In the AFC Championship game while operating from no huddle procedures, Peyton Manning checked to the run against against a two high safety look with man coverage underneath. The check at the line both times sounded like “Bash Montana Batman.” Both checks occurred during touchdown drives.
The first was in the 2nd quarter on a 3rd & 10. The play resulted in a 28 yard gain and put the Broncos in the Red Zone. The Patriots definitely left themselves exposed inside and Manning took advantage of it. The blocking scheme and the play can be seen below.
The second time Manning checked “Bash Montana Batman” was in the 3rd quarter on a 1st & 10 against the same coverage but a different front. This time one linebacker was in the box, but the blocking angles and numbers favored a run inside for the Broncos. Again, Manning recognized the defense and made the check resulting in a 7 yard gain.
The point in illustrating these checks is not necessarily show how to attack cover two man, but rather to discuss the procedures that are being used. No huddle dominates offense at every level now. A popular procedure is for the offense to align and go through a false cadence to elicit any movement or rotation by the defense, and confirm what the defense may be trying to do. The offense then looks to the sideline for a signal telling them to stick with the original call or change the play.
This is a procedure we used frequently in the 2010 season. The entire year I kept waiting for the defense to change their call when we changed ours. It never happened that season. Defensive coordinators must not have been comfortable in changing a call at that point. The following season, more defenses began to change their calls when the offense peeked to the sideline. The call being audibled to by the offense wasn’t necessarily the ideal call anymore. Fortunately, we had installed a tool which put the check on the field with the quarterback. The idea was that our players could see a few key indicators that we were looking for from the press box as well or better than we could upstairs. The quarterback would false cadence, make a quick call to let the rest of the offense know to run the called play, or he could change it based on the parameters of the game plan.
This is exactly what Manning is doing with “Bash Montana Batman.” An argument can be made that there isn’t the time necessary to do those things at the lower levels or that it’s too complicated. First of all look at the still shots and the end zone view of what Manning is seeing. The weakness of the defense is pretty obvious to anyone who has a basic understanding if the game. Again, like the Broncos audible, these should be simple checks which can be shown to the quarterback and the offense on film, and easily executed on the field. It’s all relative. The defenses being played against at the lower level don’t have the sophistication of an NFL defense.
Recently, while talking to a high school defensive coordinator, he indicated that facing “look” or “peek” tempo teams, he had a much easier time making his calls and checking when the offense checked. He would much rather face that than a team that just went fast or a quarterback who was making the checks on the field.
Thought Process for Quarterback on field checks:
1. Have a procedure that allows this. There may be times when you don’t want the quarterback to check anything. Be having a procedure that puts him in a “check” mode, he know he is looking for a simple indicator or two to put the offense in a certain play.
2. Find the obvious and most expected looks that you will face in the game and utilize something already in your offense to attack it. Checking to a special may cause confusion on game day because the play being checked to isn’t that familiar to the players.
3. Script in enough of those situations during the week that the offense understand the checks and can execute them. If you don’t have time to practice it, then it shouldn’t be a part of what you do on game day.
When the players can learn the why and know it as well as the how, they can effectively attack the weaknesses of the defense.