Friday, April 14, 2017

A Look Ahead for the 2017 Season

We are very excited about the future of the Arroyo Dons Football Program.

Normally, when a new football coach and his staff begins leading the program in a new direction, naturally coming with that are the benefits of enthusiasm, passion, a fresh vision, commitment and a plan.

If that new coach believes in his “system” of the Veer, Run-n-Shoot, Spread Option, Power I, Wing T, or the 46 “Bear” Defense, the 4-2-5, and/or the 33 Stack Defense, etc., and that it will give his program its greatest chance of success – that is great, and hopefully they succeed.

It’s wise to remember one simple fact - the Key to being successful over a long period of time is to remain flexible in your teaching approach, your X's & O's strategy, and all things considered both on and off the field.

Will the 2017 Arroyo Dons utilize the Super Spread A-11 Offense operating within traditional rules?

Yes, and it’s going to be a lot of fun teaching the players new concepts and ideas, and then watching them take ownership of it, and eventually flourish on the field of play.

And of course, as with Any quality football program, it will take a Team Effort on Offense, Defense and Special Teams to rebuild the Arroyo Dons into a fun, exciting and successful football program.

These are exciting times, and the future is bright for the Arroyo Dons!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thank You and a New Journey at Arroyo

When you are fortunate enough to coach football for 25-years at the High School and NCAA levels in northern California, the remarkable people that you encounter along the way create the strong foundation for the fun, sad, amazing, heartbreaking, thrilling and breathtaking moments that form the entire body of a football season or seasons.

During my coaching career at Chico State University, Chico High School, Piedmont High School, Menlo College, St. Mary's College, Livermore High School and Piedmont High School again...I have had the great pleasure of working with outstanding Student-Athletes, Coaches, Administrators and Staff, the Parents, and also Family and Friends.

I am incredibly Thankful for the relationships that we built and shared together, whether it was for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime. We will always have the fond thoughts and great memories of those wonderful moments that we accomplished by planning and working together, and words cannot fully express how appreciative I am to have been a part of it.

Now, entering the 26th year of my coaching career and diving into my 1st year at Arroyo, I am humbled, honored and very grateful to the Arroyo Administration for the opportunity to lead the Dons football program.

I really look forward to working with the Arroyo Student-Athletes and my coaching staff, and the entire Arroyo Football Family to rebuild the Arroyo Dons Football program, and together we will make it a fun and exciting adventure!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Football's Future is at a Crossroads

Our Wonderful game of Football is at a Crossroads at this point in history. To be clear, it has happened before and we are in the vortex of it again now.

(Yale Football in 1905 below)

In more than 150-years of its evolution, the game of Football has soared to amazing heights, and it has suffered and prospered once again. All along the way, the game has adapted in order to thrive...most of the time those changes were voluntary, but sometimes the Game was Forced to change (in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt) and modernize some of its rules to improve player safety and push the game into a more mature and acceptable future.

(President Teddy Roosevelt) Legalized the Forward Pass in 1906

Now, at this point in its incredible "life," the game's key indicators are pointing towards important adjustments to improve the rocky path of player safety that it's been riding on, which will help to increase the critically important youth and high school football participation numbers that serves as the lifeblood of Collegiate and Professional Football.

Looking back at the game of Football about 100-years ago, does that model of the game resemble the game that we play today?

No...and, things either get better or they get worse...they do not stay the same.

(Circa 1912) Football Helmet Safety Test

Morally, and with the advent of medical investigative technology that reveals the health and safety of the players in a real-time format during practices and games, combined with the fact that the athletes of today are bigger-faster-stronger than virtually every football player from 75-100 years ago...the leaders in charge of shaping the future of football at every level of play should answer these basic questions.

1. Is the game of football going to become Faster and more Spread Out overall, or will it become a more condensed, smash mouth game?

2. Are the Athletes of today and into the future going to become slower and weaker, or Stronger and Faster?

3. Will the Football Players of today and into the future be able to process real-time information on the field of play at a faster rate than their predecessors overall?

4. Can the Game's rules be modified to help improve player safety, and also help the game become even More exciting and complex than it already is right now?

Looking back and evaluating the changes that have taken place throughout football's history, one thing reveals itself over-and-over again, and that is...the game of Football has always adapted to its Athletes and adjusted to the particular set of circumstances affecting the game at that point in time.

For those of us that love the great game of Football, we need to keep experimenting and find the best methods and new rules to greatly improve player safety.

The Great Answers to Improving Football Player Safety and Opening Up the Game are Right in Front of us.

We owe our best efforts to all of the football players, coaches and the fans of the Game's past, and also to all of the Future Generations still yet to come.

The Exciting and Innovative Future of Football Awaits...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Good Things Happen to Good People That Work Hard Together to Achieve a Common Goal

One of the best feelings in the world, is when a Group of people from various walks of life join forces and work incredibly hard together to achieve a common goal.

With a high-risk project, more often than not, those types of endeavors do not come to fruition, hence the term "high-risk."

However, the simple fact that there is no guarantee of success makes the task of undertaking a very difficult project even more rewarding - if the joint venture succeeds.

When you decide to Go For It and pursue Big Dreams, surround yourself with outstanding people, that have differing perspectives and excellent work ethics. Learn from one another, respect divergent viewpoints, implement proven methods of winning, and employ innovative theories and strategies when traditional approaches struggle or fail altogether.

Then, both individually and as a team, you must Prepare, Practice, Perform and Polish along the way in your mutual pursuit of winning.

Good things happen to good people that work very hard together and never quit to achieve a common goal...

Friday, September 25, 2015

Realign, Redefine and Reassign When It’s Time to Make Adjustments

When a head football coach is very unhappy with his team’s performance, often times the situation gets much worse – if those very tough decisions and choices that need to be made are prolonged, fretted over, and/or severely drawn out.

Things don’t stay the same – therefore they either get better, or they get worse.

The late, great football coach, Bill Walsh believed in clearly assessing the situation(s) at hand regarding his football team’s chemistry and performance. And then, once those issues were critically assessed, Walsh would firmly make those brutally tough decisions that he thought were necessary, and then he would instruct his assistant coaches and players to “close ranks” and move forward without pause.

As a head football coach, it’s vitally important to remember three key things when making the adjustments needed in an attempt to improve your football team’s lagging performance.

1. Realign: the definition, is to change the position or direction of (something) slightly usually in relation to something else, or to organize (something) in a different way.

When your football team is really struggling to win games and not performing up to its potential, then realigning your team’s Focus can help your team improve.

How and Why?

Shifting your team’s immediate Focus from winning games to improving its overall attitude on a daily basis, and ramping up each player’s basic fundamental execution can relieve bouts of stress that some players might be feeling, and refocus their attention on the day-to-day little things in order to improve their performance one-step at a time.

2. Redefine: the definition, is to reexamine or reevaluate especially with a view to change, or to transform.

Change is not easy, and delivering an overall platform of successful changes is even harder to achieve when you’re working with a large group of people. Asking yourself, your players and your assistant coaches to clearly reevaluate all-things-considered during unhappy times is one of the toughest things to do in sports.


Football coaches and players are naturally competitive, they are accustomed to winning, and they relish the thrill of victory. When a team’s performance sinks way below par, sometimes the players and coaches will tend to believe that if they just keep working even-harder, then “things will get better.”

However, as a head coach, it’s important to remain flexible in order to be successful. Therefore, transforming your team’s offensive, defensive and special teams attack can dramatically improve your team’s performance, if you are not afraid to radically adjust your tactical approach in the early to mid-stream phase of the season.

3. Reassign: the definition, is to move personnel or resources, etc., to a new post, department or location, etc.

As a head football coach, not only do you need to remain flexible in order to maintain long-term success, but your assistant coaches and players must be willing to adapt and adjust in order to thrive.

Tweaking some of your duties and responsibilities within your role as head coach, and those of your assistant coaches and players will often times provide for the influx of fresh and innovative ideas to emerge, and also enable some of your reassigned players to blossom on the field of play in new and exciting ways.

The goal is to win.

If you want to maximize your football team’s chance of success when the results are not going your way on the field of play, it’s prudent to remain flexible in your approach.

And remember, to be ready, willing and able to Realign, Redefine and Reassign.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Kenny Stabler Belongs in the Hall of Fame

UPDATED on February 7th, 2016: Congrats to the late, great Kenny Stabler and his family on Finally getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame!

Please read my article below written on July 17th, 2015...

I admit...that I am biased towards the late, great, Oakland Raider QB, Kenny Stabler.

Growing up as a lifelong Raider’s fan, I had the privilege of watching the dynamic Kenny Stabler play Quarterback for the Oakland Raiders.

During his youth, at the University of Alabama, and even during his early years with the Oakland Raiders, Kenny “The Snake” Stabler was an incredibly talented and gifted athlete, until a few severe knee injuries greatly reduced his mobility.

Stabler in High School in Alabama.

Stabler executing a Jump Pass for the University of Alabama vs. Tennessee

Stabler with the Oakland Raiders.

Better yet, Kenny Stabler was one of the most poised quarterback’s, and one of the greatest players that were always “cool-under-pressure” clutch type of performers at any position in football…ever.

Many of Stabler’s breathtaking and heart-stopping gutty plays have become some of the best NFL Time Capsule Moments, such as, “The Sea of Hands,” vs. the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Playoffs, or the stunning 4th Down Long Bomb to Tight End Dave Casper that went straight down the middle of the field vs. the Baltimore Colts in the AFC Playoffs - forever known as “The Ghost to the Post,” and the infamous “Holy Roller,” vs. the San Diego Chargers, just to name a few.

Stabler was a great winner, a consummate teammate and always gracious towards his many fans. He was also recognized by his peers and the media as the best player, or one of the best players of his era several times, including but not limited to:

- 1974 MVP of the NFL
- 1974 NFL Offensive Player of the Year
- NFL All-Pro Player and a Pro Bowl Player Four Times
- Super Bowl XI Champion vs. the Minnesota Vikings
- Selected to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1970's
- Multiple Other Awards Earned during his Excellent Career

If you have any doubts about whether or not Kenny Stabler deserves to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, then please take a step back for a moment and imagine what the Oakland Raiders, and the entire Era of 1970’s Pro Football would have been like Without him?

Stabler was great for the game, great for the Raiders and great for the fans. And, he was a 'One of Kind' personality.

Thank you to the late Kenny Stabler for giving it his all throughout his incredible pro football career to provide so many great memories for us football fans to enjoy.

And now, it’s time for the Voting Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee to return the favor, and demonstrate their sincere and eternal appreciation for the legendary and special player, Kenny Stabler.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

(Coaching Tip # 2) Utilizing A-11 Concept Screen Plays Helps to Improve QB Player Safety

Coaching Tip Number Two:

The dimensions of the Football Field have not changed in over 100-years, but for the most part, the incredible athletes of today are far superior to the great athletes from the bygone era of 1910-1930, respectfully.

In today's era, the dynamic speed and elite athletic ability of top football players puts maximum pressure on each athlete to react with rapidly escalating precision in the seemingly more limited boundaries of the football field...because the actual Dimensions of the field were established more than a Century ago, and the game moves Much faster than it did prior to World War I.

During the past several years, the Quarterbacks at the professional level, Collegiate level, and at the high school level have taken brutal hits to their bodies and heads that could potentially end their careers, or worse yet, even their lives.

ALL competitive sports are dangerous: soccer, football, baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, racing, etc.

Currently however, ON the field of play, and with the advent of innovative high school, collegiate and pro coaches pushing the envelope of creativity and ascending the ranks at Every level, creative A-11 Spread concept Screen pass plays and Read Screens are Helping to Neutralize the overwhelming and physically dominating Defensive Linemen and Linebackers, which in turn helps to Protect the most Vulnerable Player on the field...the Quarterback.

One of the best tools to help preserve the health and safety of the Quarterback is to fully exploit the utilization of the Screen Passing game, and the Read Screen Passing game. (See Example Above).

When Defensive Linemen and Linebackers are Forced to become Even More Spread Out across the field of play to defend ultra-spread offensive formations, and also account for the Possibility of Getting Burned by one of these cleverly devised plays, they will often be more hesitant or less aggressive on some plays during the course of the game. Therefore, ultra-aggressive DL and LB's are less likely to arrive at the Quarterback to deliver a nasty hit, or sometimes they will be fooled into chasing down another offensive player that might potentially receive a Screen Pass.

As a coach, if you want to Help protect and improve your Quarterback's health and overall safety, then spend a lot of time mastering the art of employing some Super-Spread Offensive Sets to "thin-out the defense across the field," and Utilize more types of Screens and Read Screens in your offensive arsenal.

Your Quarterback will really Thank You for it...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

New England Patriots Use A-11 Offense in 2015 Playoff Win vs. Ravens

In their dramatic 2015 Playoff Win vs. the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots used a trio of Innovative A-11 Offense plays to obtain nice gains, and in the process managed to further push the game of pro football into the future.

Utilizing the A-11 Offense at the Pro Level to Win NFL Playoff Games:

On Three Separate Successful Plays in the second half of their game vs. the physically superior Baltimore Ravens defense, and after having fallen behind by 14-points to the Ravens, the New England Patriots Needed to try something new with their own team, and they employed some innovative and strategic A-11 Offense by using 6 (six) Eligible-Numbered POTENTIAL Receivers on three Plays - instead of the normal amount of only 5 receivers and a Quarterback.

The Patriots had QB Tom Brady set up in the Shotgun formation in those Six-Receiver sets. The Patriots then coyly aligned the 6 Potentially Eligible Receivers in such a way as to confuse the Ravens' defenders Before the terms of WHICH 5 of the 6 (six) Receivers WOULD be Eligible to Go Downfield to Potentially Catch a Forward Pass on those Three plays.

New England Patriots, Superstar Quarterback, Tom Brady said, "It was a play that we liked and we thought would work. We had a couple versions of it. It's kind of an alert play for our team and we made them figure out what to do. I think that's what it looked like to me. We had to execute it, we had to make the appropriate calls and block it, and make the plays, and I was proud of us. That was a good weapon for us. That's part of football. You have to prepare for everything."

Brady also said, “Maybe those guys gotta study the rule book and figure it out,” he contindued, "We obviously knew what we were doing and we made some pretty important plays. Maybe we’ll have something in store next week.”

“I don’t know what’s deceiving about that,” he added. “They should figure it out.”

See Below:

1. The Patriots had All Six of the POTENTIALLY Eligible Receivers Align Near the Line of Scrimmage

2. The Patriots technically had a Double Trips Look of Receivers set on each side of the Center BEFORE the Snap

3. However, the Patriots Keenly used a Basic A-11 Offense Concept to Correctly and Smartly Allow No More than 5 Eligible Receivers to then Proceed downfield after the Snap

4. The "covered up" Ineligible Receiver (Circled Above and Shown Below) is aligned on the Line of Scrimmage in the Slot to the Right side of the formation. Eligible-numbered Players aligned in this type of formation are called "Anchors."

5. An Anchor is a Game-Breaker type of athlete set up as an Ineligible player on a certain play. An Anchor Cannot catch a Forward Pass, but an Anchor Can touch the football via taking a Handoff, catching a Negative Hitch or Backward Pass behind the Line of Scrimmage, and/or catching a Pitch Out. On this particular play, the Anchor simply Retreated into the backfield as a Decoy after the snap, while other Eligible Receivers ran their routes accordingly

a. NFL rule 5.3.1 states that “an offensive player wearing the number of an eligible pass receiver is permitted to line up in the position of an ineligible pass receiver, provided that he immediately reports the change in his eligibility status to the Referee, who will inform the defensive team.”

b. New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick explained, “It’s a play that we thought would work. We had six eligible receivers on the field, but only five were eligible. The one who was ineligible reported that he was ineligible. No different than on the punt team or a situation like that.”

A smart and innovative A-11 Offense approach by the New England Patriots to help them win a very important game.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Evolution of Football

Walter Camp (pictured below) is the "Father of American Football."

Mr. Camp was the greatest Innovator in the history of American Football. He was the Head Football Coach at Yale and Stanford. Among many other groundbreaking contributions to the game, Mr. Camp introduced the Line of Scrimmage, a Set of Downs, the Safety enabling the Defense to score 2-points, putting and marking the Lines on the Field, the Snapping the football back from Center, and the 7-man offensive line.

Therefore, how would Mr. Camp look at our great game of football today, and how would Mr. Camp help to shape the future of football moving forward from this year of 2014?

a. 100-years ago (in 1914), please see below, is an example of the great athletes of that era aligned within a standard football formation. Back then, this was a normal set during that time period.

Note: *The Forward Pass had already been Legalized eight-years earlier in 1906.

1927 Cal Poly University Football formation below:

1953 Football Formation below:

1980's West Coast Offense Basic Set & Play Below:

b. Now look at a few “Spread Offense” sets in our Era of football (2010 - 2014) below.

c. Compare the vast differences and changes that naturally occurred between 1914 and today, and Imagine what the Athletes will be like in 2114, and what the Game will look like in 2114...Wow!

d. Think about it: Do you believe the Athletes will become Slower and Less Athletic, or will they evolve to become even Faster and even more Dynamic? And, do you think the game of Football will become Slower and more Condensed, or will the Game become Faster and More Spread Out?

*For a simple type of Comparison, take a Look at How Things Change Over Time from the "Car Family" below. Even though all Three of the vehicles below are Cars, they are incredibly different, in terms of Technology, Power and Performance capabilities.

1914 Racing Car:

2014 Racing Car:

2114 Racing Car Concept:

e. Therefore, in the future of football in 2114, will the average professional OL weigh 400 lbs. each or more? Will the average professional QB be 7 ft. tall or more. Will the average WR run the 40-yard Dash in under 4.0 seconds?

f. Will the standard length and width of a Football Field increase to be 100 Meters Long and 53 Meters Wide to accommodate for the much Bigger and Faster Athletes in 2114? Instead of the football field being measured in Yards, as it is today?

*See Below from 2008, one of Piedmont's various A-11 Offense base formations featuring Interchangeable and Dynamic athletes at Every position.

Will the game evolve to feature Incredibly talented Athletes at EVERY position on the field that are also Interchangeable? It certainly appears to be rapidly heading in that direction, especially when Eliminating the jersey-numbering requirement for the Offensive team Skyrockets the playmaking options after the snap from its current number of 36 a thrilling and innovative 16,632 options in terms of which player can receive the snap and advance with the football.

We are now in the exciting Vortex of a Football Revolution, and Big changes are taking place in our great game.

100-years from now in the year 2114, when the football coaches, players and historians take a look back at this Era, they will see the genesis of very creative concepts and remarkable high-level athletes pushing the game forward.

Get Ready for many more Innovative ideas that will modernize our great game of football coming soon!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Coaching Tip: # 1

Worldwide, there are, have been, and will continue to be numerous excellent male and female coaches whose efforts and errors have helped pave the way for sports fans to enjoy thrilling moments of triumph, suffer through painful losses, or even endure the dreaded tie game.

Bill Walsh, the late, great, innovative and legendary high school, collegiate and professional football coach deeply and truly believed that coaches have to be flexible to be successful over any substantial length of time.

Walsh lived, breathed, preached, taught and thrived upon his own football teams' tight execution of his bold systems that forced opponents to alter their own personalities on the gridiron. Walsh wanted his opponents to be very uncomfortable in their attempts to defend his unique systems, and by design -- Walsh wanted to force all opponents into a more iffy and adaptive type of position -- so that Walsh's own football teams could execute his own specific and desired style of play -- which during the time of his coaching tenure was considered very contrarian, as compared to most of the opponents that his teams played.

And, as a transition into my first Coaching Tip piece...the late, great and legendary University of Notre Dame Head Football Coach, Knute Rockne said, “Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.”

At every level of football, youth, high school, college and pro, innovative coaches are pushing the game forward to the benefit of us all...players, coaches and fans.

Therefore, it is with great humility and respect for my peers that I begin this open-ended series of “Coaching Tips” (in no particular order), as gleaned so far during my 25-years of coaching football at the high school and NCAA levels.

Whether you are a sports fan, a coach at any level of the game, a player, or a professor, I hope you find these series of tips useful, interesting, and/or informative…


“Identify Your Weaknesses as a Coach and Turn Them into Your Strengths”

I’ve never met one person that truly enjoys admitting their weaknesses to other people.

However, as a coach, once you've learned to admit your weaknesses and are willing to absorb something totally new, it liberates your mind and allows you to become the pupil once again – your mind reverts to being that thirsty sponge reborn again, seeking valuable nourishment in the form of fresh ideas and innovative methods that can help to creatively solve complex problems.

In Just One Case in Point: prior to our creation and implementation of the A-11 Offense in 2007 at Piedmont, I had already coached football for 21-years, but I was not a fan of the Shotgun formation at all, nor that much of the Spread offense. In fact, I had only used the Shotgun formation one-time prior to the 2007 season.

However, after admitting that a coaching weakness of mine was in not having had used the Shotgun formation before, I decided to jump into the fire with both feet and went for it.

Bluntly put, it was a very unpleasant and uncomfortable coaching experience to endure at the beginning of those harsh lessons being learned, especially when our team began the 2007 season with a poor record of 0 – 2, it would have been very easy to end that Shotgun/A-11 experiment, and get back to something that I was much more comfortable with.

But together, the coaching staff and I saw glimmers of hope upon diligent review of the game video, and we always kept in mind the best interests of our team; which was the entire reason we decided to try something new like the Shotgun/A-11 system...the simple fact that our team’s personnel was ideally suited for such a unique plan of Super-Spread offensive attack.

*In fact, we had TWO Quarterbacks aligned in our Shotgun/A-11 system during the ENTIRE 2007 season. Yes it is true, we played the whole season with Two Starting Quarterbacks set-up in the Shotgun formation in the A-11 system, because that was the best fit of the personnel we had that year.

And then during the third game of that 2007 season, our Piedmont team “clicked” and they took full ownership of the Shotgun/A-11 system we employed, and they never looked back. The team rattled off seven straight wins, finished the regular season with a record of 7 – 3, and earned a trip to the California state football playoffs. It turned out to be an incredibly successful season full of exciting and dramatic moments for the team.

In retrospect, what would have happened if we had never attempted to try something totally new, or if we had merely decided to scrap the entire mission after opening the 2007 season with those two losses before our Shotgun/A-11 system had been given the proper amount of time to mature, or totally fail?

It is OK to attempt something new, give it your best shot and fail. Yes, it hurts big time, but it's OK. As coaches, we are striving to win every game, every year, but when we do our best and we fail, it stings bad, but it does happen.

Fortunately in 2007, we tried something brand new and gave it every ounce of energy and grit we had. And, because of the hard work and commitment from the assistant coaches and the players, together we turned our weaknesses into the actual strengths of our team, and it turned out very well.

That very risky approach with the Dual Quarterbacks in the Shotgun/A-11 system paid big dividends for our team. But then afterwards, beginning in 2008, it caused an exciting and innovative ripple effect nationwide as Hundreds of coaches began creating and implementing their own versions of A-11 concepts to help their team...truly remarkable.

In 2008, we adjusted the Shotgun/A-11 system into a more traditional set, using One QB and One RB in the backfield and we earned much success. Also, we watched with great appreciation and satisfaction as other football teams around the nation unveiled their own wildly creative A-11 concepts with record-breaking success.

In 2009, we successfully blended A-11 concepts into traditional football jersey-numbering rules, further establishing the A-11 system as another example of football innovation helping to advance the game into its exciting future.

And now as of today, thousands of football coaches and players have downloaded all of the free A-11 Offense concepts playbooks, manuals and videos, and several million people have watched A-11 videos or read about it. Furthermore, many of those innovative football coaches have also shared their new strategies with us.

It's really good to try something new, to Go For It...and to see what happens.

My advice, is to take a look in the mirror and evaluate your coaching weaknesses, be honest with yourself. Then, after you've identified the areas that you need to work on, take the time to educate yourself and to learn from other coaches whose demonstrated strengths happen to reside in the areas of your weaknesses.

Turn your weaknesses into your strengths, learn from others in the process of doing so, and if you succeed, then take the time to share with other coaches what you have learned along the way.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

“The Future of Football and the Real Impact of the A-11 Offense”

Interview Conducted by Kurt Bryan -

Recently, I spoke with a football coach & author who has been a student of the game for decades - going back through the game’s history seeking insights on the best ways to coach and advance the game in every regard. He is remarkably blunt about the game’s past, present and future.

Football Historian, John T. Reed is a West Point grad (1968) and Harvard MBA (1977). He also has 16 seasons of coaching football under his belt, and has written seven football coaching books. His 1997 manual “Football Clock Management” is revered by football coaches at all levels - high school, college and pro, and it is now in its 4th printed edition.

The Interview Session with John T. Reed…

Question: What is your opinion about the status of pro football today regarding player safety?

Reed: “Pro football has a major issue with concussions. And, there is a rarely-spoken-of issue about linemen being too heavy—far beyond the Body Mass Index (BMI) number that physicians say is healthy.

When football started in 1869 (Princeton vs. Rutgers) the attitude about player safety was Neanderthal, and the game has not yet ‘fully’ moved on from that overall mindset. In 1906, the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt threatened to outlaw the game, period. He called a meeting with about 60 of the top college head coaches and administrators and demanded that the game be made safer, immediately. The result was the legalization of the forward pass.”

Question: It was 101-years between the legalization of the Forward Pass in 1906 and the unveiling of the A-11 Offense in 2007. Are those two unique episodes in football history worthy of comparison, or not at all?

Reed: “Before I answer, let me say I was intrigued by the A-11 Offense after its birth in 2007. Luckily, I was able to watch and learn about the A-11 first-hand at Piedmont; during a number of meetings with the coaches and players in depth, and having a football background myself. I was pleased with the initial success it had and very distressed when the National Federation of High Schools changed its rules because of an ‘old guard’ backlash against such a substantial innovation as the A-11. The A-11 had previously been ruled permissible before Piedmont and other football teams nationwide adopted the A-11. The Forward Pass met similar resistance after the 1906 rule change and many people back then thought it was going to ruin the game.”

“Back to your question, the New York Times said in September 1906 after that rule change, “the main efforts of the football reformers have been to ‘open up the game’—that is to provide for the natural elimination of the so-called mass plays and bring about a game in which speed and real skill shall supersede so far as possible, mere brute strength and force of weight.”

Image Below: Circa (1912) Football Helmet Safety Test

Question: Are the two developments linked in any way?

Reed: “The 1906 rule change achieved some of its goals but it did not go ‘so far as possible.’ The legalization of the Forward Pass did not ‘eliminate mass plays’ and totally replace ‘brute strength and force of weight with speed and skill.’ The A-11 Offense actually finishes that job. By broadening the roles of interior linemen to include the option of receiving the ball and more dynamic open field blocking, the A-11 removes the unhealthiest aspects of the current professional game and improves upon it by schematic design. The A-11 replaces one large set of more limited players and replaces them with more athletes who possess the speed and skill that the New York Times and many others thought football was getting in 1906 via the Forward Pass.”

Question: In what regard?

Reed: “In fact, an unintended consequence of the legalization of the Forward Pass and the restrictive jersey-numbering requirements that ensued have caused the specialization of players for pass protection, resulting in a lot of unnaturally-sized linemen on both sides of the ball. Some of those linemen do get hurt by what happens on the field, and also by what they have to do to bulk up and make the lineup in order to get onto the field. The A-11 reverses that avoidable mistake.”

Question: Exactly, how?

Reed: “For example, when the staff at Piedmont coached in the A-11 Offense, they’ve said a number of opposing coaches stated they had to remove some of their starting defensive linemen from the field and replace them with faster linebacker/defensive back types to deal with the speed, skill, and versatility of the A-11 linemen. The first time that happened was the day that the New York Times’ premature prediction of more than 100-years ago finally came true.”

Question: OK, but is that a bit of a reach?

Reed: “Not at all. The A-11 and spread offensive football around the country may have ended ‘traditional’ smash-mouth football. That more limited brand of pro football has run its course. The invention and implementation of the A-11 Offense in 2007 was the century-later ‘second coming’ of the big innovation to improve safety that Roosevelt forced in 1906 to advance the game’s complexity and to make it safer for the players. The A-11 completes that long-overdue promise described in the New York Times article.”

Question: What other ideas would help to improve player health and safety in pro football?

Reed: “I would outlaw players whose BMI exceeded the medical experts’ recommendation—a weigh-in and height measurement before every game like they do in boxing, mixed martial arts, horse racing, and wrestling, etc. The current practice of encouraging and even demanding that linemen carry an unhealthy amount of weight is a moral outrage. Coaches and the owners rightly defer absolutely to the doctors regarding traumatic injuries like concussions and neck injuries, and so forth. But they do the exact opposite with regard to doctors’ advice when it comes to long-term health issues like the linemen BMI. That makes no sense. It needs to be changed to help the players stay as healthy as possible during their careers and afterward. The game will not suffer—it will improve as a result. I would expect to see much fewer of the five-step and seven-step drop back pass protection plays without the sumo wrestler body types on the offensive line. But the game will be safer, faster, more athletic, more fun to watch and play, and more interesting. With the A-11 Offense unbridled at the pro level the offensive and defensive line-play becomes a contest of great athletes who can block, catch, or run with the football. Many compare football to chess and the linemen to pawns. But in the A-11, linemen block, catch backward or forward passes, and carry the football. At Piedmont the lineman even threw some passes. Chess is a great game, but not because of its pawns. In A-11, all eleven players contribute towards victory in a broader variety of athletic ways.”

Question: What will happen to the Quarterback position at the Pro level in the A-11 Offense?

Reed: “The new-found versatility of the offensive line will cause an increased emphasis on versatility at all positions. It will increase the number of passers on the roster and encourage coaches to use many multi-threat players on the field at the same time. Imagine three players in the backfield at once, all of them being able to run, throw or catch as a regular staple of the offensive game plan. Talk about opening-up the game by structure…having so many triple-threat skill players on the field at once, opens up the game—squared.

Drawing a basketball analogy, football is now what basketball would be like if only Lebron James on the Heat were allowed to shoot. Or like soccer, where only Beckham could attempt a goal. The A-11 turns football into a game where, like basketball or soccer, every player is capable of performing most football skills and on any play. Only unlike basketball and soccer, you would still have the between-play stoppages that allow football to be so much more complex, cerebral, and planned. Even in the fast-paced no-huddle version of the A-11 Offense at the professional level.”

Question: Conversely at the highest levels of the game, what will happen to the Defenses?

Reed: “We’ve already seen the dramatic match-up changes at the high school level against the A-11. If the offense gets more versatile then the defense must do so as well. The defensive linemen against the A-11 will need to be hybrid players able to match-up against the multiple roles that an A-11 offensive lineman will play, and the other players too. The defense must adjust to the fact that the more extreme specialization of recent football schemes like the seven-step drop back passes are probably no longer the issue. Since all eleven of the A-11 personnel are capable of doing almost anything at any time, you cannot have today’s more extremely specialized ‘limited role players’.”

Today, you can basically tell just by looking at a college or pro football player in street clothes what position he probably plays. Not in the A-11. The A-11 will eliminate extreme specialization that severely limits the pro game now. The current pro game is overly predictable and the beauty of the A-11 is in its versatility and lack of tendencies, which leads to a more wide-open style of play and should increase scoring. A-11 forces the defense to remain honest most of the time and levels the playing field for both sides of the ball, which leads to improved player safety. When I wrote the book, ‘The Contrarian Edge for Football Offense’ in that I expressed my dislike of the ability for football defenses to gear up to stop a particular type of play by studying opposing offensive tendencies. As a coach, I was for forcing opposing defenses to remain in their ‘Base set’ during the course of the game because of my offensive team’s tempo and because I was using the same formation almost every play. It’s important not to give opposing defensive coordinators basic tendencies to tee-off on. The A-11 does all of these same types of things to the defense because of its unpredictable nature.”

Question: What will the game of pro football look like ten to twenty-years from now?

Reed: “Assuming the A-11 takes off, it will make the game far more complex, faster, with more finesse and skill at every position, and more athletic overall. Each player will be contributing in many more ways than in today’s pro game.

The unintended specialization caused by the legalization of the Forward Pass was aided and abetted by the adoption of a platoon system during World War II (needed because of a lack of players due to the draft).

The A-11 will not end all platoon football, nor should it, but it will force players on both sides of the ball to be less specialized and much more versatile. When you think about it, football has evolved into a sort of three-ring circus; with a shoving match going on over here…and a passing and catching competition going on over there…and the running and chasing in another location over there. I don’t think the leaders of football today would have created such a game on purpose from scratch with so many unhealthy limits. The A-11 steps in and sweeps clean the attic that still contains the last vestiges of its Neanderthal origins, and that’s a good thing.”

Question: 100-years from now, what will football historians say about the A-11 Offense and its impact on the game?

Reed: “I expect the football experts of the future to say the A-11, like the Forward Pass before it, saved the game from its own bad habits, including too much sumo-type shoving, less than truly optimal athleticism on the part of nearly half the players on the field, and severely insufficient attention to the health and safety of the players.

Decades from now, the A-11 Offense could be seen as the ‘second-coming of a football revolution’ in safety and athleticism wrought by the 1906 rule changes that preceded it. A-11 can rescue the game of football by making it safer for the players, more interesting, more complex and cerebral, and more fun to watch.”