Offensive coordinators today fall into two distinct groups: Smorgasboard Coaches & Systems Coaches. The Smorgasboard approach or “multiple offense” has characteristics of various systems and/or gimmick plays. The System Approach is one that utilizes a playbook that builds upon concepts which has answers to the particular defenses they face on game day.

To Be or Not To Be, or as a country music song once said, “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”.

So, Let’s look at the Smorgasboard Approach to offense. In this approach, the coach keeps changing up his system on a weekly basis or worse yet, when the opponent has come up with the answer to thwart his strategy. Have you ever seen books that expound the benefits of the 101 best plays? Some coaches actually buy these books in order to develop their encyclopedic playbooks. I remember my first year at K-State, Coach Bill Snyder tried to install his Iowa Hawkeye playbook and the results were a disasterous 1-10 season. Why, because he had every play in it that Iowa had run in the last decade and we tried to install that to no avail. After that season, we learned and simplified everything to go on to have more success.

Advantage to the “Smorgasboard System” is that you will keep your opponent off guard and you may even be able to have a significant game day performance that will make you look like a genius.

Disadvantages – Tough to get your rhythm. Difficult to call plays because it’s hard to guage how the defense will align to your plays. A constant change-up of your plays means you are always in install mode and rarely refining your system.

A Systems approach. On the other side of the spectrum are those coaches that find a system to install and in doing so they are in more control of the actual game day performance. There are quite a few proven systems in football today. One of the most important aspects of deciding on what system to use is to see if it fits to your personnel and also to your personality.

Usually the biggest mistake I have seen is when a coach has a particular personality and his personnel is opposite of his personality. I once saw an inner city coach that was a “mad scientist” type of coach and his players were confused almost every day at practice because his system was so difficult to teach – It happened to be the vaunted West Coast Offense. Nothing wrong with the WCO, but it just didn’t fit his personnel.

Advantages – Fundamentals build into each scheme and the results improve as the season progresses. The players are excited to know that they have an “answer” to whatever they face on game day. Coaches can spend more time on fundamentals and build their program. Easy to call plays on game day, because you can dictate how the defense will align to a formation or motion or a personnel grouping – based on what type of system you choose. The key to a systems approach is to gain more certainty on game day.

Now make a decision To Be or Not To Be a System Guy? Which are you? Do you see any other advantages or disadvantages to either option?

If you want to try the Smorgasboard Approach, here are some resources: Trick Plays, The Total Football Playbook.

If you want to take a look at some systems, here are some resources: Air RaidHambone, Run & Shoot, Wing-T, Double Wing, Single Wing and Zone Read are just a few to mention.

In the future I would like to take a look at the specifics of all types of systems that are out there in an attempt to help coaches to make informed decisions.

Good Luck!