Thursday, July 14, 2016

Building A Defensive Call Sheet

When I first became a defensive coordinator, I thought I would call everything off the hip. I would go by feel and what was happening in the game. Every morning after our game I would say, "why did I make that call?" Or, "why didn't I call XYZ pressure package that we worked all week?" I began to realize I had to do a better job of planning and preparation. As an offensive coordinator I had a very detailed call sheet. I decided to adapt this to defense. This article will give you a couple of ideas that will help you to better prepare for your opponents. You may want to include these in your own call sheet this season.

Our number one goal on defense was to get the ball back. That was the premise for everything we did. We could get the ball back one of our ways.
1. They score. This was the worst way to get the ball back.
2. We get a turnover on downs. This was good, but often meant they had driven into our territory and went for it on fourth down.
3. We could force a punt. This was good, as it usually meant we stopped them on their side of the 50. 4. We got a turnover. This was best as it meant we created momentum, and often would have great field position.

When I put our call sheet together, I did so with the thought of getting the ball back the third and fourth way. But, we were prepared for the second way as well. When we built our call we focused on a couple of areas first. We wanted to make sure we knew who their playmakers were, and when they went to them. One week we faced a team that had a great receiver they would go to every time it was 3rd and 4 or more. We knew we had to take him away. We scripted a couple of calls that were designed to cover him with some sort of a bracket coverage. Below is an example of this column:
Depending how many playmakers our opponent has, we may use 2, 3, or 4 of these columns. Typically we are going to have 2 of these columns, because most teams have 2 playmakers. Some teams may have 3 or 4. Usually each of these guys are go to guys in specific situations. This same team had a big back that they went to on 3rd and less then four. They ran power 90% of the time. We had a call specifically designed to take power scripted. We might have 1 or 2 calls. Sometimes we might have 3 calls we like. The big key is I can look at this column and quickly communicate a call to our guys on the field.

The next column I built was our opponents personnel groups and run pass percentages, followed by the calls they made most often, and what we liked to call against this group. I used these typically on first and 2nd down situations. I had a coach telling me personnel, down and distance, and run/pass percentages. I would then make my call based on the call sheet. We were using concrete data to make calls. Below is an example of what this section of my call sheet looked like:
Most teams are very tendency oriented, and I wanted to know what their tendencies were from each formation and personnel grouping. I also wanted to be reminded of screen downs. We had calls built in to take away screens against teams that were screen heavy. I also wanted to know if there were certain personnel or formation keys that tipped us to what our opponent would do. The stars * are the calls they make most using our terminology. The numbers are the calls I like against these personnel groups. This way I am not trying to guess what to call. I am not smart enough to do that. 

Each section of our call sheet gave specific info that helped us to be able to take away what our opponent wanted to do. We called our call sheet an in-game info sheet because it contained a lot of necessary data. I had a communication coach relaying information to me based on this sheet. We felt like this helped us to put our kids in a position to be successful. A good play call can help your players to be able better do their job. We ended up with 6 shutouts and beat some teams we shouldn't have beaten. We were able to play very well on defense. Adding these columns might benefit you as you build your call sheet this season. 

Many coaches tell me they want to build a call sheet, but they don't know where to start. Many have asked about my call sheet, and I decided to put together a packet of every single document we have used to prepare on defense! This has everything we used, including our 2 sided color call sheet. You will be more prepared on defense and will be able to dominate your opponent! These documents are currently just $14.99! You can click here to learn more: You can order it now and download it instantly! Use code STATE2016 and you will save 20%! 

If you are looking to improve your preparation, take a minute to check out this resource packet.

A few months back I published a couple of iBooks that can help your program with X's and O's. The first is on Installing RPO's into any offense. Here is a link to the iBooks version: The ibooks version includes explanations, diagrams, and video clips embedded!
If you don't have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, you can order the Amazon version for the Kindle. It has everything except the embedded video. You can order it here:

I also wrote a book on Tempo. It will greatly help you build a multiple tempo system with simple communication that will allow your kids to play with confidence. It also had over an hour of video clips! You can order the ibooks version here:

Order the Amazon Kindle version here:


  1. Coach Was wondering if you you could share an old copy of your defensive call sheet? I wanting to make sure I am doing it correctly.

  2. Coach, I purchased the game planning packet for d a while back, but am reassessing our scheduling for practice. What did your defensive practice week schedule look like? I appreciate the help with the resources and blog.