THE 40 SECOND PLAY CLOCK DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE #1
Often, offensive players, and especially receivers don’t realize that the referee may begin the 40 second play clock as soon as the previous play is whistled dead. In situations where the offensive receivers is 40 or 50 yards from the line of scrimmage, once that play is finished, players need to get back to the line of scrimmage to help your offense be prepared for the next play.
DON’T PANIC IF DOWN BY 14 IN THE FIRST THREE QUARTERS #2
If your team is behind by 14 or 17 points in the first half, don’t panic. Resist the urge to throw on every down to get back in the game ASAP. Some announcers may say you have to throw most of the time if you get down by two touchdowns even if you’re in the second or third quarter. I don’t concur. Trust your judgment that you have time to get back into the game. Of course, to get back into the game, your defense will have to strong defense while your offense gets organized.
Being down by 14 points where your defense is gassed is the ideal time for your offense to get into a rhythm and get some sustained drives together. Definitely a team game and a balancing act.
HIRE A PUNTER BASED ON COFFIN CORNER KICKING AND LESS ABOUT DISTANCE #3
Teach your punter to hit the sidelines close to the goal line. If you punt from the opponents 40 or 45 yard line and it goes into the end zone, you’ve gained roughly 20 yards. Go for the 5 or 10 yard line—if your punter can’t do that, hire or draft someone who can. Kick the ball out of bounds close to the receiving team’s goal line and pin them back near their own end zone.
If it’s 4th down and your punter is struggling with the ball on your opponent’s 40 or 45 yard line, consider a quarterback sneak, a trick play, or a fake punt in the attempt of getting 4 new downs. Why risk and punt with a net gain of 20 yards when your punter is being ineffective?
PUNTERS AND FIELD GOALS KICKERS NEED MUCH TLC #4
Even if your field goal kicker is pro bowl caliber or goes through a rough stretch of kicking, be very positive with him. Field goal kickers often have fragile egos so you want to remain positive to ensure you can get the most value out of him later in the season. The temptation is to belittle their position or performance but think very carefully about that approach. If you need them to win a game for you late in the season with playoff implications.
SOMETIMES A HURRY UP OFFENSE JUMPS START THE OFFENSE #5
Some teams don’t start the game clicking on all 8 cylinders on offense. When this occurs, the hurry up offense can work especially if your offense is sputtering. And when I say hurry up offense, players should be executed with no less than 15 seconds on the play clock.
QUICKLY DETERMINE HOW MANY PLAYERS IT WILL TAKE FOR PRESSURE #6
If your defense blitzes 4 players and can’t get to the quarterback or don’t create enough pressure, maybe blitz 5 or 6 players. Or throw different formations or looks at the quarterback to keep them off stride.
This approach may be effective for most quarterbacks although there are certain quarterbacks who are masters of the game who can negate that approach. In that case, you’ll have to play outstanding defense to stay in the game and score on the majority of your offensive possessions.
TRUST YOUR EYES AND EARS WHILE VIEWING THE GAME #7
Trust your eyes when watching the NFL. Things are often missed by the announcers or they’ll not often comment on controversial topics. It’s corporate TV interests supporting the corporate NFL.
Having said that, you can only see what the cameras will show you. Don’t be surprised if you say to yourself that you can’t believe a professional NFL broadcast sometimes has have challenges with their camera work or provide inferior camera angles.
CAN WE ONCE AND FOR ALL ELIMINATE THOSE FIRST DOWN MARKERS? #8
Eliminate the 10 yard measuring sticks in the NFL. With 21st century technology, couldn’t something virtually be added to the field so all players know where the first down marker is located? Couldn’t it be similar to the pile on stick at a goal line. If the offensive player touches that in the field of play before being tackled and ruled down, that gives those who have possession of the ball a chance to live another day with 4 more tries.
SOMETIMES, BURNING A TIMEOUT IS NOT A BAD THING #9
If a coach and your team needs to be refocused and is not playing well, don’t be afraid to call a timeout. Sometimes, that can shake up your team and swing the momentum in the other direction.
KNOW WHERE ON THE FIELD IT’S 4 DOWN TERRITORY #10
If you’re on the opponent’s 35-45 yard line and your field goal kicker is ineffective from that distance, plan ahead of time to use this as 4 down territory. When it’s 3rd down and 6 on their 40 yard line, try at the very least to gain a few yards so if you don’t get the first down, the 4th down attempt will be more manageable instead of 4th and 7 or 4th and 9. In addition, if you have no longer than a yard to gain, employee the tactic of the New England Patriots in ’14 – run Tom Brady in the quarterback sneak. It works at least 90% of the time.
CAN WE CUT THE CRAP ABOUT PLAYER SAFETY? #11
I’ve heard NFL announcers say player safety is important, hence, offensive and defensive lineman are not able to put their hands or arms to the face of an opponent. This is called on defensive linebackers and corner backs too – if their hands get up high, they can get flagged for that. Why the hypocrisy with running backs being able to stick an arm (and sometimes use hands to the face of their opponent) in order to gain more yards. If player safety is important for the game, this should apply to those who possess the ball and to those who have the desire to possess the ball without any additional damage.
DON’T LISTEN TO THE ANNOUNCERS RELIGIOUSLY? #12
If the announcer says the clock stops as a result of a player going out of bounds and it’s not less than 2 minutes in the first half and less than 5 minutes in the second half, don’t believe them. If the clock is stopped, and it does not fit these criteria, it’s a temporary stoppage of the clock!
In terms of understanding all the new and old rules of this game that has become more complicated, there are some announcers who don’t always have a good handle on these rules. I guess that’s why the Internet was invented, to review NFL rules and strategies during the broadcast.