The Advantages of Scripting Plays

March 1, 2018

Scripting offensive opening plays is nothing new.  The great Bill Walsh made it famous in the 1980’s with the San Francisco 49ers and coaches have done their own version down through the years.

Most coaches script a dozen or so plays to use as openers and then call the rest of the game off of the knowledge that they gain from their set of openers.   Others use longer scripts. Here are some facts about scripting plays and some reasons to consider using it in your offensive plan.

1) You can go against all of your tendencies- Every good team has tendencies and the defenses study them to set their defense and know what plays to expect. Going against those tendencies early in the game may cause problems for the defensive game plan that night and make future opponents reconsider your tendencies.

2)  You make play choices ahead of time when you have time to consider all of the factors instead in the middle of the game when you have very little time and a lot of pressure.

3) You can decide how much you want to run and throw the ball as the game begins. If you feel like you need to attack their pass defense, put more pass plays in your script.

4) You can set up plays. If you want to run a reverse off of a sweep, you can run the sweep first and then come back a few plays later and run the reverse off of it. Just put it on the list.  Run the off tackle power play and then boot off of it. Align in bunch trips and run outside zone and then fake the zone and throw  by flooding the area behind the bunch.

5) You can decide how many inside and outside plays to run. You have to stretch the entire field as you attack the defense. A script allows you to move the ball around-inside run, play action pass deep pass, outside run, short pass, etc.

6) A script allows you to attack their weakest players. This might be part of your game plan but you could forget about it as the game goes along. If you think they are weak on your left, set up runs to attack left more than right. If you know that you can move their right defensive tackle with a double team, run that power play to the right when he was in the game.

7) You can script in a trick play. We as coaches often have them in our arsenal but a lot of times fail to use them.

8) It is important to misdirect the defense. You can script misdirection runs and boot passes to slow them down. Decide ahead of time and make sure your script has plenty of misdirection built in. If a team is really fast, you might decide to have some type of misdirection built in on 50% of the plays or more.

9) You can look at how they are going to adjust to certain formations. You can set up motions and shifts to confuse their alignments. At times you may line up in all kinds of formations in the first series just to try and confuse the opponent. You can be in the “I” formation one play and then go to spread on the next play and throw a screen pass. It allows you to really keep the defense off balance.

10)  A coach can make sure that his best offensive players are getting the ball. You may have a good receiver who can make some big plays. Wide receiver screens, reverses, short passes are all ways to get him the ball. Sneak him in the backfield and throw him a pass from there or pitch him the ball on an option. Put him in motion and hand the ball on a speed sweep. A script will allow you to make sure he is getting the ball.

11) Scripts are primarily for 1st and 2nd down plays. You will normally have plays for 3rd and short and 3rd and long. You would also have special plays for the goal line and two minute situations. You will want to script those situations as well, based on how the defense defends those type situations.

12) Offensive teams need plays designed to get them chunks of yardage- reverses, passes, etc. You really need to throw the ball deep 3-4 times per game. With a script you can make sure to include such plays.

13) You can get input from the rest of the staff. What plays do you coaches like against their defense? They may have a unique perspective of what might cause them problems, especially the defensive coaches.

14) You can work on a script for 1-2 days with your team. Give them a copy of it and make sure they understand what to do and what plays to expect early in the game. This helps build confidence.  Quarterbacks love knowing what plays will be called early in the game. Always gave them them a copy of the script.

The only thing bad about a script is that at times the defense might align in a completely different defensive structure than we had prepared for and some of the plays might not be good against that defense. In that case you had to decide which plays to throw out, which at times distorts your script. Weather can also be a factor. If you get in a huge rain storm, your passing game is very limited.  If you get a huge wind blowing, you may only be able to throw when the wind is blowing at your back.

In part 2, we will look at some other ideas about scripting plays.