Breaking Tendency- Jim Johnson and Bill Walsh

NFL.com has a very good article on Philadelphia’s zone blitz scheme.

There are two words which define the article: BREAKING TENDENCY.

Even an old veteran defensive coordinator like Jim Johnson knows that he may have a good system that works, but it is useless if it is predictable. If you do not break tendency in this league you are dead. There is enough film study and statistics going on for these players on both sides of the ball to get an advantage from your formation and playcalling tendencies. What makes the play of the Giants offensive line so valuable is that they as a unit can sniff out these maneuvers and adjust on the fly. Now the Giants have on film an example of where the Eagles will run that blitz out of their base defense. And know that truly anything is possible. While that makes it harder for Johnson to truly ‘surprise’ the Giants, it also gives Johnson a general WIDER edge: his defensive tendencies are muddled enough to keep the Giants off-balance and unable to rely on any given assumption. THAT IS THE GOAL. The best pattern is NO pattern. Look at your own playcalling and make sure it is not embedded with tendency.

One of my favorite plays demonstrating the vital importance of tendency was the interception and TD by little-used LB Jack Squirek of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII. The Redskins used a play earlier in the year with 3 WRs and scatback RB Joe Washington. The Raiders studied the play and spotted the change in personnel near the end of the first half. They put in Squirek (who was better in pass coverage) and told him to play Joe Washington on tight man coverage. The result was an easy pick for an INT TD to turn the game into a 21-3 halftime rout on their way to a 38-9 win.

Brian remarked a while back about how we may be able to see 3 HOFers from one draft class of 4 people. Well, as Parcells (and others here) would bark, Webster and Jacobs have a long way to go before they get to Canton, and Tuck has a little more work to do, while we are at it. That reminded me of the story of Greg Cook. Greg Cook is the poster-child for warning anyone before they anoint any budding star in the NFL. Cook’s rotator cuff makes Sehorn’s ACL/MCL tear seem like child’s play. It is a reminder of how we plan and the game of football laughs.

Inside the mind of one of the greats, Bill Walsh.

The article above retells the story of Cook, but also delves into the discussion of tendencies. Walsh lets you inside the mind of a great game planner. The setting up of the ball underneath just as soon as he pushes the LBers out in coverage is critical to understanding how you scheme an offense. Madden remarked in the Carolina-NYG game how he does not understand why teams don’t run the play again if it worked. You can do that, as long as THAT is a NEW tendency, not to break old tendency. What, do you think Pierce is not going to recognize the exact same formation and call it out to the entire defense for what is coming? Bill Walsh won three Super Bowls and his immediate successor won a fourth. He did it by staying one step ahead of the opponent.

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