Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens: The Craft of Play Calling

Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens breaks down a pair of plays the 2018 Oakland Raiders offense used during its opening drive against the Denver Broncos and reveals why they work together. 

Players and coaches tell fans weekly that teams are speaking to each other on the field through the play calls. It doesn’t take Bill Belichick to see how plays work together like paragraphs in a short story or a series of moves on a game board.

Here is a pair of moves that accomplish this purpose from the opening drive of the Raiders-Broncos game. The first play sets up the second.

Effective play callers classify plays in groups. If the first play works, then there are a group of subsequent plays that can work off the prior call’s success. These plays can be based on the prior play’s alignment, shifting of personnel, or baiting opponents to overreact to its previous failure.

In the plays above, the offense goes against the expected tendencies of its alignment choices. The plays prey on the defense’s pre-snap expectations and then builds on the initial success.

Effectively play calling requires a balance between knowing an opponent’s weaknesses, playing to your team’s strengths, gaining valuable insights as the game unfolds, and putting those insights into action.

You must have an eye for detail, self-awareness of your team’s skills, and the flexibility to adapt to the situation. Pairing plays effectively is only the beginning.

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Categories: Analysis, Matt Waldman, The NFL LensTags: , , , ,

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