PS Pro – 2020 Land Ho! Wildcard Saturday

Posted: January 10, 2021 in All Things Power Spread
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Welcome to the 2020s. PS Pro synching up College and Pro Football for the first time in 80 yrs!

Aggressive Flexible Variety. The exploration began with Aggression early last Century. Moved into Variety in the 2nd part of that Century. Now, early in this Century Flexibility will fully be explored.

Change can be tough, but if resistance is released and the “new” embraced, it can be miraculously transformative.

Perfection found not from our limited perceptions, but from our higher selves.

Power dynamically linked to Spread.

2020 – Ushering in the Age of Flexibility

For Playoff Preview - scroll below

I called for Age of Flexibility last year and we got it. Big time. 2020 ushered in THE CHANGE. Adapt and grow or move on. It took the stubborn NFL 20 years to catch up to what was going on in the College Game. Let’s hope our World adapts a little quicker.

Football Evolution – Pro vs College

Last year I spoke of the complete “merging” of NFL and College concepts for the first time since they effectively separated in the 1940s.

At that time, the NFL developed the Modern T, while College gravitated to the burgeoning Option Football Ideal. Timing & Execution vs Repetition & Improvisation. SpaceTimeTeam explored from within the details of knowledge vs knowledgable exploration into the unknown. Truth + Discovery. Power Spread.

The Yin and the Yang – The Power and the Spread

As the 1960s approached, the NFL began to explore the Pro Concepts of Sid Gillman in both the Spread Run Game (Packer Sweep/Zone Blocking) and the Spread Pass Game (The Original West Coast Offense), while Colleges were meshing a simpler version of Pass and Option Run Concepts (Wishbone/Flexbone/Twin Veer/Pro Veer).

By the 80s, Don Coryell’s Gillman Spread Pass Attack gave way to Bill Walsh’s evolved West Coast Spread Pass Scheme, while Joe Gibbs perfected the West Coast Power Run Scheme. Colleges began to perfect their own WC Offense in the form of BYU’s Pass Spread Attack. Again, a simpler WC pass design with more improvisation.

The College Option Game – a game of Improvisation – led to a QB improvised BYU Offense and finally a WR improvised Run & Shoot Passing Spread. Originally created by Tiger Ellison in the 60s – a precursor to Power Spread – Mouse Davis turned it into the first true Spread Pass attack.

In the meantime, Hal Mumme & Mike Leach were morphing the BYU Scheme into a pure Spread attack by marrying ideas from both the WC and R&S pass attacks. This new Air Raid Offense of the 90s led to both the Pro and College Spreads of the 00s.

In the middle of all of this came Rich Rodriquez’s accidental discovery of the Read Option while coaching his R&S Offense in the 90s. Option Run Power seamlessly integrated with Option Pass Spread. Finally after 50 years, Football found a way to match together Power + Spread.

Power Spread – A Dynamic Dichotomy

The Seed of Evolution was planted. The PS Triumvirate in the 00s – Urban Meyer / Gus Malzahn / Art Briles – grew the Tree from all the concepts described above.

Colleges implemented an integrated, improvised, option-oriented version of Spread – Power Spread, while the NFL struggled to find a cohesive balance between their Pro Power Runs and Pro Spread Passing Attacks. A fractured Pro-Multiple or Multiple-Pro Offense.

Finally in the decade that followed, the Pro Multiple WC Spread System was married to PS. First by Jim Harbaugh in a Pro based PS Option system, then cemented by BYU Alum, Andy Reid, in a full RunPassOption(RPO) or Pro PS Offense.

As Defenses reacted accordingly, PS concepts spread fast. By the time we got to 2020, NFL and College Schemes – both on Offense & Defense – looked more similar than they had in 80 years.

College has now added more Pro concepts back to its PS base, while NFL Teams are experimenting with PS as their base as well. PS Pro!

Drew Pagliari
Pro+College Reunited – Pro PS > PS Pro > PS 2020 > Full PS

Almost every Football Team at any level now uses some version of PS Concepts. One thing that keeps the Pro game slightly separated from College is the actual term, “PRO”.

Colleges use Power Spread as its base concept – PS Pro, PSAR, PS 2020 – while most of the NFL still uses Pro concepts as its base- Pro PS, Pro PSAR, Pro PS 2020 or PS Pro 2020. Now, the NFL is also experimenting with PS based concepts in the form of PS Pro and PSAR Pro.

The NFL still loves to work within the details of their knowledge, while Colleges press forward into unchartered territory. Pro PS and PS Pro 2020 differ from PS 2020 in their approach. Reaching back to old concepts and refurbishing them into something new. Gillman+, Pro PS Gillman and PSWC, along with older concepts dating back to the Modern T and Single Wing, have been explored over the last two years.

The NFL has the Time & Talent to experiment with such details, while College has the Space – in terms of leeway – to take chances with new ideas. Over the next decade, these Pro PS 2020, PS Pro 2020 and PS 2020 Schemes will begin to form the Full PS, which will be Aggressive, with Variety and Flexibility, so as to be Executable for any type of Player, yet Deceptive for any type of Opponent.

Simple Brilliance. Aggressive Flexible Variety in Personnel – to suit any style of scheme. Where Timing does not get bogged down in execution, but creates Space Exploration. Where Space does not get bogged down in repetition, but creates Timing Improvisation. The Power of Discovery is allowed to flourish within the Spread of Knowledge. The Full Power Spread.

~DP

Wildcard Saturday

If there was ever a year where Flexibility was needed, 2020 was IT!! Covid dominated the World of Football as well as the World at large. Rosters were pushed to their limits. Many teams were scrambling all year to come up with enough players to keep the Games going. There were also an abundance of disruptions and distractions like we have never seen before.

None of us could possibly know all the disruptions that happened week to week in practices. Continuity and Consistency are the key to building anything in the world of Sport. For such a massive Team Sport like Football, it’s even more important. This year in general, and specifically, has truly been a Shitshow!

Going forward, it almost seems like an oxymoron to make any sort of analysis for these playoffs, let alone a prediction. This is one time where being a part of the team and seeing the behind the scenes is imperative to have any clue about what is going to happen.

I like to keep my analysis relegated to the Field of Play, but this particular year, I will have to also take into account disruptions due to Covid. So here we go…

Indianapolis at Buffalo

Buffalo may be the hottest team heading into the playoffs, but Indianapolis has been underrated all year. Not only do I expect this to be a competitive game, I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Colts pull this out.

Offense

That being said, Buffalo is going to be very hard to beat, because right now OC Brian Daboll has morphed his Pro PS Offense into a PS Pro with hints of PS Pro 2020.

Late Bloomer Josh Allen has become the QB all those Philly fans mistakingly thought they had 3 years ago in Wentzylvania. Allen has as big an arm as Wentz and the same athleticism, but with a more durable body and a better ability to manage a pro style passing attack. His experience at Wyoming provided him the experience edge in passing offense + top athletic competition that Wentz never had at North Dakota State.

The great Phillip Rivers is the QB on the other side and while he has no one like WR Stefon Diggs, who may be the best WR in football right now, he has plenty of veteran+young targets.

Indy has a better run game with the RB tandem of Jonathon Taylor and scatback Nyheim Hymes. The Bills have their own scatback type in Devin Singletary and OC Daboll is on fire right now., calling great games and using Allen as a runner and sometimes a receiver as well!

Indianapolis had more Covid/Inj issues than the Bills and it effected their Oline at times. River’s lightening “Dan Marino” quick release helps, but many times big plays and taking control of the game hinge on play in the Trenches.

These are two dynamic offenses and this game will be on the high scoring side. Especially if Indy uses their Tempo Huddle to create a lot of Offense and Buffalo has to play keep up. If Indy instead uses slow tempo to keep the Bills Offense off the field, then their will be less scoring.

Either way it will come down to who makes the big plays at crucial times – even if Indy tries to eat the clock and keep the Bills Offense off the field. This is a tough call. The Bills may have the hottest QB/OC combo in the NFL right now, while the Colts have a great veteran QB in Rivers and their own top notch Pro PS scheme run by HC Frank Reich and OC Nick Sirianni .

Defense

Both DCs run a style of Defense that I would call PS Tampa. A version of the old Tampa 2 which mixes Safeties and LBs in all kinds of tricky coverages. Quarters, Cover 3 and 2 or Tampa 2 are all possible and they can switch at the snap. Mix in some surprise blitz and psycho looks and all you need to know is that these Defenses are up to date schematically.

Indy DC Matt Eberflus is actually a front runner of this new Aggressive Coverage Schemes used in the NFL right now. I detailed Eberflus’s work with Marinelli and other top minds of the past when the Colts were in the playoffs 2 years ago. The Bills DC Leslie Frazier is an old vet who has seen a lot. He was influenced by 3 great defensive minds in Buddy Ryan, Jim Johnson and the Tampa 2 of Tony Dungy(Monte Kiffen).

There is plenty of talent on both Defenses to make these schemes work, but again, Indy has had more issues with Covid/Inj than the Bills. Not to say that Buffalo hasn’t seen their share of disruptions, but if you look at the Indy starters throughout the year and more importantly their lineup right now, they definitely our dealing with more attrition.

Prognostication – Buffalo in a close one

Like I said, I think a lot of people are overlooking this game, because the Bills are so hot. I would almost call it tossup. In fact, I would give the Colts the Underdog Nod, because of my faith in QB Rivers in the clutch and the Culture HC Reich has built in a short time.

But the Bills HC Sean McDermott has also created a top notch culture in a short time. In fact maybe even stronger than Reich. Plus there will be some fans and it will be cold. The Colts play in a dome. Not anything the Colt’s can’t overcome, but a comfort level that may help the Bills.

Covid Factor

A new factor that mainly deals with Disruption, be it Covid or Injuries which were more abundant due to the lack of training camp and the situation as a whole. This is one variable that the completely favors the Bills at the moment. For me this gives the Bills the game.

I am not necessarily basing this on talent or depth, but more about disruption in preparation and teamwork. It effects a team game in ways the viewer simply cannot always see or perceive. Still, with that said, I still expect a competitive game and, again, would not be that surprised if Rivers and the Colts start another string of wacky upsets like we saw last year.

LosAngeles at Seattle

The Covid factor hit Seattle a little harder than LA, who had a relatively smooth ride in such a disruptive year. Maybe they deserved some luck after struggling so much in 2019 with injuries.

Well, as the year progressed, LA started to have some Covid and Injuries pop up. They were impacted mostly along their Oline and somewhat on Defense.

Now their Defense is as healthy as its been all year as is their Oline as they get back their top Olineman and leader, LT Andrew Whitworth. Unfortunately, their QB Jared Goff missed last week’s game with a broken thumb and may miss this game as well.

McVay’s Pro PSAR Gillman as a version of Pro PS 2020

So if Goff doesn’t play, do the Rams still have a chance? Yes. John Wolford is not a big pocket passer like Goff, but has a lot of mobility and grit and HC Sean McVay will tailor the Offense to his talents.

McVay had been running a unique OScheme in recent years that I liked to call Gillman Plus. It had a unique mix of Pro Power + Spread Timing. All out of Gillman’s preferred One Back Sets. Vertical + Horizontal stretch in both the run and pass game. Classic Sid Gillman.

The “plus” in Gillman+ is what McVay brings to the table. A love of Play-Action / Mis-Direction with a variety of Personnel Packages., combined with some more modern Air Raid concepts in a simple cohesive design.

Watching the Rams this year, I notice that McVay is adding more Air Raid Spread. Goff was an Air Raid star in college. I wouldn’t be surprised if McVay went to Air Raid Guru Sonny Dykes to add this for Goff. Air Raid route design is a simpler college passing spread, based on Space and Repetition. The West Coast route design has more variety, but uses Timing and Execution as it’s main components.

Air Raid Space, Gillman Timing, and McVay’s use of Personnel make for what I now call a Gillman PSAR, rather than simply Gillman+. If McVay continues to exploit space and use more 4/5 WR sets as his base, then I will call his offense PSAR Gillman. In the end it’s all Pro PS 2020 as McVay, with so many, continues to innovate the future with the past.

Will the Ram’s score enough points?

RB Cam Ackers, WR Cooper Cupp and much of the Oline has been beat up the second half of the year, but all seem healthier now. The big question is the QB situtation.

If Goff is good to go, they will score points on a Seattle Defense that is decent, but not great. They can mix the power runs + spread pass game effectively with their healthy starters.

If Wolford plays, then McVay will tweak his O to more PSAR, using Wolford’s legs as well as his arm. This is something Seattle hasn’t seen in the 2 games they played vs the Rams this year and could present some problems.

What would be disaster for LA is to force Goff to play if his thumb is not right. The Pro Gillman stuff – even the Air Raid to some extent – requires a lot of Timing Execution. With PS added to the Air Raid, the schemes can be simpler, with more QB runs. Not Goff’s skill set.

Will the Rams need many points?

This is really the key. No matter whether Goff plays a lot, we know that McVay’s system still has the word Pro in it, so it is heavily dependent on the QB position, which for the Rams this week is either a banged up starter or a little used backup.

The good news for the Rams fans is that their Defense has been fantastic this year. The bad news is that the Seattle Offense has been great at times as well.

HC Pete Carroll seems to have made a concentrated effort to really let his creative OC Brian Schottenheimer run the show on Offense and create a scheme that really lets QB Russell Wilson do his thing. This means – use his legs – to move and improv.

Wilson has improved a lot as a pocket passer over the years, but that was never his skill set. What makes Wilson special, besides his grit and leadership, is his feet and his ability to improv. Play-Action rollouts, Read Options, designed runs and just plain old fashioned scrambling have helped Wilson have one of his best years.

The first time these teams played in 2020, the Rams DLine controlled Seattle’s banged up OLine and held Wilson in check. Seattle made adjustments and were much better in their 2nd meeting, though Aaron Donald and company still got their sacks versus a still banged up OLine.

If Wilson and the Offense are able to put up a lot of points, I don’t think the Rams can keep up with their QB situation, even with McVay tweaking the offense. So this game may come down to whether the Rams young wunderkind DC can make adjustments to what the Seahawks OC made the last time these two teams met.

DC Brandon Staley

Staley has been talked about all year. The protege of Vic Fangio, who replaced a legend in Wade Phillips, brought a better mix of zone coverages to go with the aggressive m2m mixed blitzing of Phillips. This is what everyone is doing now – but Staley does it really well.

He’s able to keep the seem scheme simple for his players, yet tricky for his opponents. (See Brent Venables) . A mix of Quarters – or Cover 3 with one safety dropping down in the box for the run game – mixed in with m2m Cover 1 (man high) – and Cover 2.

The object is to fool the QB in the pass game and the play caller in the run game. Passive Aggressive. Give spatial looks, then choke the space with scheme. Both in run and pass. This is PS Defense that everyone is attempting to do now.

Staley really is not that innovative, but his play calling and teaching of technique within the scheme and getting his players to play as one team is outstanding. He also has great talent in the Dline and Pass Rush, plus a great coverage CB and a top S.

Brian Schottenheimer

In the first game, LA got the better of Seattle’s Offense. What did Schottenheimer do to adjust in the second game?

He actually got the run game going by running to the other side of the Safety dropping in the box. It is not always easy to figure this out during a game, but they must have had their keys and set the technique in place for that game, because it happened time and again with positive production.

Secondly, Schottenheimer used Wilson’s legs more effectively and freed him up to move around and create big plays. Finally, he set up some deep throws to open up space. All this was done with quick surefire decisions made by a veteran QB in Wilson.

Prognostication – Seattle in a tough one
The Chess Match

So I believe Wolford will be the Rams QB, unless Goff is semi healthy. I think they will get some points, but the Seahawks Defense has improved since adding pass rushing DE Carlos Dunlop and young CB DJ Reed. The points most likely won’t be plentiful on the Rams side.

They will need DC Staley to make counter adjustments to what Seattle’s OC Schottenheimer did to them in the last game. The Seahawks will compete with their OLine Starting 5 intact for the first time this season vs the Rams. Still, they are far from 100% and the talented Rams Dline is looking for another big day.

I have a feeling Staley will change up his D some, based on the reads being made by the Seahawks in the last game, giving his talented D a chance for success. The question then will be Schottenheimer’s halftime adjustments. A classic Chess Match.

Covid Factor – Is Seattle worn down?

Seattle’s energy looked weary (including Wilson) in their last game. Even though the Rams have a banged up QB right now, Seattle has had their share of Injuries and appear to be more banged up right now. I have to wonder if this crazy covid year is catching up to the older Seahawks team?

Seattle won’t have their usual home field crowd, so unless Goff is forced to play with a thumb that is clearly not healed, then I think this game is really a toss up. In fact, the Rams were my original choice. They love playing for McVay and now Staley, so they will come in fired up.

I expect Staley to make those adjustments on D, but it’s hard to pick the Rams with an injured Goff. Especially vs a veteran team that has found a way to survive many playoff tests in the past.

I will take the veteran Seahawks in a tough one – possibly a down to the wire 2nd half comeback – though I still feel like I want to take the youthful Rams.

Tampa Bay at Washington

Well, they say it’s a QB League and for now that still holds true. I have talked about QBs this whole post and here are two more.

Tom Brady, one of the best ever, leaving his legacy behind in New England and coming to – of all places – Tampa Bay. NE didn’t make the playoffs (tons of Covid related issues). Brady did. Round 1 between Belichick and Brady goes to Brady. At least from a fan perspective.

On the other side is Alex Smith. IF you haven’t heard about his story, then just know this. Back in 2018 he had a leg injury that became infected and almost killed him. He miraculously was back on the field leading Washington to the playoffs this year under first year coach Ron Rivera.

No Alex Smith – No problem for Tampa

This is really the big news of this game. Both teams really had amazing years to get to the playoffs. I know that many will say that Washington wasn’t good and had a losing record, but they had a lot more to deal with than Tampa Bay this year.

Rivera inherited somewhat of a mess left by Jay Gruden. Then they had the whole off-season fiasco about their nickname – Redskins. Then they had a slew of Covid/Inj related issues throughout the year with a whole new coaching staff trying to implement a change in scheme and culture. Finally, their QB of the future completely seemed to whack out and had to basically be kicked off the team.

All of this, just to find out that their Leader, Alex Smith, of whom they are 5-1 when he starts, will almost 100% miss this game. Incredible. The fact that Washington was even close to .500 and made the playoffs is amazing.

Compared to Washington, Tampa Bay had a relatively smooth ride.

They hired a new coaching staff the year before, but did not change any of their staff heading into 2020. Injuries made their mark by mid-season as Tampa dealt with big losses in TE OJ Howard, NT Vita Vea, after already having the RB,WR and DB group banged up. Soon to follow was the OL and LB group, but through it all the disruption from Covid was relatively low.

Tampa has been solid all year with an experienced HC +a Hall of Fame QB. A great combo of Experienced Vets + Talented Newcomers. And a fantastic DC in Todd Bowles.

Defense – Top Young Talent for Both Teams

Both of these Defenses are underrated. Washington may have the most talented DLine in football – yes, including the Rams – and they are strong at CB as well after acquiring CBs Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby in the off-season.

Tampa’s youthful talented array of newcomers in the Back 7 even out the Talent Edge between these teams. Tampa has a great set of LBs and their DBs, while young, are coming on fast. Rivera and Jack Del Rio are solid veteran defensive minds for Washingon, but this is where the Defensive Edge goes to Tampa Bay.

Defense – Todd Bowles

He took a lot of flack in NY as a head coach, but there’s no doubt about his talent as a DC. He was expertly mixing blitz + coverage before it was the thing to do. He’s learned under the best. Pettibon, Seifert, Shurmer, Parcells, Wade Phillips and the great innovator Jim Johnson, who was the front runner of integrating an executable/repeatable PS Defense.

I haven’t been able to break down Tampa’s defense this year, so while most are looking forward to watching their HOF QB, Tom Brady, I can’t wait to see the new innovations that Bowles may be working on. I expect a lot of blitzing from all personnel. A variety of packages. A mix of coverages. All with an eye on simplicity and clarity. Tricky for opponents. Easy for his players.

Offense – Tampa’s classic Gillman West Coast Offense

We all know Tom Brady. What some may not know is all the other talent on this Offense, starting with the Oline. #1 Draft Choices at T. Top talents at G and a veteran Center. From left to right – Smith,Marpet,Jensen,Cappa,Wirfs. The right side is young – Wirfs is a rookie. The left side is entering their prime. They have done the job all year.

At WR, one of the best in the biz – Mike Evans. Chris Godwin is not far behind and the one time best WR in the game – Antonio Brown – signed on during the year. Brady’s old teammate and one of the best TEs ever, Rob Gronkowski – The Gronk! – came out of retirement to help alleviate the loss of talented OJ Howard who was sidelined for the year in October .

The RBs are lead by talented Ronald Jones with past greats, Fournette and McCoy, as backups. HC Bruce Arians isn’t an innovator but is and excellent offensive mind. His style is closer to the Sid Gillman ideal than maybe any coach out there. Stretch the field every way possible with the pass to set up quick hitting runs with Timing and Precision. It takes the talent to execute this scheme, but right now Ariens has it.

Offense – Washington has Gillman roots as well

Washington’s Offense has a pair of Offensive minds that also hearken back to the Gillman days. OC Scott Turner is the son of Norv, who ran a Gillman style scheme to help the Cowboys win 2 Super Bowls in a row in the early 90s. Ken Zampese’s dad was the mastermind with Don “Air” Coryell of the Chargers in the 80s whose offensive scheme was birthed directly from the Gillman playbook.

Norv Turner was starting to add in PS to his Pro Offense while he was with the Vikings a few years ago. His son was coaching with him on that team at the time. Scott will need to get creative and mix in some PS for backup QB Taylor Heinicke who operates well in the spread run and pass game. He is short, so he will need to get the ball out of his hands quick and use his feet for an advantage.

Against Bowles Defense and with an average Oline this wont be easy. The good news is Washington has some very talented WRs and TEs at their disposal. I think they will make some plays with Heinicke at the helm, but I’m not sure it will be enough.

Prognostication – Tampa Bay

Just as in the previous game, I have a feeling about Washington, but I struggle to pick them versus a veteran team without their starting QB. Like the Rams, Washington has a top notch Defense and decent enough offensive minds that can tailor the Offense to the skills of a mobile spread style QB.

The difference for me in this game is that Tampa Bay, unlike Seattle, has actually looked better down the stretch. The Offense isn’t letting up. Their big play WR Evans was questionable with an injury early in the week, but now sounds ok. There will be very minimal home field advantage for Washington due to Covid.

There’s so much going for Tampa, it’s even harder for me to pick against them than Seattle.

Still, I wonder. Magic – Heart – FaithTrustTeamc2 – whatever you want to call it, can create more winning energy than talent, technique and scheme all rolled into one. I know this.

Analysis tells me that Tampa Bay versus a Washington team without its starting QB is the easiest pick of the day. And maybe it is. So again, I’ll go with my head on this one. But I won’t be surprised if we see an inspired effort and possible upset from Washington. And wouldn’t that be fitting for 2020.

~DP

Comments
  1. […] PS Pro – 2020 Land Ho! Wildcard Saturday […]

  2. […] I said in my Wildcard Preview, I would have to take into consideration the off-field disruptions due to Covid as they would […]

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