The term situational offense refers to the specific situations which have to be addressed, in varying degrees, during a game. Each of these involves very specific conditions (e.g. down, distance, field position, etc.) At least 9 different categories of situational offense exist:
1. Normal down and distance in the open field.
This situation offers the head coach the most latitude to establish his preferred style and tempo of play. 50% of the offensive play calls during a game will occur within the parameters of normal down and distance in the open field. On first and second down, the normal down and distance situation in the open field should be attacked with three main objectives in mind:
A. get a first down or a series of first downs.
B. position the offense in a favorable third down situation.
C. score or run an explosive play.
Getting a first down on first and second down is a hallmark of a good offense. On 1st and 10 the offense should be focused on positioning themselves in a favorable ( convertible ) down and distance situation.
Stats demonstrate that ONLY 25-35% of 1ST downs are generated on 3RD down conversions. The remaining 65-75% of 1ST downs are generated on 1ST and 2ND down. THEREFORE, a team's 3RD down conversion ratio is typically NOT a primary factor in winning games. To ensure a favorable 3RD down situation, your play selection should emphasize calls with a high probability of at least 4+ yards on both 1ST and 2ND down.
A teams third objective in normal down and distance in the open field should be to strike with an explosive play ( i.e. a play which results in a gain of 20 yards or more ). 1ST and 2ND down are normally the best downs for calling for an explosive play because of the multiple concerns that the defense must prepare for on these downs.
Teams in the NFL are not backed up on their goal line as much as high school or college teams are. Regardless of the level, you must have an adequate backed up package prepared. The goal of this situation is obvious: Get a first down. The plays you should choose when backed up should be base calls which the offense will be very familiar with and have confidence in. Keep in mind that this situation can turn into a real positive for your offense. It can stun a defense when they let the offense out of this situation. Among the priorities you should consider when backed-up are:
A. Moving the ball at least to the 5 yard line.
B. Selecting core plays which are low risk.
C. Limit ball handling to key players to reduce chance of fumbling.
D. Consider using a double tight end formation to cut off defensive penetration.
E. Selecting pass plays to emphasize ball control.
F. Selecting ball control passes which are thrown to the outside.
G. Consider throwing the ball deep to change the momentum and keep your defense off the field.
H. Throwing passes only to the strong hand side of the QB.
I. Avoiding plays which both guards pull.
J. Attacking the defense between the ends.
K. Deciding if taking a safety is an acceptable option.
3. Third down.
3RD down is one of the less complicated situations to prepare for because most defenses have specific tendencies with regard to this situation.
The percentage of successful 3RD down conversions increases as the distance to convert decreases:
3RD and Long (7+ yds) = 20-25%
3RD and Medium (2-6 yds) = 45-50%
3RD and Short (1 yd or less) = 75-85%
These percentages underline the importance of maintaining a 1ST/ 2ND down 4+ yard efficiency that enhances your chances of keeping your 3RD down calls in at least the 50% region.
4. Forth down.
The average NFL team rarely attempts to convert on a 4TH down situation, but it is imperative that a team prepares for it. A team should plan for three distant types of 4TH down situations:
4TH and inches
4TH and short
4TH and long
Several factors should be considered when deciding whether or not a team should attempt 4TH down conversion. For example, the caliber of the opponent, if you are playing home or away and the defensive style of your opponent.
5. Red Zone.
Along with 3RD down, the Red Zone is clearly the most critical situation the offense will be in during the course of the game.
One can carry approximately 10 plays ( 5 runs and 5 passes) for 1ST and 2ND down in the Red Zone. One can carry 2 plays for 3RD and Long and 3RD and Medium. The 3RD and 1 play can carry over from the open field category of your game plan.
When establishing priorities of your Red Zone package, the following steps should be considered:
A. Run the ball if possible.
B. Use motion to isolate the desired match - ups.
C. Run plays that are designed to beat the blitz and man to man coverage.
D. Pass the ball to the underneath routes.
E. Run plays that do not risk losing yardage, the offense should not be taken out of field goal range.
F. Group your plays in ten yard divisions ( i.e. 20 yard line, 10 yard line ). Defenses tend to base Red Zone strategy according to the location of the ball with regard to ten yard divisions. Keep in mind that the Red Zone is an excellent area of the field to run different plays from formations that were previously shown in the open field.
G. Anticipate the blitz. Run a package to take advantage of the blitz when your team is somewhere between the 15- and 25- yard lines. Throw the ball in the end zone. Use Motion to isolate the desired matchup on your best receiver.
H. Select running plays, because the defense tends to stay in a base front when the offense is positioned between the 10- and 15- yard lines. Alert the QB to audible if the defense jumps into a goal line front.
6. First and Goal.
Stats show that a team will have two 1ST and goal opportunities in a game. A 1ST and goal package should have 2-3 running plays and 1-2 passing plays from that formation.
Consider throwing the ball in this situation, particularly in awkward situations ( i.e. 1ST and goal from the 9 yard line ). Since virtually every pass thrown to the goal line involves a throw into the end zone, the QB must be very focused on what he expects to see before he throws the ball.
Be careful not to turn the ball over in 1ST and goal situations, it can be very demoralizing to your team.
7. Goal Line.
This offensive package concerns situations where the offense is within the 3 yards of its opponents goal line. The average team may see this situations 3 times in a game.
Run running plays in only 1 direction, either to the right or left. This will eliminate some of the guess work that may occur during the pressure situations of a game and will help focus a teams weekly preparation.
Because it is extremely difficult to run the ball at times in this situation, a team should plan to have passes as 50% of its goal line offense.
A team should plan and prepare for what play it will call ( run or pass ) when it only needs to gain inches.
8. 2 Point Play.
Most NFL teams average only one or two 2 point conversion attempts a year. It may be sensible to combine the 2 point play package with the 3RD down inside the opponent's 10 yard line package. Combining these two elements into a three to four play package can encompass 1ST and Goal calls and 2 Point conversion plays.
Most teams carry one or two blitz beaters in their game plan. Blitz beaters are specific plays and protections that can be called or audibled to in order to take advantage of a defensive blitz.
One of the best ways to hurt a defense that is blitzing is to use the 'HOT' option off a basic pass play. The 'HOT' option involves a situation where the QB has the choice of dropping the ball off to a designated receiver for which the defense cannot account when blitzing.
Develop a viable offensive package to counter the blitz that is more a part of your base offense. If the offense would practice this more on a regular basis, the team's chance of success to beat the blitz would increases substantially.
Treat a blitzing defense as an opportunity rather than a foreboding event. This situation is an excellent chance for a big gain.
The contingency component of a team's offense is designed to deal with those situations which are TIME related. Contingency offensive situations may not even arise in a game. There are 2 basic contingency offensive situations: Four Minute and Two Minute offense.
1. Four Minute offense.
The primary goal of the four minute offense is to take as much time off the clock as possible, while enabling a team to protect its lead. The four minute offense involves 4 objectives:
A. Moving the ball on the ground.
B. Making first downs.
C. Keeping the clock running.
D. Protecting the football.
Considerations when building a four minute offensive package include:
· Using tight formations.
· Using a consistent short snap count to avoid illegal procedure.
· Using basic timing patterns in must pass situations.
· Using play passes.
· Avoid reverses.
· Avoid special and untested plays.
· Remind players to keep a slow pace.
· Avoid unnecessary shuffling of personnel into the game.
· Alerting punter to punt ball as high as possible and informing the punt team to cover but not down the ball outside of the red zone.
· Alerting the punt returner to either fair catch or avoid the ball.
· deciding to take a safety if appropriate when punting from a backed up situation.
· Being prepared to attack goal line defense as the clock winds down.
· Knowing when to call the 'Victory' formation and have the QB down the ball.
2. Two Minute offense.
· The two minute offense is designed to enable a team to accomplish specific objectives within the limited amount of time available, usually to score points to tie or win the game.
· Among the steps a head coach should take with regard to the two minute offense are the following:
· Be aware of the two minute warning, if possible, let the clock run down to the warning.
· Plan plays which may be used for conditions that may develop.
· Gather the offense on the sideline whenever possible; keep everyone else away from the area.
· Make a decision to return a punt or to fair catch before the return team takes the field.
· Keep messengers ready to run messages into the game.
· Be sure that your key personnel are on the field.
· Have the ball snapped on set, unless otherwise indicated in the huddle.
· Have plays called at the line of scrimmage in order to increase the pressure on the defense.
· Call a rushing play that is designed for a second down situation against a nickel package.
· Avoid calling special plays or new plays.
· Alert the field goal team to be ready if called upon.
"One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity." - Albert Schweitzer