Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Aug 2012

The Total Package

Over at Grantland, Chris Brown writes about the spread of "package" plays, Tecmo Bowl, and how offense is increasingly being dictated at the line of scrimmage.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 21 Aug 2012

11 comments, Last at 28 Aug 2012, 3:00pm by Dean


by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 4:33pm

I see Grantland continues to report on the sun rising in the east.

1. Tactics which rely on referees refusing to enforce the rules tend to be short-lived in nature. Eventually, someone will convince the officials to actually call ineligible downfield correctly -- college rules are not NFL rules
2. Run-pass options in the same blocking scheme are not new. The single-wing had option-passes.
3. There's a book on how defenses dealt with the Bills hurry-up K-Gun. There will be a book about how they dealt with this one.
4. For chrissakes, there's still a difference between running and passing. I don't even know where to begin with that slack-jawed jackassery.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 8:48pm

In response :

1. Agreed. If coaches are taking too much advantage of an uncalled penalty it will start to be called. But I don't think it would ultimately affect the viability of the play-calling.

2. Sure... but I'd guess most current fans have not thought about run-pass options.

3. He never claimed defenses couldn't adjust, although there was some hyperbole going on there.

4. He didn't say they were actually the same - just that they're available on the same play. So in that way the play call is not a run or a pass. I think it would have been better stated that the QB is not given a final play call, but is given a set of options, and makes the final call himself. It's different than an audible, then, only in terms of how many people on the offense need to know what's actually going to happen on the play. In some cases only the QB knows, and everyone else runs the same play regardless.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 7:59am

I'm not convinced #1 is an actual concern. Even in the NFL, you get a yard. If the run is from shotgun (and this play type only really works from shotgun because the QB has to see the D to read it) and a quick pass option - its unlikely a lineman will get more than a yard downfield in the time it takes for the QB to decide to be throwing the ball - the action to start throwing the ball is going to come almost instantly after the snap.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 12:49pm

Incorporating post #6 as well:

The OSU play presented is a triple option consisting of dive/draw-bubble screen-fade. I suspect the three yards given to college linemen on screens is greatly beneficial to both the draw and the fade, because the linemen are pushing forward and don't know whether it's a run or a pass.

The other comment I thought was interesting was that the Oklahoma defense wasn't rushing. That's a boon for the fade route (which takes some time), but not as beneficial for the draw or the screen, which tend to prefer the defensive line blindly rushing upfield like Jim Washburn is running things.

Defenses can have weaknesses so long as they know what their weaknesses are. Keybreaking is an old concept, as is the robber. Iowa State gave OSU fits in that game by letting the d-line handle the inside run, and having their corners play press, which screwed up the spacing for the bubble screen and the timing for the fade. It's not like Weeden was going to run the ball. This is probably harder to solve with a running QB, but that's an old observation as well. A QB who can run has always been a problem for defenses. Fortunately, healthy versions who can also reliably throw are rare.

Incidentally, a defense running a Landry flex front could be a problem for trying to pass from a run-blocking line scheme -- the tackles are a yard downfield by the time they even engage the defensive linemen.

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 11:58am

Having the smoke route or quick slant on the backside of a running play seems to have been in playbooks for about the past 10 years.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 9:40pm

My only observation is to note that the ineligible receiver downfield flag was thrown 3 times in the first half of the Lions-Ravens preseason game, which I thought was noteworthy. (Twice against he Lions, once against the Ravens.). If the rule is being enforced it's being enforced erratically, probably not much differently than in the past, and maybe more strictly with the reps.

by clark :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 12:09pm

All three of those calls were on players who were supposed to be eligible, but were covered by guys who lined up on the line of scrimmage by mistake.

by akn :: Tue, 08/21/2012 - 7:23pm

Was this an article or an advertisement?

I lost count of the number of times the writer linked back to his own website.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 7:10pm

I take it you don't read Chris Brown's work regularly? He recently started writing for Grantland, and he's always used references to earlier posts in his work.

by Podge (not verified) :: Wed, 08/22/2012 - 8:12am

A lot of this seems like a natural development of the option play, but in a more passing environment. The option is a run that looks at what the defence is trying to stop and tries to go the other way. This seems like the same concept.

by Dean :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:00pm

An article which uses video games to explain football rather than using football to explain football? No wonder Barnwell went over there.