Falcons: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Printable Version
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Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - mdrake34 - 01-15-2012 12:27 PM
This is a great read and glimpse into Koetter's offensive philosophy. Click on the link, it has diagrams, but I'll copy and paste also.
He talks about:
1. using multiple WR's to stretch the field vertically at 3 different levels;
2. using multiple WR'd to stretch the field horizontally;
3. use of the slot receivers; and
4. utilizing the RB in the passing game.
These are all things we gave MM shit about NOT doing. I can only hope that he is a competent chef that had a college dorm room kitchen/pantry in Jacksonville. MM was an easy bake oven chef in the Iron Chef Stadium kitchen. He was trying to make ramen noodles with saffron and white truffel oil. Hopefully we now have the right combination of chef/ingredients/kitchen. Provided, of course, we fix the O-line.
Go Inside the Offensive Mind of Coach Koetter
Entering his 30th year in coaching, Dirk Koetter has coached at all levels of football – from high school to the pros. Now as the offensive coordinator of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and having mentored the likes of Andrew Walter and Dave Garrard, his name is well respected among QB coaches in the league. This season he’ll get his crack at working with the Jaguars first round draft pick Blaine Gabbert.
This past week Coach Koetter spoke exclusively with X&O Labs’ senior research manager, Mike Kuchar, as part of our new Q&A series. As an active reader of X&O Labs’ research reports, Koetter shared his thoughts on offensive play-calling, designing the pass game and some new wrinkles on the four vertical concept.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post in our ‘Comments’ section below this interview.
Mike Kuchar (MK): How many different types of pass concepts (play-actions, boots, shots, etc.) will you typically enter a game plan with? How might this change from week to week based on your opponent?
Dirk Koetter (DK): Concepts and actions can overlap. Within each action you have concepts. You have to have a quick game, a three, five and seven step drop back, and a couple ways to move the pocket like sprint out or bootleg. You have to have some hard play action where you’re selling the run then you have to have some basic play action with protection. That is a starting point every week for us. We have a game plan process that doesn’t change. We try to feature those things every week but certain types of blitzing defense can alter that. Certain teams will only blitz you to the field or boundary or certain blitzes can hurt a certain action. So you might stay away from that action for that particular week.
MK: What are your thoughts on developing routes to attack certain coverages? Is it more productive to design universal routes that are solid against all coverages?
DK: That’s a dilemma for most coaches. We all have our favorite cover two beaters, cover three beaters or man beaters. Then what if it isn’t what you get? We do both. We have cover beaters and we have all purpose routes. The important thing to consider is how are you giving your QB answers? How are you teaching your QB to determine or recognize coverage? When you have defensive coordinators that mix up their coverages, now you can’t just break out your man-beaters. Are you going to give your QB the option to change the play based on a check with me system or based on a package? Are you going to do something at the line of scrimmage, like run a motion, to determine man or zone? Or, are you going to have something that beats certain coverage on one side and something universal on the other side? Those are hard questions that need to be weighed every week and we do all of those things.
MK: When designing a passing game at your level, is it more important to design routes based on the skill set of your receivers or to use universal route structures, and continue to coach your players on how to run them?
DK: At the NFL level your pass game is more universal than anywhere else because there is a lot of tried and proven route combinations that almost every team in the NFL runs. Most teams run similar offenses with similar players. At the college and high school level you have a lot more variation in style and more of a discrepancy in talent and skill. In the NFL everyone is good. You have a tendency to be more slanted to what your players do at the lower levels. The best coaches out there, no matter what level they are coaching, can adjust to their player’s strengths.
MK: Many coaches preach getting their players the ball, but is there a specific chart or sheet that you use on game day to break it down into percentages for each player?
DK: We do this in the off-season. When you’re in the room game planning, every position coach is fighting for his guys so you try to break it up by the amount of plays in the game. So if there are 64 plays in an NFL game, we’re going to run the ball X amount of times. If you’re a balanced offense, like we strive to be, that means you’re running the ball half the time. So now you’re left with 32 snaps in the passing game. Those can get used up pretty fast. So you need to make sure you allot the specific plays for each player you want to get the ball to. As far as balance on who touches the ball, I’m not overly concerned with that specifically, as long as the QB is making good decisions based on what the defense does. You can’t be afraid to feed your stud, I got that from Dan Henning, but you also want to reward your role players.
MK: You’ve coached at all levels of football. What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when you starting coaching in the NFL?
DK: The higher level you go, the more difficult it is to lock someone into coverage. When I was a college and high school coach, I always thought that having the hash marks closer together in the NFL would be a huge advantage to the offense because you’re closer to the middle of the field. But really what I’ve learned is having those hashes closer makes it way more difficult to determine coverage because defenses can disguise those safeties. They won’t move until the last second. The higher the level, the more schemes you have. You have combination coverages, split field coverages (where there is man on one side and a zone concept on the other). You have these trap coverages now, where they are zone blitzing you and trying to trap your hot receiver. Your route concepts can be beat in three ways: by coverage, by protection or by individual breakdowns. Those are the kinds of things you need to break down every week.
MK: How do you design your pass concepts? Do you use a number system or a concept system? Which do you feel is easier to adjust as a coach or to comprehend as a player?
DK: We use both numbers and concepts. I’m a concept oriented guy. I think concepts benefit you because you can plug different guys into different formations into different personnel groups and if they understand the concept it gives you more flexibility. But, I also think there is a place for a route tree and a number system. We primarily only use our number system on mirrored routes and the quick game. The number system restricts you because it doesn’t allow you to cover all the combinations you want to use so you have to get into so many tags that eventually you’re calling everybody’s route. In route concepts, one word can describe anything. In my experience, most kids can visualize one word concepts better. If someone gets hurt and you have to move people around, it helps you. That’s why, in my opinion, words or concept systems are better in the long run.
MK: What has been the most productive horizontal stretch pass concept that you have used throughout your career?
DK: I look at the concept of four verticals to be a horizontal stretch route. I look at a vertical stretch as three levels: you’re stretching the defense high, intermediate and low. Four verticals don’t really do that. They call it four verticals. Whoever came up with that based it on what the offensive guys are doing. It stretches the field horizontally. Number one, we have a whole bunch of ways to tag it and change it. It’s more complicated than four guys running down the field. In its purist form, if you’re running four verticals against a three deep zone you’re working a horizontal stretch against a free safety. Or if you’re running a four vertical concept against a two deep zone you’re going two on one on the half field safety. That is a horizontal stretch on a safety. When people think about horizontal stretch they think a curl/flat concept. But a curl/flat concept is too easily defeated by a two deep, five under coverage. It’s not my favorite. There would be a place for it, but it’s not my favorite. What I like about a four vertical package, based on how you tweak it, you could give your QB an answer against any coverage. The weakness of it is that you need to be in five or six man protection. There’s no way you can get four verticals protecting with seven or eight.
MK: You can’t go to a clinic these days without seeing at least a handful of speakers addressing the four vertical pass game. What is it about the scheme that has made it so en-vogue lately?
DK: To me, it’s something that has been around for over 15 years now. Depending on your level of competition, your conference affiliation and the part of the country you live, it’s really not that new. Where I’m at, it’s probably more out of vogue, and done by guys who only truly believe in it. From an offensive coach’s standpoint, you get the ball to your playmakers running down the field vertically. It’s the perfect formula for an explosive play. It’s not like you’re in 2×2 and you’re throwing quick outs to the outside and stick routes to the inside. You might complete that concept 67 percent of the time, but you’re only getting six yard plays. However, you may complete four verticals 48 percent of the time but you’re getting 18 yard gains, those are the kinds of plays I like better. I don’t like to work hard for four yard gains.
MK: What tweaks or adjustments in the four vertical passing game have you incorporated to make it more effective?
DK: How you change the benders and what you do with the guys on the outside have had the most impact on the route. We rarely have the outside players on “goes.” We’ve incorporated a stop pattern or a read stop pattern. We’ve been doing a ton of different things with Maurice Jones Drew at the running back position. We release him over the ball, we chip him out (help on a defensive end), and we release him and run him on an angle route.
MK: How often are you getting that remaining back out on routes? It’s great clinic talk to have him matched up on a middle linebacker (Mike), but it seems offensives rarely get the time needed on protection for that.
DK: Some teams in the NFL do, and they do a great job of that. We have more success when we release him to a side and have him chip his way out off of blocking their best pass rusher. We get him on a leak route, by “leaking” out over the original alignment of the offensive tackle. This way you can’t get him caught up in the traffic. We call it a leak option (Diagram 1) where as he chips off the end, if he’s not manned up, he will show his numbers to the QB and leak slowly to the perimeter. It takes too long for him to find a way through the A or B gap, push up to six yards and turn around and sit down. If he just leaks or drifts, it’s much easier to find. Plus you hit him on the move with him facing the defense. So your chance for a bigger gain is better.
If the Mike will match the RB like some quarters teams do, then we give that back the option to push up and break off of him (Diagram 2). It should always be a win for the offense, with our tailback on their Mike, as long as you give the QB time.
If you’re having issues with protecting, get into a 3×1 or a 2×2 set, protect with five and free release the back. New Orleans did it from empty with Reggie Bush when they won the Super Bowl. Bush would run the crossing route in the middle of the field (Diagram 3). Your Mike LB is isolated on Bush. That would get people out of quarters fast. It’s taking some coaches a long time to realize how important that player is. On many teams, that’s your best offensive player, so to have him just standing there doing nothing with a vertical concept is non-productive. So why not use him as a weapon?
MK: That’s interesting, because many teams will run a quarters concept when they anticipate four verticals.
DK: Quarters would be a good coverage if a defense knew you would be in a four vertical package. But that’s where you get into tweaking what you do with your outside receivers. If you’re seeing quarters coverage against a four vertical concept, it means your outside receivers are one-on-one without much help underneath and your tailback is one-on-one with the Mike. So you still have some decent answers. Like I said, the vertical game would not be the first thing I drew up if I knew I was getting quarters but it certainly wouldn’t stop me from running the play.
MK: Is getting the ball to your outside receivers an automatic adjustment for you in quarters, or will you still try to attack the middle of the field vs.quarters safeties?
DK: If they are a good quarters team, whether they are a 4-3 or in nickel coverage, they will try to re-route your inside receivers with their outside linebackers. They have safeties essentially playing man over the top. I’m not a big believer that you can hit your benders against quarters coverage. Anything can be done, and I’ve seen it done. But I think that’s a low percentage play. I think the percentage play against quarters in four verticals is you’re working your outside guys on some kind of stops or lock stops. If you’re seeing quarters with off coverage, any kind of out-breaking route or a comeback or stop route at 15 yards is like a pitch and catch. The other thing is if the outside backers are trying to re-route number two and run underneath number one, that Mike linebacker has a ton of room he has to cover with the back.
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MK: What is your stop route with your outside receivers?
DK: A stop route to us is 15-yards and turn straight back down your stem to the inside. What it does is it gives the QB the ability to throw the ball away from leverage and away from the defender, especially if the corner is off. When you’re running a four vertical package, you tend to get into wide splits with your outside players to open up seam routes. What that does is invite the corners to play with more inside leverage. For a QB that doesn’t have a strong enough arm or enough anticipation to throw a comeback, I’m a believer that the stop route gives you a little more margin for error for the QB. You get out of your stem full speed at 15 yards and that defensive back is still running half the time. Most comebacks are going to be in the 18-20 yard range, out stop routes are run at 15 yards, with the receiver retracing his steps in his stem anticipating the QB to throw it away from leverage. Another thing about the stop route is you can leave it on against press coverage and make it like a back shoulder throw. Or if you’re a good fade team, we can convert to a fade vs. press coverage. It’s a great example of something you can tweak based on the ability of your receivers or QB. When we had a guy like Matt Jones at Jacksonville, he wasn’t good at dropping his hips because he was 6-6 but he was terrific at running the fade against press.
MK: What are biggest errors from your slot receiver in the four vertical game that you need to coach up at your level?
DK: We have three common issues. One, in split safety coverage he needs to understand his landmark and timing. If you’re the bender, you must know what you’re bending to and being at the landmark when the QB is ready for you. A guy will have a tendency to bend too early and the QB doesn’t have the proper stretch on the safety and you’re timing is off (Diagram 4).
Two, against three- deep coverage he must know how to get to his seam. Teams in three-deep coverage like to use a punch and widen technique with the flat defender. He will try to jam your slot receiver and punch through him on his way to the flat. That receiver needs to understand that he has to avoid a first level defender in order to get into that 18-22 yard box in the seam. Also against three deep, teams will try to overlap their corners. They will try to widen their flat defenders and overlap their corners (Diagram 5). It’s a common mistake for a slot receiver, that if he does get a clean release, to run through there as fast as he can go and the box ends at 22 yards. If he’s past 22 yards, an overlapped corner or a good deep safety may be able to make the play. The art of understanding, after I do get my release, it’s okay to come under control at that 18-22 yard area. He just can’t blow up the seam without being under control.
Third, against man coverage the slot receiver must be able to use change of pace or double moves to get open. He can still be a winner, he just needs to do something with his man depending if it’s two high or man free. A change of pace is like a stutter-step or a change of speed. Get the guy running, but still have something left. We need to do something with the route. We only give our guys two or three different options based on what the defense does. Otherwise, our guys would be doing some crazy stuff and mess up the QB. We call it tools in their toolbox that they can use against man coverage and the QB learns over time to recognize what those things look like.
MK: Coach, it’s been a pleasure working with you and thank you for being an X&O Labs subscriber.
DK: Thank you. At the Jaguars, we’re enjoying what you are doing for the coaching community. Keep up the good work.
If you have questions or comments, please post in the ‘Comments’ section below.
Copyright 2011 X&O Labs
Read more: http://xandolabs.com/2011/07/dirk-koetter-exclusive-interview/#ixzz1jXqr3YRb
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Paprika Neck - 01-15-2012 12:36 PM
utilizing the slot receiver... thank god.
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - phocis850 - 01-15-2012 12:39 PM
There were some good bits of info in there. So we understand the passing game but what about the running game?
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Peyton - 01-15-2012 12:41 PM
I could care less if a coach can talk a good game. They can all talk a good game. I wanted a coach that could get players to play.
This guy isn't that guy.
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Paprika Neck - 01-15-2012 12:42 PM
asu went to 3 bowls dude can coach.
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Paprika Neck - 01-15-2012 12:43 PM
(01-15-2012 12:39 PM)phocis850 Wrote: There were some good bits of info in there. So we understand the passing game but what about the running game?
MJD 1300 yards the last 3 seasons
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - mdrake34 - 01-15-2012 12:44 PM
(01-15-2012 12:39 PM)phocis850 Wrote: There were some good bits of info in there. So we understand the passing game but what about the running game?
He prefers the passing game apparently:
Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter prefers pass but knows many factors determine game plan
“There are a lot of things that go into whether you can run or pass the ball besides my preference,” Koetter says.
Posted: May 22, 2010 - 7:04pm
Back Photo: 1 of 2 Next
The Jaguars' Dirk Koetter points out where receivers are to line up during a workout Thursday. RICK WILSON/The Times-Union
RICK WILSON/The Times-Union
The Jaguars' Dirk Koetter points out where receivers are to line up during a workout Thursday.
By Vito Stellino
This might be the year the Jaguars let Dirk Koetter be Dirk Koetter.
When Koetter was hired as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator in 2007 after he was fired as Arizona State's head coach, he had the reputation for being a passing coach.
"I'm absolutely more comfortable in the passing game, but one guy, one coach doesn't just dictate that," Koetter said. "That depends on the philosophy of your general manager, the philosophy of your head coach. How good is your defense? How good is your kicking game? How good is your quarterback? Can you protect the quarterback? There are a lot of things that go into whether you can run or pass the ball besides my preference."
And he admits his preference is throwing the ball.
"Absolutely," Koetter said. "That's my background. My background is in the passing game, but again, they don't pay you as a coach to go with your preference. They pay you to try to help the team win. It's the ultimate team game, and so there are things involved with whether you run or pass more, besides just what I like."
The Jaguars were a running team in Koetter's first year, going 11-5 with the league's second-best running offense in terms of yardage, compared to 17th in passing.
Running the ball made sense. The Jaguars had two talented running backs, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Jones, running behind a solid line. By contrast, the Jaguars changed quarterbacks nine days before the season started when coach Jack Del Rio cut Byron Leftwich and handed the job to David Garrard.
Garrard had a good season, throwing 18 touchdowns and three interceptions.
He had two receivers, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones, who never lived up to their status as first-round picks, so the running game was the safe route.
The past two years, as teams continued to stack the box to stop the running game, the running game ranked 18th and 10th. But the passing game didn't take advantage of the emphasis teams put on trying to stop the run. The passing game ranked 15th and 19th.
Still, the Jaguars had the makings of an offense last year that had the potential to be explosive.
What got overlooked was the fact that the Jaguars still managed to be 11th in the league in explosive plays — 16-yard passes and 12-yard runs — with a total of 120.
Explosive plays are important because the 10 offenses that had more than 120 last year all had winning seasons, with an average of 11 wins. Seven qualified for the playoffs, and six teams were division champions.
And teams that had two explosive plays in a drive scored touchdowns 53 percent of the time and field goals 23 percent of the time.
Not surprisingly, the Jaguars want to build on the number of explosive plays they had last year.
Del Rio, who said he wants the offense to be innovative, said, "I think what we're going to do is continue to develop our football team, continue to look to field an offense that can generate explosive plays and score points."
Koetter said, "I hope we have an offense that's very explosive and scores a lot of points, doesn't turn it over, protects the quarterback."
When asked how to get explosive plays, Koetter said some are from schemes, and some are from players making plays.
"There are certain players that can make coaches look good. A play might be a dive up the middle, and Maurice breaks three tackles and gains over 12 yards, that's an explosive play. So you're trying to put players in position — trying to get Mike Thomas one-on-one in the flat, trying to get Mike Sims-Walker one-on-one, trying to get Marcedes [Lewis] isolated on a linebacker, trying to get Maurice isolated on a linebacker, get Zach Miller on a linebacker. Those are ways you try to create explosive situations in the pass game."
Not that the Jaguars are going to throw all the time. Koetter noticed that they had 381 so-called running downs last season — first and second downs with one to six yards to go. They threw 191 times and passed 190.
"So on run downs, our goal is to be balanced. Now, as the game unfolds, you're not going to have many runs on third-and-10. You're not going to have as many runs in the fourth quarter when you're down two touchdowns. On the flip side of that, if you're in the four-minute offense [protecting the lead], you're going to run it on every play at the end of the game. So we want to be balanced because we believe that's the hardest thing to defense and also because we have one of the best running backs in the league. But the bottom line is you have to move the chains and you have to score points," Koetter said.
Del Rio isn't setting any parameters for the passing game.
"I'm not trying to declare a ratio for our opponents or anything like that. When you have a great running back, you're always going to want to be able to work on the running game. But clearly, this time of year in shorts, it's a great opportunity to kind of spread your wings and look at some of the fresh thoughts that you have about the way you can get some of your players you have involved in the offense and in the running game specifically," Del Rio said.
Koetter thinks the offense will be upgraded this year. To start with, he feels the line will do a better job of protecting Garrard than it did last year.
"Last year, those two rookie tackles [Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton] were hanging on just to learn the vocabulary, just to learn what they're doing," Koetter said. "Now we have two of the most athletic tackles in the league, so in the offseason, we've studied different ways we could use those tackles in space, tackle pulling plays, tackle screen plays. I think you will see some different wrinkles to take advantage of what those two guys can do athletically."
In the interior of the line, Koetter said Kynan Forney has worked his way into the rotation because Uche Nwaneri can play guard or center.
But Koetter said it's too early to give up on veteran Brad Meester at center.
"Everyone's in a hurry to replace Brad Meester because he's the oldest guy , but from where I sit, Brad Meester has had as good eight practices as any o-lineman would have right now. So I wouldn't bury Brad quite yet," Koetter said.
At wide receiver, Sims-Walker and Thomas have been sidelined, but it's giving more chances for the other receivers.
"It's great to see Jarett Dillard back out there, Nate Hughes, Clarence Denmark, Troy Williamson Tiquan Underwood, those guys are all getting a ton of reps," Koetter said. "We only have seven healthy wideouts right now out of 11 guys."
But they have much more depth than last year after they dumped Williams, Jones and Jerry Porter.
"If you think about it, a year ago going into the OTAs, we didn't have Torry [Holt], and we didn't have the draft picks. So only a couple of receivers were even here, let alone healthy. I think you will find that most of the top offenses, the quarterbacks and the key receivers get a chance to work together," Koetter said.
And Garrard has to play better.
"You guys have beat the David thing to death," Koetter said. "I think that's been well-documented. Dave says it himself. Dave has to play better, and then I say every time I talk to the media, we have to play better around Dave."
Koetter will find out this season whether it all comes together, but he said he's not frustrated about the offense sputtering the past two years. He doesn't even agree it has sputtered. For him, the key is improving the 12-20 mark of the past two years.
"Boy, I'll tell you, if we're sputtering, then the teams that are behind us, what's the word for them, because we're definitely not the worst," Koetter said. "Coaching comes down to at any level, you're frustrated if you don't win. My life doesn't revolve around where we're at in the statistical race. My life revolves around whether we win or lose. When you're not winning, it's frustrating for everybody."
Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/sports/football/jaguars/2010-05-22/story/jaguars-offensive-coordinator-dirk-koetter-prefers-pass#ixzz1jXv2zMyT
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - juraitwaluzka - 01-15-2012 01:57 PM
(01-15-2012 12:44 PM)mdrake34 Wrote: Koetter will find out this season whether it all comes together, but he said he's not frustrated about the offense sputtering the past two years. He doesn't even agree it has sputtered. For him, the key is improving the 12-20 mark of the past two years.
Last in offensive yards.
Last in offensive yards per play.
Last in passing.
Last in passing yards per play.
Last in first downs.
Last in 20 yard pass plays.
Last in QB rating.
That's just great, let's strive to be "not the worst".
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Paprika Neck - 01-15-2012 01:59 PM
jags have as much talent as atlanta?
RE: Interview from last summer with Koetter about offense - Stewie - 01-15-2012 02:07 PM
(01-15-2012 01:57 PM)juraitwaluzka Wrote: And yet...
Can you name any of their receivers (other than Lewis) without searching on Google?