Frequently asked Questions:

Consider this the Dear Abby section of the web page. So you have a tough match coming up and you can't figure out how to stop a certain type play or you can not get the offensive play to work correctly. Well fear no longer I'm here to solve your dilemma. Simply email me your question and I will try to solve your problem

Question 1: What can I do to prevent the inside blitz?

Let's start off with the most common problem - the poor blocking of the offensive line. Have you ever wondered why you give up so many sacks. Well it has to do with the way in which the linemen have been programmed to block. To prevent your two guards from moving to the outside so quickly that they allow a lane to open up to the quarterback I offer two solutions -- both are rather simple techniques. The one I prefer is a simple stop and wait for .2-.4 seconds. The second is to draw a short move to path towards the center. Try either and watch the linemen pick up those inside rushers. ( A word of caution - some defensive coordinators have started delaying their rushers - thus the ol might move outside. This present no problem if you have very quick passing routes. Yet, it can counter your ol delaying technique if you are trying to throw a longer pass)

Question 2: Should I use extra blockers to establish the run?

Well, this one is not as simple as yes or no. The type of running attack you use should use depends on the type defense you are playing. If you are facing someone that runs man to man then YOU DO NOT want the extra blockers. In fact they clog the play up. Now if you know your opponent is using zones then the extra blockers can be great since they do not draw extra man to man guys (to ensure this try and determine how your opponent covers man to man and use blockers that are low compared to your other receivers in this attribute) Now you say you want to run outside but the back keeps getting dropped by the man to man cover guy. Well that's when you use one or two of your ols to pull. (This takes time to perfect but if you can get it to work your back might be averaging 8 yards a carry.)

Question 3: What type pass routes should I use?

Well I am not going to tell you which ones to use. Sorry, but I am not going to make life that easy for you. Yet, I can tell you some that do not work. First off, any pattern that takes the receiver through a series of cuts does not work. I have seen some routes that look like a set of steps. Well all this does is give the defensive back the time to catch up with the receiver each time he cuts. At most use only two cuts in your pass routes. Keep them simple.

Second, the fly or streak patterns are poor on this game. You might have the fastest wr on the game but don't think they will out run the defensive backs enough to separate. Now if you want to throw the long ball try making the play a timed pass. Atleast you know the ball will not be thrown late or behind a wide out if you use this technique. Even on this timed pass do not have him run straight. Have him angle in and then back out.

Third, if you have wide receivers that can accelerate - you have a deadly weapon. These guys are great for outs and comebacks. Without the acceleration you do not produce the separation needed to lose the defensive player.

Fourth, the most common problem found in plays is that people believe they only have to draw one or two routes. Well not so. If you want your plays to be effective use all your wide receivers. The other wide receivers can be helpful in clearing zones and as an outlet receiver.

Question 4: How do I get to the qb with only a few pass rushers?

I've seen teams commit up to 8 defenders to the blitz. Well, this is a sure fire way to get burned. Many of the best owners have plays that have their weakest wide receiver simply running a fly down the outside. Against such a defense this guy is guaranteed 20 yards a catch since the other wide receivers will either clear the zone he is going through or they draw the 3 defensive backs in man to man. While the blitz your entire team approach works on stock plays be wary of using this against the guys in this league (Just a tip - or will you learn the hard way).

Now you say well I can't get to the quarterback - WRONG! I've seen two owners that only rush their 3 defensive lineman and average 6 sacks a game. Now it all depends on where you place your pass rushers. Once you see some highlights you will learn (I'll make you learn the hard way since the others would be mad that I gave away their secret now.) Besides using the 3 lineman you can commit 3 additional players to the blitz. But I do not recommend always blitzing 6 players. Once again the effectiveness of the 6 rushers comes from where you position your guys. As a rule though don't stick all 6 on the line and do not just stack them to the far outside. You might find this to be absurd but I have seen plays that people have stacked 6 guys on the far outside blitzing.

Question 5: How can I sack the qb if my opponent uses all but one wide receiver to block?

So your opponent has set up a seemingly impenetrable fortress around his qb. Well what he doesn't know is that the qb is just as vulnerable if you know what you are doing. Here's the solution. You have to play bump and run with your players covering the extra blockers. Then delay one of your blitzers for a few tenths of a second. The real trick is where you place your guys bumping. I want tell you the depth to put them at but don't place them deeper than 10 yards. They have to make it to the guys in the backfield before your one lone blitzers makes it. So practice, practice, practice. Now, I better warn you this aggressive style bumping can really cost you if your opponent has any quick passing routes since the guys bumping can be caught up in the line.

Question 6: So you have been burned by timing passes - what can you do?

In many leagues I would say hope and pray. By this I mean a well timed pass pattern can not be defended if you do not know the spot the ball will be thrown to. You might be able to bump the wide receiver off his path but this will not work every time (additionally bumping can cause other problems that I will discuss later). Shading deep or underneath and double teaming do nothing to stop the timing pattern. If you are playing in a league where you do not see highlights I can offer this as a helpful advice since you don't know if the play is really a timing pass to begin with. To begin with a pass pattern that average 18 yards or more to the same wide receiver each time (with the exception of substitutions) is usually a timing pass. Now you can find out the distance of the pass route - simply find the shortest of the plays in the log. Now here's where it's a guessing game - you have to draw spot zones with some of your players (see Carl's guide to defense about how you should use players). In Carl's scheme you have 3 extra players - well these are your spot zone players. I'll let you figure out how large or small to draw the zone. This is the best technique to stopping timing passes. Now with highlight you can learn the exact spot to place the zones.

Question 7: How do I defend the roll out passes?

Have you ever seen your dbs being sucked to the offensive line by a rolling out quarterback. Well many leagues call this an AI buster. Well, it isn't. It is a product of your defense. I know lot's of people say this game is not very realistic. Well, here's a case where it is. Take for example the option play in real football - or even the roll out pass. The defender has the option to contain the qb or stay with the wide receiver. Isn't this what the game is doing? If you play too aggressive and bump with your defensive players - they are sucked into the line and leave the wide receiver open. If you play conservative they stay with the wide receiver. Wow! - it's like real football. Only problem is that the bump is good against breaking up the timing of pass routes. So the best coaches mix roll outs in with timing passes. Are they taking advantage of the AI or just diversifying their offense? It's your call but it is realistic in some ways.

(With all this said I know people that argue that dropping the qb way back and rolling him is illegal since the defense will not rush him. Well, once again it depends on how you have your defensive players covering.)

An additional technique to defending the outside run or roll out is to have your two outside linebackers about 5-8 yards outside your defensive line. Now you can either have them stop and wait for .5-1.0 seconds and then read. Or you can draw a short path (straight into the backfield, not angling in to the original spot of the qb - you want to be where he's going.) to the offensive side of the ball. And then read or blitz. This prevents the linebacker from being sucked towards the ball carrier. Once the qb breaks the pocket then it is considered a running play (especially on a timing pass - every noticed how your qb has negative yards rushing if you drop him back on timing passes a lot). IF you have your lbs or whoever outside with run pursuit aggressive he will go for the qb. Now you might say the run pursuit aggressive will cause the linebacker to be sucked inside on the outside runs. Well, simply increase the initial stop and wait to around .8-1.2 sec. Just figure out from the highlights exactly how long it takes to get a runningback outside and delay your lbs that long.

Question 8: How do I get my check receiver passes to work properly?

Does your qb throw the ball too early or late on the check receiver routes? Well, it's because you either have your wide receivers beginning to look for a pass too early or too late. THE best way to find when a wide receiver should look can be achieved by isolating the cameras on the wide receiver and finding out when he is usually open. Then simply have him look for the pass a several yards prior to this point. In many cases it will be right after his break. So don't have him look until after the break.

Question 9: How do I effectively shut down an outside running team?

As many of you know the key to running is an outside rushing attack. But this type of running game is the easiest to shut down. First off use the lber technique I described in stopping the roll out. Next you can man your strongest defensive back on the running back (if the running back is very good you might want to commit one of your linebackers as well - I recommend your middle linebacker).

So you have done this and your players get caught up in the offensive line. Well, as I have described above it's a product of what you have told your defensive players to do. To stop the outside runs you do not want to pursue aggressively. You want to string the play out. To do this have your guys covering either run balanced or run conservative. IF you have them set at run aggressive the defensive players will charge the ball and not track where the play is going. Thus, you can have all your defenders inside when they need to be outside. Remember the coverage you assign your lbers and defensive backs is critical in this game. The more aggressive you play the more likely you are to drop someone for a loss but you are also more vulnerable to the long play. In addition to the coverage type change the depth of your players and see which depth is the most effective at lining players up at. (I'll give you a clue don't line them up on the line and 10 yards is too deep.)

Question 10; One of the advantages of this league is the highlights - what good are they?

If you want to know what your opponent does - Watch the VCR films!!! Hey I might even give out random HFFL dollars each week to those that watch them or design a play from a highlight… So why should you watch? First, you will learn what play types people run. After watching lots of plays you will be able to tell if the pass is a timing route or check receivers route, or if the team plays man to man or zones. Hey, maybe your opponent doesn't cover all the wide receivers (This is something that can be exploited!). See the highlights tell you more about who you play than pass or run.

Second, there's nothing in the rules that state that you can't take the highlights and design a defense to stop the play or maybe even design an offensive play to beat the defense. That's the whole point of providing highlights. On top of this you can even try your hand at making your opponents plays from the highlights. Overall, you will learn a lot about play design if you watch these highlights. You will see a lot of similarities in the play design of those of us from the fpfl - a couple of us did use the highlights for this purpose. Check out how similar the defenses are.

Question 11: How can I beat the all out blitz - more than 6?

Well, I hate to do this to those of you that blitz more than 6 men. It's as simple as a numbers game. Can your qb hit a wide open receiver before the rushers get to him. Well, here's a tip - simple spread your worst reciever to the far side of the field. Have him look for the pass a couple of yards off the line and send him on a fly pattern. If the computer covers him he won't be thrownto. Yet, if left open it should go for a fair gain. What should you do with the rest of your wr - well I recommend putting this simple pass pattern in all of your check receiver routes, so draw your other routes as usual. Try it on those guys that blitz all out. Believe me it will calm them down real quick if you hit the poorest wide receiver on your team a few times. (To make this even more effective against the all out blitzers - put the weakest wr on one side of the center without another wr to that side. If the pass defenders are assigned man to man. Believe me this technique will force people to cover all 5 potential receivers.

Question 12: How can you scout from logs without any highlights?

The biggest complaint of many is that you don't know how to stop certain types attacks since you can't see their plays. How can I defend against those quick cutting passes? Or how can I shut a running team down? Well here's a few tips to improve your reading of log files. Remember above I talked about stopping timming passes based on yardage? Well this applies to all types of passing attacks. The log file will usually tell you what the average distance of a completed pass route is (if you don't want to do this by hand - use logmate to estimate the distance). If a team averages throwing to 10 yards - you should double this area with some spot zones. If you know a team runs a lot - it's a good indicator that they might run outside. Well, you can simply zone or read the outside lb's. Remember the log files can tell you a lot about another team if you apply what you know about the game. Think about it - most of us know that out patterns work better than in-routes. So where should your spot zones go? We know that long runs occur outside more than inside - so if a team is ripping off long runs he's usually running outside. If you take time to read or analize the log files you might be surprised what you could do to your opposing opponent (if he runs a similar attack each week - this is thrown out when you face those that offer a multiple looks. Sorry but those guys open up a new can of worms)

Additionally you can tell if a team throws timing passes or check wide receiver routes by the yardage that the quarterback rushes for. Check out the stats of the Carolina Tigers - his quarterback will always rush for negative yards. Now he does not have any runs with his quarterback. He just uses a lot of timing passes in which his qb is sometimes sacked (but the game credits it as a run for a loss). If a team is sacked a lot then they are using check routes. If the qb has no sackes but negative yards rushing this is a very good sign of a timing attack.

Question 13: How do I get all these techniques to work?

Well, that's the art of being a good coach. First you have to scout. Know the opponents tendencies - not just run or pass - know if he runs outside, inside, uses timing passes or check patterns.

Second you better have a profile that will call the proper plays when needed. You are never going to be able to stop all the plays all the time. But take away someone's best play. IF the person throws the ball a lot - make him run. If he runs outside, simply sit your lbs outside in a read and watch his attack fizzle. Do not believe that you can dictate what the offense does on this game. You have to react to what you believe the offense will be using against you.

Any more question send them my way and I will attempt to answer them without giving you the exact details on play design. You will find all of that in the VCR files once the season starts.

All pages maintained by: Stephen Hanna
pages last updated on Nov 17,1996.