Base Plays, Constraint Plays, and Series Football

I love studying old football books. Though we think that this idea or that idea is cutting edge in football, you see that the coaches from the past had similar ideas. The game just evolves so that what we see on the field looks revolutionary, but really that idea existed somewhere in the past. For example, I found a video on the internet of the ball being snapped in three seconds. This was before the days of helmets, but even, some kind of communication system had to exist to let the players know what to do on that particular play.

In reading through Tiger Ellison’s Run and Shoot Football -The Now Attack, I read a section that seems to be a topic of interest:

Definition of Run and Shoot
…We made every pass look like a run and every run look like a pass. Offenses that pass from a pocket split their attack into two phases-their running game and their passing game. The setting up of the quarterback in the pocket screams “Pass” to every defender on the field. Even though pocket-passing teams often fake the ball to a runner before setting up in the pocket, still the fake wards off detection for only a moment, after which all defenders spring into anti-aircraft action. The Run and Shoot offense did not split its attack–it was just one game, running and passing performed anywhere anytime with no distinguishing clue to signal run or pass.

Whether we are talking packaged plays in which the offense is either running or passing based on a pre or post snap key, or whether we are talking “constraint” plays which look like and work off of a base play Tiger Ellison’s philosophy of attacking a defense holds true today. The concepts and schemes we use may be different, but the philosophy is the same.

For more on base plays read my post on USA Football.

For more on Constraint Plays
Joe Daniels
Chris Brown

For more on packaged plays check out my resources link.

My iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays uses a similar philosophy as that described as Ellison in creating a run game and pass game that look the same.

On USA Football: The base play provides structure for your offense

I’m writing a blog for USA Football and I am excited about the opportunity.  Here is the first post:

Going back to older systems such as the wing-t and the run and shoot, series football dominated offensive thinking. Each play as part of a series looked the same in backfield action and allowed for a progression in how the defense was attacked. It created a sense of “if-then” — if one play was defended a certain way, then the next play in the series was the answer. Series football is possible in any offense if a linear way of thinking that is set up. In the system we used while I was at the high school level, we made the stretch play more than just a base play. It was the starting point for our structure. As close as possible, all of our runs and play-action passes were based off of looking like a stretch in initial backfield action. The idea was to get the defense reacting a certain way, then developing plays off of the same look. If the defense stopped the stretch a certain way, then we had the answer in another play. – Read more


Get my iBook 101+ Pro Style Football Offense Plays for your iPad or Mac.  This post features video from my new iBook The Zone Offense:  Create a Structured System which will be released on the iBookstore soon.

Constraint Play for Power Read

Colgate wrap

In studying game film from a previous season, I found a play that became of interest as we began to use the power read play more and more.  We were looking for constraint plays for the power read play and other than the pop pass to the tight end, we didn’t have many plays that worked off of the power read backfield action.

Colgate appears to be reading the frontside end.  The play would be diagrammed as follows.  The read player is outlined in red.

Colgate wrap

We were putting the play in at the end of the season, so we wanted to avoid the time on task the read would require.  Our plan included blocking the defensive end who was the read in Colgate’s scheme.  As the week progressed, we like the ice of pulling the guard as we do on power read to provide a false key and influence the linebacker to the play side.

Wrap vs Berg

The play show some really good potential.  We were left one on one with the safety and ended up just short of the end zone.  Below are tight view clips from practice and the game.

The power read is a play that can put stress on a defense.  Finding plays that complement it make it even more effective.

More on Power Read:

Keys to Effective Power Read: QB/Sweeper Mesh

Pop Pass off of Power Read

Power Read for a Non-Running QB

Follow-Up On Power Read for Non-Running QB

Power Read/Inverted Veer Resources

Learn more about our offense with 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays for the iBook or Mac.




New iBook Coming Soon! Win a free download.

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My new iBook is nearly complete.  The new book goes beyond the utilization of the platform and technology displayed in my first book.  I’ve discovered new and better ways to help illustrate and explain concepts.

This book will contain even more dynamic content than my first book and be even more user friendly.

The book is designed to explain a process for developing and evolving an offensive system.  It pays close attention to not just finding a cookie cutter approach of adapting someone else’s system, but rather explains a process for analyzing, researching and developing a system that accommodates the adjustments that are needed from year to year with the different skill sets of the players within your system.

The process is illustrated through using examples from an offense that produced Ohio’s leading rusher and scorer when we used it at the high school level.  The offense was a multiple personnel, multiple formation zone run game based offense that re-wrote our record books.  The process we used taught us a lot about how to put together an offense that is effective year in and year out while being able to adapt to changes to our team as well as the opponents on our schedule.

Developing philosophies, teaching methods, creating position drills around what actually happens in the game are focused on in each volume.

Strategies and examples for implementation are provided with play diagrams, animated step by step analysis of plays versus different defenses, as well game film with both press box and end zone views.

Again, it’s much more than you would get in a book or a dvd separately.

Win a free download of my new iBook as well as a download of my first iBook 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays.  To enter to win simply follow this Blog by email.  On Sunday, March 23, 2014 I will choose a winner from anyone who follows this blog by email. You will receive the codes by email.

Find the box on the side bar to the right that looks like this (NOTE-THE BOX BELOW IS ONLY AN IMAGE OF WHAT THE ONE IN THE SIDE BAR TO THE RIGHT LOOKS LIKE):

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Enter your email and click follow.  You will be sent a confirmation email.  I will notify the winner by email on Monday.


ON AFM: Different Personalities of Zone Read

Rob6 Keep Tight

Last month, the focus was on Zone Read with a lead blocker. This month we will continue the focus on zone read, but see how it can be packaged with different reads and passing game components from quick screens to short routes that attack the void left by defenders committing to stop the run.

There are a number of different techniques and rules on how to block inside zone or what some coaches refer to as tight zone. If you are already running zone, then do what you do. The purpose is to focus on how you make that run scheme more effective as the defense schemes different ways to stop it. Read more on inside zone: FB Zone and Multiple Run Game with Zone Schemes.

The most basic way to attack a defense is with the zone read-bubble from a trips formation. The defense is challenged by both how they will defend the zone run and the bubble. The play can attack on both perimeters (the bubble and the quarterback keep) as well as the middle of the defense with the inside zone.  Read more.


Learn more about our version of the pistol offense in 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays available for the iPad and Mac.  It contains great ideas for any offense.

Zone Screen-Complement/Constraint for Zone-Bubble

The inside zone with bubble screen from trips has become a widely used play in football.  More and more defenses scheme to stop this play.  A popular way to take away bubble portion of the play is to align either head up to outside of the number two receiver in order to force the receiver catching the bubble back into pursuit and the cut down the field. In the example below, the defense has the bubble stopped schematically, the receiver does a great job making a move, breaking the tackle and getting himself into space for a decent gain.  However, the #2 receiver was not able to get leverage, and the pursuit of the inside backer would have cut anything off to the inside.


The defense can also take this away by playing man coverage or 3 defenders positioned over the three receivers.  By alignment this discourages throwing the bubble.  In the example, the quarterback gives the zone instead throwing the bubble.  The gain is enough for the first down.  The bubble could be thrown with some adjustments to the blocking scheme, but it’s definitely tougher than throwing it when the defense is aligned 2 over 3 with a safety aligned over ten yards deep.

bubble vs man

In order to slow this down or force the defense to use another tactic, a zone screen can be used to attack the space created by the widening alley player.  Up front the play looks like zone initially.  The tackle zone steps and slips up to the linebacker or safety over the #3 receiver, and the guard zone steps and slips up to the next linebacker.  Both #2 and #3 take their initial steps as if it’s bubble.  The initial move by both widens the defenders over them and sets up the blocks to create an alley inside of #2.

zone screen

In the example in the video, we are able to catch the defense in a fire zone and the tackle is now free to climb to the free safety.

zone screen


This is truly a constraint play to counter the defense’s efforts to stop the bubble.  Throwing a simple screen in like this as a complement forces the defense to play the bubble more honestly or expose themselves to a big gain inside of the bubble.

Read more about the inside zone scheme and the details to run it in 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays available for the Mac or iPad.  The chapter on Zone includes diagrams, presentations, and game video on Zone as well as many other effective concepts for any offense, not just the pistol.  It’s a football resource like no other.