a ppp that's similar to his and you can run an exhibition game against what you believe to be his defenses.

Tip 5 Save the Info for Future use! You spent the time to do all that work! Now, remember to save all your opponents stuff in a new directory for each person! Why? Well more than likely in long term leagues you could play this guy again and it cuts down on preparation time. After a year or two of games you have the guys stuff ready to test new plays of your immediately. And remember those that work Hard will be rewarded with victories.

Tip 6 - Can I use these plays myself? I see no problem with it - you took the highlights and made the plays yourself. Thus, your not stealing them.

Tip 7 - The same techniques can be used to simulate and build your opponents offensive plays. SO take the time to watch both offense and defensive plays.


Well, that's all I can think of at the moment. Hopefully the text and diagrams will shed some light on how to properly run an offense. The final point that I would like to stress is that practice in the play editor is the only way to become the best you can be. Simply borrowing plays from others will not make you an effective coach since you can not fully grasp why players actually do the things they do.

Any comments, questions or insights can be sent to Stephen Hanna. I will try to update this and include more tips and details as others share with me or I learn more myself. But for the time being this guidline should help you to score atleast 30 or more a game if you properly apply the information.