BOOK PREVIEW: Breaking Down The 2018 Kansas City Chiefs Offense

By Taylor Kolste

Chiefs Book Cover

Within the next few weeks, I will be releasing my second book, Breaking Down The 2018 Kansas City Chiefs Offense. The book will follow the same format as my first book, Breaking Down The 2018 LA Rams Offense. This preview will contain a few excerpts from the book to hopefully give the reader a good idea of what the book will be like. There are 25 of the 345 pages shown below. The rest of the book follows the same structure that is shown in the preview.

PREVIEW:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION – 1

CHAPTER 1: PERSONAL CHARACTER & LEADERSHIP – 4

CHAPTER 2: INTRO TO CHIEFS OFFENSE – 16

CHAPTER 3: RUN GAME – 20

  • Outside Run Locked RPO – 24
  • Perimeter Run – 63
  • UC Run w/ Perimeter Threat – 70
  • UC Run – 90
  • IZ RPO – 88
  • Gun Option Run – 100
  • Gap Scheme RPO – 121
  • Outside Run RPO – 133
  • Gun Inside Run – 137
  • Gadget Run – 141

CHAPTER 4: PASS GAME – 147

  • Quick Game – 147
  • Intermediate Pass Game – 188
  • Vertical Pass Game – 229
  • Movement Pass Game – 303

CHAPTER 5: SCREEN GAME – 324

Continue reading BOOK PREVIEW: Breaking Down The 2018 Kansas City Chiefs Offense

The Bay and the Bayou: Justin Wilcox and Dave Aranda’s Defenses

By: Cameron Soran

The Core of the Justin Wilcox and Dave Aranda Defenses

Both Dave Aranda and Justin Wilcox run a lot of the same plays.  This should come as no great surprise to anyone who viewed the transition from Aranda to Wilcox at Wisconsin in 2016.  But are these common elements really all that effective? I will let the advanced stats speak for themselves.

LSU – Before Aranda

2015 – LSU Defense – 34th in Defensive S&P+, 48th in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 11th in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 31st in Defensive FEI

LSU – Aranda’s tenure as Defensive Coordinator

2016 – LSU Defense – 2nd in Defensive S&P+, 2nd in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 3rd in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 4th in Defensive FEI

2017 – LSU Defense – 8th in Defensive S&P+, 24th in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 33rd in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 34th in Defensive FEI

2018 – LSU Defense – 5th in Defensive S&P+, 32nd in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 2nd in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 8th in Defensive FEI

Cal – Before Wilcox

  • 2016 – California Defense – 107th in Defensive S&P+, 120th in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 84th in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 117th in Defensive FEI

Cal – Wilcox’s tenure as HC

2017 – California Defense – 82nd in Defensive S&P+, 64th in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 58th in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 63rd in Defensive FEI

2018 – California Defense – 13th in Defensive S&P+, 29th in Defensive Rushing S&P+, 10th in Defensive Passing S&P+, and 15th in Defensive FEI

Who’s Defense?

I think it is important to briefly state that what I will be covering in this article.  Namely, just the schemes that these two men have in common. That should not be mistaken, however, for the entirety of either Cal’s or LSU’s defenses in 2018 (or, in several cases, 2017).  Both coaches have numerous elements that are unique and not shared by the other: not simply in terms of plays, but also what tags they have available. Our focus here is just on those schemes that both guys use.  

(For those interested in how both came to use many of the same plays, I will cover that briefly at the end of the article as an addendum.)

So what kind of defense is it?  3-4? 3-3-5? 2-4-5?  Well, it is all of those and more.  The defining feature of an Aranda or Wilcox defense is the absence of fixed position players.  Nearly everyone is expected to play a hybrid of responsibilities, whether it be stopping the run, rushing the passer, or dropping into coverage.

The modern spread offense is essentially built around the premise of attacking negative space in the defense – the areas where no defender is present.  (Think, for example, of the open B-Gap as the focal point of many spread-to-run offenses.) When defender positions are fixed, then the offense can focus their assault on the areas of the field they know will be unoccupied.  The slot receiver slant, for example, is premised on the idea that the defensive end will never drop into coverage to protect that throwing lane.

Well, what if the defense end can drop into coverage to protect that throwing lane?  What if all the defenders are versatile enough in their skill sets to protect potentially every area of negative space on a football field?  In answering this question that you begin to get a vision of what guys like Aranda and Wilcox are trying to do on Saturdays. They know they cannot defend all areas of negative space on every play, but in presenting the threat of such a possibility, they cause hesitation in the opposing offense.

And a hesitant offense rarely scores points.

Continue reading The Bay and the Bayou: Justin Wilcox and Dave Aranda’s Defenses

Sean McVay and The LA Rams: Personal Character, Leadership, & Team Culture

By Taylor Kolste

*** The following post is the first chapter from my book, Breaking Down the 2018 L.A. Rams Offense. The first chapter of the book focuses on the personal character and leadership of coach McVay, and, in turn, the culture that his character/leadership allows him to develop within the team. As the first chapter explains, without the work ethic and humility that McVay has developed within himself, the genius of the Rams’ scheme would not exist. Without McVay’s leadership (which stems from his personal character), the Rams championship-level culture would not exist leading to poor execution of the scheme, no matter how ‘genius’ it was. I believe anyone can learn from the example set by McVay to become a better version of themselves and to become a more effective leader.

PERSONAL CHARACTER, LEADERSHIP, & TEAM CULTURE

“Sean McVay is a genius.” This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many people. This praise of McVay mirrors that of Bill Walsh when he was first building his dynasty in San Francisco. In Walsh’s book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, he has a section titled “Don’t Let Anybody Call You a Genius” where he states that “when the “Genius” title turned on me, I backed away from it as far as I could get.” I would guess that McVay would express similar feelings to the ‘genius’ label. While McVay is definitely a smart guy, I believe calling him a ‘genius’ is misguided. While McVay and his staff may have created a ‘genius’ scheme, crediting all of this to McVay’s natural intellect ignores his work ethic and other character traits that have led to his success. This also ignores McVay’s leadership abilities and does not recognize the rest of his staff for their contributions in developing the scheme. In addition to this, the team culture of the Rams, which stems from McVay and his staff’s leadership, plays just as big of a role in the success of the team as the scheme does. Former Michigan head football coach, Bo Schembechler, famously said, “I’ve always believed eye-popping innovation is not as important as perfect execution.” The way the Rams think, the attitude they take towards their work, and the way they go about their day-to-day business, in other words, their culture, is what allows them to execute the scheme to the best of their abilities. So, as the chart shows below, everything starts with the leader’s personal character.

Culture Flowchart.png

Continue reading Sean McVay and The LA Rams: Personal Character, Leadership, & Team Culture

The New Orleans Saints’ Stick-Option Concept

By Taylor Kolste

Throughout the Brees-Payton era in New Orleans, the Saints have consistently finished as one of the top passing offenses in the NFL. Since 2012, the Saints have finished as one of the top 5 drop-back passing offenses in the NFL each season (in terms of yards per play).

While much of this success needs to be accredited to Drew Brees and other great players that the Saints have had over this period, their scheme has done a good job of maximizing the talent they have had over the years. A staple of Saints passing game over the years has been the Stick-Option concept. Below shows the combined statistics for their variations of this concept over the last 3 seasons (all of the stats from this article are based on the 2016-2018 seasons):

Stick-Option Stats.png

Stick-Option Passing Stats.png

This article will go over the different variations of this concept that the Saints have used over the past 3 seasons. Below shows the basic structure of these concepts:

Stick-Option.png

Continue reading The New Orleans Saints’ Stick-Option Concept

Book Preview: Breaking Down the 2018 Oklahoma Offense

I have released my book on the Oklahoma Sooners’ 2018 offense. You can buy it here. This preview contains an excerpt from the first chapter of the book which introduces the reader to the identity of the Sooners offensive scheme. This preview also contains an excerpt from a later chapter in the book going over one of the Sooners’ top passing concepts. This should give great insight into the overall structure of the rest of the book.

While the book was written in a way in which video isn’t necessary, it will be available. Every diagram in the book will include a label that corresponds to a film clip that readers can find on this site once the book is released. For the purpose of this article, the videos have been inserted below the diagrams.

Continue reading Book Preview: Breaking Down the 2018 Oklahoma Offense

BOOK PREVIEW: Breaking Down the 2018 L.A. Rams Offense

By Taylor Kolste

Book Cover.png

Shortly after the Super Bowl, I will be releasing my first book, Breaking Down the 2018 L.A. Rams Offense. It should be released the weekend following the Super Bowl.

UPDATE: The book is now available: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794188207.

This preview will contain a few excerpts from the book to hopefully give the reader a good idea of what the book will be like. Hopefully, these excerpts can also give you some context on the Rams offense leading into the Super Bowl. There will be updates made to the book based on the Super Bowl, so the sections shown here will likely be slightly different when the book is released, but this is very close to what the final product will look like. There are 26 of the 359 pages shown below. The rest of the book follows the same structure to what is shown in the preview.

PREVIEW:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION  – 1

CHAPTER 1: PERSONAL CHARACTER, LEADERSHIP, & TEAM CULTURE – 3

  • Personal Character – 5
  • Leadership – 11
  • Team Culture – 18

CHAPTER 2: INTRO TO RAMS OFFENSE – 22

  • Offensive Philosophy – 22
  • Identity – 23
  • Tempo-Use – 27

CHAPTER 3: RUN GAME – 32

  • Fly Sweep – 33
  • Mid Zone – 45
  • Outside Zone – 61
  • Inside Zone – 63
  • Duo – 70
  • Toss Sweep – 76
  • Short Trap – 81
  • Long Trap – 84
  • Wham – 86
  • Quasi-RPOs – 88
  • Other Runs – 91

CHAPTER 4: PLAY-ACTION PASS GAME – 99

  • Play-Action – 99
  • Naked Boots – 164
  • Half-Boots – 179

CHAPTER 5: DROPBACK PASS GAME – 208

  • Quick Game – 208
  • 5-Step Passing Game – 222
  • 7-Step Passing Game – 315
  • Vertical Passing Game – 339

CHAPTER 6: SCREEN GAME – 351

Continue reading BOOK PREVIEW: Breaking Down the 2018 L.A. Rams Offense

A Worthy Rival: The Kirby Smart Defense

By Cameron Soran

Plato and Aristotle. Pompey and Caesar. Obi-Wan and Anakin. Hayes and Schembechler. The motif of the student-turned-rival is as old and recurring as any in human history. It is one of those rare tropes of fiction and themes of history that never quite seems to lose its luster no matter how many times we see it played out. And for the foreseeable future, the rivalry between Nick Saban and Kirby Smart promises to be another great chapter of this millennia-long refrain.

My primary reason for studying Kirby Smart’s defense was in finding out how much he would keep from his near decade-long boss, and how much he would truly carve out on his own. Would he be simply Saban 2.0 – now with improved media relations? Or would he deliver a distinct defensive philosophy that was entirely his own? The answer, of course, is somewhat in between.

In many ways, defensive coaches are molded by the offenses they face. Saban, for example, spent a lifetime facing a litany of offensive schemes at both the collegiate and NFL levels, which in turn has led him to his near omnivorous approach to defense. There is almost no front, coverage, or blitz missing in Saban’s mental library, and he is thoroughly prepared to use them all if the situation demands it.

Smart’s defense, by contrast, appears more molded by the proliferation of the spread offense that coincides with his coaching career. His defense is more condensed, more streamlined, more focused. In short, Smart’s defense appears to have fewer individual play calls, but with more checks and adjustments built-in. When Smart calls a double outside blitz, for example, he isn’t particularly tied to which two guys are coming – he lets the offensive formation dictate that. So when Smart sends in a one-word play call (it doesn’t take long watching the TV broadcast to figure out that Georgia uses one-word calls versus tempo, but that’s hardly a surprise given that Smart told a room full of Texas high school coaches this offseason that he’d be doing that: https://matchquarters.com/2018/07/27/thsca-football-lecture-kirby-smart-2018/), he really isn’t sending in one play: he’s sending in four to five plays depending on how the offense lines up. So no, it is not any less complicated than Saban’s defense. But it is structured quite differently.

Continue reading A Worthy Rival: The Kirby Smart Defense