Our interview with John Tomlinson traversed many helpful topics, from the elements of a QB-friendly system, to the development of the number two, to self-scouting, and more. Review the conversation in its entirety below.
This interview was transcribed by HappyScribe.com. Please forgive any minor typos.
We’re back for another week of the OC office Hour here on the Coach and Coordinator Podcast, our in-season series to discuss all things offense. And joining me today is the coordinator of the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL, John Tomlinson. John, it’s great to have you back here on the podcast.
I appreciate it. Thank you for having me.
John, you have the ability now to be working on all of your things football, yet at the same time watching some incredible games. Something that talking to Dan Carrel the other day, over the weekend. He’s like, man, I really have never gotten to do this, watch this many games. You’re usually working during this time, so you have that ability to be working on your things, yet you see these great games as well.
Yeah, it was definitely an interesting weekend watching other coaches go through that same development process we had the same opportunity to go through in the spring. And at the end of the day, mixed reviews on a lot. Football is football. Some guys are going to start fast, some won’t, but I definitely could feel the pain of some of what I saw. You take what you evaluate and you think back on the things that you went through.
And this is a great time for me because it allows me to one, look inward, always look at the things that you can correct, and then when you watch others go through that, you know in your mind, okay, this is what we need to do to get better. And these are things we’re going to work on going forward. So really a good week in the football overall. And I believe the teams that may have struggled a little bit, I promise you those coaches will have solutions going through the week in preparation for next weekend.
One of the comments that came up a few times, I heard it a few times this weekend, I think I heard it twice on Sunday when a commentator and usually one of the guys was a coach or a former player saying, well, they were on a really QB friendly offense and we’re definitely going to dig into this today. But let’s start with that to you. What’s the definition of a QB friendly offense?
Oh, my gosh, that is a broad term in so many ways. And having come out of a developmental pro league, at the end of the day, in evaluating quarterbacks, every coach has a baseline philosophy. And when you come up with your philosophy and what your beliefs are, you just want to make sure the guy can do some basic, fundamental things in terms of execution, whether it’s quick game, whether it’s going through peer progression, or you may be a big one high, two high, read type of guy.
You just want to make sure at the end of the day, can the guy do exactly what we’re asking him to do? And then once you develop the premise. This is what his baseline is. I know how he’s been taught before. I know the program he came out of. Then it’s a matter of, hey, what do you like? And I know we’ve had this discussion before, and I’ve had this conversation with quarterbacks. Once you get that baseline down, what are the things that he likes to do? And then being QB friendly, you want to stay right within that sweet spot. You want to function in a way where he can execute those things, because the things that he likes to do really he does in practice.
He shows you it’s through his actions, and they’re consistent. And then once you found that sweet spot, you slowly incrementally build on it. But I’ve been in places where cultures say, man, I really love this concept. This is great. I don’t understand why you can’t do it. Well, that’s probably because it’s not something that he likes to do. So my definition of having something that’s QB friendly is focusing on after you’ve gotten the foundations of what the coach’s expectation is of a great offense, staying within a realm of what the guy can do consistently week in, week out, and then just building on it, whether it’s through shifts and motion, whether it’s different formations, it’s the same thing over and over again.
And if you don’t believe that, just go back to Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning. They didn’t run a lot of concepts. Oh, boy. Marvin Harrison always lined up on the right. They ran that same levels concept to death. And they had tons of success. They built on it with a couple of little things to fool your eyes. But it was the same concept, and it was friendly for Peyton. Peyton did well with it. He controlled it, and he went to his guy, but he mixed it up as well.
Yeah, I think that’s a great definition, coach. And when you look at some of the things you can do to get that information out of your quarterback, you pointed out there, number one, watch it on film. What is he doing in your practice film, in your situational? Periods that show what he can do well, right. And you’ll discover some things he’s not doing well either, and that’s the opportunity to start to set those aside. But I think the conversations are important, too. And we might have even talked about a couple of these. I found two great things that were brought up on the podcast to be one from high school coach here in Northeast Ohio at St. Edward High School.
Tom Lombardo talked about what he does during the week where he has some periods where he lets the quarterbacks call it his first team guys, second team guy, et cetera. And then he just goes through and takes notes on what they called and how they did on that play. And I thought that was brilliant. To set aside some of that right unscripted and to get to know if I give you the keys to the car here what are you going to do with them what are you calling in these situations so whatever’s done there you go and let them run it and then there are certainly teachable moments and there’s something for you to learn as a coach from that as well.
And the other one is kind of goes along that same line Andrew Coverdale who’s at St. Xavier near Cincinnati Ohio. He’s a twelve time state champion offensive coordinator at the high school level. He has every week what he calls his like it and love it list that he goes through with each of his quarterbacks and they tell him yeah I like this I love it and he said you got to have the conversations I think whatever that sheet turns out to be at least you’re speaking with the quarterbacks so I think a couple of things there in addition to what you said yeah it’s got to.
Show up on film yes I love what you said I like it and love it. My head coach with the mailers has been a great mentor and has really helped me understand the world of past protection so much better he said JT let’s make sure we got our hot love list for the quarterback. So the hot love list is just like the coach that you mentioned it’s what he likes and that’s what we go with and Coach Lombardo great in terms of what he’s doing with those guys.
We have a period just like that and it’s a lot of it is our two minutes yes we give him the ingredients he just mixes the ingredients and those ingredients obviously are concepts and then he goes out there and he calls those in his order within his belief and we create a situation around it hey one time out 142 ball in the -28 we’re down by six and he runs it and so that allows us one to evaluate what he really does understand and is he really making cookies or is he making mud pies we give him the ingredients we want to see what he comes up with in terms of putting those ingredients together I love that. I love what Coach Lombardo is doing.
Two minutes is something that actually came up a couple of weeks ago, or I guess it was last week with Eric Marty another USFL guy, yeah, and we were talking about that exact thing in the two minutes that’s something I always like to do and for me it wasn’t initially because I wanted them to understand a little bit and get an example of what’s what we’re thinking and what the thought process might be in two minutes but to get to a point in the season where you just turn those practices in those situations over to them and again make note of what they’re calling and ask those questions.
Hey, I saw you called this like two or three times. But you didn’t touch this play at all. Is there a reason? What are you seeing? And then you start to hear from him. What makes him feel most comfortable about that? I think it’s a process that goes back and forth. If you’re not getting that feedback and input from your quarterbacks, well, then you’re certainly not fitting that definition of a QB friendly system.
There you go. Absolutely right.
Because the other thing we were talking about before we got going and neither of us saw it till this morning, we were watching Cowboys-Bucs last night. Dak Prescott goes out this morning. When I turn it on, the first thing I saw on Good Morning Football was that Dak was out for some time with, I guess, a broken finger, a broken bone in his hand. Not sure exactly what it was.
But that brings us to this idea of next man up. You always want that number one guy. You want to protect them, you want to do smart things with him during the season, but man, sometimes you do lose him. And you look at the Cowboys right now, week one, their guy is gone, and they have to find some things that are going to work for them with their new quarterback. So your thoughts overall just on preparing that next man up?
Yeah, great observation. And I’ve done a couple of clinic talks just about this, and to me, I think being an offensive coordinator and a position coach, I don’t care what your position is, it’s imperative that you can’t just live in the lap of luxury on your number one guy, especially at the quarterback position. And I’ve always told guys when I go to clinics, coaches, you’re only as good as your number two because at some point he is going to play very seldom, no matter what the system is that you’re running. Are you going to make it through an entire season playing that guy? Because after the first game, he’s probably not 100% anymore anyway. That’s across positions, guys. They degrade over the season, especially Pro Bowl.
So for me, I’ve always tried to one love all those guys the same. When you raise kids, you may treat them a little differently, but your principles are always the same. One requires a different level of attention and love that maybe another one doesn’t. One is more self sufficient. The second one may not be. You got to not only say coddle them, but you got to approach them a little bit differently in terms of development. Well, in the quarterback room, in terms of what you do, you need to be keeping a running list of the things that hot love list for that number two, because at some point that plays will have to play. How else do you do it? Besides it just being a virtual lesson.
Well, you need to split that practice script up. And it can’t just be, I’m going to get my number to six reps in seven on seven. That’s not live bullets, that’s underwear Olympics. It’s seven on seven. So how do you do that? To me, it has to be situational. Sometimes throw the number two out there and you’re already letting the other guys know in the room. I always like to get practice scripts and all that information out very early so they know what’s going on. So you give them the opportunity to succeed because, hey, one, they’re studying what’s expected. They know what’s coming on day two of practice. So when they go out the next day, it’s a situational period. Boom. Now they have the chance to execute some of the live bullet periods. So I think that’s how you have to do it.
How you do it in terms of pitch count is really up to the coach. But I really believe if you’re already outside of a true competitive, who’s my number one? If you already know this, number two has to get reps and you have to put them in various situations, whether it’s two minutes, whether it’s no red zone, whether it’s high red. It could be backed up. We don’t like to call it backed up. We like to call it coming out because I’m still driving 99 and I’m a score. I mean, that’s the mindset. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way, but that’s what you try to do.
You have to put that person in those situations. Balls on the minus one. Tommy, it’s time for you to go out. Tommy’s the backup. Tommy goes under center going 99. What is he going to do? Is he going to muck the snack? If you don’t give him the reps, you’ll never know what he can do. I think that’s where you have to start. You have to start by giving those guys opportunities and practice to get reps. Let’s be more specific. If it’s a 20 play practice script and it’s the first full padded day of the week, there’s a recognition period.
You’re talking about, hey, this is what we’re going to do with upcoming opponents. You want to give you one those reps. You want to make sure they understand well, give those repeat reps towards the middle of the script or towards the end. And so if it’s 20 plays, you may want to go 14, six or twelve eight, that’s almost 50%. You may not want to do that, but make sure you’re giving this guy some opportunities to instinctively know what’s going on. If you have a competitive period to start practice, sometimes people like to do that. We’ve done that. We were just totally changing the whole scenario of everything.
It could be four plays. You got four plays. The ball is on the plus 20. All right, well, if we’re going to give the starter four, give the other guy four plays. And so that’s what I mean by giving this person these opportunities. Can you afford to spend maybe seven more minutes of practice? I would think you can. So if you already know, generally speaking, how much time you’re going to spend in practice, if it’s a 90 minutes or two hour, and commit to taking a couple of more minutes and putting this person in some adverse situations so they’re more prepared, and that’s going to help their engagement, I believe.
But at the same time, you now have put in those reps. It’s like a deposit. You put money in the bank because you’ve given them the reps. It’s a choice you have to make and you have to commit to that. And I think that’s how you get that done. And then when they come off the bench, they’re just a little bit more prepared, for sure.
I think a lot of it is the conversations during the week too, as we mentioned, getting that hot list together. I could think of that. The process I liked was a lot of it would be done Sunday, but we’d give our guys Sundays off. Mondays they were in and working and having just an informal meeting with my number one and my number two. He wanted both of those guys in there. And here’s the game plan, here’s what we’re thinking. Get some feedback from them. Sometimes they have some valid points and then over the course of the week to keep reviewing that too.
So you go through a practice. Would you feel good about today looking at that board, rather than trying to have the conversation without something in front of you to look at, taking ten minutes, bring them in the office, let them see the board, would you like what needs work, et cetera. And I think by Thursday you’ve pared down your call sheet to what is like best, especially by that starter. And Friday morning, which is Friday afternoon, is going to be a walk through practice.
Usually we were off in the morning, so we come in around noon, have lunch, and those guys would come in. And then the focus was, all right, here’s the call sheet, go through it one more time. Talk to me about anything here you don’t feel comfortable with by that time. For the one, it’s usually good for the two, I’d give them a highlighter and say highlight. If you had to go in, highlight the things you would want called right away. And that’s a tool that’s filed away that definitely is being brought up into the press box with me in case we hit that situation.
Then I have something that right away I’m only looking at those passes that he really likes or whatever it might be, the RPO, whatever things that require him to make some decisions. I’m going to call those plays he feels best about. Now. You might have to go outside of that a little bit at times. But I think again, going back to that idea of being quarterback friendly is that you’re calling things that you know they’re confident in and that they can get the ball out too. I think that’s the other key in adding in the other pieces of offense, the best offense is the ones that get going especially early in the game.
You see them just, it’s almost like they’re creating layups for their guys, right. Instead of having them checking up three pointers, these guys are shooting layups, easy stuff, get the ball out quick before you get into some of the more complex stuff that you may have to execute over the course of the game. So really thinking about that too, thinking about your offensive line, right. I think that’s a big part of this. What can they protect?
Because a quarterback friendly system isn’t going to put that guy under fire all the time because his guys can only do so much for him. So if you would just kind of bring that together. I know you mentioned protection before, but in creating something that’s quarterback friendly, things you like to do, that just help get that ball out quickly, it’s going to be a helpful to you as a quarterback and a help to the offensive line.
Yeah. So one thing and just a quick comment. I remember when I spent time at North Carolina Central High, office coordinator was Moses, where Moses would always say very west coast oriented guy. He would always say, JT, we can’t block it, we’re not running it, we can’t protect it. Concepts not going in, which obviously that makes a lot of sense, but that was his mantra. It would be constant in putting things together. Obviously a lot of that lives into that quick game world that you’re talking about when I mean quick game, of course, you know, it’s 200, 300, jet, could be some RPOs, definitely could be screens, layups, things that get the quarterback going early, spreading the box out just a little bit to help the quarterback.
Could be eleven personnel, could be ten. I love tight ends and so I like eleven and twelve. But these are the things that help the quarterback get into a rhythm and help him understand, hey, this is where I need to go with the ball in terms of the screen game, that’s always a plus. And some of that could just be born out of the RPO world in terms of manipulating the defender, but knowing where we can go with the ball quickly, not putting too much stress on the line, taking care of the box, blocking the four down on the front.
And so now the quarterbacks, Reed, is isolated on one guy. So these are just a couple of areas that I believe allows the guy to get confidence, get going early, get into a rhythm and moving at some level of a tempo. I do believe some of the two minute tempo stuff always helps. And this takes me back to what I was saying earlier. Now, some of it is dropped back, but our guys were pretty good at it. And it’s something that when you were talking, it made me think of it. I didn’t mention it earlier, but I think another way to get the number two, even the number one a little bit more oriented in what we’re doing, let them call it.
Like you said, let them call the place. So before we pass on to giving these guys two minutes and hey, here are five concepts, you got it. Let the number two on the sideline call it for the number one. And then when he gets comfortable, he’s having fun, obviously, because he’s feeling like he’s a coach now anyway. And I’ve always said, you’re the extension of being on the field. You are the coach.
Let him call it. Same thing when the one comes off and the two goes on, let him call it. So now they’re extremely engaged in the process. So now when they call it, they know what it feels like. Hey, I called this. I put him in this situation. I’m not going to put him in an adverse situation because when he buys into the concept, he loves the concept. He executes something that he loves. He asked me to put this on his list and he’s done it. Not only he’s done it, he’s called it himself in a situation, part of practice.
So these are just some of the things that we’ve done and I believe that you have to do. I do believe in a lot of shifts and motions, but I think when you’re in those early teaching phases, keep everything as stagnant as you can so he can just see what the shell looks like without the movement. Once he’s executed at a high level, he’s consistent and he’s getting the ball out quickly. Whether it’s peer progression or you reading the shell to determine which side to go left or right, then you do the movement.
Then you do the shifts and explain to them, hey, in this particular formation, this is the alignment, this is what they do. We’re going to add this shift motion in and then you’re going to see a move. Unless you see if the key is still the same and if he can read it out that way, then we’re definitely working towards a masterpiece. And I go back to my Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison example. They were very stationary. They lined up fast, and they ran the concept, the ball was out. Then they add a little shift in motion as part of honestly trickery to you on the defensive side. It’s just fluff stuff, but they run in the same concept.
So for me, it’s a progression of it in terms of teaching it. Can you do it? Can you do it without moving any pieces, and now let’s move chest pieces on the board. And can you do it again? It’s the same concept, by the way. And so that’s some of the stuff that I believe is important, and then you add the speed element into it, and those guys involved in that heavily, whether it’s them calling it for the other quarterback or them just executing it in situation, and then the last component that I believe that makes these guys a lot more confident is how we meet.
I’m going to meet I’m going to preach the gospel to them in terms of what we need to do, what the progression is, what the defense is doing, what the premise of the defense is doing, how they’re set up in terms of their philosophy. But the other part is, I’ve always asked my quarterback, I need you to put together a playlist. I need you to have the receivers in here, the O line, at this particular time. And that’s a theme every week.
So it’s a player’s only offensive meeting. And I’ve given the ingredients, and he runs the meeting, he conducts it because I’ve conducted my meeting with him. And if he can regurgitate that information, then that lets me know, okay, he’s now the coach, just like I’m the coach. He’s the coach on the field. He’s conducting the same meeting. They’re hearing him. He’s regurgitating these learning principles. So now by the time he hits the field, he’s heard it multiple times, he’s preached it as well, and he’s done it in practice.
I love that idea of the player offensive meeting. Now, to be clear, is that something you’ll sit in on then, and see how he’s working and how proficient he is in communicating that?
Absolutely. I sit way in the back, and sometimes I intentionally try not to come in until after he starts, maybe two minutes or so, just so the attention of the room is already on him. I’m in the next room anyway, but I’ll just pop in, like, after he gets going.
Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. We say all the time, when you’re learning, the ability to teach something shows that now you really have mastered whatever subject matter that you’re studying. You’ve mastered it when you can teach it. So I think that’s a great part of this process. I had a question on you. As you said, you’re talking about just different ways you would start to get that number two guy proficient in the offense and going stagnant first, right. Not using shifts emotions for you.
And I would imagine this is something that progresses to where you’re comfortable with certain things over the course of the season. But let’s say it’s early on, and that change has to happen for whatever reason. That guy’s playing injury or whatever, are you in the course of a game, maybe taking off whatever shifts and motions you might have planned to be a little bit more stagnant when that guy goes in, or are you going to roll with the way the players were called during the week?
More than likely because I’m already giving him a menu of things because I’m trying to do this in preparation of something catastrophic possibly happening. I try to do this during the week so I know going in or he’s already done this now if he hasn’t done some of these things and we game plan kind of heavily for the number one and we going with the number two. I may progressively add the motions and stuff in as we go through the course of the game just so we can get out of the game.
But of course, we’re still thinking we’re going to win this thing, but we don’t want to overwhelm this guy. We’ve been in situations like that where the guy gets hurt. Now we got the number two in and we don’t have the volume in, and so we haven’t done all of the things that we’ve done with the number one, but the package has already put in place. We know we have some things for this guy. We’ll just go with that. If he says to me, hey, I coach. I can handle it. I remember we ran it early this week.
He gave me that particular play in practice. I’m good with this one. We’ll run it, but we might scale it a little bit in the middle of a chaotic situation.
Right, Coach? Looking at more of the big picture of offense, last week, Eric Marty and I talked about developing a smooth operator, using a smooth operator, the quarterbacks position. But today you brought up before we got going, you saw a very smooth operation, and we were very impressed by the USC Trojans offense. So tell us what you saw on that that you liked.
Yeah, and I’ve been watching Coach Reilly since he was up before Oklahoma, actually, he was at East Carolina. And he’s a systematic guy in terms of what he wants to know conceptually. Run some air rage stuff, definitely a tempo guy. The menu is not overwhelming, and that’s why I like him, because he might have some volume in that book. But in terms of the execution, those guys got to graduate. There are some things he wants to see them do, and they’re just a part of what his overall belief system is.
And Caleb Williams was on point getting the ball out quickly. That internal clock of his is running smoothly against a really good team. Stanford is not an easy win, and I feel like they just came in there and they executed at a high level and they came out with the victory and it just looked very good early. And they do have some dudes now in that wide receiver corps, and that definitely makes a quarterback happy and where they’re supposed to be, I think, as Coach said, Coach Marty said, smooth operator. A smooth operator can only be as good as the guys on the other end of where he’s putting that ball.
They need to be where they’re supposed to be. And I think in watching USC, when that quarterback gets to the top of his drop and he’s going through his progression, guys are where they’re supposed to be and he’s putting that ball where it’s supposed to be. That’s what looked really good about just their execution. And you saw some of that yesterday and some pro games, especially for the guys that were on the wind side of the column.
Definitely. And you brought up the receivers there and some important points. And I was watching a high school game Friday night and this team runs a lot of compress sets, but the issue I saw is when they would drop back the players, the receivers did not have a good feel for uncompressing that space. I love compressed sets. There’s a lot you could do with it. It gives you more gaps to defend. You’re spreading out the front and creating gaps there. But if you’re starting to run some of those things that maybe run from a spread offense, you guys have to understand the landmarks are still way out there where they were before that. You can’t run it this tight, otherwise it’s all congested. The windows become so small for the QB and that’s not very quarterback friendly.
Right, exactly. And that just goes back to the point. I think sometimes, guys, we see things that look good on TV and when it comes time to executing it, the most important part is to be able to make sure that the language carries over to the players. Hey, we’re in this compressed set for a reason. This is why we’re doing this. This is where you should be. And if it comes down to you taking Vizio or whatever editing tool that you use, you literally have to put landmarks and rules on a piece of paper.
And there’s no fault in doing that because most of these young players are very visual. So they need to see that. And so if they can see it, it helps them have a better understanding. Oh, this is where you want me to go. You want me to go minus two yards towards two yards inside the hatch. So you want me to be four yards outside of the hatch? You want me to spray release this particular five yard out so I can be at my landmark. You have to teach the wide because if you don’t, they’re just going to keep jacking it up.
It’s just going to frustrate the quarterback when he gets to his drop because it’s going to look cloudy, as you say.
Yeah, well, you make some great points there and we get into especially as the year goes on, we’ve taught things and so it’s the replication of a concept put into a new or different package, a different look and you still have to consider, what do I have to coach this guy up on? So, as you said, that maybe a post as an example might require a different release in order to get the spacing and timing that you want out of that compressed situation. So you just have to think about the landmarks. How do you adjust those?
And to me, that’s handled early in the week. I always like to walk through first practice of the week, of anything that needed adjustments. I always look at it as we’re not putting anything new in, but here’s some adjustments to what we’re doing. And based on this, here’s a coaching point you need to be aware of this week. Right. And then you’re able to refer back to that as the week goes on and make sure that that guy understands how to apply it. And now something may be different than you put them in.
Right? Exactly. It goes back to those ingredients that we’re talking about. Some of those ingredients are not just, hey, quarterback, I’m going to give you these five concepts. It’s making sure that this guy understands without a shadow of a doubt the concept of why the where the pass protection, who the line is responsible for, who the running back is responsible for, what my drop is, what are my alerts, and is it a hot in the concept? Some guys, they philosophically, don’t build their hots in. Some do, some don’t. You have to go over all of that.
And then you got to make sure that the receivers understand the landmarks. And that’s why I said you can never go wrong by making sure the picture is right. But that’s really as a mentor of mine, I always said, listen, the pictures, they’re just symbols on a piece of paper. The dudes that you asked to run the concept, make the symbols on the piece of paper come alive, he does not care about pictures. It makes no difference to him. It’s all about the guy. Jimmy’s and Joe’s. I understand that. I think when it just comes to preparing the guys, you got to make sure that it’s well understood way in advance.
So when you go out in, the bullets start to fly, they understand, and that’s the easiest way to identify with who can and can’t get it done. I put this in a language that you understand, that you agree to. Now I need you to execute it. And if I’ve conveyed the language and you don’t get it, first I need to look within myself. Point the finger me. What am I not explaining correctly? Maybe they’re not visual. It’s all about trying to find what type of learner this guy is. And that has to happen very early. If it’s college ball or some places in the country where you do have spring ball, it’s defined extremely early, and that’s the wintertime.
By the time we get to the season, it’s maintenance. It’s all about maintenance. Even when it comes to getting this number two ready. Those are things that we have to do in the spring, and we need to be a little bit more liberal with it in the spring. So by the time we get to the fall, it’s just an order of operation. It’s something that we do and they know it. And it’s built in weekly from the communication to the reps, even giving them a couple of plays.
If it’s a high school, maybe you let your young quarterback go down to the JV and sit there with the young quarterback on the sideline, not to piss the coach off, but just to be a friend of the quarterback in terms of helping through execution and talking to him when he comes off the field. Those little things, they matter.
Definitely coach to wrap up today and kind of a shift here in what we’re talking about, but for high schools, some of them are approaching mid season. I know here in Ohio, we’re in week five already.
I know wherever we’re at around the country, everybody’s got enough games in now that a self scout can tell you a whole heck of a lot about who you are as an offense, as well as what the other people might be looking at and seeing out of you. So any tips you have on the self scout? One, I guess first part in best practices, in doing it and putting it together, knowing that most people have limited time. And then two, what do you do with the information?
That’s an awesome question. So we did this weekly, but I’m going to tell you where I think the best self scout comes from. Your defensive coordinator. You’re in the office. Let that guy help you. And what I mean by that is, first of all, analytics are important. We can pull a lot of this from whatever platform that you’re using. I’m very familiar with XO, DV, Sport, and Huddle, so that information never lies to you. Long before the season begins, you need to have whoever these coaches are that are responsible for this information, putting it in and turning it.
They need to create this report weekly, even doing scrimmages, so how to film is labeled and everything else is important. So now we don’t get through this. We need to do the self scout. If everything is labeled correctly, that coach that’s responsible for it can go ahead and produce the reports on a weekly basis. So you track the reports, but then you go to your defensive coach and you get his perspective. They coach every time you line up in this formation. Now I’m just sharing this with you because this is what I see that’s helpful.
It’s good to one look at the analytics that you see from the reports, but besides your head coach as your defensive coordinator, because they know they go against you every week in these situational periods or these competitive periods, and they can tell you what their thoughts are in terms of upcoming opponents and how they may play certain things. So I would definitely say involve your staff and the guys on the other side of the ball, especially if you have enough coaches that are coaching offensive on the offensive, defensive side, you’ll never go wrong with that. I think that’s always helpful.
So those two places, I would definitely say always trust the analytics because it tells you what you’re consistently doing. And then number two, use those coaches on the other side of the bar. And that should be a weekly conversation. Typically, that post mortem. Once you’ve gotten the players out of the building on Saturday after a Friday night game, that goes a long way. Those coordinators need to have conversations together.
I couldn’t agree with you more. And there are those situations. When I was at Baltimore, we ran scout exchange, right? So we didn’t go against our good are good on good a lot. However, we would have periods always, like first five minutes, I think we are limited to maybe it was four or five plays, but they’re good on good. And to me, that was always the lab too, right? If there was something, an adjustment, maybe something different we were doing, I wanted to run it there, and I was asking those questions, or sometimes they were just giving the comments, man, that formation and the boundary stuff you’re doing, that’s pretty tough against the type of defense you’re going to see. That’s what you want to hear.
Or, hey, that motion against these guys probably won’t have that much of an effect. So now you go back to the lab and say, how am I going to tweak this? This is what they’re saying. So I couldn’t agree more that those are two great ways to get it done. The second part, Coach, was you got that information, especially as it involves some tendencies. What do you do with that information now?
How much are you trying to break those tendencies, or how long do you let those tendencies go on until maybe you try to break them.
And as soon as you get that information, that’s what you should be going into your next week thinking. And considering you’re talking about teams that have a chance to be playoff eligible or teams that their programs, like they reload every year, these are things that you want to be able to go into every week. I know coaches, and I’ve done it as well. I literally have notes that I take from these conversations, and every week I’ll build in some tendency breakers for something that may not occur for two or three weeks down the line, but I do it because I know you’re going to scout, you’re going to scout this, you’re going to break it down.
So I want to put some things in that may trip you up and just denormalize the tendencies that you typically see that are in the analytics. And it’ll be at different points in the game. But I want to keep you aware of it. Look, it could be running option with the quarterback. You have to practice it. So I believe as soon as you can get the information, the tip or the tail, you start to apply it into the game plan weekly.
And I’ve heard this honestly not trying to create a church sermon, but I’ve heard a creature say this one time, always think of the end. When you’re planning goals, think of the end first, so you plan for that in mind. I want to be in a championship game, so I start to prepare for that game long in advance. Some of these things I lay out, I put in a notebook for down the line. It could be week three, week four, then I’ll share that with everybody. But these are notes that I just help myself in terms of breaking some of those tendencies. It may not be a lot of things, but there’s an approach that’s already in place and I just have to stick with it.
And I think sometimes having a great head coach always helps with that, because they’re looking at the overall, you’re looking at the special teams, the three phases, and they may come to you and say, hey man, keep this in mind. When you run this concept, you’re always in the gun. They may say it’s 100%. You may want to break that. And so, okay, now let me put this guy in the center.
In this particular situation to break this tendency that the defense is probably picking up. So I try to do it immediately. And it’s a weekly commitment so I don’t get too caught up.
I like that approach, that you start to work on it right away, knowing that, you know what, this particular week, this opponent, I may still be able to maintain that tendency. So that later on, as I continue to get better at this tenancy breaker, I may need it in a bigger game. That just lining up and doing it, whether they know it or not. It might not be the best thing. So I think that’s a great approach to it.
You have to just keep yourself honest. You know what I mean? This thing goes so fast. You know, in December, everybody’s going to be calling you late December, early January, and everybody’s looking for solutions for 2023. So that’s why I always say you always prepare with the end in mind. And it could just be little things. But building this offense, it is like a family tree.
There’s a lot of branches to it, and taking notes, keeping track of thoughts, just as a coordinator is important. Not leaving who you are, what your core value system is, and what you believe in. The execution is showing. We’re having success here. Just being able to just make some small modifications as you go through and not get too far off the reservation is important because it keeps the defense at bay and they don’t know what the heck what your thoughts on what you’re doing, Coach?
I certainly appreciate you taking the time. I know you’re still working and getting ready for 2023. That’s your season coming up here, but definitely appreciate your insight into these topics we brought up here today and certainly would love to have you back later in the season to share some more.
Absolutely. Appreciate it, Coach. Thanks for the time.
There are some links in the show notes to coach’s clinic talks on developing a young quarterback. That’s a two-part series. Be sure to check that out. He digs into detail on some of the things that we talked about here today, so if you’re interested, be sure to get that resource. Follow us all season long for our in in-season episodes on CoachandCoordinator.com and follow me on Twitter at CoachKGrobowski.