How do you apply high-tech to winning football games? We’ve already seen improvements in equipment and stadiums, but the real technological advance in football has always come from innovative new play-calling, like the forward pass (football used to be a ground-only game, like rugby).
Piedmont, California high school coach Kurt Bryant has utilized an all-new formation, called the A-11 Offense, to allow greater play-calling flexibility, and give his under-sized team an edge over bigger, stronger, faster teams in the Bay Area. It’s working.
Bryn Swartz asks in this excellent article whether the A-11 could seep into NFL playbooks. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. I have always thought that Texas Tech Red Raider coach Mike Leach’s “pass blitz” approach, a run-and-shoot on steroids, would be a great fit for the NFL. Peyton Manning is almost there already, after all.
But this new A-11 could take that idea even further than Leach did. The A-11 allows almost continuous, high-speed ball movement, which does not give the defense a chance to set and plan, but only to react and chase.
In a league that is always changing rules to allow teams to score more points in order to elevate the “excitement” factor (groan), the A-11 offense could be just the ticket.
Technology (from the Greek techne, meaning skill or art, and logia, meaning logic) is about the systematic application of knowledge to an art or skill. It is not about gadgets or hardware. In this case, it is about what businesses call process improvement. Kurt Bryant rejected the legacy process of staid old formations and play calling, and began thinking outside the tackle box.
Ironically, when the A-11 is run in a hurry-up, no huddle drill, it looks a lot like rugby! Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose.