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A Quarterback And His Game Plan, Part I: Five Days To Learn 171 Plays


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Peter King is doing a two part series about how quarterbacks and the HC/OC build and digest a gameplan over the course of a week. I figured this would be really beneficial for some around here struggling with the bumps in the road the offense is going through recently.

I've picked out a few snippets I think are worth reading, but I suggest reading the article because it includes pictures and videos I can't post and it is definitely worthwhile.

Sidenote: Mods, I know this is about the Arizona Cardinals, but overall it's football and I think we can apply this to the Falcons since it's similar to how all teams build gameplans for the offense.

Multiply that times 171. That’s how many plays Arians will have in the offensive game plan for Cleveland. For each, there is a formation to learn, a personnel combination to learn, defensive tendencies to study—this with a virtual-reality headset that Palmer dons, making him look like a spaceman—plus details about what would cause Palmer to change the play at the line, and what to change into. And if the call is a pass play, Palmer must know his progression. Which receiver is his first option? Second? Third? Fourth?
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The game plan is a collaborative affair, and Arians runs it the way most head coaches have done it for years. In the mid-’80s, Giants coach Bill Parcells used to tell defensive coordinator Bill Belichick at midday Tuesday to throw this out or that out, or that he was making it too complicated, or that he loved what Belichick had, and Belichick would finalize his plan after that talk. Arians does it much the same way—except that after offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin (run game) and assistant head coach Tom Moore (pass game) come to him with their concepts for the week, after some long hours Monday with their staff, Arians formats the offensive practices each day. Then, by the weekend, Arians sees what he likes from his own ideas and from how plays looked in practice. He picks the first 15 run plays. The first 15 passes get done differently in Arizona than in most places. Palmer picks them. After Arians IDs the passes he wants in the overall game plan, Palmer walks up to the whiteboard on Friday and puts a star next to the 15 he wants to run first; they become the first 15 passes. Palmer circles four of the 15, and those four become the passes he wants to call first in the game. Most coaches over time have adhered to the Bill Walsh philosophy of picking the first 15 offensive plays of the game. Arians picks 30, half run and half pass.
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Enough excitement for Tuesday night. Before he goes to bed, Palmer will have to commit to memory 14 different protections he’d use Sunday to try to keep the Browns out of his hair.

Fourteen protections. And that was only for first-down calls.

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http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2015/11/17/nfl-carson-palmer-arizona-cardinals-inside-game-plan

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After reading this article, it made me think about that thread that was started, freaking out about our playbooks being too big. The Cards typically use 150 plays a game, catered to the specific opponent. I'm pretty sure they have over 150 plays in the playbook.

It also shows the relationship between the QB and the installation of the gameplan and his preferred plays and how those are noted within the gameplan. I highly doubt Shanahan doesn't have plays Ryan is comfortable with as well as plays that will win the game. That's why we've rarely seen this offense struggle this season against any defense. It's most likely a matter of the large amount of information Ryan is still processing on a weekly basis.

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Enough excitement for Tuesday night. Before he goes to bed, Palmer will have to commit to memory 14 different protections he’d use Sunday to try to keep the Browns out of his hair.

Matt had pretty much the same style of OL scheme for 7 years. I'm sure the ZBS takes some getting used to.

I think trust will build. The 5-0 start just changed our expectations, as it should.

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Matt pretty much had pretty much the same style of OL scheme for 7 years. I'm sure the ZBS takes some getting used to.

I think trust will build. The 5-0 start just changed our expectations, as it should.

That would also explain why he's antsy behind the OL even when there isn't pressure. I don't think he trusts he knows the OL protections as much as he should and he doesn't have a Center that is trustworthy.

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Also, for those who think our offense is too clunky and the playbook too complex, a quote from Bruce Arians:

"I hate the West Coast Offense."

And yet he'll have 171 plays in the game plan and the one they chose to feature in this article is called "Pistol Strong Right Stack Act 6 Y Cross Divide."

Which is why I said the offenses really aren't all that different in the NFL -- you basically only have 3 types and everything else is a variation off of those 3. But they're alike mostly in the fact that they're complex, they're very difficult to get a handle on, and they take a lot of work and preparation by the QB especially. Switching from one to the other is rarely smooth.

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That would also explain why he's antsy behind the OL even when there isn't pressure. I don't think he trusts he knows the OL protections as much as he should and he doesn't have a Center that is trustworthy.

Center has been a nightmare.In years of watching football I've really taken for granted how critical the QB Center exchange has been. It's something you think of as automatic. I remember being a nervous wreck as far back as the Eagles game. It's amazing to me that we almost saw a fumbled snap last game. 9 games in.

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Winner of four Superbowls....and I quote: If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does them day in and day out. -- Chuck Noll, Head Coach Pittsburgh Steelers (1969-91)..,,it's not how many flipping plays are in a playbook...I know you need variety but dad gum..,how much is enough? Can anyone provide how many plays each of the last three Super Bowl champs had in their play books? Vince Lombardi says its blocking and tackling... I believe these two coaches know a lil something about winning....can't find either of them preaching big, gigantic, play books!

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Winner of four Superbowls....and I quote: If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does them day in and day out. -- Chuck Noll, Head Coach Pittsburgh Steelers (1969-91)..,,it's not how many flipping plays are in a playbook...I know you need variety but dad gum..,how much is enough? Can anyone provide how many plays each of the last three Super Bowl champs had in their play books? Vince Lombardi says its blocking and tackling... I believe these two coaches know a lil something about winning....can't find either of them preaching big, gigantic, play books!

That was a waaayyyyyyy different game, bruh.

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Winner of four Superbowls....and I quote: If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anyone else does them day in and day out. -- Chuck Noll, Head Coach Pittsburgh Steelers (1969-91)..,,it's not how many flipping plays are in a playbook...I know you need variety but dad gum..,how much is enough? Can anyone provide how many plays each of the last three Super Bowl champs had in their play books? Vince Lombardi says its blocking and tackling... I believe these two coaches know a lil something about winning....can't find either of them preaching big, gigantic, play books!

What's the magic number of plays for you?

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Also, for those who think our offense is too clunky and the playbook too complex, a quote from Bruce Arians:

"I hate the West Coast Offense."

And yet he'll have 171 plays in the game plan and the one they chose to feature in this article is called "Pistol Strong Right Stack Act 6 Y Cross Divide."

Which is why I said the offenses really aren't all that different in the NFL -- you basically only have 3 types and everything else is a variation off of those 3. But they're alike mostly in the fact that they're complex, they're very difficult to get a handle on, and they take a lot of work and preparation by the QB especially. Switching from one to the other is rarely smooth.

Even if that's the way things are with every team, it still seems to be a case of information overload. I would imagine it's even harder for Matt to grasp this because it's so similar to the other systems. Hard to keep them sorted out in your head during the play.

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Also, for those who think our offense is too clunky and the playbook too complex, a quote from Bruce Arians:

"I hate the West Coast Offense."

And yet he'll have 171 plays in the game plan and the one they chose to feature in this article is called "Pistol Strong Right Stack Act 6 Y Cross Divide."

Which is why I said the offenses really aren't all that different in the NFL -- you basically only have 3 types and everything else is a variation off of those 3. But they're alike mostly in the fact that they're complex, they're very difficult to get a handle on, and they take a lot of work and preparation by the QB especially. Switching from one to the other is rarely smooth.

Not If you run that Mike Vick offense baby!
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Pay me $100 million and I'll learn 172 plays in five days!

Early NFL players had to learn playbooks and in many cases hold another job or at least work during the off-season.

These guys are getting paid to do what many players are doing at the college level to a slightly lesser extent for free.

Edited by insight
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Guest facelessman07

At a certain point its not about effort its about capacity.

The brain can only do so much.

Did you not see that movie with Bradley Cooper, Limitless?

Gimme $100 million and I'll buy so many of those pills. Don't think the NFL tests for those either

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I agree things are overly complex. But you also have to realize, all these plays aren't that different.

Imagine you have 4 receivers going out for a pass.

The one on the left can run a go, or an out, or a slant, or a stop.

The 2nd one (inside left) has the same 4 options.

The 3rd (inside right) has the same 4 options.

The 4th (far right) has the same 4 options.

So, let's say you call your plays left to right, and so you call "go, out, slant, stop." Or, "stop, go, out, slant" etc.

Not that complicated, right?

Well, that's 256 possible plays right there.

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I agree things are overly complex. But you also have to realize, all these plays aren't that different.

Imagine you have 4 receivers going out for a pass.

The one on the left can run a go, or an out, or a slant, or a stop.

The 2nd one (inside left) has the same 4 options.

The 3rd (inside right) has the same 4 options.

The 4th (far right) has the same 4 options.

So, let's say you call your plays left to right, and so you call "go, out, slant, stop." Or, "stop, go, out, slant" etc.

Not that complicated, right?

Well, that's 256 possible plays right there.

And hardly none of them go to Roddy so far. Rain man could calculate something to Roddy.

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Pay me $100 million and I'll learn 172 plays in five days!

That's somewhat fair, but Larry is right too. It's not just about memorizing either, it's about processing, digesting, and being able to have that fast recall when the information is needed in real time play. Don't underestimate what having a 300 pound behemoth bearing down on you can can do to that recall as well. Let's not go too far in acting like what you get paid has any affect on this. That's a very easy card to pull, but realistically and practically speaking, it's 100% irrelevant.
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