Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Game Planning 1st Down Defense

1st down will have the largest number of plays of any down and distance data set in an opponent breakdown. When game planning for 1st down it can be helpful to look for opponent tendencies in a sub-set of 1st down. Here is an example breakdown chart:

K&10 - Kickoff &10 represent all 1st & 10 calls where the offense started the drive by receiving a kickoff. These are plays to start the game or the second half and following a TD.

P&10 - Punt & 10. The offense started the drive receiving a punt.

E&10 - Extended &10 is any 1st down after the opening first down of a drive. What does the offense do on the 2nd,3rd, etc. 1st down of a drive with multiple 1st downs?

T&10 - Turnover&10 is any drive where the offense got the ball on a turnover.

1st & Extra or 1st & Less is any drive starting with more or less than 10 yards to gain. 

This type of breakdown is helpful when trying to understand an offensive play caller's philosophy. What is his reaction to an opponent scoring, a penalty, gaining momentum from a turnover, or a successful drive? Trying to understand how our opponent thinks is critical to being a step ahead instead of reacting. 

A more in depth look at 1st down is also helpful when a team uses primarily one personnel group. When a team runs 4 or 5 personnel groups we can plan for 1st down vs. 10, 11, 21, and 12 personnel for example. Most teams have tendencies based on their personnel group and we can plan accordingly. Each personnel group creates a manageable sub-set of the overall 1st down data. If the the offense is in 11 personnel every play there is nothing to be gained from a personnel based game plan. The 1st down data is one big set and in the past has felt unwieldy. We have found creating K, P, T, E, Extra, & Less sub-sets has made 1st down more manageable to understand and more easily game planned.