To avoid hijacking this thread, I decided to open up this debate here.
I’m a hardcore football fan, and generally hold the typical American view of “soccer is sluggish, low-scoring, and has way too many ties.”
I wouldn’t mind at all becoming a fan of MLS, but cannot get past my perceptions of this seemingly stategy-deprived game.
Help me out here. What are some examples of the extensive strategies involved in footie?
Before we begin, I’m using the dictionary definition of strategy:
I just don’t see it in footie. In football, you might see any of the following strategies. The definitions presented are my understanding; cites are pretty tough to come by.
West Coast Offense - A philosophy developed by Bill Walsh that involves short passing in lieu of a traditional running game. You’ll see lots of screen passes, single back formations, and not many deep passes. This system attacks the (defensive) line and linebackers. The QB is relegated to high-percentage short passes, while relying on receivers to get their yards after the catch, reducing the need for arm strength, and artificially inflating the passer rating numbers. Benefactors of this artificial inflation include Joe Montana and Chad Pennington.
Smash Mouth Football - Old school philosophy that emphasizes hard hitting defense and running the ball. This system requires big lineman on both sides of the ball, athletic linebackers, power runners, and emphasizes the fullback. The idea is to hit the offense so hard and so frequently that the individual players no longer want the ball. This was in evidence on the 2000 Ravens team, who successfully pounded the snot out of my beloved Giants in the Superbowl. This system also emphasizes power running between the tackles, and puts pressure on the opponent’s receivers. Tackling ability is sacrificed to increase the power of hits.
East Coast Offense - Obscure term used to describe a balanced offensive gameplan that emphasizes stretching the field by throwing deep, a reliance on mid-level passing, and running the ball to the edges. This system puts pressure on the defensive backs, but requires a highly skilled QB.
Ball Control - Philosophy of controling the flow of the game through running the ball, and protecting the ball in the passing game. QB awareness is emphasized; a punt is a worthy goal in order to prevent turnovers. (No “bad decision” passes allowed.) Tackling skill is the highest priority on defense. This strategy is highly effective against explosive offenses, because they cannot be explosive while watching the game from the sideline. Pressure is put on the running back, full back, tight end, and offensive line. Tight end passes are featured. This system pressures the opponent’s linemen and linebackers, who usually will tire out by the fourth quarter if executed properly. Field goals and battles of field position figure prominently. The best example of this strategy was the 1990 Superbowl between the Giants and the Bills. Which brings me to the
K-Gun Offense - The Buffalo Bills of the early 90s elevated the hurry up offense to a complete game strategy. This strategy emphasized medium passes and single back running up the middle. This requires a very skilled QB and RB. This system puts extreme pressure on one’s own defense, due to the fact that they often spend 2/3 of the game on the field. It puts pressure on the opponent’s defensive coordinator, who was rarely given time to call a play before the ball was hiked.
Run & Shoot - This was the philosophy of the Oilers in the early 90s. I was never sure what the definition was. Perhaps somebody could help me out with this one.
Fun & Gun - Steve Spurrier’s offensive strategy. Not completely positive about it, but I believe it emphasizes the passing game to include the RB, who needs speed and catching over tackle-breaking and agility. The emphasis is on passing deep, and screens are fairly rare. This system appears to put pressure on the secondary, and requires good protection from the offensive line.
3-4 Defense - This strategy requires athletic (and gifted) linebackers, and puts pressure on the opponent’s offensive line and QB. The “4th pass rusher” will be one of the four linebackers, and the offense will never be sure which one it is. This strategy (implemented by the Patriots) is effective against inexperienced teams, or teams unfamiliar with it. (My poor, poor Giants, for example.) This strategy has, for the most part, fallen out of favor in the NFL.
Mobile QB - A new strategy that exploits the abilities of athletic QBs who do not have great passing accuracy. Many plays will be designed QB runs. Most passes will involve rolling out. This puts extreme pressure on defensive lineman and linebackers. It is best seen by the Eagles and Falcons, but is also employed by the 49ers, Vikings, and to a lesser extent, Titans. Typically the QB has great arm strength, and so you will see some deep threats and cross-field throws on rollouts.
These are all different overall strategies. Others not mentioned include the turnover style which propelled the Patriots to the Superbowl in 85, and Buddy Ryan’s innovative 4-6 Bears defense that crushed them in that same Superbowl.
Each NFL coaching staff has approximately 300 plays in their playbook. Usually, 150 of those are activated for any given game. These 150 are selected to exploit weaknesses on the particular team they are facing, taking into account that team’s overall strategy, personel, and injuries.
Each NFL team employs a dozen or so formations, involving different players. The basic 8 stay the same: 5 linemen, QB, RB, and WR1. The remaining 3 players will consist of 3 from the list of FB, TE1, TE2, WR2, WR3, and WR4. More often than not pre-snap motion will be used to disguise the offense’s intention.
I have not mentioned play action, which I consider to be a tactic rather than a strategy, but it could be argued that the Colts have elevated play-action to a complete game philosophy. I have also not really scratched the surface of defensive strategy; such things include zone coverage vs. man to man.
So I ask you, does footie possess the same depth of strategy on the overall scale? Could someone point out a half-dozen differing footie philosophies a team could choose from?
Does footie possess the same depth of strategy as football’s playbook? 150 (of 300) distinct, designed, disguised exploits of varying potential weaknesses?
Does footie possess the same breadth of tactics as football does after the snap? These include, but are not limited to:
- play action
- pump fake
- chip blocks
- release blocks
- double moves
- hot reads
- swim move
- bull rush
- rip move
- draw play
- double reverse
- flea flicker
- dump offs
- bump & run (press coverage)
- double team (OL)
- shadow coverage
- fakes on ST
I have heard in countless discussions, both here on the SDMB and IRL, that claim soccer has in-depth strategy on the scale of football. But I just don’t see it. Somebody please set me straight.