PS Pro – 2020 Land Ho! Divisional Saturday

Posted: January 16, 2021 in All Things Power Spread

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!- PS

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

Divisional Saturday

As I said in my Wildcard Preview, I would have to take into consideration the off-field disruptions due to Covid as they would definitely impact the games. It was more impactful than I could have imagined.

The Covid Factor

The Seahawks looked as flat as I have ever seen an NFL team at the start of playoff season. They were an older banged up team, but the lack of energy on a team led by one of the most passionate head coaches in Pete Carroll was shocking.

The Steelers were a completely different Covid situation. Unlike Seattle, they were playing a team going through their own covid outbreak. Cleveland was missing coaches, players and dealing with a lot of disruption in the week leading up to their game. Yet it was the Steelers who looked completely out of sorts.

What was evident from the start of the game was that the Steelers were still dealing with the fallout of covid/injuries late in the year when they lost 3 in a row after an undefeated start. They were resting players and not getting in good practices. A must for their Pro Spread Pass Attack, which requires great Timing and Synching of the Offense.

I had thought they were over all of this, based on some of their play at the end of the season, but I assumed too quickly. Digging deeper – after the fact – I found that there was still a lot going on behind the scenes. This was not the same team from earlier in the year.

All the credit to Cleveland and their HC Kevin Stefanski who navigated their own crazy week at an amazing level. It would have been interesting to have been behind the scenes to see exactly how he and his staff managed that week. Possibly a training tape for other teams..?

Youth vs Age

It is interesting to note that arguably the two most fired up teams over the Wildcard Weekend were the Rams and the Browns. Both are younger teams. Especially compared to their opponents.

It sent me on a study of the fallout from Covid 2020. While not conclusive, I did notice that the older players and teams struggled to keep their energy levels and consistency of play. More injuries, lethargic letdowns, and general shitshow play at gametime.

Interestingly, I didn’t notice complete schematic and coaching blunders like I saw in Ohio State in their disruptive shitshow week before the College Football National Championship Game. The Buckeyes showed up with a very disorganized defensive scheme and gameplan – unlike anything I have seen over the last 2 years with the same DC Greg Mattison. Also, Ryan Day’s wasn’t his usual masterful game caller on offense. It was evident that the focus wasn’t solid entering that game.

I think on the Pro Level there is much more organization in place to deal with Covid Outbreaks, Injuries, off the field incidents, etc. In this kind of shitshow, the issue with the NFL may have more to do with Age of the Team than the Organization. Obviously for College, age isn’t the issue.

Impossible to Predict

Really, as I said in my posts last week, predicting off the field effects heading into a game is near impossible without actually being with the Team. So I continue to take notice of what occurs on the field and look at the overall picture to continue to get some sort of understanding as we go forward.

This weekend we have two teams that had a bye week. Sometimes that’s a big advantage. Other times the teams will be flat with the week off. During Covid, I would think some time off and any extra practice time would be an advantage.

We have the young Browns and Rams excited over their big wins, but could this present a letdown vs the two best teams in the NFL, Green Bay and Kansas City, coming off byes..? Especially for the Browns who had one of their greatest wins in franchise history.

The Bills and Ravens didn’t look great in their wins, but they played solid. For me the Saints and Buccaneers looked even more solid, but they are older type teams – especially on Offense. Plus, the Saints are banged up some.

How have practices gone? How banged up are these teams for real? More importantly, what is their levels Mentally and Emotionally. Ask the Browns – Focus and Passion can overcome a lot. These questions I won’t know until I watch them play. So here goes…

Los Angeles at Green Bay

The Rams talented Defense is on fire. QB Jared Goff is supposedly healthy again. The Rams may play better than their last big win over Seattle.

Or not. Their Oline is banged up. Their top tier WR Cooper Kupp and DL Aaron Donald are banged up. Their backup QB is out. They also had times during their last game where they looked a bit worn down, though that could have been partly the nature of their opponent’s lack of energy most of the game.

Green Bay on the other hand is rested, coming off the bye week. They have had their share of Covid/Injuries this year. In fact what HC Matt LaFleur has done in 2 years is amazing. A quick turn around with a Team mixed with young talent and experienced vets. This year with a lot of disruption and injuries, he continued to evolve his OScheme and let his DC take care of Defense.

Offense – LaFleur & McVay – Top PS Pro Minds

The above is just a little touch on the creativity of LaFleur’s Offense. He’s a brilliant mix of the HC he’s playing, Sean McVay and the one that beat him last year, Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers.

LaFleur was with Shanahan for a long time. Shanahan has morphed his Dad’s (Mike) Power WC Offense into a PSWC that is almost like a futuristic version of the Modern T from the 1940s, with a ton of mis-direction and play-action and all sorts of creative personnel groupings.

LaFleur was most recently under McVay, who runs a more Vertical Spread with a Heavy Power mix. Spread and Power sets with an Air Raid element as well. PS Gillman+. Lafleur mixes these ideas with even more mis-direction/play-action from Shanahan into a sort of PS Pro 2020. Possibly leading to Full Pro PS or PS Pro of the future.

McVay’s Offense can swing extremely from an Air Raid Pass Spread to heavy Gillman WC Zone Power Runs. Last week he attacked with Power behind his big Oline, while selectively using the feet+arm of his backup PS QB Wolford, and the injured thumb of Goff once Wolford left the game with a neck injury.

McVay also used a lot more No-Huddle than I’ve seen in the past. Again, part of that PSAR college style of offense. He used Freeze-Tempo, which is hurrying to the Line of Scrimmage, holding the Defense in place while calling the Play. This not only helps diagnose the DScheme, but it tires the Defense as they tense in their stances to await the play.

Seattle was already flat and with all the Tempo in the 2nd Quarter, basically let the Rams run all over them right down the field for a late 1st Half TD, which really hurt. After a brief energy burst in the 2nd Half, the Seahawks again looked ragged and the Rams burned them with big Play-Action Passes to seal the game. McVay’s Power/Tempo did the trick.

LaFleur will also throw in No-Huddle and has the RBs and Oline to run Power as well, but they are definitely more of a Spread Pass Team with QB Aaron Rodgers and his ability to quickly diagnose most Pass Defenses. Even some of the tricky PS Defenses we see today. Still, like McVay, LaFleur likes Power Spread Balance. He helps Rodgers more than most realize, with his Play Calling( Mixing Power + Breaking Tendency ) and Innovative Route Designs.

Defense – Brandon Staley a genius? Really?

There was a lot of talk this week about the brilliance of Rams DC Brendon Staley’s “innovative” Defense, but after analyzing the Wildcard win, I don’t see it. What I see is big time talent, passion and execution. The last 2 are a credit to Staley. But I don’t see an innovative scheme.

Staley mixes in Cover 1 + 3 with some Cover 2 and M2M. He likes to bring one safety down in what becomes a 4-4 or 5-3 type of set. This balances against Power and Spread, but it’s what a lot of College Teams have been doing the last several years.

Why it has worked so well for the Rams is that they have one of the best DLines in Football and one of the best players in DT Donald. Their back 7 also plays with amazing technique and execution.

For example, on CB Darious Williams interception return for a TD, there was nothing at all tricky about the scheme. It was a simple 4-4 with Cover 1. Seattle’s QB Wilson and their rookie WR Swain were sloppy on the read and the block respectively. Williams read/execution was incredible. Here’s the thing – it could have easily worked for a big play for Seattle.

The Rams were sucked in by the play-action and only had 2 defenders vs 2 WRs blocking and a 3rd to catch the ball. If WR Metcalf came back further for the ball, or Williams didn’t make such a great play, or Swain was more energetic and quick to block, this is a big play for Seattle.

There were times like this all game. Williams, who is the NB, was constantly reading the Seahawks well. There was a 4th&1 where Seattle had the right call – Read Option – with less #s in the Box – advantage Offense. Again, Staley didn’t do much in play calling or design in these big moments. But OLB Leonard Floyd made an amazing play, crashing down and nailing the running back for no gain.

In the 2nd Half, the Rams went to a more conservative Cover 2, which was a mistake by Staley. On the first 2 Drives of the 2nd Half Wilson missed wide open Touchdown passes. On the third drive, Seattle moved the ball again, but had sloppy penalties by a beat up Oline. Both Guards had Neck injuries.

At one point Seattle replaced their injured LG and the Rams talented backup NT AShawn Robinson crushed the backup for another big play in which the Rams were out schemed.

Staley is a really good coach from what I can see. The players seem to love him and he definitely keeps schemes simple to execute and he and his staff have taught them well. I expect he may make a top Head Coach one day. But I don’t think his DScheme is any better than Mike Pettine on the other side.

Green Bay’s DC is from the Rex Ryan Baltimore line of Psycho D that every team uses now in some variation. Pettine isn’t as aggressive as Ryan or the Baltimore’s DC now Don Martindale, but he has some talent to work with and has done a decent job with the Green Bay Defense. At least he keeps the Packers in games to let their dynamic Offense take over.

Prognostication – Green Bay

Green Bay played a great Divisional Playoff Game last year and a dud of a Championship Game. I expect they will be ready to go for this one, though with Goff back to health (if he really is) it won’t be easy.

My issue for the Rams, even more than WR Cupp’s injury, is that they are banged up in the trenches.

As I said above, McVay likes to balance his Spread with Power and Staley really relies on his Talent. Both start up front. If the Rams Oline can’t push Green Bay’s D, this becomes an issue for the Play-Action. If their Dline can’t get pressure from the front 4 – without blitzing – then Staley can’t sit back in his coverage schemes no matter how well his back 7 play.

If the Rams are struggling physically, are worn down mentally and/or letdown emotionally, then this will be a blowout. I don’t expect that, but it’s going to be a lot tougher than what they saw last week.

This Green Bay Offense has been good all year. The Rams are going to give up points regardless of where they are physically, mentally and emotionally. How many is the question. Also, can they get the pass rush they normally have from the front 4 to create big takeaways in the secondary.

I think that the Rams will stay close in this higher scoring game as long as Goff is healthy, but in the end the Pack should prevail.

Baltimore at Buffalo

The Ravens, like the Steelers, are a Talented veteran team with good Schemes and a long time winning Culture. The consistency of both of these organizations helped them get off to great starts during a season that arguably should never have been played.

Then the shitshow caught both. Ironically, it hit the Ravens first, which affected the Steelers due to a game between the two teams that was delayed almost a full week. The Ravens, because they were hit earlier, had more time to right the ship.

They found themselves on a 5 game win streak to end the year. They finally beat their recent nemesis, the Titans, last week and got the 3 yr playoff monkey off their back. Harbaugh finally took the playoff reigns off of PS QB Lamar Jackson. The Titans, in front of one of the few home crowds allowed in stadiums right now, fought hard – went up early – but couldn’t hold on. The better team finally won this matchup.

Here’s the thing. The Ravens didn’t really play their best and I’m not sure they aren’t simply worn out mentally from all they went through this year. Arguably, I would again give the Titans the Energy edge – just as they had in their first two meetings with Baltimore. This time though, Harbaugh had a better gameplan for Lamar – who is quickly turning into a playoff leader – and the Defense was able to control the Titan run game that no longer has that great Oline from last year.

The Bills have had an easier time with Covid/Injs this year, but they didn’t look at their best, energy-wise, either. They played well though. As they have all season. At home and with their own playoff monkey off their back, I expect them to continue to play well. If the Ravens letdown at all from their big win, this game could get away from them fast.

Great Pro PS 2020 Schemes – Bills D vs Ravens O

I have written a lot about the advanced Pro PS 2020 Schemes of Baltimore – both on Offense and Defense. With Harbaugh letting Jackson and the Offense play their scheme – Play-action Pass/RO-RPO/Mis-Direction Runs / Heavy Runs – the Ravens were able to Spread the Field, Horizontally+Vertically, with the Pass to set up Spread & Power Running.

The Titans D struggled, as I said it might, with the scheme. A fractured gameplan alternating between HyperFocus on Jackson Runs/OverAggressive M2M/Passive Zone. The first set up well for Play-Action Pass mixed with RB carries. The second made it easy for big Jackson scrambles – one in which he ran for a long TD to get the Ravens Offense rolling. The third made it easy for long drives by Baltimore with short underneath passes. Eating up the clock. Setting up for more play-action and big runs late from more over-aggressive Titans D.

It will not be so easy versus the Bills. DC Leslie Frazier, along with defensive minded HC Sean McDermott has really created a great PS Defensive Scheme. Both were heavily influenced by the master, Jim Johnson, while Frazier also had influence from Buddy Ryan and Monte Kiffen. This is a great mix of Aggressive Variety in Blitz/M2M/Zone and when you watch the Bills Defense blitzing from all over the field and expertly mixing coverages, THIS is from whence it comes.

The Ravens will need better Energy and better Play to move the ball on the Bills. Harbaugh needs to stay aggressive – maybe even go vertically more often – and Lamar needs to make more decisive quick reads. That will be tough vs a much trickier Passive Aggressive DScheme.

Great Pro PS 2020 Schemes – Martindale and the Ravens D

Again, 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 to perfection. Not only is his Front 7 constantly active, both pre an post snap, but he is always mixing between Zone&M2M, plus moving his safeties around. He almost never uses them by their namesake – for SAFETY. He uses them for Aggression and Creation of Big Plays.

Baltimore went up against a top new OC in Arthur Smith of the Titans last week. Smith again mixed in a ton of Play-Action Spread to try and open up his Power Run Game. His Play-Calling was spot on early.

The problem is the Titans no longer have a great Oline. Baltimore shut down the run game and Smith got a little stubborn in his approach. Martindale expertly blitzed early – got burned by QB Tannehill off Play-Action – then faked the blitz, playing a lot of tricky zone that confused Tannehill.

The Titans started to get discouraged, but the crowd kept them fired up. They were able to navigate Martindale’s mix of pressure/m2m/zone later in the game, but again the Oline was an issue. Especially with a backup player out of position at LT. Finally a big play – interception by Marcus Peters – ended the game.

Great Pro PS 2020 Schemes – Daboll and the Bills O

The Bills OC Brian Daboll, like DC Frazier, has really made strides in his Scheme. Unlike Frazier, Daboll is younger and not the massive coaching tree of his counterpart. Daboll is mainly a Belichick NE guy which means – Charlie Weiss + Josh McDaniels. Throw in some time with the Jets – Cameron+Schottenheimer WCPS Wildcat – add his latest experience at Bama – Locksley/Kiffin/Sarkisian PS – and suddenly Daboll’s mind has some PS concepts with which to work.

Not to say that Weiss’ Pass Spread and McDaniels own version of Pro PS weren’t good enough. NE was a frontrunner of bringing the Spread to the NFL. They even went directly to visit one of the roots of Spread Football – Urban Meyer. 15 years later and Daboll has put together quite a PS Pro Offense with top PS QB and late bloomer, Josh Allen.

Buffalo will mix outside Spread Runs with WR Fly Sweeps, Reverses and Zone Stretch Power. They also aren’t afraid to run Allen, who’s solidly built and very athletic. This sets up for Option Football with ROs and RPOs.

Of course they can go into the old Pro Spread style WC passing game, with which Allen has gotten much better. But like Arthur Smith and Ryan Day, the play calling sets all of this up an Allen has also be used as a WR. Anything and everything in simple cohesion.

This is how to defeat Martindales DScheme – by Aggressive Variety on Offense. IF Daboll is up for it, unlike Arthur Smith, some Flexibility to boot. He won’t get the same look or scheme all game from the Ravens. The Bills will need to adjust to have continued success throughout the game.

Prognostication – Buffalo – in a tough one..?

I don’t think this will be an easy win for the Bills. The Ravens have too much Culture, Talent and Scheme. I just worry about some of the low energy I saw from them last game and if they letdown after that big win, this won’t be as tough as I expect.

If the Ravens don’t let down and Harbaugh stays aggressive on Offense, they definitely can win. Buffalo is the real deal. McDermott has done an incredible job turning that franchise around. They have Talent, Scheme and now Culture as well. But I’m not sure Baltimore isn’t a slightly better team overall. Especially if the Offense plays at its best.

That’s why I am picking the Bills. I don’t think Lamar, Harbaugh are quite there yet with this new style of Pro Offense. I also think it has been a very long year for the Ravens and it could be catching up. Against the Bills that would be trouble.

If Ravens play their best then they win a great game, but I’ll take the Bills in a tough one – though possibly not that close in the end.

~PS

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