Book Review: Recoded and Reloaded
In my library of resources, I have books that I re-read and refer back to every off season. Primarily these are books that provide a sound offensive structure for incorporating an offensive idea, and give the details to make those ideas successful. Dan’ s first book, Concept Passing: Teaching the Modern Passing Game is one of those resources. He didn’t necessarily present any information that was new to me from a passing play perspective, but he did present it in a very clear, concise, and logical manner structured in a way that allowed me to think differently about those pass plays. Dan’s new book, Recoded and Reloaded: An Updated Structure for a Complete Pass Offense at Any Level is another resource that provides a logical structure for offense and a new way to look at the passing game.
Dan began this project, or “experiment” as he calls it, with the idea that he wanted to make the offensive structure so simple that an eight year old, particularly his son, could understand it. Dan’s first book illustrated nine different concepts and how they fit into an offensive system. While I loved how each concept was taught and how the system was built, nine concepts were too cumbersome for me to carry in an offense. Spurred by Dan’s organization and concept based teaching, I found a way to fit everything that we needed in our passing game into five concepts. I never fully adopted Dan’s system or terminology, but his first book had a huge influence on how I thought about passing.
One aspect I especially liked was that Dan set up structures in the passing game that allowed his quarterback to move through a specific progression using footwork as the timing. If you stand behind me at practice you will constantly hear that coaching point being reiterated to my quarterbacks, “Take your eyes and feet through the progression.” Gonzalez’s details for each concept made it easy to translate to a quarterback. There are other resources out there that give even more detail on those types of things and in defining the idea of “open receiver” and provide more of an operating system for any concept. Both of Dan’s books are tailored to setting up concepts to attack the defense and remain focused on that. The whole idea of both of Gonzalez’s books are to provide a structure of a passing game attack that allows for multiplicity while providing a consistent teaching/coaching model.
Recoded and Reloaded goes a step further than Concept Passing. In today’s modern game, the need to be streamlined in order to operate at faster tempos is necessary. The challenge for any offensive coordinator is to balance the number of answers needed to attack a defense with simplicity. What I’ve found through studying materials is that structure and design of a system, when done properly, allow a coordinator to have the flexibility of many answers by design while translating that to a simple game plan that is practiced and performed efficiently on game day.
Dan’s “experiment” does just that. He took nine concepts and found commonalities that allowed him streamline the passing game even further than he previously designed is system. This was done with the player in mind. Any good system is user friendly. In order for it to work, it must be simple for the players to use. Dan points out that streamlining for most coaches means paring down what is used by discarding it. The problem with that is that it takes away answers for an offense. He makes the point that the goal of streamlining a passing game is to maintain access to virtually any pattern structure. This allows for adjusting to personnel from season to season while staying out of a “grab bag” mentality of offense. The challenge is really put back on the coaches to mix and match patterns so that they attack a defense in an optimal way. The structure maintains the consistency from week to week and season to season for the player and coaches.
The book gets into the nuts and bolts of the system by explaining and illustrating a tightly integrated formation system. While most formation systems base out of an “I” formation, this one begins with a four wide receiver environment and gives simple rules for any substitute based on the type of player and his role (fullback, tight end, h-back). It’s helpful to read this section for a basic understanding of how plays are called in the book, but not necessary if you don’t have an interest in adapting a new formation system. It is a great resources though, and it certainly spurs some thought on how well your own formations adapt to different personnel and affect the teaching of concepts.
From this point on, the book explains some sound rationale for how pass concepts should be created to properly stretch a defense. This leads into the “recode” and how everything boils down to three advantage principles and three read concepts. An advantage principle is the first area that is being attacked with the pass play. This can be done with a single route or with a combination of routes. The remaining routes are distributed in a way that create a line of sight for the quarterback and a specific rhythm for his eyes and feet, exactly like that described in he first book. As Dan progresses further into the book he explains the benefits of using three advantage principles and three read concepts in how they translate into practice drills. There certainly is an efficiency and carry over created in having a very flexible system that can throw many different variations at a defense over the course of a season while remaining simple in the players’ eyes.
The terminology for play calling and structural tags is simple to understand and use. The idea of creating a backside combination or stretch of the defense with what is termed “third fix” was of most interest to me. It really brings the fourth and fifth receiver into play by making them a part of the passing structure instead of an afterthought. It takes the idea of “dead routes” out of the passing game and makes all five receivers a legitimate target for the quarterback while giving him a simple and logical progression to get there. When tied to protection and back releases, both detailed and illustrated in the book, it’s easy to create a passing play with the method described.
Gonzalez also spends time on explaining the scramble and its importance in the passing game. He gives specific rules to receivers with sound rationale on why and how they should react when the quarterback goes into a scramble.
A portion of the book goes into the practical side showings reader exactly how the system works in assembling a pass call. Understanding this allows any coach to assemble a pass play in a way that it will remain simple for the players because of the structure. Finally, a recommended installation plan is given and discussed.
Recoded and Reloaded: An Updated Structure for a Complete Pass Offense at Any Level will provoke thought for how you have created a structure. It’s a sound system that can be incorporated in its entirety as described in he book. For many if us though, it’s a resource that can give us advantages in tweaking the design of our own system to be streamlined and player friendly. The best offenses today probably don’t look much different on the surface. If you took cut-up from one team to the next you would see many similar offensive plays. The advantage is gained for a team when it finds a way to blend simplicity and flexibility in its attack while giving the players a simple way to do all of it through a structure that creates a very clear picture in their minds through both communication of the concepts (how it’s taught) and repetition of concepts in practice. Dan Gonzalez book provides a resource that can help you do exactly that.
Get Dan’s book here:
My book 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays is available for your iPad through the iBookstore: