Doug Pederson – “Breaking Tendency” with Aggressive Variety

Posted: January 23, 2018 in All Things Power Spread

or are they?

tendency in football is an inclination toward a particular characteristic or type of behavior in any specific situation resulting in a series of actions or reactions that can be studied, analyzed and catalogued as Habit.  The game always exhibits general habits that shift over time depending on shifts in thinking. Most teams follow these patterns of play – more or less – again depending on time. In addition each Team has its own set of habits that again shift over time depending on staff and personnel.

Breaking Tendency simply describes another series of actions or reactions that stray from the generalized norm for any particular situation. If unique or innovative, then it has the possibility of becoming the new norm and eventually, if it continues long enough, a new habit. Then a new action or reaction becomes the new break from this new tendency.

Obviously, Breaking Tendency can screw up the High-Probability chart from above. Thus the point of Aggressive Variety. Use everything that football has to offer to keep the opponents guessing while synthesizing the scheme into a functioning whole that’s easy for the players to execute. Easier said than done. When it works it’s unstoppable.

There are many schemes and concepts that come into play in doing anything outside of the norm. Whatever the reasoning, it’s always about keeping the opponent guessing and off-balance. Breaking Tendency can take many forms. Breaking away from the norms of Football at a particular time. Breaking away from Team Habits formed over a period of time. Sometimes just breaking away from normal ways of viewing and using space and time.

The latter is a deeper use of the term and one I want to look at in correlation with what the Philadelphia Eagles second year head coach has done so brilliantly since he’s arrived.


Doug Pederson

In Power Spread Terms breaking tendency is simply one type of Variety. If  it’s done on a regular basis and at crucial times in the game then it’s Aggressive Variety. No NFL coach has been better at Aggressive Variety than Doug Pederson over the last two years.

Below I will describe 3 particular plays – very close in succession – during an important 4th Quarter Drive by the Eagles in their close win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Playoffs. These particular schemes are not innovative or new. Neither is the play calling. The use of Space,Time,Team (PS=st²) in a simple cohesive manner is where the brilliance lies.

Pederson effectively expands his own teams perception of space/time thus increasing the talent of the team since it’s all directly proportional by definition. Due to the law of conservation any action must have an opposite and equal reaction. Thus any perception of expanded SpaceTime must have the opposite effect –  the opponent’s perception of contracted SpaceTime.  Following the PS equation, an increase in Space increases Time increases Talent. The same holds true for any decrease. Thus, good Power Spread schemes ultimately increase their talent on the field while decreasing the talent opposite them. This is how you win with less or lose with more based on strategies.

There’s no better example of this than what Pederson’s strategies have done for both of his QBs. First he took a young FCS QB, with some talent, but no experience and slowly expanded his Space, then Timing until he became the type of QB that Pederson was looking for to run his Offense. The end result was a record setting year and the #1 seed in the playoffs.

After this QB was hurt, Pederson successfully transitioned his schemes to take advantage of the talents of his backup QB. The first was more of a powerful improviser with a charisma that gripped the city of Philadelphia. The second was a spread passer, without much mobility, but with a quicker release and quicker reads in the passing game. This is the third precept of Power Spread  – Flexible. Something that is still very much unexplored to any great degree, but will be in the future. Pederson’s ability to enhance any QB is a result of his Aggressive Flexible Variety in concept and scheme.

For now lets focus on what exactly I’m talking about when it comes to Space,Time,Team and Pederson’s brilliance in meshing all three in a simple cohesive approach.


Atlanta Falcons vs Philadelphia Eagles – A 4th Quarter Drive

Here I detail exactly how Doug Pederson and his Offensive Coordinator, Frank Reich, broke tendency with the use of SpaceTimeTeam. This really deserves a YouTube video, which I plan on doing this off-season along with many other videos detailing all the PS innovations exploding all over the football world right now. For now you can watch the exact sequence here.

3rd Down

Great route design to occupy the defenders downfield for a “slip” screen out left to Ajayi. A slip screen is the name for a play design where the RB fakes a run and/or block then sneaks out into the short area of the field near the sideline(flat) for a catch and run. Big gain. 1st down.

Following 3rd down

Play call is to fake another Ajayi slip screen left and throw to the TE crossing over the top. The way in which Peterson used all three parts of Power Spread – Space,Time,Team – in a simple cohesive way is brilliant.

Time – Post-Snap Confusion vs Pre-Snap Confusion:  The first Time, Attention was focused after the snap based on a simple switch route (crisscross) from the two WRs on the left.  The second Time, Attention was focused before the snap on a WR motion from left to right to form a Trips Right (3WRs bunched together).

Space – Bunched WRs Downfield versus Bunched WRs on the Right Side of the Field:  The first Space Deception was down the field with two WRs running vertically away from Ajayi. The second Space Deception was on the right side of the field with WRs bunched horizontally away from Ajayi.

Team – Using Ajayi as a decoy on the second slip screen left after throwing to him on the first one. Using a big TE in a good matchup to power away from the CB right over the top of Ajayai.

Space Time TeamFirst 3rd Down, Atlanta sees Trips Left / No Motion / Switch Route Design downfield – to attract them away from Ajayi. Second 3rd Down, Atlanta sees what seems to be a completely different formation – Motion into Trips Right/Bunched Set opposite side of the field- to again attract them away from Ajayi.

The second 3rd Down they’re minds are still focused on the big play by Ajayi on the first 3rd Down. So after all the deception, the player’s still on the left side of the field quickly focus on Ajayi, only to be fooled one last time – this time by personnel. Instead of Ajayi, Foles throws to TE Zach Ertz on a post behind him, wide open, for a another big gain and 1st down.

Very next play

Agholor motions right again. This TIME they did a little forward toss or touch pass to Agholor crossing underneath the QB! Another big gain on a sweep pass right! Short, safe, simple with great variety and misdirection in three different simple sets!

Simple Scheme/Deep Concept

The Schemes are as simple as child’s play. Easy for the Offense to execute. The Concepts are deep. Easy for the Defense to be fooled.  The Cohesion is brilliant. Easy to repeat with a lot of slight variations each time.

Simple Progression:

  • No Motion, slip screen left.
  • Motion WR right, fake slip screen left, TE Post left.
  • Motion WR right again, give him the ball on pass sweep right.
Aggressive Variety

SIMPLE DESIGNS AND ACTIONS FROM DEEP CONCEPTS! This consistent simple Aggressive Variety by Pederson continues to be the missing element from his mentor Andy Reid and has led the Eagles to a Super Bowl.


PS Perfection > Less Execution > Player Imperfection > Freedom > Aggressive Play = PS Energy!

Simply said, the Falcons found themselves  in the wrong Space, focusing on the wrong Players at the wrong Time. Utter confusion. But what does this mean for the team running the brilliant PS Schemes?

Breaking Tendency or rather, Aggressive Variety leads to Great Energy, which is the ultimate goal.  How does this develop?

For one, the players feel a lot of freedom brought about from a feeling of  having plenty of Space with a great Timing and Ease. An Ease created by the use of simple matchups, personnel strengths and timely decoys. All Pederson signatures during his time in Philly. This Ease comes from a feeling that there is a greater margin for error.

The greater use of SpaceTimeTeam is directly proportional to the margin for error on any given play. Think about it. With expanded space, proper focus in time and maximization of talent – all the while doing the opposite to the opponent – the margin for error increases for one team and decreases for the other.

Furthermore, greater room for error creates less need for perfection. Ultimately the expansion of SpaceTimeTeam has an inverse effect on Execution. Larger margin for error = less perfection, thus less execution is needed.

Is a great coach the one who drills a player to play “great” in the toughest of conditions or one who creates conditions that make it easier for a player to play great?  The former is the easier for the coach to understand, but harder for the player to execute. The latter is harder for the coach to understand,  but easier for the player to PLAY.

In the end, exploring PS Aggressive Variety in SpaceTimeTeam at all times creates less need for execution, which creates less perfection by the player, which leads to a feeling of Ease, then Freedom, leading to Full Aggressive Play, which finally builds into a great mass of PS Energy. The kind that moves mountains and wins games when everyone is fearful and doubtful. Such as the Eagle Fans when they lost their “great” QB at the end of the season.

Doug Pederson did so much before he even met Carson Wentz or Nick Foles. He had a plan, came in and went to work. He hasn’t stopped since. I don’t think he will stop until he’s won the Super Bowl with this team. Which could be right around the corner now.


  1. […] Doug Pederson – “Breaking Tendency” with Aggressive Variety […]

  2. Christian Woods says:

    drew pags explains why we are in the superbowl. Pederson.

    • powerspread says:

      Hard to believe we were looking at Foles back in October as I was preparing you for a possible Wentz injury. The conclusion – back in October – though at that time I felt the Eagles may have a heartbreak playoff loss like the Cowboys the year before – I also said, even with a backup qb – Pederson’s schemes and coaching are strong enough for the Eagles to get to the Super Bowl Wentz or no Wentz. I even said that Foles has the better experience – possibly the Wentz injury a blessing in disguise. The Eagles now have a more experienced leader PLUS Wentz is learning a lot from the bench – how to keep your cool against all odds – by watching Foles.

      As you know – I predicted Eagle blowout of Minnesota and Super Bowl winner after the Saints(they were my first pick) went out. I’m sticking by it! Pederson is the best coach in the NFL right now!

  3. […] Doug Pederson – “Breaking Tendency” with Aggressive Variety […]

  4. […] knows what he’s doing. His schemes are excellent. As is his ability to morph to the talents of his Team, delegate to his Staff, teach to his Players […]

  5. […] Coach and Offensive Coordinator. His great schemes throughout the year jumped to an almost ridiculous level in the […]

  6. […] Reich he’s doing a great job continuing the Pederson legacy from last year. He uses the same style of aggressive variety that Pederson does – all from a simple, but effective ProPS mix. The difference is he has […]

  7. […] last year’s playoffs I wrote a lot on Doug Pederson‘s amazing ProPS Concepts and the chances they had to, not only get to, but win an improbable SuperBowl. I even went as far […]

  8. […] the first two Colts Drives of the game. This is a flawless example of Breaking Tendency which I wrote about last year when breaking down Pederson’s genius as a coach. All kinds of misdirection, play action and […]

  9. […] last year’s playoffs I wrote a lot on Doug Pederson‘s amazing ProPS Concepts and the chances they had to win an improbable SuperBowl. I even went as far as predicting the […]

  10. […] Play Calling by McDaniel. Breaking Tendency w/ Situational Timing. […]

  11. […] Breaking Tendency with a 2nd&Long run for the 1st down by […]

  12. […] like Doug Pederson last year, McDaniels is breaking tendency with some very creative play calls and schemes. Using shifty runner, James White on 3rd Down Draw […]

  13. […] it a step further, adding in Run Pass Option or RPO schemes he got from PS guru Chip Kelly, while Breaking Tendency in all his […]

  14. […] route design by Reid gets a big PI penalty. Nice job by Romo illuminating Reid’s ability to Break Tendency with unexpected […]

  15. […] once again burns GB’s aggressive scheme by Breaking Tendency with simple Power […]

  16. […] Spread Balance. He helps Rodgers more than most realize, with his Play Calling( Mixing Power + Breaking Tendency ) and Innovative Route […]

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