Off-Season Film Study
Film study is one of the greatest ways to improve on schemes and calls made the year before. In order to correctly monitor the calls that were being made a defensive coordinator must look at certain scenarios where he struggled the year before. It is important to analyze the season with a critical eye and always ask, “How can we improve?” From player personnel decisions to eliminating calls altogether, using cut-ups from the year before allows the DC to evaluate when and where plays were called. Remember hindsight is 20/20. One way to increase improvement from year to year is to view cut-ups that highlight defensive deficiencies and struggles. There are multiple ways to create cut-ups, but it is important to have certain ones created that highlight the unique ways offenses attack a defense while allowing the DC to have hard data on what needs to be fixed within the scheme.
Five Cut-Ups to Improve Your Off-Season Self-Scout
- Explosive Runs – Putting together all the runs over 10 yards is a great way to see if there is a deficiency in your scheme. By lumping them all together and sorting them by formation and play call you can quickly determine if teams were attacking you from certain sets. Over the course of the year, a DC can lose sight of how a team attacks each week. By putting everything together and sorting it in a particular order a defensive staff can watch all the explosives analytically and draw from the data. If there is a trend the staff can quickly act and create a solution.
- Explosive Passes – Much like a Deep Shot tape that tracks passes over 20 yards, the Explosive Pass Tape can give the DC insight on where teams attacked through the air. Like the Run Tape, the Explosive Pass Tape needs to be sorted by formation and play to allow the defensive staff to analyze any trends. This also gives insight into personnel. Maybe teams picked on a certain player or area on the field. Putting all the explosive passes together allows a staff to quickly determine what the trends were for that year. Over time a staff can pull data from several seasons and see how they improved (or didn’t) from the previous season. If a trend develops over several seasons it might be the scheme.
- 3rd Down Pass – Every defensive coach wants to get off the field on 3rd Down. Since most teams attack through the air on 3rd Down it is important to review how your team fared in passing situations. In every great defense, you will find a great 3rd Down percentage. Getting off the field is crucial and objectively looking at 3rd Down passes will allow the defensive staff to develop a plan of action for the next season. Great defensive schemes are constantly evolving to fit not only the players but the situations and offenses it is seeing. Great DC’s have a plan for 3rd Down and stress execution over the season. Taking a critical eye on the down is crucial to the development of a championship defense.
- Motion Tape – Motion is a great way for the offense to expose how a defense sets its strength. By using motion the offense sets its offense up and forces the defense to account for a new formation or set. Jet motion uses quick motion to out leverage a defense and forces the defense to account for the tempo of the WR running across the field. By creating a tape that is based on the motions a defense sees all year can help assist a defensive staff in the design of a defensive scheme. Setting the strength is critical to combating motions. One way to highlight deficiencies in how a defense sets its strength is to look at how teams attack a defense by using motion. Many times if a defense has multiple moving parts offenses will use motion to get the defense out of position and out-leveraged.
- Gadget Tape – Nick Saban in an interview leading up to the College Football Playoff game commented on the trick plays of Washington, “We have a whole reel of them (trick plays) … But it takes a lot of discipline in terms of everybody doing their job and having disciplined eye control.” Gadget plays can lead to fatal points. As Saban stated, to combat gadget plays it takes eye discipline and knowledge of where players fit in the overall scheme. Each player must do their job even when the offense gives them something different to look at. One way to prepare for the upcoming season is to review how your defense defended gadgets by the opponent. This can highlight discipline deficiencies within your personnel. A DC should never underestimate the power of a quick touchdown and the momentum swing that is produced by a gadget play being successful. Watch them, plan for them, and practice against them.
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