It is one of the saddest things I see happen to football teams, and I see it happen just about every week during football season. I can guarantee most of you have as well. You have a football team who has possession of the football, has the lead, and there are 3 minutes or so left on the clock. What happens next I find sad and unfortunate for the players of this team. The offense, in its own infatuation with as many plays as possible, as many points as possible ends up getting stopped while only using up 30 to 40 seconds of clock. The other team’s offense takes the field with 2:30 seconds and 2 to 3 time outs left, and proceeds to go down the field, score, and win the game. Had the first team simply slowed down, even if they snap the ball fewer times, still got stopped, but used up 1:30 to 2:30 seconds of clock, it would be much more likely for their own defense to seal the win for them. Now the other team fields their offense with 30 seconds to 1 minute left, now they have to resort to big plays and/or trick plays.
In this situation, traditional knowledge and coaching would dictate that you grind out the clock. What I mean by that, is you take your time between snaps, you call plays that will keep the clock running, and utilize formations that allow you to call these plays regardless of defensive look. You might be a spread tempo team, and I’m not here to talk you out of your belief system and doing what you do. Lots of teams win lots of games running spread, and going fast. What I am here to do is make a case for the 4 minute offense!
WHY THE 4 MINUTE OFFENSE
At some point it is going to happen. There is no way around it. It is going to happen whether you like it or not. YOU WILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY NASTY BALL! It may be down on the goal line, it could be 4th and short, it might be raining and spitting nasty weather, or you may have to chew up some clock to win the game. When this happens, you better be able to buckle up, get under center and do some gut punching! I am a firm believer that every team should have the ability to take snaps under center, and here is why:
- The QB wedge and Fullback wedge. Its quick, its dirty, it gets first downs. First downs turn to touch downs.
- The path of the running backs are more downhill and aggressive in nature.
- For your play actions and misdirection plays, the QB has his back to the defense
I am also a firm believer that everyone should have the ability to get into 21 and 22 personnel, and here is why:
- It creates extra run gaps/lanes for the ball carriers.
- It brings more bodies to the point of attack.
- It makes it more difficult for the defense to outnumber you on the edges or in the box.
- It is both physically and mentally tough on the defense, especially the defensive backs.
- Easy to get into unbalanced formations
I know, I know…. I hear some of you already. “We just don’t have those type of guys coach.” Well sit down, because you may not like what comes next. That excuse is a nothing more than a cop out. Everybody has those guys. Be a dang coach and get them in the right spots. The perceived lack of “guys” for a spot has nothing to do with players, and everything to do with coaches. Period. You have them I promise. We are not here to cater to the desires of 14 to 18 year old kids. We are here to build men of character, provide guidance, promote education, develop relations, and win games (yes this should be last). Here is where you can find your tight ends and full backs:
- Defensive lineman, use the non-starters, or use the starters if 21/22 is just going to be a special situation offense for you.
- Linebackers, same deal as the D-Line
- Bigger bodied wide outs
- Back up offensive linemen
- Bigger bodied running backs
WHAT PLAYS TO RUN
The best part about the 4 minute offense, is you do not need to change any of your base concepts. The running game that is prevalent in the spread offense all have roots in 2 back formations. You can call the same plays. The rules for your offensive lineman will not change. You are simply using personnel to create more gaps, and bring more bodies to the point of attack so you can chew up yards and eat clock. Below I will diagram the most common spread running plays out of 22 personnel.
The 4 minute offense seems to be a lost art. The ego that point averages seem to create is leading many coaches astray from basic game strategy concepts. In the end, only one average matters. The average amount of times you take the field and leave with a W! It is like I previously stated, every single team needs to have the ability to get under center and get in 22/21 personnel. Regardless of your base offensive scheme. The best modern example of this is the New England Patriots. They are 4 and 5 wide 90 to 95 percent of the time. However, when it is time to put the game away, they are undoubtedly the best 22/21 personnel team I have ever seen. They have no qualms about jumping into 2 back sets, getting Brady under center and gut punching the defense all the way down the field. Subscribe to my email list so you can be updated whenever a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @thecoachvogt.