HAVE A PLAN ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT TO CHALLENGE A PLAY #13
Don’t throw your challenge flag unless you’re fairly sure the call will be overturned – especially in the first half. Maybe trust 1-2 quick thinking and bright analysts to give you that quick feedback when applicable.
BOTH LINES ARE KEY TO DEFENDING AND ESTABLISHING THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE #14
When starting or developing your team, build around your offensive and defensive lines in your drafts and also in free agency. Teach blocking and tackling and stress fundamentals as football is a very simple game. As Vince Lombardi said, it’s all about blocking and tackling. With strong lines and a top 15 quarterback, you’ll have success 80% of the time.
When assessing a prospective defensive college player, don’t focus solely on their 40 yard times, vertical jump or how much they can bench press. GM’s may desire over these guys who are can’t miss prospects but look for those gridiron players who have good instincts for the game. Those who can make things happen by blocking a pass or being in the right place to take the ball away from an the offensive attack. Look for high character guys who have much passion for the game. Do they hate to lose? Do they study film until late in the night? Do they have a high football IQ? Look for that type of football player.
TEACH DEFENSIVE LINEMAN TO RAISE HANDS DIRECTLY AFTER BALL IS THROWN #16
This should be a fundamental coaches teach in training camp as there’s so much value is knocking down the ball from time to time. It’s important for defensive players who are trying to prevent the offense from scoring don’t raise their hands or jump right after the ball is released by the quarterback.
There are certain teams/players that are more successful than others. In fact, there are some teams who rarely block any passes from being targeted to the offensive receivers. It’s all about keeping the quarterback off rhythm and not too comfortable when attempting to complete a pass.
PATIENT ON OFFENSE, EVEN IF VERY EFFECTIVE OFFENSE #17
Even if you’re a quick scoring team, have the ability and flexibility to sometimes grind out 4-5 yards per attempt. If you can get on a 6-8 minute drive from time to time, it can really help out your defense in key situations.
DEFER TO TAKE THE FOOTBALL UNTIL THE SECOND HALF #18
If playing a big game at your opponent’s stadium and you win the coin toss, consider deferring to receiving the ball until the second half. You’re excited and amped up, you may be too excited on offense. Better to play defense at the start where your emotional state can be more of an advantage.
LET THE OFFICIALS KNOW THAT YOU KNOW THE SCORE #19
It’s sad and perhaps cynical, but as a head coach you need to work the officials and have an ongoing dialogue with them. If you see holding by the opponents or a late hit on your quarterback, assertively make your point to the officials. It plants the seed where the official later in the game may be aware of this occurring again. You never know when this might pay dividends.
GO AHEAD WITH THE FIELD GOAL OR PUNT #20
When you’re ready to kick a field goal and the whistle blows, teach the field goal kicker to go ahead and boot the ball. Even if it’s indoors, just that kick will help to get them in the rhythm for the next kick. The same principle applies to punting, if the whistle blows, get the feel for the ball and conditions and give the ball the boot.
Practice the fake punt and fake field goal. Why not? Why not use it a few times a year? You never know when you’ll need it and having this in your repertoire forces your opponents to practice one more thing when defending you.
Even if you’re not going to do the fake punt, lining up to do it will not only make your opponent think of that possibility, but other teams may need to plan for it too.
WHAT PLAY SHOULD AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR RUN ON 2ND & 1? #22
If it’s 2nd down and 1, why not throw a deep ball to keep the defense honest and not just putting too many players in the box to guard against the run? Even if you’re not successful with the deep ball, you’re still in good condition to get a first down with 3rd and short.
TIMEOUTS ARE MORE CRITICAL IN THE SECOND HALF #23
Using timeouts in the first half when your defense is not set or the 40 second play clock is ready to expire is not necessarily crucial during the first half of the game but wasting timeouts in the 2nd half due to disorganization or lack of focus can really hurt the team in crucial situations.
(THIS APPLIES TO MOST SPORTS) YOU CAN’T LET THE OFFENSE (QUARTERBACK) GET TOO COMFORTABLE #24
Peyton Manning is a coach on the field – typically, he does not huddle and will get to the line of scrimmage and survey the defense and decide how to dissect it. As a defensive coordinator, you need to throw curves at what he sees. Give him different looks, blitz linebackers or cornerbacks when he’s least expecting a blitz. Sometimes fake a blitz and drop into coverage. Don’t give him the same look: don’t let him get too comfortable. Continue to try to disrupt his rhythm and tempo. Try to confuse him with different looks or defensive looks that mean something else than what he thinks.