The tactical goal of any offense in football is to score points. The offense wants to score touchdowns and if they can’t do that then they want to kick a field goal. To move the ball down the field into scoring position the offense can either run the ball or pass the ball. More often than not a combination of running and passing that works best. Even in basic youth offensive schemes, the team can benefit from a combination of run and pass.
Running Teams and Passing Teams
Obviously the best offenses will be effective when running or passing the ball, but usually an offense will be better at either running or throwing the ball.
Sometimes a team has an offensive line that dominates the line of scrimmage and is great at run blocking. Strategically, this team will then be better at running the ball. Other times the offense might be better at running because they have one or two great running backs.
On the other hand, an offense may be better at passing because they have a great quarterback or great wide receivers or both. An offense knows which they do better, and they make sure that they play to their own strategic strengths.
An offence always goes into a game with a game plan – a way they want to attack the opposing defense. They come up with the game plan by studying film of the opposing defenses. This film will show the offense what the defense does and doesn’t do well. Then the offense considers what they do and don’t do well and they begin to come-up with plays and plans that they think will work against the defense.
Even if a team is a great running team and just an ordinary passing team, they may decide to throw the ball a lot more for one game because they see a weakness on the defense that they think they can take advantage of. The reverse is true as well. The team may be a great passing team but elect to run the ball more against a defense that seems to be weak against the run.
Calling Plays – The Offensive Coordinator and the Head Coach
Once in the game, usually the Offensive Coordinator or the Head Coach will be responsible for calling the plays. Some teams like to script their first 10 or 20 plays. This means that they know the exact plays they will run before the game even starts. Other teams call plays based on what they see and what type of situation the offense is in.
The plays are called and given to the quarterback through a headset that is built into his helmet. Many times a number will be given to him. The quarterback will then look on a wristband that has the numbers and the play that corresponds to it. This method is preferred because the coaches only have a short amount of time to communicate the play and then the headset is automatically turned off.
There are many different types of running and passing plays that can be called. Once again, the exact type of play that will be called depends on the defense that is being played. For example, if a defense has slow linebackers, the offense may elect to throw the ball more to the tight ends and running backs because these are the players the linebackers will be trying to cover.
Protecting the Quarterback
One major worry of any offense is protecting the quarterback. If a defense has a great pass rush, the offense may elect to keep more blockers in to block instead of going out for a pass. Also, offenses may be forced to game plane around one specific player if that player is a great pass rusher. The offense may decide to always line-up a tight end on the same side as that player so that the offensive linemen always have help blocking the one great player.
Offenses also game plan for other positions – they may never throw toward a great defensive back and they may decide to run more to one side of the field to stay away from a great linebacker.
There are numerous factors that must be considered by an offense. However, the bottom line is that the offense wants to move the ball and score points. Some offenses like to do this by putting together longer drives that will tire out the defense. Other offenses love to throw the ball all around the field and score as fast as possible. It all depends on the players and the preferences of the coaches and coordinators.