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Subject: How to figure out a team's relative strengths, and what defense is a a draw play good against? rss

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Otis Comorau
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Dear All,

I'm new to this game (first game of 2011 DDF yesterday) and it was great! I just have two quick questions:

1) Is there a way to quickly figure out what a team's relative strengths and weaknesses are, on both offense and defense?

When I choose a team, I want to have some sort of overarching strategy. Like: "my team is a good short-passing team. So, I'll select more short passing plays than I would if I had selected a bad short-passing team." The problem, at least for me, is that I can't tell from a team's offensive and defensive charts whether it's relatively good or bad at each play type. Of course, this problem is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that each team has a recommended number times each play can be called (so, for example, I can't call "short pass" every down, even if this would theoretically be a strong strategy for certain teams), and that the down, distance, and game situation will often favor certain plays (for example, if a team is down 7 at their own 20 with 1 minute to go, even a relatively bad long-passing team will probably attempt a deep throw). But still, within these confines, there are a lot of options and it'd be nice if I could easily figure out what my team is relatively good (and relatively bad) at. Also, for defense, there are no play-calling limitations (that I know of).

2. What type of defense does a draw play work well against, as compared with other types of runs?

I know a decent amount about football, so I intuitively know that certain plays work against certain defenses, and others don't. But I don't know enough to intuitively know when a draw play would work but another type of run wouldn't. And I can't figure this out from the play charts because the math involved would be killer. Sure seeing a lot of red is better for the defense than seeing a bunch of green, but to really interpret them, I'd have to account for the likelihood of each die roll, etc.

Thanks in advance for all your help! And again, awesome game. GO GIANTS!!!
 
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Roger McKay
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Okay. First, welcome to the game.

For the offensive plays, the results in the 10s section come up 1 time in 6. For the 20s, 2 times in six, and the 30s - 3 times in six. With the numbers ending in 4,5, and 6 coming up the most out of those groups. Check the black die to see why.

Defense: Check those dice. the #1,2, & 3 results come up FAR more often than the #4 and #5. Scan the defense chart to see the likely strengths and weaknesses of each formation. One first and second down, go with less extreme plays like blitzes and short yardage. Save those for third down.

Draws are runs designed to exploit a pass defense, so mix them in when you would usually call #7 and #8 pass plays. not on third down, unless you really prefer to punt, rather than risk a turnover or big loss on a QT result.

As long as the game is close, field position should be your prime concern.

All of this advice is subject to the actual quality of the teams playing.


Freel free to ask more questions. I love this game, and haven't talked about it in ages.

Also: that limitation one frequency of offensive play calling was not an official rule when I was playing. It sounds familiar for the college game.
 
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Joseph Betz
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RogMcK wrote:


Also: that limitation one frequency of offensive play calling was not an official rule when I was playing. It sounds familiar for the college game.


The play calling limits are in the newer releases of Data driven Football which makes charts for the game. Some teams might have a really good medium pass game but might only be able to call it 10 times during the game because that is what the average was over the course of the season per game.
It really is a great rule and prevents a team from calling the same play over and over again.
 
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Joseph Betz
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From the Data Driven Football rules.


Appendix C – Die Roll Probabilities
Offense Dice
DieRoll
Probability
Pct.
10
0.93%
11
1.39%
12
1.85%
13
2.31%
14
2.78%
15
2.78%
16
1.85%
17
1.39%
18
0.93%
19
0.46%
20
1.85%
21
2.78%
22
3.70%
23
4.63%
24
5.56%
25
5.56%
26
3.70%
27
2.78%
28
1.85%
29
0.93%
30
2.78%
31
4.17%
32
5.56%
33
6.94%
34
8.33%
35
8.33%
36
5.56%
37
4.17%
38
2.78%
39
1.39%



Defense Dice
DieRoll
Probability
Pct.
1
33.33%
2
30.56%
3
25.00%
4
8.33%
5
2.78%


So you can see the offense dice rolls that have the best percent are
34 and 35 followed by
33
and then 32,36,24 and 25 all have the same odds.
The defense dice will roll a 1,2 or 3 89% of the time. That is why all the really good or bad defense results are usually in the 4 or 5 spots.
 
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Roger McKay
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jbetz45453 wrote:


The play calling limits are in the newer releases of Data driven Football which makes charts for the game. Some teams might have a really good medium pass game but might only be able to call it 10 times during the game because that is what the average was over the course of the season per game.
It really is a great rule and prevents a team from calling the same play over and over again.


I very much disagree with your praise for that rule. I would never use it.
 
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Ron Pisarz, Jr.
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Hi Roger-

Actually, the original designers did include this rule in the advanced rules section and they targeted the Draw and Screen.

I can understand why someone would be opposed to the rule, but it depends on what the goal of the game is for you.

If you want to preserve simulation results then the rule is more important than the yardage values on the chart. It keeps the game on par with NFL play call distributions. The maximum I set is a based on each teams actual maximum usage of that play in any one game throughout the season.

For example, if the most the Broncos called the sideline pass in any one game throughout the season is 11 then that is what the player has at his disposal. If throughout the season the maximum time they used the screen in a game (most likely will be a different game that the game the sideline quota was set) is 6 then that is the quota. If you total the maximums from all games what you find is you have approximately double the average of a normal game which gives you plenty of flexibility.

Using the maximum for each play in any game really doesn't limit you a great deal. Draws, Screens, Medium passes and sometimes the end run is where plays are limited. That is reality... 60% of all plays are short passes, off tackle and line plunge. So, if the objective is to have a realistic simulation, but still allow the player enough flexibility then the rule makes sense. You should give it try. It actually adds strategy. Rather than always calling the one play my opponent can't stop you actually have to manage the game. Draws and Screens especially... you have to save those Draws to the right moment because they are few.

Ron

 
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Joseph Betz
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RogMcK wrote:
jbetz45453 wrote:


The play calling limits are in the newer releases of Data driven Football which makes charts for the game. Some teams might have a really good medium pass game but might only be able to call it 10 times during the game because that is what the average was over the course of the season per game.
It really is a great rule and prevents a team from calling the same play over and over again.


I very much disagree with your praise for that rule. I would never use it.



Well some teams did not run plays like draws very much but when they did they were very successful. Their team charts show that. They might have only run 64 draw plays all year which would average to only 4 per game. If you allow that team to run 24 draw plays in one game it can really change the dynamic of that team.
 
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Roger McKay
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jbetz45453 wrote:


Well some teams did not run plays like draws very much but when they did they were very successful. Their team charts show that. They might have only run 64 draw plays all year which would average to only 4 per game. If you allow that team to run 24 draw plays in one game it can really change the dynamic of that team.


The more you call a play, and the more successful it is, the more the defense will anticipate it, and the less effective it will become.

You talk like the defense cannot react to trends.
 
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Roger McKay
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rpisarzjr wrote:
Hi Roger-

Actually, the original designers did include this rule in the advanced rules section and they targeted the Draw and Screen.

I can understand why someone would be opposed to the rule, but it depends on what the goal of the game is for you.

If you want to preserve simulation results then the rule is more important than the yardage values on the chart. It keeps the game on par with NFL play call distributions. The maximum I set is a based on each teams actual maximum usage of that play in any one game throughout the season.

For example, if the most the Broncos called the sideline pass in any one game throughout the season is 11 then that is what the player has at his disposal. If throughout the season the maximum time they used the screen in a game (most likely will be a different game that the game the sideline quota was set) is 6 then that is the quota. If you total the maximums from all games what you find is you have approximately double the average of a normal game which gives you plenty of flexibility.

Using the maximum for each play in any game really doesn't limit you a great deal. Draws, Screens, Medium passes and sometimes the end run is where plays are limited. That is reality... 60% of all plays are short passes, off tackle and line plunge. So, if the objective is to have a realistic simulation, but still allow the player enough flexibility then the rule makes sense. You should give it try. It actually adds strategy. Rather than always calling the one play my opponent can't stop you actually have to manage the game. Draws and Screens especially... you have to save those Draws to the right moment because they are few.

Ron



Since I am currently constrained to replying with a tablet, I will keep it short, and tell you that you are wrong.
 
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Ron Pisarz, Jr.
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Wrong about what? There are many topics in the post.
The original rule being included in the 1970 edition?
The rule adds strategy?
Play call distribution impacting simulation results?

There is no right or wrong rather what experience do you want from the game.

If you want to preserve the simulation aspects of the game then play call distributions will need to resemble actual NFL play call distributions.

If a team calls the line plunge every play their yards per play will be vastly different than if they call the long pass every play ... that is obvious, regardless of how well or not the defense anticipates it.

The claim you made that the more an offense calls the more the defense anticipates it and the less effective it becomes. Do you have data that substantiates this claim?

I put the rule in place for two reasons. The original designer's knew play call distribution matters and specifically identified the Draw and Screen play restrictions in the rules (I will upload a scanned image if you need a copy). The version of the rule was too generous allowing one use per series (lack of data). Play a game where your opponent calls the only play your defense cannot defend the entire game. Let me know how enjoyable it is. It happened at the annual tournament... a player called the Draw play EVERY down and the defense could not stop it... Draws rarely lose yards and gain more yards per attempt than the inside runs. The game is broken without the rule.
 
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Joseph Betz
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RogMcK wrote:
[q="jbetz45453"]

The more you call a play, and the more successful it is, the more the defense will anticipate it, and the less effective it will become.

You talk like the defense cannot react to trends.



Well that's the problem then. If a team only ran 64 draw plays the whole season and was very successful on those plays the team chart will be really good for that team. If you have a defense that is not good at stopping the draw play you can run it all game long and they will not be able to stop it. Just does not seem very realistic because as you said the more you run a play the more the defense will know it's coming but if the defense stinks at stopping that one play they have no chance.

I just think playing with the actual average play calls for each team makes it more interesting and realistic. Different strokes for different folks I guess.


In real life a defense would react to the draw play being called every down and would be able to stop it. But in a simulation the stats are already final and complete.
 
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Roger McKay
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jbetz45453 wrote:
RogMcK wrote:
[q="jbetz45453"]

The more you call a play, and the more successful it is, the more the defense will anticipate it, and the less effective it will become.

You talk like the defense cannot react to trends.



Well that's the problem then. If a team only ran 64 draw plays the whole season and was very successful on those plays the team chart will be really good for that team. If you have a defense that is not good at stopping the draw play you can run it all game long and they will not be able to stop it. Just does not seem very realistic because as you said the more you run a play the more the defense will know it's coming but if the defense stinks at stopping that one play they have no chance.

I just think playing with the actual average play calls for each team makes it more interesting and realistic. Different strokes for different folks I guess.


Different strokes, indeed. IMO, most players prefer fun game play over accurate simulation. Afterall, no simulation will provide as much accuracy as the actual historical record already provides. If I run a season coaching the 1978 Cowboys, I will make different calls than Landry did. Because I am the coach.

Quote:

In real life a defense would react to the draw play being called every down and would be able to stop it. But in a simulation the stats are already final and complete.


Are you forgetting the wildcard defenses?
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Quinton Roland
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If the team charts are designed properly, they will produce realistic game play, accurate statistics, and a balanced mix of offensive and defensive playcalls.

In a football simulation game like Paydirt there is no need for a rule that limits the number of times a particular play can be called. Paydirt is definitely not a broken game without such a rule. I have played hundreds of games of Paydirt without a rule that limits playcalling. There is no rule in the NFL that limits the number of times a particular play may be called. A well-designed Paydirt chart works the same.

If you use two well-designed Paydirt team charts, no matter how weak or strong they are, coaches will be able to force each other to mix up their play-calling. If the charts are poorly designed, there are offensive playcalls that the defense is unable to stop (or significantly reduce rate of success) no matter what the defense calls.

If you have coached or played football on any level, you know that even the worst team can force the best team to mix up their play-calling. But of course any time you concentrate forces to strengthen one area, you weaken yourself in another area. The difference between the good teams and bad teams is the degree of the exposed weakness.

In the NFL a draw play is called less frequently than other plays because it is a situational playcall, not a staple. It works great, but only if you call it at the right time. Coaches often call a draw on second or third and long when the defense is expecting pass. So draw play statistics reflect a running play being called in ideal situations.

Given this situational use, draw play statistics appear to indicate that draw plays should be called more often (and become a staple playcall) because they don't get stuffed too often and deliver a high average per carry. But coaches don't call draws often and in every situation because they will often fail in the situations where the staple runs will succeed.

When a draw is called against a run defense or a base defense (often the case for the other running plays) you will see higher rate of stuffs and a much lower average than with the staple inside runs. The Paydirt charts can easily reflect this reality.

For realistic/accurate simulation, a draw play on a Paydirt offensive chart does not have to average 6.0 yards per carry, even if the real team averaged 6 yards on draws. The chart designer must anticipate that draws are called most often in passing situations where the defense is happy to give up a 6-yard run to prevent a 10-yard pass.

The Paydirt defensive chart is where situational statistics are best represented. The pass defenses and blitz play calls is where the high average per carry for a draw play can be reflected.

If a team called the draw play 25% of the time and achieved a 6 yard average, then it might make sense for the offense chart to reflect a 6 yard average on the draw playcall. But if a team only called the draw 10% of the time, then a 6 yard average on the offense chart is not realistic. That team obviously called the draw most often in ideal situations - against pass defenses in long yardage situations. It's OK for the offense chart draw play to average perhaps a more realistic 4 yards per carry. To achieve the 6 yard average, the coach will have to do what the NFL coach did, which is call that play in the ideal situations (where defense is weak against the draw).

This is how I feel: The need for a rule that limits the frequency that a particular play can be called is a strong indicator that the designer is relying too heavily on the offensive chart for statistical accuracy; and not accounting for situational impacts, which only the defensive chart can deliver.

When the charts are designed properly, draw plays, screens or medium passes, or any play for that matter, are not over-used...and there is no need for a rule that limits playcall frequency.


 
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Andrew S. Fischer
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I, for one, think the DDF charts are designed properly-- quite an achievement by the designer.
 
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Ron Pisarz, Jr.
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qsays wrote:
If the team charts are designed properly, they will produce realistic game play, accurate statistics, and a balanced mix of offensive and defensive playcalls.


Precisely. Totally agree.
Define balanced mix. If I run the line plunge every down is that a balanced mix? What if I call the long pass every play? Is that a balanced mix? If I call the Draw play every down is that a balanced mix? Of course not. The problem with the game is statistical performance is known in advance of calling the play. The game is broken for this reason and the original designers knew it which is why they implemented the rule. Why would a player not just call his best play on the chart (when accounting for the defense) every down? Plays inherently have different statistical results and there will be a best play and a worst play. That's the issue: defining balanced mix and without some constraint a player could call the best play every down. And, some plays like Draws, Screens and Medium passes -- even End Runs -- in particular, due to their situational use (read limited use), are more successful than other plays. Draw plays rarely lose yards... so as the designer are you putting losses on the chart? Are you reducing the average on the chart as you elude to below? Better not... that is not accurate at all because now you have a Draw play that according to chart gains 4 yards per play when the team actually gained 6 yards per play. By this logic the designer's best option would be to set each plays average to the team's overall rush/pass yards per play. Then each play performs at the more "realistic" number. Then each team's strengths and weaknesses are no longer represented rather every play gains the "realistic" average.


qsays wrote:

If the charts are poorly designed, there are offensive playcalls that the defense is unable to stop (or significantly reduce rate of success) no matter what the defense calls.


Agree to a point. The '15 Washington Redskins defense faced 92 End Runs allowing a whopping 7.04 yds/rush ranking last --- a full yard worse than the 31st rank defense. Fifteen Breakaways allowed and only nine plays for loss, eight for no gain. The 17 stops account for 18% of total outcomes, not even a 3 roll. So where are you putting Washington's stops? On a 1 or 2 roll? If you do this the chart average will be well below the 7.04 yds/rush and you will be forced to use the higher yardage gains on higher probabilities to make up the difference to increase to 7.04. They did allow 1 yard 9 times that gets you to 28% --- not even a 2 roll. Looking at the other outcomes they yielded 4 yards eight times, 7 yards eight times, 5 yards eight times and 11 yards six times. Breakaways and the 4, 7, 5 and 11 yard gains account for 49%! Another 10% of results are between 6 and 10 yards. 61% of all plays gained >= 4 yards. There is absolutely NO way to design Washington's rush defense to "stop or significantly reduce the rate of success" the end run because it didn't happen... it only happened 28% of time compared to the 61% of the time gains of 4+ yards occurred. Washington's best formations against the end run will yield ~4+ per rush having stops on the 3 roll but then big gains on 4 and 5 rolls. The bottom line is Washington's rush defense allows 7 yards per rush against the end run. Simple as that... so no matter which specific results and formations these results reside (hopefully on the actual formation that allowed them) the chart allows 7 yards per rush. If players know this, which they do, they can call the end run every down and if designed properly the Washington defense will return a result that approximates 7.04 yds/rush. Something needs to limit the offenses player ability to call the end run every down --- a rule that enforces the definition of a "balanced mix". Situation and context alone is not enough.


qsays wrote:

In the NFL a draw play is called less frequently than other plays because it is a situational playcall, not a staple. It works great, but only if you call it at the right time. Coaches often call a draw on second or third and long when the defense is expecting pass. So draw play statistics reflect a running play being called in ideal situations.

Correct, so unless there is rule that limits the number of times a player can use the Draw, not making it a staple, why wouldn't a player ONLY use the Draw (or the play that yields the most yardage per play) regardless of situation? This is EXACTLY what the original designers stated in the supplement and in the rules (that Draws are situational) and why they created the rule to restrict usage to once per set of downs (which is way too generous).


qsays wrote:

For realistic/accurate simulation, a draw play on a Paydirt offensive chart does not have to average 6.0 yards per carry, even if the real team averaged 6 yards on draws. The chart designer must anticipate that draws are called most often in passing situations where the defense is happy to give up a 6-yard run to prevent a 10-yard pass.

The Paydirt defensive chart is where situational statistics are best represented. The pass defenses and blitz play calls is where the high average per carry for a draw play can be reflected.

For example assume that NFL Draw play average is 6 yards per rush. Your saying the designer should NOT design the sum of all teams offensive Draw play results to yield 6 yards per rush and instead account for the difference on the defense? So you would say set the offensive charts at 5 yards per rush... and then on the defense add those yards back at such a rate to increase the overall result up to the 6 yards per rush (with high gains on the passing formations and blitz)? If that is what you are suggesting you will find that your defenses will allow more yards against the Draw than they actually did. If, in total, offenses gained 6 yards/rush on the draw that means the defenses allowed 6 yards per rush. If you reduce the offensive gain down from 6 yds/rush to something less those yards have to be added back somewhere and if you intend to account for them on the defensive charts you will have to do so in way that would yield a result > 6 yards per rush lets say 7 yards (assuming 50/50 influence) to increase the offenses 5 yards per rush up to 6 yards per rush. With this approach both the offensive and defensive charts are under performing relative to actual performance (offense gaining less, defense allowing more) and you will need to compensate on the other running plays if you hope to reconcile total yards per rush. And, now neither team chart, offense or defense, reflects actual performance.


qsays wrote:
If a team called the draw play 25% of the time and achieved a 6 yard average, then it might make sense for the offense chart to reflect a 6 yard average on the draw playcall. But if a team only called the draw 10% of the time, then a 6 yard average on the offense chart is not realistic. That team obviously called the draw most often in ideal situations - against pass defenses in long yardage situations. It's OK for the offense chart draw play to average perhaps a more realistic 4 yards per carry. To achieve the 6 yard average, the coach will have to do what the NFL coach did, which is call that play in the ideal situations (where defense is weak against the draw).


It's NOT OK to change the performance of a Draw play based on usage, 10% or 25%, etc. How do you know how much to change it by?? 1 yard? 2 yards? Clearly, Draws, Screens, Medium pass plays, etc. have different statistical averages than line plunge, off tackle and short passes. The chart needs to reflect these differences.

Here is a perfect example from the 2015 NFL season that exemplifies the circumstance we are talking about. These rushing results are from one team. To simplify the discussion take out the die roll probabilities or accounting for defensive influence (since both are a rote exercise of using basic math to map results to the probabilities and then adjusting them for opponent defensive strength). Here are the exact numbers:
Play # % Avg.
1 164 40.0% 3.66
2 151 36.8% 4.15
3 67 16.3% 4.75
4 28 6.8% 4.96
410
Overall Average is 4.1


You can see both the End Run (16%) and Draw (7%) are more successful than the line plunge and off tackle, but only account for 22% of total running plays. So according to your suggestion and approach, since both are below the 25% and even 10% in case of the Draw, you would reduce these averages? How much do you reduce them by? .3? .4? .7? Once you reduce these plays you need to add the value of the reduction to the other plays because where else will the offense make up these yards? If you only reduce the chart will under perform. If you add them to the defenses you will have to do so in way that exceeds the defense's actual performance otherwise the overall result will be less than actual. The Line Plunge was the most called play but least successful by a significant amount. What player would ever call the line plunge regardless of situation when they could call the Draw instead? Unless, as you suggest, strengthen the line plunge and/or weaken the draw to the more realistic 4 yards per rush. Then what specific yardage results are you using to yield a 4 yard average? A 4 yard average could result from outcomes of 3 and 5 or -2 and 10 --- which is it? The minute you change one play... you need to change them all and the best option would be to change them to the 4.1 overall actual average. If you do this then you are not representing the team's strengths and weaknesses rather you are representing their aggregate performance.

The better option, using the example I am providing, is to design the chart with each play's exact performance. The team's line plunge yields 3.66, off tackle 4.15, end run 4.75 and draw 4.96. Then provide the player with the definition of a balanced mix as defined by how the actual NFL team called the plays. Couple that with maximum usage and a realistic range of options are available to both players and they can then call the game based on situation, countering each other. The '15 Redskins player doesn't have to worry about facing the end run yielding 7+ yards per rush every down when playing defense because a definition of a balanced mix is provided. Without it why not call end run, end run, end run against Washington every down when you want to run the ball?

This topic is definitely a divisive one in the community. No doubt about it. There is an art to designing teams using this engine and multiple ways to represent a team's performance. Fortunately, players have a choice of choosing what style and rule works for them.


 
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Quinton Roland
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Ron, I have always appreciated your expertise and enthusiasm. You have been a major contributor, making the best football board game even better. Your approach is always logical and seeking authenticity/realism/accuracy, which is why I so often agree with you (several years back I enjoyed your participation in the Paydirt Yahoo Group design discussion-brawls.

Regarding the 2015 Redskins, the million dollar question for Paydirt chart designers is why didn't opposing coaches run an end run on every down? Why only 92 outside runs out of roughly 400 total runs? If opposing offenses averaged 7 yards per carry on end runs, they would see the glaring weakness in the defense's outside pursuit/alignment/personnel and exploit it all day long. But in reality only 4 opponents out of 16 overwhelmed them with the rushing attack (gained in the 200 yard range). Why? What did opponent's see on film and in the game that prevented them from running outside more often?

Once we know for certain how/why the Redskins defense was able to discourage more end runs, we can make the Paydirt defense chart do the same.

Didn't Nicely's approach work pretty well? He would simply employ the spread defense call to subtract some from the end run, and add yards to the end run on the rest of the defense calls, then tinker and balance out the pluses (on def A,B,D,E,F) and minuses (def C) to produce a 7 yard avg across all defense playcalls.

I realize Ron's approach might involve a little more sophistication. I would love to have access to the 2015 Redskins game film in order to help answer the million dollar question. Remember QB's check out of end run playcalls when they see an unfavorable defensive alignment or personnel package. I bet you see a lot of that.
 
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Andrew S. Fischer
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One reason why teams don't run outside more often is that the variance is higher. You might average 7 yards a carry on ERs vs a super-crappy run defense, but you also might get results of 0,1,2,3,29 yards. Sounds great, but on a series you might get the first three and have to punt. Maybe that will happen five series in a row before you get an overdue 29-yarder. If a play gains less than 4 yards, that's a win for the defense, since three in a row won't make a first down.

Plunge plays might average just 4 yards per carry, but you'll get more consistent gains, e.g., 2,3,4,5,6. Coaches would rather have twenty 4-yard gains in a row rather than random 0 and 8-yard gains, because sooner or later they'll get two consecutive 0-yarders and it'll be 3rd and 10.

Also, if you keep calling the same play any defense will recognize it and do better against it. So running inside three or four times in a row for a first down to set up an occasional end run will likely result in a better chance of a solid result for that end run. This "recognition" factor could certainly be included in a computer football game, but it's not within the scope of Paydirt/DDF's design.

Additionally, offensive linemen prefer to pound on defensive linemen rather than be pounded upon, and inside runs offer more potential for the former.
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Roger McKay
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I played the great majority of my Paydirt games with the 1979 copyright edition (1978 season). Never once saw a game in which a team could drive successfully running a single offensive call. Not accurate statistically? Who cares? It is a fun and interesting GAME. The good teams win, and the bad lose - most of the time.

I did not find that maximum use rule in my booklet. I vaguely recall it (or something similar) from the first edition of Bowl Bound.
 
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Ron Pisarz, Jr.
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qsays wrote:
Ron, I have always appreciated your expertise and enthusiasm. You have been a major contributor, making the best football board game even better. Your approach is always logical and seeking authenticity/realism/accuracy, which is why I so often agree with you (several years back I enjoyed your participation in the Paydirt Yahoo Group design discussion-brawls.

Likewise. You have excellent football insight and I appreciate your involvement in the community.

qsays wrote:
Regarding the 2015 Redskins, the million dollar question for Paydirt chart designers is why didn't opposing coaches run an end run on every down? Why only 92 outside runs out of roughly 400 total runs? If opposing offenses averaged 7 yards per carry on end runs, they would see the glaring weakness in the defense's outside pursuit/alignment/personnel and exploit it all day long. But in reality only 4 opponents out of 16 overwhelmed them with the rushing attack (gained in the 200 yard range). Why? What did opponent's see on film and in the game that prevented them from running outside more often?

Excellent questions. From watching every regular season play starting with the '09 season my opinion --- we as fans read too much into it. Sure the coaches have film and plan to the nth level detail. Belichick, need I say more. At the end of the day it is play execution. If the actual NFL teams were to replay the same game or season over and over would the result be the same? Not likely. Would the '15 Redskins yield 7.04 vs. the end run? Not likely. Would their defense rank last every time? Not likely. It's just what happened. Run the same 92 plays you would get different results.

qsays wrote:
Didn't Nicely's approach work pretty well? He would simply employ the spread defense call to subtract some from the end run, and add yards to the end run on the rest of the defense calls, then tinker and balance out the pluses (on def A,B,D,E,F) and minuses (def C) to produce a 7 yard avg across all defense playcalls.

Nicely's approach did work well -- I have a similar approach, not too many different ways to do it -- and you are correct to reconcile the defense it is across all formations. Across all formations the average will be 7.04, but trust me if you put a ( 0 ) on the 1 roll on C (in this case because it is so drastic) you will be adding bigger yards elsewhere and on higher die rolls. Ultimately, in this specific case Washington has three formations that they performed reasonably well... here are their averages by formation:

3 B
4.5 C
4.8 F
7 E
7.085714 D
8 A

So on B,C and F I have 3 roll stops --- outside of that it's all gains. +60 on E 5 roll, F 5 roll (TD), A 3 roll +17! Formation level data is too sparse to reconcile to... instead I use it as guidance as to where outcomes need to be placed. Just looking at E there was probably one rush for 7 yards.

qsays wrote:
I would love to have access to the 2015 Redskins game film in order to help answer the million dollar question. Remember QB's check out of end run playcalls when they see an unfavorable defensive alignment or personnel package. I bet you see a lot of that.

Excellent point here and honestly another deficiency in our game. The game assumes each team has no knowledge of the formation which is obviously not true. I use the NFL's Game Pass for the film... $90 all games on demand. Outstanding service. I tried to post a screen shot of what my PC screens look like as I am watching the film and parsing the play by play data but BGG rejected it.

asfhgwt wrote:
One reason why teams don't run outside more often is that the variance is higher.

Excellent point. Variance is by far the more important statistical measure during the design process. Screen is similar high risk/reward.

rogmck wrote:

I played the great majority of my Paydirt games with the 1979 copyright edition (1978 season). Never once saw a game in which a team could drive successfully running a single offensive call. Not accurate statistically? Who cares? It is a fun and interesting GAME. The good teams win, and the bad lose - most of the time.

I did not find that maximum use rule in my booklet. I vaguely recall it (or something similar) from the first edition of Bowl Bound.

The '78 season is the edition I started with... still among my favorite seasons. True a single play call would be difficult, but two plays definitely. If you are playing a game for fun with friends, correct the game is fine. At the annual tournament when prizes are on the line... no holds barred. We had to adopt the rule. I posted a file that is an excerpt from the 1970 SI rule book. I highlighted a few rules of importance. They are hard to find in part due to the constant changing over time. For the most part this restriction rule is referenced off and on throughout the different editions or in supplements.
 
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Quinton Roland
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Do we have good example defensive charts that effectively force the offensive coach to use more than two plays? More than 3 plays? If so, one could use these examples as models.

I imagine the teams with stronger defenses come closer to achieving this. How about mediocre defenses that force a mix of offense playcalls? I will hunt around to see if I can find some good examples.

If in tournament play there truly is no way to avoid the situation where some offense coaches can achieve success by employing only two plays for a whole game, then I have some ideas to kick around for a play-calling limit rule. You've probably tested some of them already. Will share more later.
 
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Ron Pisarz, Jr.
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Absolutely.

What you are speaking to in this post is in direct correlation to and supports your opening sentence in your initial reply.

I'm not going to go back to the classic AH seasons (although I am confident you will find plenty of examples), rather will use one example from the '15 season. The Tennessee Titans defense ranks exactly 16th at 5.5 yards per play (12th if measured by yards per game, 342). Perhaps slightly above average by some accounts, but mediocre or average is a reasonable category to place them.

They rank 3rd against the screen pass. There were a total of 14 interceptions against the screen pass in '15 --- Tennessee has 3 of them, two of which occurred in the Nickel. They have a 3 roll INT AND a 5 roll INT while in D. Additionally, they had several passes defensed leading to defensive INCs and overall yardage allowed is well below average. Virtually all six formations have stops on them and there are only a few +#. An offense would really have to have an outstanding screen pass to risk calling a screen against Tennessee. Overall, though they are middle of the pack, but not against the screen. While this is an extreme example a more general statement, or statements, can be made --- and again this speaks to your opening sentence.

If designed properly a mediocre defense will likely have at least two, probably three formations to choose from to counter what he thinks the offensive player is going to call. This makes sense. If a defense is average and there are six formations two probably perform at the average, two above and two below.

A strong defense will likely have at least three to four, but possibly five if not six formations to use to counter the offense. Again, this makes sense --- they are outperforming the group and are above average so it should be easier to play defense.

A weak defense will likely have only one, possibly two formations to counter an offensive play call. This makes the job of playing defense much more difficult because in order to execute and make a stop the game plan must be perfect.

So, yes properly designed charts should represent actual performance and also be playable so that both players have options that will lead to a balanced mix of plays that are representative of actual NFL play call distributions. Inherent to the game's design, and the Redskins example makes it clear, the bottom three to four defenses against a specific play will only have one formation maybe two formations to make a play and because they are among the worst defense against that play the chart will yield more yards on average --- no way around it and the offense knows this --- which is why there needs to be some guide of a balanced mixed.
 
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Quinton Roland
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Related to Paydirt offensive play over-use and the rule for a playcalling limit/quota, I've been doing quite a bit of research and film study on historic and modern NFL offensive play-calling, design, situational use, etc.

When you watch game film and categorize running plays, how do you define a draw play? There are trap plays that are used in passing situations, which work like a draw. There are sprint draws, lead draws, zone counters, QB draws, and related. I've seen delayed handoffs with zone blocking that are designed to go outside like sweeps (or RB has option to go outside or inside), which could be categorized as an outside run or a draw or a stretch (outside zone), or even a counter (off tackle) run.

Do you count all passes behind the LOS as screens? Something you've said in the past is that teams almost never run draws or screens near opponent's goal line. What about shovel passes and WR screens? I see these run near the goal line seemingly quite often, but have no stats to back it up. I also see a lot of QB draws near the goal line that take advantage of a spread offense set that opens huge holes in the defense alignment.

Question: If a play-calling quota/rule is being used, doesn't the defense now have too much info if it knows what an offense's quota is for each play? Isn't the playcall quota rule just attempting to solve one unrealistic aspect of Paydirt, but creating another? Is the rule a net gain in authenticity?

Medium pass over-use: Often in any NFL game on third and long, you'll see a QB try his best to find an open receiver near the first down (medium range), but give up (due to high risk or not enough time) and check down to a short pass and settle for a short completion.

On defense charts Nicely often used the (#) with a short gain in the medium pass column to represent this reality. The right defensive call against a medium pass would force the QB to complete a 6 yard pass, preventing the 10+ gain. How many times does an NFL offense intend to complete a medium pass (in Paydirt the coach would call the medium pass play) and settle for a short pass (forced by the defense chart)? Do we count this reality as a medium pass play called, or short pass called?

Nicely's treatment would allow more medium pass plays to be called. Same went for long pass calls. Nicely's def charts might limit a long pass to 19 yards or less, an example of a defense forcing the QB to check down and settle for a medium completion.

In film it happens so often that the offense playcall was designed to go outside (or bounce outside), but the RB chose to (or was forced) to cut upfield or cut back inside the tackles. And also many inside runs bounce outside, tho intended to attack inside. How do you decide if the intent of the play was an outside or inside run? So many plays and blocking schemes give the RB the freedom to choose inside or outside paths. How do you categorize these plays with gray areas as to their intent?

It seems like with all this gray area related to categorizing playcalls, you could increase the statistical count of draw plays and outside runs so that calling draws and end runs in Paydirt as often as one likes would not be too unrealistic.

Something else: I carefully reviewed all my Paydirt charts from 1969-72 (Neft) to 1975-1980 Nicely, and found many examples of defensive charts that force the offense to mix up its plays (meaning use at least 3 different plays). I found more than a dozen def charts from each of the following seasons that force a mix of plays: 1976-80. 1978 and 1979 seasons offered the most defenses that forced a mix of off playcalls.

My definition is that attacking the defense with just 2 off playcalls would significantly reduce a team's chances of moving the ball or scoring, COMPARED TO ITS CHANCES WHEN USING 3+ playcalls. Even the best and most balanced offenses would suffer if they were to limit their offense to 2 playcalls for most of the game versus most defenses from 78 and 79 season Nicely charts. I don't believe these charts need a rule that limits playcalling. And they could all easily be tweaked to produce near-perfect team stats, if they don't already.
 
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qsays wrote:
When you watch game film and categorize running plays, how do you define a draw play? There are trap plays that are used in passing situations, which work like a draw. There are sprint draws, lead draws, zone counters, QB draws, and related. I've seen delayed handoffs with zone blocking that are designed to go outside like sweeps (or RB has option to go outside or inside), which could be categorized as an outside run or a draw or a stretch (outside zone), or even a counter (off tackle) run.

Great questions and observations. Running plays are more difficult to categorize than passing plays. I intentionally use a strict definition of a draw. I use two basic criteria:
1- All lineman pass block
2- QB introduces a delay giving the impression of a pass (delayed handoffs)

Most sprint, lead and QB draws meet this criteria. Some zone blocking plays have one side of the line pass blocking while the other side is clearing a hole. These are a bit trickier... with these I look to the QB and RB to see how, when, where the handoff is made.

Trap plays where lineman pull and/or switch assignments that involve blocking a lineman not nearest to them and shifting to block the LB, etc. I do not categorize as a Draw play. Same with counter plays. This is a tough decision and I re-evaluate it every year. The primary determining factor is the offensive lineman are moving downfield, not toward the backfield. Agree, these plays can have a similar effect as the Draw. As I said I re-evaluate this each year because the definition I use leads to a low number of plays that count as Draws (this has advantages and disadvantages).


qsays wrote:
Do you count all passes behind the LOS as screens? Something you've said in the past is that teams almost never run draws or screens near opponent's goal line. What about shovel passes and WR screens? I see these run near the goal line seemingly quite often, but have no stats to back it up. I also see a lot of QB draws near the goal line that take advantage of a spread offense set that opens huge holes in the defense alignment.

Plays are screens if they meet these criteria:
1- Completion occurs behind the line of scrimmage
2- Some set of teammates leave their assignment (letting pass rush come upfield) to setup the screen for the receiver and/or are clearly positioning themselves to block.
Or -
All Shovel Passes that point of reception is behind the line of scrimmage.

Passes out to the flat to RBs that are releasing or check downs are not screens, they are short.

True. Most if not all draws near the goal line are QB Draws, and I count those as Draws and the Shovel Pass is also popular in goal line situations. They are not as frequent as you think and become far less frequent on or inside the two yard line.


qsays wrote:
Question: If a play-calling quota/rule is being used, doesn't the defense now have too much info if it knows what an offense's quota is for each play? Isn't the playcall quota rule just attempting to solve one unrealistic aspect of Paydirt, but creating another? Is the rule a net gain in authenticity?

It could if the offense doesn't manage the game properly and runs out of plays before the end of the game, but to me this is the lesser of two evils.

qsays wrote:

Medium pass over-use: Often in any NFL game on third and long, you'll see a QB try his best to find an open receiver near the first down (medium range), but give up (due to high risk or not enough time) and check down to a short pass and settle for a short completion.

On defense charts Nicely often used the (#) with a short gain in the medium pass column to represent this reality. The right defensive call against a medium pass would force the QB to complete a 6 yard pass, preventing the 10+ gain. How many times does an NFL offense intend to complete a medium pass (in Paydirt the coach would call the medium pass play) and settle for a short pass (forced by the defense chart)? Do we count this reality as a medium pass play called, or short pass called?

Another great question and one that presents a challenge for the game. At the start of just about every pass play it could be categorized as any ONE of the pass plays in the game. There is usually at least one receiver running a medium route, one or more short, one sideline and one long. It is difficult in many cases to determine the primary target and what the intent is. So what do you do? The designer has a few choices here.

qsays wrote:

Nicely's treatment would allow more medium pass plays to be called. Same went for long pass calls. Nicely's def charts might limit a long pass to 19 yards or less, an example of a defense forcing the QB to check down and settle for a medium completion.

I just quickly checked 78 and 79 and did not see a long pass for < 20 yards. Regardless, the answer to these situations is exactly what you say it is... to place outcomes on the defensive charts that reduce the gain. True, now you have more medium passes but now the AVERAGE YARDS PER ATTEMPT and COMPLETION are lower. I will discuss the implications of this at the end of the post. Basically, what is happening though with this approach is average yards per play approaches the aggregate as does number of times each play can be used. It solves the problem differently.

qsays wrote:

In film it happens so often that the offense playcall was designed to go outside (or bounce outside), but the RB chose to (or was forced) to cut upfield or cut back inside the tackles. And also many inside runs bounce outside, tho intended to attack inside. How do you decide if the intent of the play was an outside or inside run? So many plays and blocking schemes give the RB the freedom to choose inside or outside paths. How do you categorize these plays with gray areas as to their
intent?

Another great question. This is why running plays are more difficult in my opinion. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what choice the designer makes because with the quota rule statistics will be preserved. No matter which way you decide to categorize a specific play you know that it will not be overused anymore than it was in reality.


qsays wrote:
Something else: I carefully reviewed all my Paydirt charts from 1969-72 (Neft) to 1975-1980 Nicely, and found many examples of defensive charts that force the offense to mix up its plays (meaning use at least 3 different plays). I found more than a dozen def charts from each of the following seasons that force a mix of plays: 1976-80. 1978 and 1979 seasons offered the most defenses that forced a mix of off playcalls.

My definition is that attacking the defense with just 2 off playcalls would significantly reduce a team's chances of moving the ball or scoring, COMPARED TO ITS CHANCES WHEN USING 3+ playcalls. Even the best and most balanced offenses would suffer if they were to limit their offense to 2 playcalls for most of the game versus most defenses from 78 and 79 season Nicely charts. I don't believe these charts need a rule that limits playcalling. And they could all easily be tweaked to produce near-perfect team stats, if they don't already.


Take a look at '79 SEA. Cannot stop off tackle, short pass and are weak enough against the draw. They are a 9-7 team too. Against the off tackle the best they can hope for is a ( 1 ) on a 3 roll, they give up ( 2 ) on the 2 roll and in order to get this 'benefit' they risk ( 65 ) on the 4 roll --- this is their BEST formation against the off tackle. Not one loss of yards in the entire column and all other formations add yards. They are able to defend the line plunge and end run by blitzing. I would never call either of those running plays against '79 SEA--- and as soon as that happens the game loses any chance of preserving statistical results. There are other examples, '79 GB cannot defend the end run (similar to the '15 Redskins) --- they have one formation and still give up a yard, '79 NO. I agree, that if the defensive player can counter the offense from overusing a play by choosing a defense that can make a stop an offense that limits it's play choices to two or three will reduce it's chances of success. That is not true if the defense ranks at the bottom of the league against a specific play, and inherently there is at least one team that ranks 32nd against each of the 9 plays, like the teams I just mentioned. For these teams it does not matter what the designer does... if he properly represents the weakness nothing prevents the offense from exploiting it on every down.

Here is the bottom line. Inherent to the game's design the designer MUST use some assumption about play call distribution. This is a mathematical truth. A simple example. If a team ran 100 plays and gained 1000 yards those 100 plays and 1000 yards MUST map to the chart in such a way that the expected yardage outcome of playing the game as the team is 1000 yards. It is a simple weighted average calculation. Some assumption about how many times each play is called must be made in order to facilitate placing results on the chart (of course it has to account for the defense too). Otherwise how does the designer know when they have allocated the proper amount of yardage to represent the actual result of 1000 yards? Without some assumption about play call distribution the designer is GUESSING at the specific results to place on the chart. No matter how the designer formulates the distribution (personally I think the ACTUAL distribution is best option) there is a distribution and based on this distribution yards are added to the chart. If players choose a distribution that deviates too far away from the distribution used to reconcile the chart results will not match actual. So in this example if there are two plays on the chart, 1 and 2, and play 1 was called 90 times for 100 yards and play 2 was called 10 times for 900 yards what are you putting on the chart? You could set both plays such that each produces 10 yards per play that way the offensive player has incentive to call play 1, or you can limit the number of times each play can be called. To me the latter is a better representation of reality and follows the spirit and intent of the game --- because it preserves the play level statistical performance of the team (strengths and weaknesses).

The quota's intent is not just about making the game playable, although I believe it helps significantly in making the game more strategic and thus more playable. A key aspect of the rule is to provide a reasonable definition of what a "balanced-mix" of play calls is in an attempt to preserve the statistical simulation aspect of the game. If I am playing against the '15 Redskins calling one line plunge, one off tackle, twenty two end runs and three draws (for good measure) seems like a balanced mix to me, right? Because the team charts represent a team's strengths and weaknesses and the statistical results are inherently different for each type of play and this information is known the offensive player will and should only call the play that performs the best against the defense. This is inherent to the design. No matter how the designer chooses to perform the analysis, map the outcomes, etc. There will be ONE offensive play that based on the opponent will always outperform all other play to formation combinations. Why not call it every down?



 
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Andrew S. Fischer
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In my experience with DDF, playing against a wretched defense like the 2015 'Skins isn't always a walk through the park. I still need to roll decently on my offensive chart, and sooner or later I'll call a couple of end runs and gain just a couple of yards. Hmph... time to try something else. I know the dice rolls are random, but I'll go with what seems to work until it doesn't. I call this "flow," and DDF has it in spades.

Also, since the 'Skins player is apt to call run defenses more than usual (even if they aren't great shakes), I'm likely to pass more often. It's all interrelated, and works very well.

If you're playing for money or blood, however, restrictions are needed in almost any game. One of the most extreme examples of this need was when I played APBA baseball 50 years ago. The game had only four basic pitcher classes--best to worst: A, B, C, D. Players would yank their D starter after he gave up one run and insert their A reliever--who averaged 1 inning pitched per appearance--for the rest of the game!

In a tournament setting, even a sigh or grunt in a multi-player contest could influence the outcome, so restrictions and rules are necessary. In a friendly game of DDF, you can either use the play-calling limits or not. Good enough for me.


 
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Thank you, Ron and the other contributors, for your patience with my commennts/questions; and the time and thoroughness of your responses.

Paydirt offers the perfect balance of speed, simplicity and realism. These three advantages make Paydirt the best football boardgame ever. I think the playcall quota rule disrupts that balance. Every way I look at it, a playcall quota rule seems to add realism in one area, but subtract realism elsewhere. I believe a sufficient amount of balance in the charts avoids such additional rules and restrictions, resulting in fewer things to keep track of. The playcall quota rule is not a net gain to me. Sorry to be so stubborn Sure, I can simply choose not to use the rule when I play. But the reason I’m dwelling on it is because chart design is significantly influenced by the playcall quota rule. It’s a fundamental issue.

Some related observations/questions:

The DDF playcall quotas established for each team appears to be based on the real team's OFFENSE playcall single game maximum. Shouldn't the opposing DEFENSE have an equal (50/50) influence on the quota? Aren’t the offenses just “taken what the defense is given?”

Can’t a chart designer take advantage of the running play categorizing gray areas, increasing the count of outside (end run) runs and draws related to chart mapping. This would allow for more balance (of strengths and weaknesses) in the design of the offensive and defensive charts, and less need for a quota. Of course, there shouldn't be too much balance. Some playcalls should remain more effective than others to ensure each chart retains its own unique character; and has strengths and weakness that the offenses and defenses can exploit. The variation in playcall effectiveness also allows for a team to match up better against certain opponent.

Previously, I highlighted the 1978 and 1979 seasons (designed by Nicely) as good examples where MOST – NOT ALL – defense charts forced the offense to mix up their playcalling. A “mix of playcalls” to me means 3 or more; and that using only 2 playcalls would significantly reduce the offense's rate of success. Unfortunately, responses focused on the few charts that were not good examples, like 79 Seah and 79 Pack. For the sake of clarity, here is my list of defenses that do not require a playcall quota rule to force the offense to mix up their playcalls:

78 Falc, 78 Bear, 78 Beng, 78 Brow, 78 Cowb, 78 Bron, 78 Lion, 78 Pack, 78 Oile, 78 Chie, 78 Rams, 78 Dolp, 78 Viki, 78 Patr, 78 Sain, 78 Gian, 78 Raid, 78 Eagl, 78 49er, 78 Seah, 78 Card, 78 Bucc, 79 Falc, 79 Colt, 79 Bill, 79 Bear, 79 Brow, 79 Oile, 79 Chie, 79 Rams, 79 Dolp, 79 Viki, 79 Patr, 79 Gian, 79 Raid, 79 Eagl, 79 Stee, 79 Card, 79 49er, 79 Reds.

I would love it if someone out there could find a few 78/79 defense charts that force an offense to mix up its playcalls to their satisfaction, where no playcall quota rule would be needed. I’ve listed a lot of charts for their consideration.

I know that no chart is perfect. For example, I found many of these 78/79 charts to have a defense playcall/formation that stops too many offense playcalls. That perticular defense playcall/formation is likely to be over-used.

This begs the question: Should there also be a defense playcall (or formation call) quota? Some teams rarely blitz, but when they did, it experienced an unusually high rate of success versus most offense playcalls. Now we need a defense playcall quota to prevent over-use. Does the number of blitzes called against a particular offense get included in that quota equation?

To ensure that a Paydirt coach/player never feels powerless, even the worst defenses should be able to stop any offense playcall somewhere on the chart. And by "stop" I mean at least a "3" dice roll or better. Here I am favoring playability.

Again, all NFL defenses - the 2015 Redskins being the perfect example - can force offenses to mix up their playcalls. Despite the real Redskins defense allowing 7 yards per carry on outside runs, opposing offenses only ran outside 92 times out of roughly 400 rushing attempts BECAUSE THE REDSKINS DEFENSE DID NOT ALLOW THEM TO. This is a fact! Opponents knew the Redskins were vulnerable to the outside run IN CERTAIN LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES; and that running outside too often was not worth the risk. The Redskins defense situational alignments and personnel packages showed enough strength in one area to discourage end runs; and enough weakness in another area to encourage other playcalls.

The 2015 Redskins defense chart should reflect this reality. The limited number of end runs that opposing offenses called is a telling statistic in itself, evidencing defensive performance; the defense’s ability to force the offense to attack elsewhere. A chart can be designed (we have time-tested examples above) to achieve realistic team statistical performance AND discourage playcall over-use.

Related to Nicely defense charts forcing opposing offenses to settle for shorter passes than intended: the Nicely 1980 defense charts frequently use a (#) in the long pass column that is less than a 20-yard gain. The 80 Vikings, Eagles, Rams, are just a few examples.
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