Play Calling

RememberMurray

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I'm 64 years old, and I've been a football fan for the vast majority of those years.

I've seen many amazing, wonderful, exciting things on football fields, but the funny thing about football that I've never been able to understand is: year after year, no matter which team you follow, why are there so many football fans who know the perfect play to call on every down, and yet so many highly-paid offensive coordinators who are completely and obviously clueless about the right play to call?

Why don't these head coaches hire one of these fans to run their offense? Just listen to the post-game call-in show, and pick one of them at random. Such an easy solution to a perpetually vexing problem: the curse of awful play-calling.
 
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Spaulding!No!

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I'm 64 years old, and I've been a football fan for the vast majority of those years.

Of all the amazing, wonderful, exciting things I've seen on a football field, the thing I've never been able to understand is: why are there so many football fans who are absolutely certain that they know the perfect play to call on every down, and yet so many highly-paid offensive coordinators who are completely clueless about the right play to call?
This guy gets it
 

Iceland12

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It comes down to this: Remember those plays that didn't work? Well, call different plays instead of those plays.

And, when in doubt, for God's sake throw to the tight end!
Nice!

Though would mention that in the last 40 years the Gophers have won 7 games or more 11 times. While losing 7 games or more 20 times.

During that same 40 years they won 8 games or more a grand total of 7 times. Yep, 7 out of 40.

Heck looking at that record it's surprising that the whole dang State doesn't think they can do a better job. ;)
 

RememberMurray

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But it doesn't matter which team. I'm sure the New England Patriots, during their Super Bowl years, had similar call-in show advice for the offensive coordinator. I'd bet Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State fans all know more about which play to call than the respective offensive coordinators for their respective teams.

In 1998, when the Vikings were setting records, the call-shows after the games were heavily laden with play call second-guessers. And, yes; even with Moss, Carter and Reed, and Robert Smith, there were calls pleading for more throws to the tight end.
 

Iceland12

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But it doesn't matter which team. I'm sure the New England Patriots, during their Super Bowl years, had similar call-in show advice for the offensive coordinator. I'd bet Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State fans all know more about which play to call than the respective offensive coordinators for their respective teams.

In 1998, when the Vikings were setting records, the call-shows after the games were heavily laden with play call second-guessers. And, yes; even with Moss, Carter and Reed, and Robert Smith, there were calls pleading for more throws to the tight end.
Maybe but for the Patriots, Alabama, Clemson and tOSU their OCs have a much better record of being right. Though this year for the Gophers thin talent level and the resultant mistakes seem to be the most likely source of their bad record.

For me it's pretty simple. Just as in all walks of life if you do the same thing again and again without success maybe you should try something different. Any Gopher fan who watched that 4th Quarter against Maryland and was pleased with the play calling? That would seem odd to me.

Though complaining about play calling after your teams wins seems to be more of a "I'm NEVER gonna be happy!" kind of thing. IMHO at least.
 

RememberMurray

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"Maybe but for the Patriots, Alabama, Clemson and tOSU their OCs have a much better record of being right."

Like I said before: the plays that don't work are all bad play calls. No matter which team. And the fans always know the play that should have been called instead.
 

cncmin

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I'm 64 years old, and I've been a football fan for the vast majority of those years.

I've seen many amazing, wonderful, exciting things on football fields, but the funny thing about football that I've never been able to understand is: year after year, no matter which team you follow, why are there so many football fans who know the perfect play to call on every down, and yet so many highly-paid offensive coordinators who are completely and obviously clueless about the right play to call?

Why don't these head coaches hire one of these fans to run their offense? Just listen to the post-game call-in show, and pick one of them at random. Such an easy solution to a perpetually vexing problem: the curse of awful play-calling.
Your sentiment is partially correct, RM. Two things:
1. Most football coaches aren't exactly Einsteins. There are very many far smarter people watching the games than the cadre of coaches . I don't think anyone should assume that all coaches always know better than everyone else, as the probability that is the case is almost exactly zero.
2. You are assuming that the coaches never make mistakes.

Armchair QBs, of which I will admit to being, don't know everything, but know enough to realize 1. and 2. and it seems that we should be able to call out those mistakes when they occur.
 
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RememberMurray

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Your sentiment is partially correct, RM. Two things:
1. Most football coaches aren't exactly Einsteins. There are very many far smarter people watching the games than the cadre of coaches . I don't think anyone should assume that all coaches always know better than everyone else, as the probability that is the case is almost exactly zero.
2. You are assuming that the coaches never make mistakes.

Armchair QBs, of which I will admit to being, don't know everything, but know enough to realize 1. and 2. and it seems that we should be able to call out those mistakes when they occur.
Do you really think that the average fan knows more about football play-calling than the average major college offensive coordinator? Seriously?

If you believe that, I'd love to hear your rationale.

If you can actually sell that notion, you should go out and get yourself a high-paying job coaching NCAA football. Those guys make serious money.
 

RolGnav

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No one is saying that we're smarter than Fleck or Sanford or who ever is calling the plays, but I'm sure it doesn't take a genius to say that when we go conservative on offense, and don't have a defense to rely on, it makes it harder on the team. What is the reasoning around going conservative, especially against defenses in the B10, when as a defense, we can't stop a parked car? It might work against lower tier teams, but defenses in the B10 are no joke. Playing conservative is fine if we had a defense.. but when our defense gives up close to 40 a game, we have no time to play conservative. Can't believe some of you can't understand this.
 

GFBfan

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No one is saying that we're smarter than Fleck or Sanford or who ever is calling the plays, but I'm sure it doesn't take a genius to say that when we go conservative on offense, and don't have a defense to rely on, it makes it harder on the team. What is the reasoning around going conservative, especially against defenses in the B10, when as a defense, we can't stop a parked car? It might work against lower tier teams, but defenses in the B10 are no joke. Playing conservative is fine if we had a defense.. but when our defense gives up close to 40 a game, we have no time to play conservative. Can't believe some of you can't understand this.
Playing conservative with a lead was the thing to do back in the 90’s and 2000’s
In today’s game with the advantage the offense has, that thinking is outdated.
 

gopherdudepart2

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I liked the play calling and effort of the Gophers this whole Purdue game. A true team win and it was nice distraction to watch an entertaining football game. It was nice to see the Gophers on the good end of one of those officiating calls for a change.
 

RememberMurray

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"No one is saying that we're smarter than Fleck or Sanford or who ever is calling the plays,..."

Uhhhh... read post #71.

To quote:

"There are very many far smarter people watching the games than the cadre of coaches ."
 

MplsGopher

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Do you really think that the average fan knows more about football play-calling than the average major college offensive coordinator? Seriously?

If you believe that, I'd love to hear your rationale.

If you can actually sell that notion, you should go out and get yourself a high-paying job coaching NCAA football. Those guys make serious money.
That actually could be the problem. Stuck way too far down in the weeds. Joe sixpack in the stands doesn't know all the super fine technical details, but can say things like "you called a timeout, to run outside zone on 3rd & 6???????"

I think something like this has been happening to us all year: we're so damn worried about trying to get the best possible match-up, on paper, pre-snap, then the ball is snapped and the play blows up, and we're like "what the hell??? that was the best matchup! why didn't it work??".

You can't over-think yourself in this game. You can't just half-ass the preparation, either, of course. But you gotta play and you gotta execute.


Give me a limited playbook, and guys who can execute those limited plays to perfection, any day of the week.
 

Sodaksam

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So I went back and checked and the Gophers ran the ball on EVERY first down in the 2nd half. That's 10 straight first down runs (not including first down kneel down post game clinching INT). I am extremely concerned with Sanford going forward, but this also speaks poorly of PJ and his inability or unwillingness (not sure which would be worse) to change. We're going to lose far more games than we win with playcalling like we saw against Maryland, Iowa, and now Purdue. In each of these games we had huge moments where we went way too conservative and it didn't work in any of them. I don't understand why there wasn't a first down pass on one of those two 4th quarter drives after 8 STRAIGHT runs on first down. I don't understand what we're waiting for with the Seth Green pass out of the Green Line (would have been nice to use on one of those 4th downs we didn't go for against Wiconsin last year)? Seth could pass it one out of every three times he takes a snap and it still would have a decent chance of catching the defense sleeping. Whether you throw it once out of every 20 times or once out of every 30 won't have a bearing on how the defense plays you in that Green Line formation. Plus showing the pass, might make converting some of those 4th and shorts easier? The 3rd down short crosser to Bateman on our last possession was the 3rd time just that game we'd thrown a crosser (though this was the shortest of the bunch as far as depth of target) on 3rd down. The lack of creativity there and in many other high leverage spots over the past two seasons is disconcerting.

I am not sure how we get to where we all want to be without taking chances to try to win games rather than hoping not to lose them. I thought the end of the PSU game would have been a wakeup call. Then I thought for sure things would change after the 4th and short decisions against Wisconsin (in addition to the 3 and 8 runs in that game...remember those?) , but here we are and in year 4 we're coaching the same way with a much worse defense and arguably a worse special teams unit.
It’s like Joe Mauer taking every first pitch.
 

Bob_Loblaw

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In the 4th down from our own 34, the man in motion just trotted away from the tackler. The O-line actually drove a four yard wedge into Purdue and the first down would have been easy, but no one picked up the cornerback or whatever he was. Bad call, you never risk giving up the ball on your side of the 50, much less the 34. Totally weird thinking on PJ's part.
Yeah, the playcall worked. One guy missed an assignment.

It was odd, but I didn't hate that we went for it. At the time, I thought we had a better chance of getting a couple yards than stopping them. Obviously, my analysis was wrong on both accounts.
 

BroncoRedux

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"No one is saying that we're smarter than Fleck or Sanford or who ever is calling the plays,..."

Uhhhh... read post #71.

To quote:

"There are very many far smarter people watching the games than the cadre of coaches ."
Bruce Arians, current head coach of the Tampa Buccaneers tells this story when he was offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh and was attending the Super Bowl parade for their win in 2008 (I think): "So I'm there with my family and we're having a great time when someone from the crowd yells out, your a bum Arians, you call the worst plays possible. Fans are always right except when they're not.
 

Some guy

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Bruce Arians, current head coach of the Tampa Buccaneers tells this story when he was offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh and was attending the Super Bowl parade for their win in 2008 (I think): "So I'm there with my family and we're having a great time when someone from the crowd yells out, your a bum Arians, you call the worst plays possible. Fans are always right except when they're not.
People are so funny.
Even on this board everyone is so extreme.

Here is my take:

sometimes coaches make bad calls.

Generally college coaches
make more right calls and fewer bad calls than the average fan would.

Some fans are smarter than some coordinators and head coaches. (This is largely due to my last points at the bottom)

Fans watching on tv in retrospect aren’t making calls in a time crunch or with knowledge of personnel restrictions or trust/lack of trust in certain plays and players due to practice experiences

Some of the best coaches in the country are high school coaches.
Some high school coaches are better than some college coaches.
Some college coaches are better than some nfl coaches.
 

Gophergrandpa

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It’s like Joe Mauer taking every first pitch.
If you run on every first down, and you run a one back offense, mostly out of the same two sets, and your QB never pulls the hand-off to run it or counter, it is easier for a defense to “guess” the play than if you run multiple sets, motion, QB options, etc. With offensive variety comes a greater chance for offensive assignment errors, granted; but there is a greater chance for disordering the defense, too. And at least the offense knows the play. It isn’t about right or wrong plays; it is about increasing or decreasing the likelihood of success or failure. Offensive hyper-predictability is the greatest gift one can give a well-prepared, athletic opposing defense (e.g., Iowa). When defenses get whipped, the post-game comments often are about the offense’s running plays the defense wasn’t expecting or the offense using sets “we hadn’t seen before.” Only in huge talent/confidence mismatches do defenses say the offense did exactly what we expected and we just couldn’t stop them.
 

A_Slab_of_Bacon

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No one is saying that we're smarter than Fleck or Sanford or who ever is calling the plays

I'm smarter than Fleck or Sandford or who ever is calling the plays!

See now you're wrong!

seriously though fleck or sandord or whomever ... for the love of god don't listen to me....
 

RememberMurray

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If anybody here is convinced that the average post-game call-in show complainer/fan is smarter about play-calling than the average major college offensive coordinator... then you must be listening to different call-in shows than the ones I've heard.

Keep in mind: hindsight is 20-20.
 

RememberMurray

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"Here is my take:

sometimes coaches make bad calls."


Here's my take:

Fans never make bad calls. Fans know which play should have been called, every single time. Remember that running play in whatever quarter that got stuffed? Well, I KNEW we should have thrown to Bateman on that play! It was so obvious!
 

Pete smith

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Hard to understand the time element when calling the play, especially the first half. I heard PJ make reference to the script.. when I was coaching, we always had the first 20 plays determined by Wednesday . So we always finished Wed, Thurs, and Fri. Practices following the script. Never deviated unless we had third and inches or key injury. The Gophers waste a lot of time checking with the sideline.
 

MGGopher

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"Here is my take:

sometimes coaches make bad calls."


Here's my take:

Fans never make bad calls. Fans know which play should have been called, every single time. Remember that running play in whatever quarter that got stuffed? Well, I KNEW we should have thrown to Bateman on that play! It was so obvious!
QFT. It's just a hindsight issue, of course. For example, the 3rd & 6 run against Iowa. Fine call. Iowa had a light box and MN has converted multiple 3rd and mediums with run plays the past 2 years, including against Auburn. It's just that nobody remembers because there's no "Great Playcalls" thread after games. In this case, the run didn't work against Iowa (primarily because one guy got demolished on the OL), but that doesn't make it a bad call. If MN picks up the first -- or even 4 or 5 yards setting up 4th and very short -- it's a good call.
 
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