The game of football is essentially a strategic battle in which the offensive team is on a mission to confuse and overpower the defense so as to progress down the field. Obviously, the role of the defense is to counter the offense’s strategy and prevent this forward progression. How the offense and defense handle their roles will always come down to one key starting point: the formation.
An offense’s formation is meant to keep the defense guessing or to expose their weaknesses. Every offensive play formation has a specific goal in mind. If it’s a running play, the goal is to expose a weakness in the defensive line and push past it. If it’s a passing play, the goal is to outwit the defensive backs while simultaneously holding off the defensive line. Either way, a team’s starting formation must creatively or systematically deliver on these intentions.
On the flip side, defensive formations are designed to call the offense’s bluff. A good defensive formation is one of preparation. What’s the best set on a specific down and distance so that the men are given the best opportunity to stop the play or prevent scoring?
Thus, the reasons for why formations are so important are obvious. This is how the play will start. If you’re about to race a 100m dash, you wouldn’t set yourself up 10m behind the start line. Position is important to grant the best possible outcome. When routes are run and tackles are made successfully on the football field, it’s in large part due to the superiority of the team’s starting formation.
With all of this mind, you can see why studying game film is so important. A bird’s eye view of both teams’ formations says a lot about their effectiveness. Coaches should always be reviewing formations recorded on tape the day after a game.
For one, formation review gives a lot of insight into what additional options your offensive team might have had using a specific set. This is especially useful when the play had failed. The coach might determine that the formation was not necessarily the issue on the play but rather how his players utilized it. Maybe the purpose of the formation was to open up the short side of the field but your quarterback focused too much on the wide side. Or maybe based on what the film shows the offensive formation only needs to be slightly tweaked. Perhaps moving one more receiver over to tight end would have accomplished the sweep.
For defensive coordinators the same principles apply. Film review can tell you whether or not the set on down and distance needs to be tweaked, altogether changed, or if your players just need to be advised. It’s in the film that the coach can find patterns in the opposition’s offensive formations and how they run their plays on down and distance. He can use this to inform himself as to what the best sets, in general, should be used in the next match-up against that team – or even other teams guilty of the same patterns.
Indeed studying formations through game film is essential to effective football. Ideally, a coach will have two elevated views of the previous game at his disposal on the subsequent days leading up to the next game. These are typically the Pressbox Angle and the Endzone Angle.
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Posted on December 30, 2016 at 11:30 AM