Posts Tagged ‘Washington Redskins’;276390040;103714799;h  The National Football League is promoting a “share your story” with an opportunity to win a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII and they are engaging various celebrities to reflect on childhood memories.  When I saw a promotional picture of young kids in uniform of my era, it really stirred memories.  Nothing but good memories.  So I went into my archives and found this piece.  After I left the Washington Redskins in 2005 and prior to joining Drexel University’s Sport Management Program, I began writing about my life and how football has been absolutely intrinsic.

I haven’t posted on here in quite some time.  I now am out of coaching and working in the representation of NFL athletes.  It is rewarding work as I help prepare young men for the riggers of the combine, draft, and their transition into professional football.  We have been successful in this initial season with three players selected in the top 95 and two other free agents making their respective squads with one working his way into a starting position.

Here is the beginning of the seven chapters or so that I have written.  Don’t know if I’ll ever really write it all down.  We use to joke as coaches about writing a book but no one would ever believe the realities of the experiences.  If some feed back is positive perhaps I’ll post more but this is my base truth.  This is why I could never dream of really doing anything but being on a football field.  When I worked with Mike Hollway at Marietta College in the early 1980’s he spoke of, “not being singular in purpose” and that is why I’ve ventured into some of the avenues I have but at the end of the day we all have a definition and “coach” is what I will always inherently be.  Hope you enjoy this snippet.

PART I:  It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do…

Chapter 1                                            FULTON PARK

My dad pulled our white ‘64 Ford Falcon on the grass next to small boulders that were evenly spaced parallel to the street, used as a barrier to keep vehicles off the outfield of the baseball diamond in Fulton Park.  I couldn’t wait to jump out of the car as my legs stuck to the red vinyl seats.  It was a typically hot, muggy, late summer New England day in Waterbury, Connecticut and football season was approaching.

From across the street I could see my hero’s emerging from the shadows of the pine trees.  I could hear the clattering of the steel tipped nylon cleats as they came off the grass having walked up the hill from Wilby High School and crossed the street to reach the practice field.  Groups of two, three, five all wearing black mostly high top leather Riddell football shoes with white laces, practice football pants that were once white and now had a worn beige look to them, and white cotton tee shirts, no dryfit  back then.  In their hands that beautiful white MacGregor helmet with the protruding ear area, only single and double bar white nylon face masks, and a single green stripe down the middle with their practice jersey’s jammed inside and used to carry their floppy hockey like shoulder pads.

Pulling up and parking behind us was a convertible Cadillac.  The long, heavy driver’s side door swings open and out steps a round imposing figure.  It’s Fred O’Brien the head coach and my dad’s best friend.  Fred and my dad could pass as brothers.  Both are bald, my dad was 5-11 and probably around 225 at that time and Fred was 5-10 and I’d say 250 pounds. They are young, strong, and confident and are having the time of their lives coaching football.  My dad handled the offense and Fred the defense.  They trusted each other and the passion they had for what they were doing was evident.  They had mapped out practice the night before between playing hands of pinochle with my mom Hilda and Fred’s wife Barbara.

The entire squad has now arrived and is gathered under the shade of the trees that border the intersecting streets and are located in the deepest of straight away centerfield of the baseball diamond.  The infield is skinned and dry and has the look of a miniature patch of desert.  Behind the beaten and battered backstop is a hill with a path that gradually climbs from the third base line up and around the plate and declines as it wraps around to the first base line.  There are tennis courts behind the path on the first base side.  It is an idyllic setting in my mind for this is where the Wilby Wildcats hold their practices in the outfield, an open green space that is the most important patch of grass that I will ever know.

Coach O’Brien and my dad Coach Jim Kelly, simultaneously blow their whistles hanging from shoestrings around their necks.  They too have on football pants, white socks, black Riddell ripple soled shoes, gray tee shirts, and green caps and have the look of excitement and anticipation on their faces as the pea rattles in its chamber.  The team dons their helmets and begins to jog from centerfield toward the left field pole onto the path that inclines up and around the backstop, down the slope toward the right field pole and into precise exercise lines in what is normally right field but is now anointed as a practice football field.  The captains stand with their backs to where the second baseman would be located and the rest of the team is in eight rows of about six to a row.  The captains lead a variety of stretches and calisthenics that were typical of the times.  Neck roles, bridges, push-ups, sit-ups, up/downs, windmill toe touches, trunk twisters, forward and backward arm rotations would lead into wind sprints by each line of a 20 yard burst, to bear crawls of 50 to 100 yards, and who could forget the infamous duck walk for the same distance.  Forget water at the end of these drills.  Water was for the weak.  Sissie’s needed water.  Take a salt tablet and move on to the next set of drills.

I was taught to stay out of the way but I would push the limits as far as I could.  I would take off and run with the team around the field being passed by young men two and three times my size.  I’m six years old and the pounding sound on the dry ground, the dust in my face, that distinct odor of a pubescent football player’s sweat, and the sense of team sends a jolt through me as nothing else did.  This is where I belong.  I would mimic the exercises as best I could at the back of the line.  While the players conditioned, I would bounce over to the rusty two-man sled and stand on the back like my dad would be doing in a matter of moments exhorting on two young men to drive with their legs, keep their pad level down, head up, and push that thing around until you thought you were going to drop but you didn’t dare.

Next came “bull in the ring” where a single player would be in the center of a circle of players keeping his feet moving and head on a swivel, as the coach would then call out the number of a another player making up the circle to sprint out toward the player in the middle and deliver a blow, forcing the “bull” in the middle to quickly react to this immediate threat in a hitters position and deliver a blow himself or get knocked on his ass.  If the ‘bull” remained on his feet another player would be called from the circle in rapid succession, one right after another until an alternate “bull’ was chosen.  Once these two young coaches were satisfied that toughness was being instilled, onto the “Oklahoma Drill” they went.  A ball carrier, quarterback to hand off, an offensive lineman to open the hole against an interior defender, and then an end to block a defensive back.  All are aligned in a row bordered by blocking dummies to appoint a confined running lane.  These drills were exciting, violent, team building, and man producing.  I loved it.

The scrimmage phase of practice demonstrated the importance of paying attention to detail.  If a running back was too anxious to get to the exchange in a draw scheme, my dad would hold the back of his pants and then let him go when the timing was proper to teach patience.  If the steps of an end to arc release with the proper removal of surface area from the defender attempting to disrupt the release was proving difficult, time would be taken to demonstrate and teach the footwork, perhaps even staying at the end of practice and mapping out the steps in the dry dirt of the infield so that the player could visualize the exact arc needed.  Nothing was left to chance.  Specifics were to be taught.  Repetition was the key.  You didn’t have to do a lot, just do the things you do have correctly and never, ever quit.

Often this vitally important aspect of the program is an after-thought.  This position can virtually be placed anywhere in your roster building after quarterback.  These young men have more pressure, scorn, ridicule, and lack of respect directed towards them that in a moment of a single contact of foot to ball, can turn them into heroes.  More than any position on your roster, they are taken for granted and are expected to be 100% each time they trot onto the field.

The “talking heads”  continue to make comments when a kicker or punter is drafted in the fourth round or higher and will be the first to comment if a team plays a game and is consistently losing the field position battle or a missed extra point or field goal is the difference in the score of the game.

Many programs recruit these players as “walk-ons” with the promise that if they win the competition in camp or spring ball, scholarship funding will be made available.  A pro player struggles in a game or two and the next thing that happens is competition is brought in and the player has to compete during the course of the week.  They can be the most under-coached or over-coached players in the program. Yet always, they are expected to be perfect when called upon.  After-all, it’s all they have to do, right?

Extenuate the positive with these men.  Build them up and let them know that you believe in them.  They NEVER mean to miss a kick or shank a punt…NEVER…so show them you care and empathise.  Send your recruiters and scouts out on the road with these tools in mind and find the right:


HANDS                          Type: soft, stiff, eye/hand coördination, extends hands to the snap or body catch, adjust to bad snap, is punter the holder for PAT/FG

GET-OFF                       PUNTER – 2 or 3 step, distance covered/time, snap = 0.8 seconds or less, tough to toe = 1.4 seconds or less, launch = 2.2 seconds or less     KICKER  – 1.3 seconds or less on snap, pin, to contact

LEG STRENGTH        Distance, explosion into the ball

HANG TIME                 Height of ball on punts and kick-offs (check for cover patterns on tape to determine hang time, ie. on kick-off cover the team should be across the 30 yard line when the ball is caught by the returner)

HANDLE WIND         Against wind, with wind, cross wind, can he “drive” the football

ACCURACY                  Leg control, placement, field goal percentage for kickers

PRESSURE                  Game intensity, rush, bad snap (hand and adjust to kick), general demeanor, composure

TACKLE                        Cover ability, courage, willingness to be the last line of defense

RUN/PASS                   Bonus, check high school positions played, athletic ability, other sports played

PRODUCTION            Statistics, opportunities, does he get the job done, consistency

MECHANICS               Smooth and fluid, consistent, athletic, flexibility, extension, plant foot, drop

NOTE:                             Soccer style or straight on conventional (the last conventional kicker drafted in the NFL was my good friend and fellow coach Manny Matsakis by the Philadelphia Eagles), shoe or barefoot (am I dating myself?), right or left footed

                                                                     CRITICAL FACTORS  

Leg Strength, Accuracy, Distance, Production

We can have discussions that will go on and on with this position being listed last as we build our roster and this decision is solely based on past experiences and schemes most employed.  The “power forward” basketball type athlete that is now emerging in this spot is very intriguing.  Big, agile, strong, and possessing field awareness utilizing court presence with the understanding of running away from man and sitting in zone have made these athletes a hot commodity.

I have been known to use more of a “spread” set running a “loose wing-T” with three backs and two wides, our version of spread with two backs and three wides and single back with four wides.  In the Canadian Football League I believe utilizing a tight end is an effort in futility as you need to exploit the additional width (a CFL field is 65 yards yard as compared to an American field which is 53 yards) using two back/four wides or single back/five wides (again, the CFL utilizes 12 men while the U.S. game plays with 11).  Even in U.S. football, I have been a proponent in short yardage to go four wides with a single back in motion.  If a LB runs with the back and removes himself from the box, the QB sneaks.  If the LB stays in the box, we turn and deliver to the back in open space.  Placing 22 or 24 men in a five yard box simply has not proven beneficial in our experience.

That being said, the essence of coaching is providing your players with an opportunity to experience success in a scheme that fits the available player’s skill sets.  As a coordinator and a head coach only one time in my career (with the Orlando Rage of the XFL) did we possess the players at the tight end position that truly made an impact on the scheme.  When Coach Joe Gibbs returned to the Washington Redskins in 2004, a premium was placed on the tight end position and we were activated in the Pro Personnel department to find as many tight ends or over-sized fullbacks as we could to fill the desired “H-back” position along with many two tight end sets.

The development to these highly skilled athletes are causing match-up advantages for the offense and create personnel grouping and formation recognition nightmares for defensive coordinators.  They are important cogs in the run game, play-action, and are vital to most red zone schemes.  Use these tools to find a game changer at the position of:

                                                                     TIGHT ENDS

RUN BLOCK INLINE                    Strength upper and lower body, base, balance, stays on feet, initial contact, works through the belt buckle up into the numbers, drive and sustain, leverage, production vs willingness, drive off the line of scrimmage (LOS) or position, secure the point of attack (POA), wall off type, type of blocks (drive, down, double, angle, cut, butt-n-cut, seal), stick and stay, push and pester, knee bend/sink hips, finish, proper footwork, arm length

SUSTAIN/FINISH                           Base, balance, body control, play strength, inline, on the move, vs DL, vs LB, effort, determination, toughness

BALANCE                                            Ability to retain body control in the execution of various techniques required of the position as a blocker and receiver, regain body control temporarily lost, lower body strength and base to stay on feet

DOWNFIELD BLOCK                   Effort, angle, adjust on the run, stay on feet, balance, cut block without lunging, zero in on a moving target and strike

HANDS                                                Type: soft, stiff, snatch, pluck, extend and make finger tip catch, body catcher, double catch, adjust to the flight of the ball and frame the throw, ability to make the tough catch, secure the ball upon contact, catch in traffic

INITIAL QUICKNESS                   Movement off the ball, first step out of stance, burst into pass routes, coming out of breaks

RELEASE                                            Escape hold-up at LOS, stance (2 or 3 point), techniques, foot quickness, agility, hip and leg drive, fake and go, head and shoulders, comes off hard every play, doesn’t get knocked off route, speed release, swim

ROUTES                                              Type of cuts; sharp, rounded, body control, gathers feet to cut, stride coming out of cuts smoothly with a burst to separate, change of pace within pattern stem, fake and cut ability, read coverage and adjust, fluid not stiff mechanical movements

SEPARATION                                   Acceleration,burst and body movement to create space from defender and get open, change of direction (COD) without wasted movement, horizontal, vertical

AWARENESS                                   Understanding to locate open area, knowledge of coverages and defenders, cognizant of first down marker, boundary, clock management

RECEIVE SHORT                           Ability to find open windows in zone coverage and settle in the biggest area, catch in a crowd, run through the catch, separate vs man to man, read coverage, awareness, cutting ability, adjust to the ball, feel for the underneath passing game

RECEIVE DEEP                               Speed to go long, vertical threat, close cushion, burst to separate, adjust to deep ball and frame throw, make over the shoulder catch, battle for a jump ball, leaping ability, timing, concentration, accelerate to the ball

REACT/ADJUST                             See and realign to the ball in flight, body control and flexibility to make the difficult catch, cradles low throw, throws behind and over-head, or any off target throw, squares shoulders and frames the throw

REACT IN A CROWD                    Courage, concentration, take a hit and maintain security of the ball, competes for the ball in traffic, between the hashes, use of body to shield off defender, provides a good target

RUN AFTER CATCH                      Athletic, determined runner, fight for yards after catch (YAC’s), open field instincts, acceleration, stop and start quickness, change of pace, weaver or darter, able to turn a short reception into a big gain, breaks tackles

                                                                   CRITICAL FACTORS

SIZE                                                       Height and weight according to chart and level of play

MENTAL                                              Football intelligence, ability to acquire and maintain knowledge, ability to thing and react during competition, normal reps, ability to assimilate strategy and to adopt prescribed solutions to different game situations

BLOCKING                                         On the LOS, second level to wall off, base, leverage, balance, sustain, finish, play strength, aggressive, effectiveness, desire

QUICKNESS                                      Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso and feet in unison and rapid succession

HANDS                                                 Ability to adjust, extend and catch with hands, dependable, consistent, natural vs body catcher, makes the routine catch routinely, can make the tough catch

I struggled, albeit briefly, on whether to continue building our roster with a tight end next and certainly with the success being experienced by many NFL clubs this season using tight ends as a major component of their scheme, having a solid running back trumps the tight end position for us.

An instinctive, hard-nosed runner allows you to control the time of position and may be the single most important component in the identity and personality of your ball club.  A physical run game will wear down an opponent and as the secondary must be involved in support, allows you to utilize play-action to gain explosive plays.

A dynamic quick twitch runner that can score from anywhere on the field will not allow the pass rush to “pin their ears back” and disrupt the drop-back game providing a cleaner pocket to deliver the ball downfield, be effective in the draw scheme, and if the defense is overly aggressive the screen game becomes paramount.

There is still a place for two-back sets and a solid fullback as a lead blocker and a powerful quick hit dive back and trap carrier will always carry merit.

Having a solid run game has proven over the course of time to be the lynchpin of championship football teams.  Throwing the ball all over the park is fun and exciting but ultimately if you can not effectively control the ball with a run game you are applying undo stress on your entire club.  Now go find this vital cog by using these evaluative tools for the position of;

                                                                      RUNNING BACKS

INITIAL QUICKNESS                     Movement upon snap of the ball, explosive start, straight ahead, lateral, type of stance, hitch or false step, quickness to the hole, get-off from 2 or 3 point stance

INSTINCTS/VISION                        Natural feel as a carrier, peripheral sight, focus on the point of attack (POA), quick reactions, ability to create or alibi positive yardage on poorly blocked plays

INSIDE RUNNER                             Vision, presses POA, pick, slide and accelerate through the hole, ability to find and hit a crease, body lean, pad level, strength, power, break tackles, short yardage and goal line, follow and utilize blockers, cut in the hole, pound type, gain yards after initial hit, leg drive, effort, ability to finish runs with authority, make aggressive tough 2 and 3 yard runs, step over trash, traffic burst in the hole

POWER/BREAK TACKLES           Play strength to break tackles, gets behind pads, can be own blocker and move the pile, leverage, short yardage and goal line, leg drive, refuses to be stopped, slasher, hard nosed, not afraid to initiate contact

SHORT YARDAGE RUNNER        Efficiency in converting short yardage situations, run skills, power, desire, pad level, leg churn

OUTSIDE RUNNER                          Speed and quickness to turn the corner and take the ball wide, game breaker, can score from anywhere on the field, elusiveness to make tacklers miss, instincts, plant and cut, attack downhill

ELUSIVENESS                                    Makes defenders miss, type: darter or weaver, deceptive, dancer, quickness, balance, agility, plant and cut without loss of speed, can dip in and out, gear change, straight line limitations, create, avoid, slip and slide

BALANCE                                             Ability to retain body control in the execution of various fundamentals of carrying the ball and in blocking, regain body control after temporarily lost, lower body strength to stay on feet

ACCELERATION                              Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, ability once you’re moving to get to a hight rate of speed

BALL SECURITY                             Chronic fumbler, ball protection, carelessness, physical make up, number of fumbles, pad level entering contact

PASS ROUTES                                   Ability to get out of the backfield and into routes quickly, type of routes, experience as a receiver, awareness, vs man/zone understanding, comfortable in open space, hand placement to the throw, allows blockers to to get in front in screen game

HANDS                                                  Type: soft or stiff, body catcher, extends to throw, adjust to the ball, able to make difficult catch, frames throw, relaxed, natural

RUN BLOCKING                               Willingness, attitude, effort, aggressive, initial contact, base, balance, knee bend, power and explosion, stays on feet, follow through, finish, react to games and stunts, chop blocker or face up, experience, courage

PASS BLOCKING                              Willingness, attitude, effort, initial contact, base, feet, balance, stays square, face up, strike and recoil, shadow defender, does not over-extend or lunge, dogs and blitz recognition and pick up

DURABILITY                                     Physically able to perform consistently over a long period, doesn’t miss time – game or practice, understands the difference between pain and injury, number of carries (game/season), stamina, maintains concentration when in pain or tired late in the game

                                                                   CRITICAL FACTORS


RUN SKILLS                                      Over-all talent, inside and outside, production as a carrier, creates, avoids

INSTINCTS/VISION                       Natural feel as a carrier, quick reactions, eyes, ability to create, makes something out of nothing

SPEED                                                   40 time, burst, acceleration, play speed

QUICKNESS                                       Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso and feet in unison and rapid succession

HANDS                                                  Comfort level in all routes, production as a receiver, natural or body catcher


INSIDE RUNNER                           Vision, feet, agility, strength, power, pad level, short yardage and goal line, finish runs, courage and toughness

QUICKNESS                                       Ability to initiate body movement in a desired direction in a single thrust, able to move hands, arms, torso, and feet in unison and rapid succession

BLOCKING                                         Run/pass, willingness, attitude, toughness, production

HANDS                                                 Comfort level in all routes, production as a receiver, natural or body catcher

MENTAL                                              Intelligence, schematic understanding, assimilates strategy, adaptability, toughness

We’ll move over to the offensive side of the ball now as our defense is built and our special teams have a solid core.  Our quarterback is protected but we can’t leave him “flailing in the wind” as NFL Films Senior Producer Greg Cosell pontificates.  We have to get our trigger man an athlete  to compliment him that will be consistent in his pattern discipline, make the routine catch routinely, and be a play-maker.

We prefer the taller athlete.  We haven’t spoken much in terms of size requirements for each position previously discussed but this particular position we believe warrants the discussion.  Basketball athletic attributes are positives for the receiver position.  We want players that can go up and make the play at its highest point framing the throw and extending.  Individuals that are accustomed to coming out of breaks at full speed yet under-control and have a basic understanding of how to position their body to ward off a defender.  Exceptional top end speed is always a premium but we’ll sacrifice a step for height, long arms, and big hands.

Receivers are also vital to your special teams structure.  You may keep an athlete that is slightly smaller than you would prefer in your offensive corps but has return skills.  Receivers often are an asset as “gunners” on punt cover and of course you want them all out there for the onside kick return team, to mention a few.

These are the players that can electrify your offense.  These are the men that move the chains in chunks.  To evaluate these men use these tools for the position of;


HANDS                                   Type: soft, stiff, absorbing, extend and pluck, body catcher, adjust to the ball in flight, makes the difficult catch (low balls, over the shoulder, ball behind or away, general off target throw), secures the ball after the catch, concentration, size of hands

REACT/ADJUST                  See and reposition to the ball in flight, body control, frames the throw, make the difficult catch, vision, focus, tracks the ball, leaping ability, timing

INITIAL QUICKNESS       Movement off the ball, stance, starts, burst into routes, consistent off the ball, immediate pressure, close cushion

RELEASE                               Escape hold-up in press coverage, quick feet, strength to fight jam, moves and techniques, gets into route and back on course quickly, sinks hips and bursts, hip and leg drive, “foot fire” guy

STRENGTH                          Core and play strength, escape jam, gets off the line of scrimmage (LOS), stays on pattern, sturdy runner, breaks tackles, physical, durable

SEPARATION                      Acceleration and burst to leave a defender, can get over the top, creates space on out cuts, does he pull away, change of direction (COD) without wasted movement, horizontal, vertical

PLAY SPEED/TEMPO      The velocity and intensity in which the game is played, with or without the ball, efficiency in movement qualities, can he carry his pads

MOVEMENT/COD              Type of cuts; sharp, rounded, body control, stride, gathers, comes out of turn smoothly with a burst to separate, ease of movement, balance, faking and cutting ability, efficiency in movement, drop weight/sink hips, COD qualities, hard angle breaks, decisive out of breaks, lateral separation

FIELD AWARENESS          Ability to find open windows in zone coverage, reads coverage, distinguishes man vs zone, awareness of positioning on the field and game situations, adjustments at the snap, clock management, works the boundary, pattern distribution

RECEIVE SHORT                Ability to find open areas and settle, quickness to defeat man to man (run away from man/sit down in zone), catch the ball in a crowd, run through catch over the middle, cutting ability, awareness, can he or can’t he get open, pattern agility, provides a target, separation

RECEIVE LONG                  Speed to get deep, close cushion, force separation with defender, change of pace within the pattern stem, adjust to the ball in flight, over the shoulder, react to under-thrown ball, leaping ability on jump ball, acrobatic type catch, vision, concentration, vertical threat

ACCELERATION                 Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top speed, ability once you’re moving to get at a higher rate of speed

IN TRAFFIC                          Courage, concentration, hold ball on contact, over the middle, big target, will battle for the ball, won’t turn down the throw, production inside the hashes, reaction in combative environment, catch in a crowd on the move

RUN ABILITY                       Athletic after catch, quickness, acceleration, elusiveness, open field instincts, change of pace, determined runner, fights for extra yards, stamina, ball security

BLOCKER                               Willingness, effort, aggressiveness, strength, adjust on the move, sustain, type of blocks (stalk, cut, crack), results

                                                                         CRITICAL FACTORS

HANDS                                    Dependable, consistent, natural vs body catcher, drops

MOVEMENT/COD               Body control, drop weight/sink hips, efficient runner, ease of movement, route agility

STRENGTH                             Functional, escapes jam, gets off the LOS, stays on routes, sturdy runner, breaks tackles, physical, durable

PLAY SPEED/TEMPO        Game speed vs 40 time, deep acceleration, burst out of breaks

RUN AFTER CATCH            Athletic with the ball in his hands, speed, quickness, instincts, production, yards after catch (YAC’s)

In this series of structuring your roster we have first secured a quarterback and then addressed a pressure player and cover men that will also be an asset on special teams.  Some may argue that our next position should be receiver but we contend that protecting the quarterback and effectively being able to run the football take precedence.

When I was a young coach and a “wing-T guy” I was instructed to put our best offensive lineman at center.  Later in my career running the football continued to be a priority but throwing the football achieved us success and recognition.  Now the thought process is to put your best offensive linemen at the backside of your quarterback’s dominant hand at tackle and your second best at the dominant side guard position.  The philosophy is to protect from unseen pressure and to secure the throwing alley to which the ball is being launched.

When evaluating individual’s to play in the most choreographed and teammate reliant aspect of perhaps all sport, we look to mesh these qualities into a cohesive unit looking at these traits for;

                                                                                 OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

INITIAL QUICKNESS            Movement off the ball to gain advantage, first step, foot and hand speed

EXPLOSION                               Knee bender/sinks hips, not a waist bender, leg drive, roll hips, core strength, shock to punch, control and drive, surge, pancakes

RUN BLOCK INLINE              Type; (drive, hook, scoop, fan, double, slip, peel, trap, angle, cut-off), initial contact, leverage, feet, balance, sustain, visible shock when delivering a blow, explosion, finish block, follow through, combination blocks (double, fold, cross, etc.), ability to adjust and block different looks while maintaining balance, stays on feet, position (finesse) vs power, timing, vision

SUSTAIN/BALANCE               Base, feet, not overextended, ability to recover and regain positioning, ability to retain body control in the execution of various position fundamentals

BASE/LEVERAGE                    Solid lower body, flexibility and power, knee bender, difficult to knock off feet

CUT-OFF                                       Lateral agility and quickness to prevent and secure defenders pursuit away from the play, vs. slant move

PULL/TRAP                                 Initial step, adjust on the run, zero in on the target and strike, depth and approach, body control, kick-out or log, contact, follow through, finish, quickness, explosion

ADJUST ON THE MOVE        Change of direction, agility and body control, breakdown, zero in on moving target and strike, vision

BLOCK DOWNFIELD              Effort, hustle, make 2nd block, look for someone to hit 2nd and 3rd level, angle, adjust, sustain, work on air, throw too early and overextend, results

PASS BLOCK                               Stance, quick set, drop and angle, feet, base, balance, athletic ability, lateral slide, recovery quickness, mirror and shadow, shift weight, can sit back, tuck hips and explode, hand placement and usage, punch, pop and recoil, quick hands, lock out arms, recognize and adjust to various games, twists and stunts, ability to handle speed, quick and power rush, patient, not over-anxious or overly aggressive, no lunge or overextend, top-heavy, anchor, range, drop and anchor vs bull rush, shoulders square, head up, confidence

FOOT QUICKNESS                   Ability to move feet in rapid succession, lateral movement

RECOVER ABILITY                  Regarding reacting to an opponents movement, ability to regain body control and balance, get out of trouble, redirect and shift weight quickly to defeat opponent, pivot/turn and run

USE OF HANDS                         Quickness, stab, punch, placement, extension, 6 inch jab, control opponent

ANCHOR VS. POWER            Size, play strength, balance, base, punch, shock, drop weight

FINISH                                          Effort to complete the play, plays through the echo of the whistle, dominate opponent, competitive spirit, nasty streak

                                                                                                 CRITICAL FACTORS

SIZE                                                 Height and weight according to the chart and level of play

QUICKNESS                                Initial movement off the LOS and into blocks, set in pass pro, ability to move hands, arms, torso and feet in rapid succession

STRENGTH                                   Core strength, degree of strength exhibited in performance of duties (functional or play strength), weight room vs. on the field

BODY CONTROL                       Ability to quickly adjust body and shift weight to regain balance and get position on an opponent after being out of position initially

MENTAL                                      Football intelligence, learn and retain with limited reps, understand concepts, make mental adjustments on the move, awareness and alertness

As we are building our roster we have discussed the quarterback and the speed edge or push the pocket down lineman.  Now we turn our focus to a skilled player that can also contribute on a variety of special teams.  These young men should prove to be the best athletes in the program.  Here are the skill sets we define for;

                                                                                                   DEFENSIVE BACKS

KEY AND DIAGNOSE              Recognition and reaction to run/pass, instincts, anticipation, think on the move, make quick adjustments, reaction to play off blocks and tackle, production, react to play action pass

RUN SUPPORT                            Key and diagnose, willingness to force, contain, tough, aggressive, hitter, strength, play off blocks and close to the carrier, production, attack

WARD OFF/SHED                      Physical take on, use of hands, stays on feet, play off blocker in open field and make the tackle

TACKLING                                      Type: hard or grab and drag down, wrap up arms, aggressive, tough and physical, desire for contact, doesn’t shy away, can breakdown to tackle in the open field, number of tackles, brings arms 6 inch punch

JAM RECEIVER                           Nose to nose, stance, balance, strength, physical striker, doesn’t lunge or over extend, recovery skills, bump technique

MAN TO MAN COVERAGE     Back pedal, base, quick feet, ability to stay in pedal as long as possible (to route break points, transition out of pedal to all route angles, stop and go quickness, plant and drive, burst to close on the ball, no false steps, (slips), loose hipped for smooth turn with acceleration and catch up speed, position to receiver, timing, leaping ability, battle for the ball, strip, banjo (switch inside/outside), trail, angles, tough-minded, accepts the challenge

MOVEMENT/TURN                     Body control, loose hips, transition, smooth and fluid, little to no wasted motion

FOOT QUICKNESS                       Ability to move feet in rapid succession, lateral movement, back pedal, change of direction (COD)

ACCELERATION                            Burst, 2nd gear, amount of time it takes to be at top-level, ability once your moving to get to a higher rate of speed

ZONE COVERAGE                         Awareness, anticipation, reactions, vision, range, ball reactions and close, depth

BALL REACTIONS                         What defender does after he gets close to the receiver, in flight, body position, knockdown, strip, interception, interference, ability to adjust, ball skills, play the ball down the field

CLOSING QUICKNESS                Diminishing the distance to the receiver after he makes his final move, direct line to point of ball, no false steps, plant and drive, recovery burst and speed, deep catch up on long ball, speed turn and close

RANGE                                                 Distance covered after the ball is in the air, speed, anticipation, pursuit, effort hustle, always around the ball, urgency, angles, catch up speed

HANDS                                                  Type: soft or stiff, hands vs. body catcher, extends for the ball, adjusts for difficult interception, does he knockdown catchable balls, frames the throw

CONFIDENCE                                    Attitude, smart, daring, accepts a challenge, never be defeated demeanor, ability to bounce back after being beaten, positive cockiness/swagger

                                                                                            CRITICAL FACTORS


SPEED                                                 40 time, burst, acceleration, catch up speed, close

EXPLOSION                                        Force generated when delivering a blow, pop and strength, minimizing time-lapse between initial movement and contact, quick movement out of transition to break on the ball, suddenness in body

QUICKNESS                                         Ability to move feet and body with a short burst and suddenness to perform techniques required of the corner position, ability to change direction sharply, knee bender/hip sinker

TOUGHNESS                                       Degree of mental and physical will to succeed – aggressive, competitive spirit, willingness to initiate contact, perform at a high level of competency regardless of situations or opponents intensity

MAN TO MAN COVERAGE            Ability to mirror the route runner on or off the line of scrimmage, hips, feet, COD


KEY AND DIAGNOSE                       Football intelligence, ability to acquire and retain knowledge, ability to adjust and think on the move, instincts, reactions

SPEED                                                      40 time, burst, acceleration, catch-up speed, range

EXPLOSION                                           Force generated when delivering a blow, pop and strength, minimizing time lapse between initial movement and contact, quick movement out of transition to break on the ball, suddenness to strike

TOUGHNESS                                          Degree of mental and physical will to succeed, aggressive, competitive spirit, willingness to initiate contact, perform at a high level of competency regardless of situations or opponents intensity

QUICKNESS                                            Ability to move feet and torso rapidly, COD, knee bend/hip sinker, turn hips and run