Here’s an actual case study: 3rd and 5 from their 49 with 11:46 left in the 4th quarter. We were up by 4. The ball was on our left hashmark. We believed they would call the following formation:

T  
QWRWR
84oocooTE 

We made this forecast based on our ‘OVER 80’ Rule that governs our defensive play-calling. The OVER 80 Rule will be explained in the next blog. The forecast centered on a solid belief that the opposing offense would not “flex” their ‘muscle-man’ – in this case, their muscle man (TE – #84) aligned on our left side, on the single receiver side. We forecast that the QB would be under center, with a single RB, double TE, and a three-receiver side to our right.

We made this forecast based on our ‘OVER 80’ Rule that governs our defensive play-calling. The OVER 80 Rule will be explained in the next blog. The forecast centered on a solid belief that the opposing offense would not “flex” their ‘muscle-man’ – in this case, their muscle man (TE – #84) aligned on our left side, on the single receiver side. We forecast that the QB would be under center, with a single RB, double TE, and a three-receiver side to our right.

One of the primary aims of our scouting report is to identify the “muscle-man” who we define as the opposing offense’s biggest threat: (a) their most physically dangerous player who is their strongest ballcarrier and blocker. (b) their OC’s central focus.

Every OC consciously or subconsciously ranks one player as the central focus of his offense, defined as the OC’s number one weapon to carry the ball or lead the ball especially when it counts the most. The title of central focus is never shared by two players. Nor is the title “muscle-man.”

“Flexing” refers to moving the TE outside the box. Realigning the tight end inside and outside the box has been the number one strategy that has spread modern offenses by whatever definition of ‘spread’ that’s used. In this case, our film study awarded the title of “muscle man” to #84. The phrase “not flexing the muscle-man” means the TE is on the LOS inside the box.

Based on our Over 80 Rule, we forecast that they would run a stretch play to the short side/single receiver side, behind their muscle-man.

We considered a simple 3 deep – 4 under zone immediately after the previous play ended but we changed our mind. We called cover one, with a 5-man rush by blitzing our right inside linebacker through B gap on our right side. Our left CB would realign to cover #2 on the 3-receiver side. We called the following defensive formation:

    DEDT DT DE    
CB  SSLB LB LB  CB 
         
         
   FS     

We predicted wrong. They aligned in this formation:

            T   Q    
WR   WR  
TE oocoo   WR

We call this offensive concept “flexing muscle.” They flexed their ‘muscle-man’ #84 on the LOS in the slot on the short side in a shotgun single-back 2×2 formation. We’ve positioned the concept of ‘flexing-muscle’ as the number one factor that influences our defensive play-calling. Then we did the same for our offensive play-calling. Flexing muscle is the best way to bind a defense.

Flexing the TE away from the traditional TE alignment was the main reason for scrapping our playbook and replacing it with our SWAT system, on both offense and defense. The reason is the evidence we found – ‘muscle movement’ is the number one influencer in play success. Nothing challenges a defense more than realigning the muscle-man because realigning the biggest threat exposes every crack in the defense by revealing weakness or making them by turn strengths into weaknesses.

Flexing muscle is not created equal. In this case, their muscle-man was #2 on the LOS. The factors that make a difference in flexing muscle are: (i) online versus offline alignment (ii) distance away from the box (iii) receiver distribution.

For example: (a) #2 online in a 2×2 is entirely different than being in the exact same spot but being #1 on the single-receiver side. (b) #2 online is not the same as # 2 offline. (c) flexed on the short side is different than being flexed on the wide side.

Our opponent aligned the muscle-man online #2 in a 2×2 for a specific purpose – to be the central focus of the third down play. Our Over 80 made a forecast accordingly. We audibled to change our initial defensive call. This story happened 20 years ago. Since then, we’ve made two major changes to our SWAT system: (i) We scrapped the defensive huddle. We call defensive plays without a huddle using a decision-making model at the LOS. (ii) We change the labels. We’ve stopped labeling defensive position according to traditional names such as linebacker, defensive end, and strong safety. Changing the labels, changes the outcome. The only way to defend modern spread offenses is to use different labels for defensive positions.

#peace.

Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
Head coach – Niagara X-men football

head coach- Robert Bateman High School – GO WILD.

Owner – X Fitness Inc.

Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at: www.ginoarcaro.com His books include: 4th & hell: seasons 1-5, Soul of a Lifter, SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur . He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in the spring of 2014. And later this month, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.”