The Essence of Playcalling in Football Applied to Football Video Games
This started as a paragraph and it turned into a paper. It's just me talking about football strategy in terms of playcalling overall.
Balance and Unpredictability in Playcalling
I was reading about how statistics are calculating that NFL teams should be passing more. It's interesting, because in our video game world of M10 nearly every team that passes too much loses. One thing to note is it's using the NFL as a context, a place where some semblance of balance is had by every team. Here in M10 world we'll face people that may only run twice for an entire game.
One thing that this study doesn't account for is the physical wear, and the time of possession advantage. With the advent of progressive stamina in a football game, balanced playcalling is as important as ever. It isn't always about gashing teams with giant plays and being extremely risky. I've finished out countless games where I couldn't gain a single yard per rush in the first half, but in the second half I couldn't be stopped on the ground because the defense either had subs in or were gassed.
Overall, balance gains the greatest success and that was shown statistically. Finding that balance is the challenge. It also advocates being as unpredictable as possible, and I completely agree. It was really cool seeing these theories described because, to be honest, it's what I've been preaching on the defensive side of the ball ever since I played Tecmo Super Bowl. Whenever people ask how to take their D to the next level, it's always the same: mix it up! With the right mix, you give yourself the greatest chance for success. At the perfect mix, chances are you'll put yourself in more good situations than your opponent. This is what I strive for.
It's also why I don't like describing a defense as a certain type, because outside of having a base scheme... you really don't want to call too much of the same anything. Every time I make a call, I bank on tricking my opponent... not necessarily calling my strongest play to put my players in the strongest position to succeed because any defensive play can be broken.
You can make an argument that very smart, short passes can replace many run calls. If you do so, you better be darn smart with the football in M10. Turnovers are so easy to get... it can be as simple as throwing a ball a split second too late on a short pass and voila your ball is floating into the air into a DE going the other way for 6.
Another factor not accounted for is the effectiveness of playaction passing once the run game is established. Running the ball is low risk, and if you succeed there, the defense will probably invest more into stopping it since the base defensive look for so many users is a pass defense. This thought may be unclear, but I'm trying to convey they idea that running the ball can help dictate the defenses playcalling better than a team that passes a lot or only passes.
It's interesting to think about exactly why people pass every single play: because the rewards are obviously larger. People bank on either avoiding the risks or simply committing less than their opponent. The strategy that shuold be employed against an unbalanced pass offense is to "let them beat themselves". Ironically, how many times in ACQB games have we seen a person beat themselves by passing too much? My point exactly.
Again, the bottom line is unpredictability though. If you keep mixing things up for an entire game at a level that's ideal for your squad, you put yourself in the best position for success every play in the long run.
Keeping the Defense Honest
If anyone read that "constraint theory" article, you can probably relate to what it said. I finally understand how screen plays are supposed to work, what should stop them, and why to even call them. You call your "constraint" plays - screens, draws, reverses, etc. to keep a defense honest when they begin to cheat too much towards your strength. Now, if you know somebody is blatantly taking away your strength, this is where your ability to mix it up really comes in handy.
It's also important to note that against someone who constantly calls screens, it really makes sense just to keep calling base defenses and challenge them to run through your entire team while you manually jack up the play anyway. In fact, in M10 it seems like DL reacts to screens better when a base D is called to help the user out. "Keeping defense honest" plays shouldn't succeed against base defenses... that's where base plays succeed.
When on offense, it really makes sense to call these constraint plays when someone is blitzing or cheating one area of the field heavily. So, the next time you face an opponent who has some fancy blitz... screen him to death. I personally think toss plays are great calls to keep the defense honest also.