Understanding Offensive and Defensive Football
Would you try to cut the wire on a ticking time bomb if you didn’t have a general understanding on how it worked?
Let me start by saying I just received my copy of Developing a Defensive Gameplan by Kenny Ratledge. This is a very detailed book, and the very first thing I noticed about this was that over half of this book was dedicated to understanding offense.
That inspired this post. I’ve run into a problem with some coaches recently, and I hope its not a trend. Offensive coaches don’t want to really learn defense, and defensive coaches don’t want to learn offense. This is very disturbing to me. I love both sides of the ball. I’ve been born and raised as an offensive coach (I played offensive line, I’ve coached offensive line and runningbacks). However, I’ve also coached linebackers and defensive line in my short coaching career. I truly love both sides of the football.
The Problem – Football Coaches Don’t Respect The Other Side
However, more and more coaches seem so interested in their side of the ball, it’s disgusting. These aren’t simply young coaches, they are experienced coaches too! On top of that, some have been very successful at the high school level, and some have done very poorly. As I mentioned in my film analysis posts where I look into both Defensive Game Film Analysis and Offensive Game Film Analysis, a coach must thoroughly understand both themselves and their opponent. Only then can you put together a sound game plan and really understand what the tape is showing you.
Even if I was simply an offensive line coach, I would still have purchased several books. I own a book one the basics of almost every defense imaginable, the over, the under, the 30 stack (multiple books on this since it’s a pain in the butt to block), the eagle, the 46. I’ve read books by Arnsparger,Vanderlinden and Fritz Shurmur. I truly try to understand play calling philosophies, run fronts, secondary run support, and what defensive coaches love about their defense. On Coach Huey’s Football Forum, which I highly recommend, I constantly read the defensive thread. I want to understand all the nooks and crannies so I can exploit them.
How Football Basics and Fundamentals Play In
Teaching Young Coaches
I understand that most young coaches make a crucial mistake in their early years. They learn the X’s and O’s, and forget the fundamentals. I humbly disagree and offer this ammendment. Most young coaches learn the side of the football they played in and know it well from their position’s perspective. Why? Because they are comfortable and confident. Instead, experienced coaches should encourage these kids to simply learn the fundamentals from a position on the other side of the football. This will accomplish a few things, it will make a young overconfident coach shut his trap as he learns the other side of the ball. On the other hand, it will also encourage that young coach to understand this completely different perspective. Suddenly, his eyes will open up. This will breed success in your program as you develop coaches. Take that with a grain a salt of coarse, as I am not a head coach, however, I strongly believe in this philosophy.
Perhaps hidden in the concept of moving a young coach to the other side of the ball is the fact that he will need to learn the fundamentals of that position. By doing that, it will take him to back to basics approach. Suddenly, he won’t have all the answers and can’t use all the drills he learned when he played. He now has to rely on older, more experienced coaches or other resources in order to accomplish his daily tasks with his position group. This will take away time where he will be drawing x’s and o’s or looking for the latest and greatest play in a book.
Helping Experienced Coaches
By understanding the other side of the ball, you can put your kids in the best position to succeed as you break down film and on game day. As an offensive line coach, I try to obviously watch the blocking but also who makes the tackle. If I understand the defense in it’s fundamental form, I can figure out what their game plan is or what their kids are taught, and I can defeat that scheme and put our athletes in the best position to win. For instance, if the safety on the backside of an Under front is making a whole lot of plays as we cut back, then I know I need to get him out of the box. I need to manipulate my formations or have the offensive co-ordinator adjust his play calling to accomplish this. Maybe I go into a twins look to force the safety out of the box or run a drag route with the tight end where that safety used to be.
However, if I didn’t understand the defense, I couldn’t make these assumptions. I could make some assumptions about why he’s making the tackle, but I could very well be wrong. This could easily put our kids in a very poor position to be successful.
From a defensive coach’s perspective, understanding offensive football is a must. That is why over HALF of Kenny Ratledge and a great deal of other books and real defensive playbooks you may come across online are focused on offense. Giving the kids and your coaching staff common language for understanding formations, routes, philosophies, plays, and blocking schemes are critical for your success on the football field. Spending the little bit of time to go over this is crucial for your success as a defensive coach.
Conclusion – Understanding the Whole Picture
By understanding the whole picture, you will become a better coach. Not only will it help you understand how to put your kids in the best position to be successful, but it will help you become more well rounded. If you hope to become a head coach some day, this is crucial as you develop your own personal philosophies on football. In addition, even if you don’t become a head coach, it will help you interact with coaches from the other side of the football. Often times, they are your best tool to understanding that perspective of the game and many coaches fail to utilize their comrades from across the line of scrimage.
Essentially you need to make sure you understand if it’s the blue wire or the red wire your going to cut before you disarm that bomb.