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Make a defensive game plan like Jim Harbaugh! It's actually quite easy!!

1. Know your players!

Before you start installing your playbook, you should know exactly what you are working with on defense in terms of personnel and skill. A lot of people believe that every playbook can be ran or installed by any team. Theoretically speaking this is true, but that doesn’t mean it will be executed in the way it was intended. You would want to ask yourself, who is my best pass rusher? Who is my best cover cornerback? Are my linebackers small, but quick? Or are they big? Slow? Strong? All these things you need to take into account when thinking about installing certain defenses. An easy example of this is using a 3-4 as opposed to a 4-3 if you lack good depth at the defensive line position. If you understand your personnel, it will make it a lot easier for you to make adjustments or any additional plays to your existing playbook. A defense catered to your players and your defensive needs will be great in the long run. As a Defensive Coordinator or DC, you want to make the preparation for your opponent as easy as possible for your players; so an extensive playbook not suitable for your team can be detrimental to the performance of your defense.

  2. Know your Opponent!

As a player and coach, you should always look for a way to gain a competitive edge over your opponent. You should have an idea of what play they are running before the play even starts. Study the game film. Figure out what they like to run on what down and distance and out of what formation. Does the OT align a little deeper when they are passing the ball? Does the running back align a little tighter when he’s getting the ball? With 11 guys on the offense, there are many things that can go wrong. You are bound to find something. But these are all the things you should be asking yourself when preparing for your opponent.
  1. Breaking Down Film
  2. Tendencies
  3. Advance

Research the star players

  1. Does QB have a strong arm?
  2. Does RB like to cut or spin all the time?
  3. Does the OL tackle like to pass set quick/fast?
  4. mannerisms, audibles, call signals etc.

3. Know Game Plan

The plan of action, what you will do with the information you gathered about your opponents tendencies. You now know what your defense is capable of doing. You should also have an idea of what the offense is going to do. So now you have to come up with a game plan that will give your team the best opportunity to win. For each formation, on a certain down and distance, you should have a handful of plays that you want to run to defend the offensive attack. On top of that, you want to foresee any adjustments that may happen during the game. You should be checking for the offense’s personnel grouping, the down and distance and what formation they are in to determine what will be the best play to call against them. What are their adjustments against  your blitz package? How are they blocking your DL and LB’s? What adjustments could they make when you run a certain coverage?

Take note of these:

1. Developing your strategy

  •  Week by week
  • Self-scouting or self analysis of your Offense, Defense and Special teams

 2. Significance Of Personnel Groupings

  • Call Sheet
  • hand signals for plays
  • hand signals for call sheet
All the things can be as simple as you want it to be or you can make it as detailed as you would like. But if you really become a student of the game and go into great depth with your game plan, you will become a force to be reckoned with and step up your game to a new level as a coach and player!  Remember, have fun, be creative and unpredictable! 


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