You’re the Coach | Bills vs. Patriots


The Bills’ only touchdown in their last matchup against the Patriots occurred on their very first drive. Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn called an impressive drive culminating in the touchdown by running back LeSean McCoy. Usually on the first drive or two, coordinators like to show several formations and alignments to get an idea of how the defensive coordinator is going to match up.

Based on the outcome of the first drive, Lynn and his staff seemed to get the defensive looks they expected. The countless hours of film study done by the staff revealed some of the Patriots’ tendencies and he devised a good strategy that paid off.

In case you didn’t know, coordinators usually call plays based on down and distance. Plays are designed to pick up a certain amount of yardage, so when the game plan is being designed coaches lump certain plays into certain down and distances. For example, one common category is 2nd and 3-6 yards. Plays that coaches like to gain that amount of yardage will be filed under that category on a play sheet.

Here’s a very basic play call sheet:



This is important because in the game the coordinator only has to look at the down and distance upcoming and pick from that category. Of course, there are other ways to classify calls. Here’s an example from Aurora University. Their play call sheet is done by personnel and pass concepts.



Some passing plays are designed to beat man coverage, while others are designed to beat zone coverage. So if a defense has a tendency to play one or the other on a certain down and distance, then coaches can create their play call sheet in that manner, too.

With all of that said, based on how well the offense executed and methodically drove down the field, I would say Lynn had the Patriots’ number. Of the 12 plays he called, there were several formations and personnel groupings shown. Lynn used 10 different formations, including the wildcat, pistol, I-formation, trips, trips bunch, and even some empty sets. He used the empty set and the wildcat formations two times each.

Of the 10 formations, he mixed up the personnel groupings to get an idea on how the defense was going to defend him. Lynn utilized four different personnel groupings on this first drive: 21 personnel (4 plays), 11 personnel (2 plays), 12 personnel (4 plays, including TD), and an empty set comprising of 0 RBs, 1 TE and 4 WRs (2 plays).

The Bills’ offense showed good balance. According to the play by play from, they passed the ball 7 times (51 yds) and rushed 5 times for 26 yds (1 sack for -2). Included in this drive were offsetting penalties and a holding call on center Eric Wood. All in all, it was a good drive. The offense had to overcome an obstacle or two, but they stuck to the game plan, and it ultimately paid off.

Here are the all 22 pictures and some tight angle pictures. I made it a little easier for you by labeling some of the coverages and personnel groupings (if the picture isn’t labeled, it is the post snap look). Just like coaches have to do down on the field and in the box, figure out how you would you attack the defense on the next drive, and why.

Take into account the formations, down and distances, alignments, and coverages. The possibilities are endless. What tendencies or advantages did you see based on these clips?

Make sure to share them with me on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!!



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