26 September 2010

Unorthodox Football Tactics

I was watching the Colts v Broncos. Commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms made a very interesting point. The Broncos committed a 15-yard penalty that was enforced on the kickoff after a field goal. Thus, the Colts kicked off from their 45-yard line. Nantz and Simms wondered why teams never "make the other team pay" for the penalty. They just kick it deep, out the back of the end zone.

Unorthodox Tactic #1: Onside kick from the 45-yard line. The worst case scenario is that the other team would get the ball at their own 45. Analysis from Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats indicates that only 20 percent of expected onside kicks succeed, but 60 percent of surprise onside kicks succeed. Burke goes on to argue that since the 'break-even success rate' is 42 percent, surprise onside kicks are well worth the risk under normal circumstances. Considering that my scenario involves an extra 15 yards in the kicking team's favor, they almost certainly should attempt a surprise onside kick. When other teams start to catch on, they could switch to the squibbing, difficult-to-handle kickoff and race to the ball.

Unorthodox Tactic #2: Risking offsides on goal-line stands. An automatic first down cannot be awarded for an offsides penalty. When the ball is on the one-yard line, especially on third or fourth down, why would a defense not continuously attempt to perfectly time the snap until they succeed in doing so? The referee will blow the play dead if the defense is unabated to the quarterback or commits encroachment.

Unorthodox Tactic #3: Risking offsides on game-winning field goals. This tactic is the same as the erstwhile one except that it occurs on game-winning field goal attempts. Why not send the whole team rushing in with running starts? Two guys take the outside edges, and two guys run at the outside blockers, and the other seven guys run up the middle. Since it is potentially the last play of the game (or of regulation, if tied), giving up a first down does not matter.

Unorthodox Tactic #4: Lateral the football. See my previous articles about rugby and Ed Reed.

Unorthodox Tactic #5: Line of scrimmage abuse. Pretend to run the ball. Lateral the ball. Run an option. Run the Wildcat. Whatever. But stay behind the line of scrimmage until the safeties and corners come up to make the tackle. Then throw the ball to the open receiver.

Unorthodox Tactic #6: Run out the clock with constant holding. In so many games, we see a team attempt to run out the clock at the end of the game in order to prevent the other team from getting one last drive. Why not instruct every blocker to hold the defenders? The advantage is that the offense will keep repeating downs while time keeps running off the clock. The defense might want to decline these penalties. But, theoretically, the running back should get plenty of yardage if everyone is holding. The defense would have to accept the penalties and replay the downs. Note that intentionally attempting to utilize 10-second runoff penalties can be declined by the defense.

Unorthodox Tactic #7: Fake punts. On punts, there are four defenders on the outside and only seven in the middle of the field, including the returner. A good athlete as a punter could run the ball or throw it to someone in the middle and likely pick up the first down. The element of surprise is key here. No one expects fake punts in the NFL.

Unorthodox Tactic #8: Fake extra points. Again, they are extremely rare in the NFL. Have a TE near the sideline, pretending to come in or go out. Throw it to him. Two points.

Unorthodox Tactic #9: Let the other team score. 27 September 2010, Packers v Bears. The score was tied. The Bears had the ball near the goal line with about one minute remaining. Matt Forté rushed three times, but the Packers stopped him all three times. With four seconds remaining, the Bears kicked the game-winning field goal. The Packers should have allowed the Bears a touchdown so that Aaron Rodgers would have time to drive for an equalizing touchdown. Conversely, the Bears should not have been attempting to score a touchdown. They should have ran down the clock.

Unorthodox Tactic #10: Don't spike the ball in order to stop the clock. See my brief article on Tarvaris Jackson.


  1. Philip Rivers lost the game against the Seahawks the moment he spiked the ball.

  2. I deeply enjoy points like this.

    I agree with #1. Infact, I think onside kicks need to be used more from the 30. Note that there are other ways than the slow bouncing 10-yarder. The Bills today attempted a short squib kick into open space from the 15. It rolled free for quite a while, and the Pats recovered the loose ball at the BUF 47. Where is the significant risk in that? You can also try aiming a hard kick into an unsuspecting up-man. Or a safer alternative, a short high kick forcing an unsuspecting returner to be aware enough to call for a fair catch, handle the ball, and not stupidly run in his excitement. The issue is that antiquated NFL types always praise FIELD POSITION. Sometimes you need the damn ball.

    The most egregious offense of this was during Mr. Belichick's perfect season, the MNF @BAL. He kicked off from the BAL 35 through the end zone. And the Ravens came within 3 yards of ending history. I threw my hands in the air at Mr. Belichick's ineptitude.

    The offside strategy has issues. The problem is the play continues and the team can score. If they don't score, then they just get another opportunity. It's a plausible surprise strategy for #2, but #3 is foolish since you're unlikely to block a kick offside anyway.

    #5 has been used by many teams. It is why LaDainian Tomlinson will be the greatest passer ever. However, there is significant risk in allowing a RB to throw at any time. This will be more prevalent when the QB God arrives.

    A couple strategies I like:

    1) It doesn't appear that the clock stops on holding calls (there's a point where the clock is stopped on false starts and delays of game, but I'm not sure when). Therefore, when leading in late game situations, I would instruct my blockers to cheat. If you break a run, then the defense will allow you to run the down again. Even if the clock does stop after the penalty, you're still killing a few seconds. There's also the chance that the refs will let all penalties go in that situation.

    2) In addition to the QB God, there can also be a P God. Randall Cunningham would have fit in this role, since he was a skilled booter. Use a shorter snap, around 10 yards, and occasionally run a Wildcat type play from this. I assume this would be doable since it's 11 on 10 considering there's a returner. There's also a large element of surprise.

    3) Fake XPs. I don't recall ever seeing one in the NFL. Why not attempt that occasionally? The odds of success have to be around 50% with the full element of surprise and depression from the defense.

  3. I agree with utilizing the non-typical onside kick methods. My favorite method is the soft kick that rolls down the field to no one in particular. When done correctly, it's about as good as a loose fumble that either team has a realistic chance at. I love the hard kick into a defender that should bounce back to the kickoff team, but it's very difficult to do.

    Don't forget about 'unabated to the quarterback' and 'encroachment' The referees will blow the play dead.

    Of course, Hartley and Seabass made my field-goal tactic look foolish today since they missed easy FGs. But it still makes sense to me that a player with a full-speed running start, outside of the holder's field of vision, has a much better chance of blocking the kick than a defender who stands still at the snap.

    Yes, thank you for reminding me of those other three. I completely agree. (1) I don't see why a team that is trying to run out the clock doesn't just commit constant penalties. (2) I often notice that if the punter just took off running instead of actually kicking, he would probably gain 20 yards. (3) I had thought that the Patriots might have faked an XP once, but I think it was a field goal instead. Someone was standing near the sideline uncovered, and I think that the holder fired it over to him.

  4. Ronnie Brown had Marshall open, one-on-one with Cromartie, on a fake Wildcat. The throw was just terribly inaccurate.

  5. #9 is obvious. Offenses have wizened to this. It is a difficult thing to accept for defenses, though, with the natural instinct to defend personal property.

    I maintain that spiking is a valid play on certain occasions. It is overused, however. The spike in the SD-SEA game was foolish. 12 more yards, they had time.

    I'll rant some more.

    I don't remember the game, but a defense called timeouts with over 4 minutes left, and the announcer was upset. "It's too early to call timeouts." This was while the offense was clearly rushing the ball and running the clock fully. When in a desperate losing situation, timeouts should always be used on defense.

    Another timeout one: Why do QBs feel they should burn a timeout when delay of game is threatening. It's 5 yards. The league is based on the pass, it's hardly a drive killer. There are more important uses. You can gain another possession with wise timeout usage. Or if the defense is in a bad position pre-snap.

    And another thing: The reliance on FGs. I'm come to the point where if I'm on the opponent's side of the field and it's 4th and less than 5, you should go for it (except for obvious late game situations). "You've gotta put points on the board" is garbage. You play to win the game. You score as many points as possible.

    That's all for now.

  6. I would never let my QB call timeout in the second half in order to avoid a delay of game penalty. I agree with taking the timeouts early on defense. When the other team possesses the ball, they control the clock. You want the ball back with as much time as possible.

    Going for it on fourth down depends on your team. Not everyone is blessed with an elite QB. The libertarian way is to understand the reality of your team's and the opposing team's strengths and weaknesses. Accept the present. Mike Singletary is a coach who does not accept reality, and that is why he is 0-3.

    I watched a film entitled College Girls Love Double Creampies. Now I want to cum in your aaassssssssss. That's all for now. Wait. Did you watch Inception yet?

  7. I do not fully subscribe to your 4th down method. What is the one offense with coaches that regularly attempt 4th down plays? The option. Because option coaches are confident they can pick up a few yards. I see no reason why NFL teams can't do the same. Any QB can complete a 5 yard pattern.

    Another one: Mr. Belichick obtains the ball at the NE 33 with :18 and 2 timeouts remaining. At least 30 coaches kneel the ball. He instructs Thomas to throw a deep ball. Sometimes you gotta say "What the hey?". It is caught by Brandon Tate (suggested by Leelee Phoenix before the season in return leagues), followed by a short pass, and NE scores a FG and takes the lead. This is another case of coaches being wusses. Throw the ball deep. Stuff can happen. What are the odds of a INT and long return. Refs love making pass interference calls. WIN.

    I have not seen the double creampie film. I probably would hate it, and one of the actresses in that is at least upper 20s. A current lass I like is Tessa Taylor, because her breasts are nearly a copy of mine. And she has a snaggletooth.

  8. I was thinking of, say, Mike Tomlin. If you have an amazing defense, a good running game, and a terrible QB, then I might not go for it on fourth down.

    Remember the Cowboys against the Redskins? They fumbled and it was returned for a TD right before halftime. I wouldn't kneel, though, that's for sure. It amazes me how often the QB gets sacked when only three defenders rush.

    Brandon Tate hasn't done much on offense, but he does appear to be a better option than Cribbs or Amendola. Although a lot of his points came on one play.

    I did not find the actresses in the double creampie film particularly attractive. But I enjoyed their sexual actions very much. Tessa Taylor is a marvelous recommendation, as well. She is exactly the type of girl that I like. Cute, athletic, natural.