Thursday, May 19, 2011
Playbooks, get your playbooks right here
By Mike Sando
Our recent discussions on playbooks and Bill Walsh's hiring recalled the days when one of my favorite football sites, one dedicated entirely to the West Coast offense, made available resources that could not readily be found elsewhere.
Years ago, when covering Mike Holmgren's teams as a beat reporter, I had downloaded a West Coast playbook from the site, a playbook I referenced in the video that appeared here Wednesday.
Turns out westcoastoffense.com is back online. The site is a terrific resource even though -- and sometimes because -- information dates back decades. Check out this excerpt from a Walsh speech to high school coaches:
"If you are talking about offensive football, the running game is the most vital part of the game, but when you talk about your running game, what you are saying is you have to be able to run when you are backed up. You have to be able to run on third-and-3, you have to be able to run on short yardage. You have to be able to run through tough situations. In the professional level, the forward pass dominates the rest of the game. But if you can't run in tough situations, your chances of success are minimal.
"So what do we do? We take a sheet and list our first 25 plays. ... You start the game with the first 25 plays, but now it is third-and-3. You turn the sheet over and go to the third-and-3 list. You have listed the plays in the order that you would call them on third-and-3. You take it; turn the sheet over and go to your next play. Trouble, long yardage -- you turn the sheet over and go to the long-yardage category. Punt, get the ball back.
"You have your first 25 plays listed, but of course, somewhere in here you are going to be backed up. You have the ball on your 1-yard line; so don't fight it. Turn over the sheet and look at your BACKED UP OFFENSIVE PLAYS. You make a first down, turn the sheet over and now we are on play number five. It works; go to number six.
"Oh, you got to the 20-yard line. You have another choice now. You can stay with your original list, which might have been a basic run; or you can decide to try to get into the end zone with a pass. Say you don't quite make it and you are on the 8-yard line. You are on the 6-inch line. You look at these categories. You score a touchdown. By the time you get back to the sheet, you are behind 21-7, but don 't worry about it. You have a lot of plays on your list to call.
"This is a way to pre-plan the game. We feel pretty solid about this."
The idea was to make the tough decisions during the week, before coaches found themselves mired in stressful and confusing game situations.
Westcoastoffense.com opens a window into how and why coaches think what they think. Separately, the playbook discussion we had on the blog Wednesday produced another welcome find -- an old St. Louis Rams playbook (the file is about 20 MB).
Looks like the play clock is running low. Better break the huddle here.
Enjoy your summer reading and remember, run those dagger routes at 18 yards.