FNF Coaches Talk

FNF Coaches Talk — The ‘No Progression’ Third Down and Red Zone Strategy, Winning Nutrition, Tracking Technology

1. The “No Progression” Third Down and Red Zone Strategy (USA Football Blog)

The RPO scheme has taken off in recent years, but many of us have seen that type of offense stall out in the red zone when the defense is packed closer to the line of scrimmage. Even though the read-option might not be available to our quarterbacks, we don’t want to overload our QBs with decisions. Dropping back and deciphering defensive coverages isn’t a strength of high school quarterbacks.

That’s why it’s good to have a few built-in play-calls that don’t require a quarterback to go through progressions.

In addition to the mesh play becoming a staple for many offenses, the second-level screen, which doesn’t put the linemen on level-two defenders but rather has receivers releasing on stems and pushing the coverage back and then blocking before or as the ball is thrown to a recover or back behind the line, has proven to be an effective strategy on third down and in the red zone.

The first is the shallow screen much like Oklahoma State had run. While their version had a swinging back becoming a blocker for the shallow, many of the shallow versions have multiple blocks taking place on level two.

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This is an effective strategy when facing teams who get into their drops well. The teams who will capitalize on this strategy best will be the ones who can incorporate it into passing concepts they use frequently to sell the illusion to the defense. It should work, until the defense takes the chalk back that is.

What are some of your favorite play calls in the red zone?

2. Winning Nutrition for High School Football Players (Creators.com)

This is an article about how improved diet and nutrition helped both teams in the World Series this year — the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

Roberta Anding, the Houston Astros’ dietitian (RDN), is in her ninth season, and Sue Saunders Bouvier is in her fourth season working with the Washington Nationals as dietitian to the team.

“RDNs can help these gifted athletes meet their body composition goals, recover from the grind of a long season and help to prevent chronic illness,” said Anding. “Baseball performance goals also include guidance on appropriate supplement selection and use.”

One thing to stress to your players is not to change up their diet drastically as they approach the home stretch of the season. The offseason is a good time to change nutrition patterns.

What should you be eating for good fuel for your sport of choice? A healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Skip the sugary drinks and desserts. This isn’t the time to try a fad diet or cut out foods like carbohydrates or dairy. Each food group gives your body nutrients it needs to perform well. And while supplements may be needed at the professional level, most student athletes or weekend workout warriors really don’t need them.

How do you stress the importance of nutrition to your players?

3. Tracking technology is helping NFL teams distinguish exact distances and measure something that might dramatically change football strategy: the value of a single inch (Wall Street Journal)

Football is known as the game of inches because an inch here or there could determine the difference between winning and losing.

However, the game of football has always been defined by a far less precise measure of linear distance: the yard.

Now, for the first time, the NFL is beginning to understand the more granular nature of the game. Tracking technology can distinguish exact distances and measure something that may dramatically change football strategy: the value of a single inch. And understanding that could have a huge influence on the fourth-down decisions teams make in the future.

The status quo of football data means that two plays marked as fourth-and-1—the moments when a small distance might have a drastic influence on the game—may be nothing alike. The NFL’s counting system lists anything between zero yards and 2 yards as fourth-and-1. So two situations that are identical in a box score could be, essentially, 72 inches apart. Other than visually guesstimating, there was no concrete way to differentiate between the two.

Coaches also seemed to have an intuitive understanding of this, because they could visually see something—how short or long that “yard” might be—even though it hadn’t been previously captured in the data. On fourth-and-inches, teams went for it approximately 70% of the time; in the longer situations, they went for it only 30% of the time.

This year, through Week 9, teams with less than a half yard to go have gone for it 36 of 48 times, according to the tracking numbers. When teams had a fourth-and-1 that was actually longer than a yard, they went for it only 24 of 58 times.

How would it affect your in-game strategy if you were given more precise measurements than yards?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk