Book Review: Using Offensive Formations To Dictate Defensive Alignment

The purpose of this review was to find a book that might help readers understand(one way) how to use formations and alignments to call the correct play. I chose this book because it was similar to concepts of attacking front alignments I learned from an article on zone running. When I looked at the preview of the book the author took a similar approach to attacking a defense but, he also included the passing game. It was my hope that this book would explain an approach to play-calling that would take advantage of whatever alignment the defense would play.

In his book Bill Renner believes that the offense dictates to the defense. He also explains that play-calling is not guess work. There is a logical way to attack defenses based on how they align to the offensive formation.

As an offense it is your job to align in a way that puts the defense in the most stressful situation possible. Renner uses spread formations to put as much stress on the defense as possible. He believes in the spread for a variety of reasons. One reason is by spreading you get a clearer picture of the defenses alignment. He explains as a offense you want to have even numbers in the passing game (over the receivers) or in the run game (box). If you have even numbers in the box the defense is vulnerable to the run, if you have even numbers to a passing side the defense is vulnerable to a pass on that side of the field.

The spread allows you to easily identify the numbers advantage and attack where the defense is weak. Another reason Renner likes the spread is because it minimizes the amount of blitzes the defense can attack with. Third, Renner likes to put his players in as much space as possible. This means putting the three receiver side of a formation to the wide side of the field and the single side(two receiver in a 3×2) to the short side of the field, if the ball is on the hash. When the ball is in the middle of field 2×2 symmetrical formations can be used to make sure the defense has to cover in as much space as possible.

The book goes into the use of tight ends and how this adds another gap in the run game and the tradeoffs that come with that. The rest of the book focuses on diagrams showing the attack points of different defense vs. 2×2, 3×1, 3×2, tight end and no tight end formations. For example a 4-3 defense vs. 2×1, 2×2, 3×1, 3×2 etc. This is done for the 4-2-5, 4-3, 3-4, 3-3-5, and bear front. There is also a small section on unbalanced formations.

The core thing I take away from this book is that offenses can do the dictating to the defense. Think of the formations you use and defense alignment you will face first, and then choose the correct play that attacks the defensive alignments. Offensive Formations > Determine Defensive Alignments > Offensives Plays > Attack a Defender’s Technique = Good Play

This was a good book. The author writes in simple manner that is easy understand for coaches and fans. This is a short book with about 55 pages. The good thing is the author is to the point with his philosophy and the rest of the book is mainly diagrams.

I think this would be a good book for fan of the game to understand one way to call plays for a football game. This may help them understand why coaches may call certain plays when they are watching the game. Coaches will likely appreciate the amount of diagrams in the book against the various defensive alignments.

Link to the Author’s website.