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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Colts Stretch Play

I got this from, guess who, Bill Mountjoy. The Colts and their offense are constantly being discussed. Obviously, they have great personnel with four very good receivers including their tight end, one of the best single backs in the league, and a $60 million quarterback to put them in the correct play every down. However, it is still worth analyzing a bit what they do.

Their favorite run play is the stretch play, also known as the outside zone. They are also extremely effective at play action passing off the stretch action, where Peyton Manning makes those great run fakes that the announcers go crazy about. (From what I can tell their favorite routes from their play action from the stretch are post/dig, double posts, and post/corner/post combinations).

Anyway, they run their stretch a bit differently, since instead having everyone step and reach playside and getting movement that way, they run a kind of "pin and pull" scheme, which at the college level the Minnesota Golden Gophers also run with great success.

The diagrams/explanation is not directly from the Colts but it is what they do.


The Indianapolis Colts and The "Pin and Pull" Stretch Play


[In this terminology, the play is called "flex."]

FLEX is a strong side play.

The aiming point for the Single Back is 1 yard outside of the TE.

If the “A” is play side he is responsible for blocking the force (strong safety) defender.

If the “A” is aligned on the backside of the play he must start on an inside path and block the most dangerous pursuing defender
After the exchange the QB will set-up like he does on PISTOL protection

If the “A” is in motion prior to the snap and we want him to block the force defender on the play side we will call FLEX BOSS.

BOSS means Back On Strong Safety

Against "Under"

If the Center can reach the Nose he will make a “YOU” call to the Strong Guard telling the Strong Guard to pull and block the M(ike) linebacker.

The Strong Tackle and Tight End will “TEX”. The TE must block DOWN and not allow any penetration. The Strong Tackle needs to pull and RUN TO REACH the S(am) linebacker.

Against "Loaded"

If the Center cannot reach the Nose he will make a “ME” call to the strong guard telling him to block the Nose and the Center will pull to block the M(ike).

The Strong Guard must block DOWN and not allow the Nose to penetrate.

The Strong Tackle and the TE will “TEX," as described above.

Against "Adjusted 4-3"

The Tight End is responsible for blocking the DE wherever he aligns.

The Strong Tackle is responsible for pulling and blocking the SLB’er wherever he aligns. Stay square and see the Sam linebacker during the pull.

The Center is responsible for blocking the Mike linebacker. The Quick Guard has a difficult block and must be prepared to SCRAMBLE block the Nose.

Against "4-3 Wide"

The Tight End is responsible for blocking the DE wherever he aligns. STEP-CROSS-STEP to reach the DE.

The Strong Tackle is responsible for pulling and blocking the Sam linebacker. Stay square and see the Sam linebacker during the pull - you could go around OR inside of the TE’s block.

The Center is responsible for blocking the Mike linebacker & the Quick Guard blocks the Nose.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Charlie Weis - Run and Shooter?

Obviously Charlie Weis is not a run and shoot coach, and, having studied some of his New England stuff it does not really resemble much of the run and shoot packages. The more likely theory that his offense is sort of an amalgamation of common and traditional NFL tactics. Do it simple; do it well. Coach Mountjoy has pointed out some of the evolution in his offense that began when Weis coached with current Carolina coordinator Dan Henning, but I am not an expert.

Anyway, though, this quote was interesting from a recent press conference:

Q. Coach, after watching Saturday, this question begs to be asked: Did your career path ever intersect with Mouse Davis?

COACH WEIS: I did visit with Mouse Davis back in South Carolina when we had the run and shoot. We talked to Mouse Davis, we talked to John Jenkins not Father John Jenkins, by the way Mouse Davis, John Jenkins, those run and shoot guys. Yes, we went from the veer to the run and shoot at South Carolina. We spent some time with all of those run and shoot guys.

Q. Was influences of that evident on Saturday?

COACH WEIS: No. What you saw Saturday [ND did a lot of 5 wide stuff and quick three step passes], first of all, run and shoot always has a back in the backfield. It's either a two by two or three by one, which trips are spread; okay, that's number one. And you always have a run element, so empty (backfield) really doesn't come into play.

If you talk about the look passes [the one step hitch] and swings that we throw in the game, that's just an evolvement from check with me(s) that we've been running over the years.

I would not have thought that Weis had been involved with "the shoot," but it isn't susprising that he is well versed in lots of football offense. While studying the Run and shoot won't give you much insight into what Weis is doing now, it's still a sophisticated offense and an understanding of the run and shoot, why it worked so well and for so long, and some of the defensive reactions and reasons why it isn't as popular anymore (though most of the diehard shooters will tell you it is simply from a lack of commitment) is as good an introduction into the passing game and modern football as you're going to get.

Further, the first time I coached on a pass-first team was with a run and shoot squad: I coached receivers, slotbacks, and defensive ends (outside linebackers) on a small squad.

The best run and shoot resources are Al Black's book, listed on the right side of the menu. The chucknduck site has diagrams of the 6 main packages vs. the relevant defenses. Tommy Browder has a website with diagrams and explanations of the tradition R&S pass protection, screen game, etc (note the midi that plays when you go to it, I think that website is or is getting close to 10 years old).

Footnote: the "go" with its "middle read route" has become, in various forms, a staple of nearly every offense, and "the switch" is still maybe one of the most explosive pass plays you can put in. Ironically, the most vivid recent memory I have of "the switch" is that in the Super Bowl that the Rams lost to the Patriots, the Rams' TD that put them ahead to set up Brady (and Weis's) game winning field goal drive was a touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl on, you guessed it, the switch.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hal Mumme's Airraid Practice Plan

I got this from Coach Mountjoy. (As I get so many good things from him. BTW he will be speaking at the upcoming MEGA Clinic, I'd suggest to anyone who can to go.)

Mumme isn't having a wonderful season right now in his first season back in D-1, but it will give you pause to think that four offensive coaches from the 1997-1998 Kentucky staff are all Head Coaches: Mumme himself, Mike Leach at Texas Tech, Guy Morris at Baylor, and Coach Hatcher at Valdosta St. D-II (who is having arguably the best success of them all with a Nat'l title and currently undefeated).

Lots of coaches who email me and contact me ask about the passing game, and probably even more important than schemes are how to install it and practice it. This is one of the best explanations I've come across.

If you want to install the Airraid offense I would suggest buying the Valdosta tapes where they discuss drills and plays, using this practice plan, and contact the Texas Tech staff about visiting their spring practice and/or discussing football with them. You'll learn quite a bit. (Also, from what I understand BYU is basically running a form of the Airraid now, since their OC was from T. Tech).


Practicing the Multiple Receiver Offense

Practice schedules and drills for the pass offense are not a lot different than those for the conventional offense but I believe a great deal of thought and preparation must be done to achieve success. In the “Air Raid” offense I have used for many years at several different levels certain nuisances have lent themselves to practicing well. I will detail these things in the article with hope it will help you.

Make Practice Consistent

The pass offense depends much on timing and chemistry between players i.e. QB and WR on route, this makes consistent practice a must. I always tried to erase doubt in the players’ minds as to what would be done in practice on any given day. I endeavored to make all the Mondays the same, all the Tuesdays the same, etc. By keeping a consistent practice schedule through each game week of the season our players could gear up mentally for the tasks to be accomplished in each segment of practice. To give an example, our individual drills were all done the same way and same segment of each day's work out. Consistent practice makes for consistent reps, which make for great reps, which makes for great play.

Practice Success

That old saying about you play like you practice is true. It was always my belief that five great reps of anything were worth more than ten mediocre reps. With this in mind, I encouraged our players to slow down their reps but to do them great. For example, if you have a QB and two WR working on the curl route don’t rush through the drill just so you can say you got ten reps. It will be a lot more productive to have the WR walk back between reps, take there time, and have five great curl routes each one perfect. Hustle is fine but is not the only ingredient. Practice successful reps even if it means fewer reps.

I never wanted to practice anything that a player could not visualize doing in a game. The successful coach should look at every drill - be it individual, group, or team type - and ask himself if this will happen in a game. If this answer is no, throw it out, it is wasted motion, which means lost time. The only resource that cannot be replaced is time. Knowing you can eliminate poor drills, look at the fruitful drills. Take each one and study how you can make them more game-like. For example, our “Air Raid” offense depended greatly on multiple sets, player groupings, and the no huddle attack. With those parameters, I decided to make all of our team offense drills more game-like by having the sideline coaches and players box painted on our practice field and requiring all our coaches and players to work and sub from where they would in the game on Saturday. This greatly enhanced the efficient use of subs and made delay of game penalties unheard of in our offense. I believe players will perform better in games if they can visualize what it will be like therefore practice game-like events.

Practice for the Unplanned Event

Every coach loves that play which happened just the way he drew it up. To be honest about it though, those are more rare than ordinary. This is particularly true in the pass offense. Practicing contingency football is very important. I would take each of our pass plays and draw up what would happen if our QB were forced to scramble to his right and then repeat the process with a scramble left. I would drill this about ten minutes per a week to make sure everyone knew where to go on the field if the QB scrambled right or left. I had landmarks for each receiver and the offense of line and running backs had specific duties. Our teams often made spectacular plays when the opponent’s defense played its best and forced our QB from the pocket. We turned our lemons into lemonade so to speak because we practiced the unplanned event.

Practice Organization is crucial to having an effective multiple receiver pass attack.

Practice Making the Big Play

Scores happen because players expect them to take place. I have certain things I want accomplished on each play from each player but the bottom line is to score. With that in mind, I made it mandatory that whomever ended up with the ball on any play had to cross the goal. In other words, our players scored on every play in practice, from individual drill right through team. I wanted all of the players to expect to score on every play. This takes some patience since the coach has to give the ball carrier time to return from the sprint to the goal. The results are worthwhile, as big plays can become habit.

Plan Success

All the practice habits described can be planned into workouts. The best time to plan workouts for the season is in the summer when the pressure is off. For this reason all of the workouts for the entire fall including bowl games or playoffs I planned in July. They were organized by day of the week and placed in a large binder to be used as needed on a daily basis. It was always amazing how few changes had to be made and how consistent our offense would become due to this planning. The most important time during the game week are the moments coaches spend with their players. By not having to devote daily time to planning practice schedules the coach has more time to spend with the players. Success can be planned well in advance.

Basic “Air Raid” Weekly Schedule-Season


90 min. view previous game

30 min. dress-warm-up

40 min. special teams review

20 min. individual drills

30 min. walk through game plan

30 min. watch video of upcoming opponent


30 min. watch video of upcoming opponent

15 min. warm-up

15 min. special teams/individual time for uninvolved

20 min. individual drills

10 min. group routes on air/OL individual drills

10 min. one on one DB-WR/inside drill

10 min. team screens

5 min. special teams

20 min. pass skel

25 min. team offense: coming off goal, open field, third and short, FGS

30 min. individual meet watch days work-out


30 min. watch video of upcoming opponent

15 min. warm-up

15 min. special teams/individual time for uninvolved

20 min. individual

10 min. one on one DB-WR/inside drill

20 min. pass skel

55 min. team: goal line, red zone, third and long, open field, punt

30 min. individual meet watch days work-out


20 min. team meet watch previous days team video

10 min. individual meet study opponents

15 min. warm-up

35 min. special teams/individual for uninvolved

10 min. individual

10 min. team scramble drill

55 min. team game plan

10 min. sideline sub special teams

No meetings after practice


Travel and meetings