PS Pro – Here we go! – Divisional Saturday

Posted: January 11, 2020 in All Things Power Spread

Welcome to the 2020s. PS Pro synching up College and Pro Football for the first time in 80 yrs! Power Spread has brought us Back to the Future. Aggressive Flexible Variety is at hand.

2020s – A New Vision – An Evolved Flexibility – Back to the Future

The Age of Sport has allowed us the exploration of Aggression and the Power that it creates. Eventually Variety was explored in all its Forms – Space Time Team. With over 100 years of Spread, Football is ready to finally explore true Flexibility. The “glue” that holds Power Spread together.

Human ability to create from many sources, using all of history, has never been greater. How it all fits together will be the challenge. Expect much experimentation in this upcoming decade. Old married with New. Past,Present,Future as one.

We already saw some of this last week in the WC Playoffs. I have written about the reunion of Pro and College Football through PS Pro. In my WC Playoff Previews, I gave a brief synopsis on what we may see from the NFL in the following decade. What we saw last week is only the beginning.

Divisional Saturday – Energy Fluctuations in a Changing Landscape

The transition of the NFL from Pro to PS is moving along slowly – 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Last week I noticed, maybe for the first time, the effect that the changing football landscape is having on Team Energy.

  • The Pats are aging and finally looked a little stale in both their schemes and personnel.
  • The Bills, for all the progression they have made in PS Concepts throughout the year, really got conservative with the lead in the 2nd Half of their game.
  • The Saints were flat for most of 3 Quarters and relied too much on an old schematic mindset.
  • The Eagles succumbed to No Mas after a year long mindset of Next Man Up.

In the end, it’s a struggle for Control. Better said – a struggle to LET GO of Control. Power Spread is not a Mistake Driven Paradigm. It’s about Aggression and eventual Balance. Exploring the Unknown.

Mistakes are a part of the Game, but do not need to be the focus.

As the game of Football continues to shift, we will see a lot more ups and downs in Energy. Especially in the NFL at Playoff Time, when so much is on the line. It’s hard to predict, but let us see what we have this weekend?

Minnesota at San Francisco

Minnesota probably played the best football of the WC Playoff Weekend. Mike Zimmer, as he usually does, had a good game plan in place for his talented Defense. They only struggled when the Saints ran their Full PS, of which Minnesota had no answers.

Where Minnesota has turned the corner is on Offense. Though he’s only listed as an Advisor, Gary Kubiak has been called on for his expertise in the Power WCO. Zimmer finally has an Offense to his liking. Power based, but with enough Spread to survive.

What makes this game so fascinating is that Kubiak’s mentor is the father of the Head Coach of San Fransisco – Kyle Shanahan.

OFFENSE – Gary Kubiak vs Kyle Shanahan

Just as Joe Gibbs evolved the Power side of Sid Gillman’s West Coast Pass Attack, Mike Shanahan evolved the Power side of Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense.

Mike’s two best pupils – his son Kyle and Kubiak – have added PS Variety to the Power WCO that they both continue to run.

Here’s what you will see from both on Saturday.

  • FORMATIONS (Space) – Standard
    • Kubiak uses the more updated version of WCO – The Oneback – 2 TEs and 1 RB or 12 Personnel. He will also use 13 (3TEs) and 11(3WRs) Personnel.
      • Gillman was the first to move way from the 2RB(21) Pro Set and develop his WC spread from a Oneback set.
      • Joe Gibbs popularized this formation in the 80s with John Riggins as his power back.
      • Mike Shanahan revolutionized the Oneback more in the 90s with Terrell Davis in a hybrid 12/21 mix.
    • Shanahan actually uses the old school Pro Set. 21 Personnel – RB,FB,TE.
      • Even though Gillman moved to a Oneback set, his protege Bill Walsh mostly stuck with the 21 Pro Set as he had some great FBs for this scheme.
      • Like Walsh, Kyle Shanahan also makes use of a great FB in Kyle Juszczyk.
  • SCHEMES (Time) – This is where Kubiak thrives!
    • KubiakBreaking Tendency
      • Breaking Tendency using simple looks and schemes.
        • Tricky Sets + Personnel Groupings.
          • Aggressive Variety from simple Two TE Sets.
            • Pass Sets – Run
            • Run Sets – Pass
        • Tricky Looks for Simple schemes.
          • Deep Pass Schemes – Throw Short
          • Short Pass Schemes – Throw Long
    • KubiakQB Rollouts as a substitution for the Option Run Game.
      • A plethora of Rollouts by Cousins.
        • Play-Action at any time or any place on the field.
        • Phantom Rollouts to freeze the D.
        • QB Cousins = Good Ball Handling Technique.
      • Vikings look like the old 49ers under Bill Walsh with Joe Montana rolling out!
      • The Play-Action Rollouts and Mis-Direction set up Power Running – a staple of the Power WCO.
    • Shanahan does the same as Kubiak, but from a more Spread philosophy.
      • Same PlayAction and Misdirection, but less Rollouts, more Motion and Spacing.
        • More reverses.
        • More Spread Passing, vertically as well as horizontally.
        • More exotic looks and schemes.
    • Shanahan is also a good play caller, but his talent lies more in his schematic use of Space, rather than Time.
      • A faster OLine for more outside running and quick hitters.
      • Higher Variety of Option Football
        • Larger use Option Pass Game (RPO-RunPassOption).
        • Slight use of Option Run Game(RO-ReadOption).
        • Rollout Play-Action, but not as much as Minnesota.
  • PERSONNEL (Team) – This is where Shanahan has thrived this year!
    • Kubiak shows some creativity, but more with timing and play calling.
      • Thielan in the backfield from 11 personnel.
        • Some creativity with this 3 WR look.
        • Nice use of Thielan as a runner, receiver or decoy.
      • TEs as HBs and WRs, but nothing as extreme as Shanahan.
    • Shanahan– most creative use of Personnel Groupings in Football.
      • Can leave same 11 players on the field in all different sets.
      • Uses FB as HB, TE, Slotback, WR or even Option QB!
      • Rookie Samuel lines up as Tailback as well as WR.
      • All kinds of simple misdirection from these groupings.
        • Unique way to Power Spread with TEAM.
          • Exploring use of Team keeps Time exploration to a minimum. (TimeTeam connection..?)
          • Full use of Space with these Groupings.
Two good 4-3 Defenses

So while the Offensive Matchup is fascinating, both teams used Defense as their calling cards this year. Both use a pretty standard 4-3, but run it differently.

Zimmer likes a lot of Man Coverage and has the athletes to pull it off. He will mix the coverage though and also mix in the blitz. His game plans week to week are usually very solid.

The 49ers DC Robert Saleh has a lot of Pete Carroll in his background. Thus, his Defense is all about speed and attack with a Cover2, Cover1 Robber or M2M type of Coverage. Saleh is mixing a bit more – like everyone including Carroll – but his standard pressure is from his speedy DLine.

Chris Kiffin and the 49er DLine

The good news for Shanahan’s D is that the 49ers drafted 4 DEs in the first round – 4 of the last 5 NFL Drafts! The other good news is that Chris Kiffin was hired to the staff a year ago.

Kiffin is the son of famed Defensive Mind – Monte Kiffin – the creator of the Tampa 2 Defense. Chris is an excellent technique guy in the same vein as Pete Carroll. Watch the 49ers DLine this weekend. They will shoot gaps and burst around the ends from a track stance. Unique and effective.

Unfortunately for the 49ers, their DLine has been banged up toward the end of the year. There has been a noticeable decline on Defense as Saleh is not one to cover for personnel loss with exotic schemes.

Still, they interchange a lot of lineman and have had a week to heal. They could have their best game in a while.

Prognostication – San Francisco

Vikings big win over the Saints – What does it mean?

The Vikings will be confident after their win. The Kubiak WCPS (WestCoastPowerSpread) offense is playing its best all year and you know Zimmer’s Defense will be ready to go.

In addition, the 49ers are young and inexperienced in the playoffs. Yes they are at home, but as we saw last weekend, home field isn’t everything. Against an experienced playoff team who is playing well, the 49ers don’t want to fall too far behind.

Of course, it could be the Vikings who have a letdown after their big win in New Orleans. Could we all be exaggerating this win?

The Vikings played well, but the Saints struggled. Except for their Full PS, they were flat and uninspired for 3 quarters, before attempting a furious comeback at the end. Maybe the recent playoff losses and the pressure on an aging team took its toll?

Could this be a big win for the 49ers?

Either way, the Vikings can’t expect San Francisco to play that way. They may be nervous, but they won’t be flat. The week off will help their banged up Defense and Shanahan’s own Offense is due for its own breakout game.

Unlike Kubiak’s version, Shanahan’s WCO is rooted in more PS concepts. In fact, I’d go as far to call it a PSWC Offense, with Power Spread at it’s base., because of the Flexible Personnel Strategy he uses on Offense. Honestly, it’s borderline PS2020 in it’s Flexible Variety and use of Space.

The OLine is underrated. Even without its starting C. The skill positions have some talent. The FB/TE combo everyone knows about. QB Garoppolo is great in this scheme. The Offense could surprise versus a tough Minnesota Defense.


I think Cousins and Cook will have success early. Minnesota will control the ball and build a lead. That’s usually when Zimmer gets conservative. He has the last say in the Offense. Even with Kubiak on board.

If Zimmer shuts it down – sort of the way the Bills did last week – then you can expect the home team will have a shot for another big comeback. SanFran doesn’t have anyone like Deshaun Watson, but they have a much better OScheme than Houston.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Minnesota has the early lead and rides it to halftime, but blows it in the 2nd Half. The only thing I’m wary about is that tough defense of Zimmer not letting the young SanFran Offense get on track. IF that happens, then this Minnesota could win this one going away.

I’ll take San Francisco simply based on a feeling – and because I love Shanahan’s Offense – but I certainly won’t be surprised if the Vikings win.

Tennessee at Baltimore

In the previous game, I examined the Scheme battle between two top offensive minds in Gary Kubiak and Kyle Shanahan. In this game there is no such battle. On both Offense and Defense, Baltimore has the best schemes in the NFL. Tennessee isn’t even that close.

PS Pro to PS2020 – The Ravens have the best schemes in the NFL

The Ravens are the closest to pure Power Spread Football that exists in the NFL at this present time. It actually started last year as John Harbaugh started to experiment with more Power Spread using QB Lamar Jackson.

On Defense, Don Martindale continues a long tradition of “Psycho“, created by Rex Ryan in he early 00s. Martindale’s brand contains the most Aggressive Variety since Rex, due to the influence of another Ryan – Rob. Rex’s brother coached Martindale back when Rex formed the Psycho D. Rob is as creative as it gets when it comes to mixing pressures and coverages.

Even on Special Teams, Harbaugh does some unique things. He was a Special Teams coach for a long time and takes great pride in this unit. The player most fans know is Justin Tucker. A big leg and the best clutch kicker in the league.

Greg Roman – PS Pro

In last year’s The Harbaughs article, I pretty much predicted the success to come this year for Baltimore due to their burgeoning PS Schemes. What I didn’t see coming was the firing of Marty Mornhinweg and the elevation of Greg Roman to OC.

I had thought it was Mornhinweg who was responsible for a lot of the PS Offense going on at the end of the year with LJackson. Apparently I was wrong. It was Roman all along. I might have known, as Roman was a big part of what brother Jim was doing a few years back at SanFrancisco, when he introduced Pro PS to the NFL.

Roman has really perfected his Power Spread Skills this year. An offense not based on Pro, but based on Power Spread, with a Pro West Coast Offense (WCO) passing game. PS Pro.

The PS scheme maximizes players talents. The Baltimore Offense is great because of this scheme and Roman’s mastery at it. Not because of Jackson or the Oline per say.

The Talent Line #1 – Lamar Jackson

I wonder how many out there know about Lamar Jackson’s recruiting rank? Phil Steele does a great rank composite based on all the top recruiting services. His PS# for Lamar was 29. That means he was the 29th best QB coming out of HS when he enrolled at Louisville.

This is why he wasn’t at Alabama or Ohio State. That ranking is good – but it’s not great. Deshaun Watson, for example, was ranked #2 out of HS. He went to Clemson and beat Bama for the National Title.

Am I trying to say that Lamar is not that talented or overrated? No way. If anything, recruiting ranks are overrated. I watched Lamar in College and knew he was the real deal.

What I am saying is that Baltimore’s Offense is great this year for more reasons than Lamar. Just like at Louisville when Bobby Petrino went full Power Spread, the Ravens scheme suits Lamar’s talents.

For that matter, PS Schemes always suit the talents of the Team. I can’t even imagine the potential of this Offense with a player like Deshaun Watson in it!

The Talent Line # 2 – OLine

As for Lamar’s OLine. The LT Ronnie Stanley is great! The rest of the line is good – not great. PS Schemes maximize the talent to a great degree. Especially on the OLine. It’s not just the blocking schemes. It’s conceptual.

I’ve seen it happening for over 10 years. A college team implements the PS Scheme and suddenly half the lineman are All Conference. Along with RBs and the QB. And usually a WR or two. Over and over. The PS Scheme is implemented and BAM – everyones an All-Star. Baltimore is just one of a long list.

How a PS Scheme Elevates Talent
  1. PS ProGet out of the way and let it be easy – SpaceTimeTeam.
    • Sets, motion, misdirection all used to spread out the defense – dilute and attack middle – PS 101.
    • Option Game – Defense becomes hesitant.
      • Ravens at top of “Time Holding their Blocks”.
      • Stats lie – this is as much to do with scheme as execution or talent.
  2. Hesitant Defenses – Accordian Effect!
    1. Easy to hold blocks.
    2. Easy to find running lanes.
    3. Easy to open up passing game.
    4. Easy to open up running game from spread passing.
    5. Easy to go back and forth – Accordion Effect
      • Frances Schmidt “Go where they Ain’t”
      • Root of all good Offensive Football!
  3. Momentum – Specific Effect Post Snap on the Defense
    1. First Second – Defensive Player has to Think “What Next”
      • He’s not sure where ball is going, because Pre-Snap alignment doesn’t give away the play in the Option Game.
      • The OLineman is immediately at an advantage. Almost a non-block to start!
    2. Next 2 Seconds – Momentum
      • Continued “search and think” as Defensive Player unsure of where the football is going.
      • OLineman now has a bigger advantage of Force!
        • Momentum.
        • Effectively Enhanced Strength of the OLineman!
    3. Following Seconds – More thinking and searching for the ball!
      • At a Momentum Disadvantage, the Defensive Player continues to search for the football!
        • The PS Option Game can look like 3 different plays at once to the Defender.
        • At this point, Panic starts to set in.
        • All of the above, making it very easy for the OLineman and now the runners.
  4. Defensive Confusion – The Defense is now Lost in Space/Time!
    1. Easier for RBs to run over defenders on their heels.
      • Hesitancy creates a losing Momentum Battle.
        • Enhanced Strength for the OLine and Runners.
        • Enhanced Speed for the Runners.
      • TIME is lost for the Defense.
      • SPACE is opened for the Offense.
    2. Confused Panic creates a sort of Space/Time Rift in the Defense.
      • Offensive Talent Enhanced.
      • Larger Margin of Error in Technique and Execution.
      • Larger Error Margin and Simplicity in Blocking/Running Schemes.
  5. TEAM – How most perceive Power Spread. One part of three.
      • Defense spread out.
      • Less defenders in the “box”.
        • Numbers Advantage = Enhanced Strength.
          • Easier Leverage.
          • Easier Double Teams.
      • Option = QB as 11th Man!
        • He essentially becomes a Runner or Blocker
          • Optioned defender must make a choice.
          • Automatically takes himself out of the play.
        • One less man to worry about in OLine Blocking Scheme
          • Leverage.
          • Double Teams.
Titans Schemes – How do they compare?

Not well. The Titans actually have a similar philosophy on both Offense and Defense, but do both more conservatively. Less Power Spread.

On Offense HC Mike Vrabel likes power running to set up the pass. Same as the Ravens, except he does it from a Pro base with some PS sprinkled in – Pro PS. So a lot of heavy 2 and 3 TE Sets and traditional blocking schemes.

On Defense Dean Pees actually was Baltimore’s previous DC and Martindale’s coach, but he does not have the same aggressive background. Thus, the brand of “Psycho” Defense that Pees runs always has at least one Deep Safety and doesn’t blitz as much on 1st and 2nd downs. Though he will mix coverage a lot.

Prognostication – Baltimore

So do the Ravens just blow away Tennessee with their superior schemes? Or does Tennessee’s Power Run Game dominate again and control the game?

Tennessee’s ability to overpower New England’s poor Run Defense

Interesting questions, but I do not think we will see the same ineptitude in the run defense that we saw last week. New England stayed in a 2-3 6 DB Set on Defense while the Titans were exclusively in a 2TE power package. They simply didn’t have enough size to slow down the best OLine and RB in football at the power run game.

New England continued this same defense in the 2nd Half, but crowded the box and brought more run blitzes. It slowed Henry down some, but mainly because Vrabel got conservative and tried to “milk the clock.”

At one point, Tennessee went to a 3TE Extra Heavy Set and only then did NE change up their Defense. They inserted a DLineman and a LB for a standard 3-4.

Even then they barely could stop Henry. With Tennessee using only 1 WR and being very conservative, I don’t know why NE didn’t add an extra LB or DLineman!?

New England played flat all game with surprisingly stale schemes and a stale attitude.

While the Ravens don’t have big LBs – most teams don’t anymore – they do have some HUGE DLineman. They will not be in a pass defense if the Titans are lined up for Power Running. I expect they will use some of their huge DLineman and show more heavy defensive alignments.

Does Tennessee have any chance at all with such a Schematic Disadvantage?
  1. CONFIDENCE – They have a great Synergy or Faith right now and that can overcome anything.
  2. MIKE VRABEL – While conservative at times, Vrabel is a smart coach. He may have a trick or two up his sleeve.
    • He has brought in Dual-Threat QB Mariota for a play or two in the last couple of weeks.
      • He could fool the Ravens Gameplan by using Mariota more this week.
      • More PS Schemes in Run and Pass with both Mariota and Tannehill may catch the Ravens off guard.
    • He also may shift the gameplan and break tendency by using Henry more as a decoy and letting Tannehill air it out some.
      • Instead of using the power to spread, he can spread it to power.
      • Breaking Tendency by being aggressive instead of trying to control the clock and game.

If Vrabel does any of the above and Tennessee continues to play with confidence, doesn’t have a big letdown or feel the pressure from the Baltimore crowd, then Tennessee can win this game.

A lot of IFs, but just maybe the Titans are that cinderella team this year. Then again, maybe not.

Pick – The Brandon Carr Effect

I still have to stick with Baltimore. They had a week off, are getting healthier and have the most clutch FG Kicker in the game in Tucker.

One player I want to mention before I sign off from this monster preview is Brandon Carr. One of the most underrated players in the NFL.

Carr has started 16 out of 16 games every year for 12 years in this brutal league! An Iron Man to the nth degree!!

Despite losing some speed and losing out to the talented Humphrey at CB, the Ravens found a way to use Carr – moving him to a Safety/Rover position – where he has flourished! He’s had his first 2 Sacks in over 5 years and is using his experience to cause havoc in the secondary.

Everyone’s talking about Lamar, but the real power in Power Spread is in the Energy with Everyone. That comes from people and players and gives back to people and players. There’s no greater example than when a Team finds a way to give back and is rewarded for it.

The Ravens win this game, because of this Attitude, then because of the Schemes. Even if it’s close, they have another great attitude player in Tucker who can win the game with his leg.

For Tennessee to win they would have to pull away and I can’t see that happening. Though it could. They are definitely flying high right now. But I’ll go with the best PS Team in the NFL. PS 2020 here we come!


  1. David Fattizzo says:

    Really enjoyed the analysis!

  2. […] are a part of the Game, but do not need to be the focus. "… #NFL #NFLPlayoffs…… […]

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  4. […] more great PSWC offense by Shanahan, but the energy drop by Green Bay at this point is quite noticeable. They […]

  5. […] Offense overpowered both of their first two opponents. In the Wildcard game, New England had a bad Scheme. In the Divisional game, Baltimore lacked respect. KC had the Scheme and the Respect. They were […]

  6. […] play. First, you need an Observer to see what is actually happening. In the case of the 49ers and Shanahan’s great Offensive Scheme, I’m not sure people are really seeing what’s […]

  7. […] there, more Shanahan magic. Play Action pass to the FB – Old School WCO. Then Mostert bangs it in. […]

  8. […] NE, who besides being completely flat emotionally (and physically beaten up), played a ridiculous scheme on Defense. They played their lighter personnel almost the whole game while the great Titans Oline and RB […]

  9. […] I can’t say enough about the Ravens DScheme. Don Martindale, with his background from the great Joe Lee Dunn, uses the Baltimore Psycho Scheme […]

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