5 Quotes from The Big Book of Belichick

It turns out that Bill Belichick actually has a lot to say, at least as long as you ask him the right questions.

Though he entered the league in 1975 with the Colts, Belichick had been studying the game long before that, including all the time he spent helping his father break down film for the Naval Academy as a kid. He’s been around since the beginning of the modern era of the game, and has competed against most of the game’s great players and coaches, giving him a perspective that is unmatched.

That’s why I put together The Big Book of Belichick (link).

The book is nearly 500 pages long, and it has pages and pages of discussion on all sorts of different football topics.

The Big Book Of Belichick

To give you an idea of the kind of insight available in the book, I’ve pulled five of my favorite quotes and put them here.

(You can get it here.)

1. Defending rub routes with multiple defensive backs

Q: It looked like the Giants tried to run a couple rub routes on their final drive. How do your cornerbacks work in tandem to defend those routes? Is it coordinated pre-play or is it based on something they see as the play unfolds?

BB: Right, any time you’re in man-to-man coverage and there is multiple people involved – two-on-two, three-on-three or sometimes you can be three-on two or four-on-three, whatever it happens to be – yeah, I think the communication is the key thing there. There are a lot of different ways you can play it. The most important thing is that you clearly know how you’re playing it and everybody is playing it the same way. If one guy is playing it one way and the other guy is playing it another way, then you’re dead. Yeah, so on two-on-two’s, we can combo those and switch them.

Sometimes the rule changes a little bit about when we switch or when we don’t depending on the type of route that they run. Yeah, that was the case. I think on the first play, which was a second-down play, we also got some pressure on that play with I want to say it was Akiem Hicks and maybe Rob [Ninkovich] coming off the edge there. I don’t know if it would have got to [Eli] Manning because he kind of grabbed it and threw it but there wasn’t a lot of time for him to sort out the pattern, whereas on the second one it was kind of a rollout play and then that extended a little bit longer all the way to the sideline and finally whoever it was – Rob or Malcolm [Butler] or somebody – came up there and kind of forced him to …

He just went down and took the sack and kept the clock running. But the first play he really never got outside at all. It was just pressure and Logan [Ryan] took the outside route to [Dwayne] Harris and then Malcolm kind of fell off it and the combination of the pressure and the coverage, there just wasn’t much there.

2. How Good Middle Linebackers See Things

Q: What is it that allows Jerod Mayo to kind of wade through blockers and see the backfield the way he does?


BB: I think that’s kind of just the reverse of being a running back: as a linebacker, you take your keys and you sort of see all those bodies in front of you and basically I think what you look for is some space, because that’s what the runner is looking for. You don’t want to end up where you already have people; you want to end up where there is space and that’s where the backs are looking to go. It’s not where the bodies are, but where they aren’t. It’s sort of the same thing.

Defensively, you’re sort of reading the same thing that the running back is reading. Once the initial blocks and the initial contact kind of takes place and then starts to sort itself out or separate a little bit, then the defender is looking for kind of the same thing the running back is looking for from the other side of the line of scrimmage. Jerod has terrific instincts. He had those in college and I think that’s one of the impressive things about watching him at Tennessee – just the way he was able to sort plays out, find the ball, get over trash, get past guys that are around his feet or in the pile in the way and get past that to make the tackle. Of course he’s a strong tackler.

I’ve talked, I’ve coached it a long time, coaching Harry [Carson] and Pepper [Johnson] and Carl [Banks] and those guys [and] in Cleveland, Mike Johnson, Clay Matthews, Marvin Jones, Mo Lewis. The more you talk to them, the more it’s hard for them to explain it. ‘What did you see on this play?’ ‘Well, I just saw it.’ ‘Why did you go there?’ ‘I just…it was there and I just felt it was the right thing to do.’ There’s just so much happening in front of you that it’s really hard to say, ‘It was this. It was that.’

But just put the whole picture together and they see something and that’s why they go there. It’s probably the same thing the back sees on the other side of the ball. ‘What exactly did you read?’ ‘I saw this, but in the end I saw a space to run and that’s where I went.’ That’s where the linebacker went to meet him.

3. Playing Outside Receiver vs Inside Receiver

Q: Is it more difficult for receivers who primarily play on the outside to move inside or vice versa?


BB: That’s a good question. It’s an interesting question and it’s certainly one that that whole conversation is one that we spend a lot of time talking about as a scouting staff, in terms of evaluating players and scouting players. Let me say this, first of all, I think it depends on obviously what the players are asked to do. Not every outside receiver plays like every other outside receiver, just like every inside receiver doesn’t play like every other inside receivers. There are some things that some inside receivers do that are similar but also there are some that are very different from what other guys do. So I’d say, again, it depends what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an inside receiver to do things that are similar to what outside receivers do, then I’d say that transition is probably not that big of a deal. If those routes and the type of passing game that’s done on the inside part of the field is quite a bit different from the outside part of the field, then you’re probably looking at mostly different type of guys. Obviously some players are good enough to play anywhere.

Then there are other guys that probably fall into more of one role or the other. But forgetting about all that for the moment, I would say that the game inside in the slot is different from the perimeter because of the number of people that are involved. You’re not just looking at – a lot of times outside, you’re pretty much dealing with one guy. It’s the wide receivers and the corner. You have to have an awareness of the safety, whether he’s over the top or rotated in the middle or into a seam area. That’s pretty much about it, for the most part. When you’re inside, you have a corner outside, you have a slot defender, you have a safety, you have a linebacker so there are at least four guys that you really, I would say, pretty much have to deal with one of them or two of them one way or another. That creates a lot more variables than playing on the perimeter.

I’m not saying it’s harder [or] easier, it’s just different. The same thing is true on defense covering that position. You have the proximity of the next inside player, the next outside player and some type of player in the deep part of the field, unless it’s an all-out blitz. That changes the relationship a lot from what it is when you’re playing on the perimeter as a corner. You just don’t have that – you have the sideline but you don’t have the number of players. So in terms of like, what does this player do? What does that player do? I think it starts with, like anything else, just like if you were hiring someone for a job – what’s the job description? What do you want that player to do? Once you prioritize what you want that player to do, then you try to fit the player into that job description. Some of the things they have to do are the whole intelligence of recognizing different coverages and different relationships. How much do you want a vertical speed guy that can go in there and get through the middle of the defense? How important is blocking in the running game because it’s going to be a factor when you’re in there that close. How important is quickness and creating separation on five to seven-yard type routes on third down. What’s your priority? Then you want to get a player that fits those priorities.

4. Game Day Coaching

Q: Do you have a go-to list of how you want to approach game-day coaching?

BB: I definitely believe in a process. I don’t know that that’s the same in every single game. Well, I’d say it’s not the same in every single game. It depends on who you’re playing and kind of what they do or what you anticipate them doing as to how you want to approach it. It’s a great question. It’s a very interesting point of discussion. I think there are a lot of things to look at throughout that, but it’s all critical in the communication and coordination of processing the information that you get during the game, I’d say it’s not easy to do. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s not easy to do because it comes from a lot of different sources and you definitely want to prioritize it. I’d say those are some of the components of it.

Number one, getting the most important things handled – whatever they are. It could be what you’re doing, it could be what they’re doing, it could be the weather conditions – whatever the most important things are making sure that you start at the top. And also you don’t have all day. You don’t even know how long you have. If you’re on defense the offense could be out there for a seven-minute drive, they could be out there for a 30-second drive, so you’ve got to prioritize what you’re doing so that you get to the most important things first, so if you’re running out of time, you haven’t used your time inefficiently. So that’s number one.

Number two, there’s the, what we’re doing versus what they’re doing. A lot of times just making sure that you’re right is more important than identifying what they’re doing. Sometimes identifying what they’re doing, until you get that cleared up then you’re kind of spinning your wheels in the sand and you’re not making any progress because you don’t really understand exactly what the issues are. In the game situation that changes all that. You have the information from players, which is they’re in the heat of the battle. You have information from the press box, who can get as much of an overview as you can get. You have sideline information. So sometimes that’s the same, sometimes information – you don’t see it quite the same way.

The way one coach sees it, the way the press box sees it, the way the sideline sees it, the way a player on the field sees it, it’s not quite all the same way. So you’ve kind of got to sort all that out. And then there is the balance of fixing what is in the rearview mirror and looking ahead. So like, OK we’ve got to take care of these problems, here’s what happened, but at the same time, you’re spending all your time on that, some of that is not even relevant because the next time you go out there, OK what are we going to do? We’ve corrected those problems, maybe we’re going to make a different call or maybe we’re going to be in a different situation, how do we handle that? So there is the balancing of new information versus analysis of previous information.

There are a lot of components to that, and I think a good coach, the decision making that they make within all that is what makes him a good coach. What information is important, where do we start, how do we get the most information across in the least amount of time and making sure that we get the information to the right people? Some coverage adjustment, the guard doesn’t care about. He doesn’t care about what coverage they’re running. The receiver doesn’t care if the nose is shaded or not shaded. But I’d say that’s a very interesting part of game day from a coaching standpoint and one that’s important, it’s critical, and there are a lot of components to it.

5. Playing 3 Safeties vs 3 Corners in Nickel

Q: When you are playing in a nickel defense what goes into the thought process between alternating amongst three cornerbacks and two safeties or two cornerbacks and three safeties?


BB: Right, yeah, it’s a good question. It’s really a good point. Some of it is the matchups, some of it at times is what we’re doing and if we’re doing something that one player versus another one is maybe better at, whether that’s man coverage or zone coverage or blitzing or playing the run, whatever it happens to be. There could be other reasons for that as well, too, as part of just the overall matchup. Not necessarily one-on-one, it could be that, but it also could be more of a scheme thing or maybe anticipation of what they would be doing against that personnel group. So, I’d say it’s a combination of all of those things that could change week to week. It’s hard to go into games with a lot of different groupings.

I think that’s because you have to have those backups in case one person gets hurt, then what do you do with that group? Do you just throw it away or do you have to have somebody else practicing so that you can maintain the group? So, it’s hard to go in with multiple groups and have them all backed up, so a lot of times we might go with one or the other. If you do that with multiple groups then you have to figure out some way to adjust if you don’t have all the players in that group for one reason or another. But that’s all part of what we look at each week with our matchups against our opponents and again, not just the individual size, speed, personnel strength and weakness [of the] matchup but also from a scheme standpoint what our players do well, what position we want to try and put our players in based on the types of calls or defenses that we’ll be running.

The Big Book of Belichick is available in paperback, Kindle, and even in audiobook format.

CLICK HERE to get it now

Here are my notes from the 2017 AFCA Convention

It’s that time of year again. The AFCA Convention was great.

I heard a lot of great speakers, re-connected with old friends, and even met some of you.

The topics covered include:

  • The New Mexico Triple Option Offense
  • The Navy Run Game
  • How to run a program on a shoe string budget (with great fundraising tips)
  • Former NDSU now Wyoming Head Coach Craig Bohl on building a program
  • Both defensive coordinators from this past Orange Bowl share their philosophies
  • And more!

If you weren’t fortunate enough to go, have no fear, I always share the notes I take with my readers, so click the link and get yours free!

There’s no cost, just click the link and sign up on my email list

CLICK HERE to get your copy now!

Alex Kirby

PS – Last week I released my newest book, The Big Book of Saban!

The response has been great, so if you haven’t already, be sure to grab your copy in paperback or on Kindle!

CLICK HERE to get yours!

How to Download Football Games from YouTube

There has never been a better time to be a football fan.

If you miss a college football game, or maybe you just want to go back and study a bunch of games from a particular team, YouTube is the place to go.

But what if you want to save those games? Is there a way to get them onto your computer?


I get this question all the time, and today I’m gonna show you how to download football games from YouTube.

Step One – Find A Game On YouTube

How To Download Football Games From YouTube - Step 1

Let’s say I wanna find the TV copy of Clemson vs Louisville from earlier this season. I’ll search for the game and find it. » Read more

The Jay Leno Method for creating opportunity

I’ve never been much of a Jay Leno fan. (Personally, I always thought Letterman was much better.)

Still, there’s one thing I’ve always respected about the guy though, and that’s how he approached his business.

In an interview a while back, Leno told the story of how he broke into the comedy business, before the days when you could post a funny video on YouTube and get a million views:

When I got started in Boston, I would go into bars with a $50 bill, and I would say, ‘I’m a comedian.’

‘We don’t hire comedians.’

I go, ‘Look, here’s 50 bucks. Lemme go on the stage and tell some jokes. If people leave, you can keep my 50. If I do OK and I get some laughs, gimme my money back.”

It cost me about 300 bucks over the long run, but for the most part it was either:

“Yeah, kid, you’re funny, here’s your money back, but we don’t do that here.”


“That was OK, come back Wednesday.”

A couple of things…

First, he found a creative way to get his name out there.

Leno was creative about manufacturing his own opportunities in the business he so desperately wanted to .

He didn’t wait for someone to call him, he went out and found ways to not only get his name out there, but get experience doing what he wanted to do.

Second, he offered the business owner a no-risk proposition:

  • If he went up there and bombed, the bartender got paid $50.
  • If he did well, the customers got some entertainment and came away with a good experience, and the owner has another name on his list of entertainers to hire sometime down the road

So what does that mean for you?

There are literally thousands of coaching positions at the high school and college level across the country, even more if you include middle school and youth football, and more than that if you count all the different leagues that play football outside of America. (There are a lot more than you may think.)

There is no shortage of opportunity out there in the coaching business, but the first step to getting hired is to get your name out there.

This goes all the way back to what I talked about a couple of weeks ago: If you’re not already well-known in the coaching world (or whatever business you’re in), what are you doing to change that?

It the answer is nothing, you’re falling behind.

Since I wrote about different ways of advertising yourself, I’ve connected with several people who’ve told me how they’ve used social media, blogging, and similar methods to do just that. It’s not just that these guys stood out once they sat down to interview, they got the interview in large part because of what they were doing to promote themselves.

Remember: Always be advertising!

By the way, let no one say I don’t follow my own advice…

How do I get my name out there? I write books.

So far, people seem to like this one about how Wade Phillips and his defense managed to shut down Cam “Superman” Newton in the Super Bowl.

Here’s what I need you to do:

1. Buy the book

2. Read it

3.  Tell me what you think

CLICK HERE to get your copy instantly!

– Alex Kirby

What I learned from Wade Phillips

Crazy game last night huh?

I wasn’t watching, but my Twitter timeline exploded while I was writing this post, so I assume things were pretty exciting.

I was still going back through all the little details of the Super Bowl game film, because there’s so much to analyze, especially from the Denver Defense.

Wade Phillips has had the luxury of working with some tremendous players during his long career, but anyone who’s ever coached before can tell you, working with talented players isn’t always the cakewalk it’s made out to be.

Yet, somehow, a Wade Phillips-led defense always seems to meet or even exceed expectations.

In a world where it’s news when a team performs exactly the way they’re supposed to, that’s a big deal.

So what’s his secret plan, his big idea that no one has ever thought of before?

Build your scheme around your the strengths of your players, and then let them go play football.

It’s amazing how often people forget that football isn’t played on the chalkboard, and that a “bad” play call can succeed if your guy is better than the other team’s guy.

It’s a player’s game first and foremost.

Wade Phillips starts with a basic framework, a few base fronts that he can use against just about anything, and lets his players go play and pursue the football.

It sounds like a cliche, but if you look at this year’s Super Bowl film, you won’t see a lot of deception from the Denver Defense. For the most part, what you see is what you get.

Now, there were definitely a few wrinkles throw in to give Cam Newton some confusion at certain points in the game, but those disguised coverages were made even more effective because of how rare they were.

The thing about keeping it simple is that once you’ve established that basic, one-size-fits-all framework in your scheme, you have a lot of time to perfect all kinds of wrinkles to complement it, and your team becomes more deadly overall.

Specifically, just like last year with New England’s incredible performance in the Super Bowl, Denver made it really simple for the guys up front. Carolina came out with all kinds of shifts, motions, unbalanced line formations, and more, but for the most part, very little changed for the guys up front.

But how exactly did they do it?

I talk all about it in my latest book, where I break down all 16 drives of Denver’s Defense taking on Carolina’s Offense in the Super Bowl.

CLICK HERE and get it now.

I loved this book on college football X’s and O’s (And you will too)

Let’s be honest, most of the stuff being passed off as football “analysis” by the mainstream sports media is complete crap.

And that’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

This is just one of the reasons why I’m convinced giant media companies like ESPN will become less and less important over the next decade

Well that, and the fact that their subscriber numbers are in a complete nosedive right now (but I digress).

Compare the kind of mediocre and uninteresting commentary you’ll get on TV with the guys over at Inside the Pylon, who if you haven’t been paying attention, are putting out some of the best X’s and O’s analysis anywhere online.

A couple months back, they decided to release their first book, written by Mark Schofield, called 17 Drives.

I gotta tell you, I absolutely loved it.

Schofield put together a breakdown of 17 of the most interesting and significant drives of the 2015 college football season, including:

  • The exciting drive that Oklahoma put together in Week 2 to tie up the game late against Tennessee
  • Michigan State’s drive in the final moments of the Big Ten Championship to hand Iowa their first loss of the year.
  • Alabama’s drive to seal the game against Clemson in the National Championship

Football season is still months away, and for those of us (like myself) who aren’t interested in watching NFL Draft coverage, this book is the perfect way to hold you over until the fall.

There are over 300 pages of diagrams and notes on football strategy, and it’s the kind of thing you can re-read over and over again to pick up new details.

As I told Mark after reading it, this book will force me to step my game up in my own football writing.

(Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition after all)

If you’re an X’s and O’s fanatic, 17 Drives is a must-read.

Get your copy now.

-Alex Kirby

Always Be Advertising

Want to move up in the football business?

Let Nick Saban explain how he made his decision to hire a new assistant coach.

Saban was talking the other day about how found his new assistant offensive line coach Brent Key.

What stood out to me was that Saban interviewed the guy three years ago, but didn’t hire him because he didn’t feel like it would’ve been a great fit for the staff. Still, he was very impressed with Key and kept his name on a list for the next time a position was available.

The end result?

Saban didn’t hire him until THREE YEARS after the first interview!

In other words, Key made such an impression on Saban that the next time he was looking for an offensive line coach, one of the first names to pop into his head was Brent Key.

That’s what advertising is all about, folks.

Executives at Coca-Cola aren’t expecting you to bolt out the door and buy a Coke the moment you see an ad on TV.

Nope, they want to make such an impression on you that the next time you’re thirsty, the first name you think of is “Coke.”


In the old days if you were just breaking into the business, you had to hope that the head coach knew enough people who might need someone like you.

Now, thanks to the internet, it’s easier than every to get your name out there.

You’re really only limited by your imagination, but here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • Start a blog and talk about what you know
  • Write a book on a football topic and self-publish it.
  • Contribute valuable information to a message board regularly and become a trusted name
  • Start a Twitter account and post video clips of you breaking down a play
  • Start a podcast and talk about football-related topics


The next time someone is looking to hire a new coach, you want your name to be the first one that pops into their head.

There are plenty of ways to do it, but if you’re looking to stand out, get online and get your name out there.

Speaking of advertising…

I’ve got a newsletter coming out soon, where each month I break down an offense against a defense in college or the NFL, “Every Play Revealed” style.

How did Wade Phillips put the clamps on Cam Newton and the Panthers offense?

Find out when the first issue of the Every Play Revealed newsletter comes out on April 1st.

(The anticipation is killing me)

– Alex Kirby

The “Aim small, miss small” approach to watching film

I used to hear it over and over again when I first started out in coaching.

“Aim small, miss small!”

I was working closely with the quarterbacks, and every day during drills I’d hear our offensive coordinator say it loud and clear.

It’s short, to the point, and most importantly, it was good advice. But why does it work?

By narrowing your vision toward an extremely specific goal, it means you can focus everything on getting the football to exactly where you want it to go. You’re free of distractions, and you can stand in the pocket, see your receiver come open, and deliver the football right to his numbers on the front of his jersey.

So what’s the point?

Approach film study the same way.

A big mistake I see a lot of guys make when first starting out is trying to watch everything on the field all at once.

That’s absolutely the dumbest thing you can do, because if you try to watch everybody, you’ll end up watching nobody.

You’ve got 22 guys on the field on each play, then you’ve got all the different pass routes, blocking schemes, coverages, formations, defensive alignments, etc. Depending on how deep you wanna go with it, there are literally HUNDREDS of different variables to keep track of on each play.

You really think you’re gonna be able to watch a brand new team with their own unique scheme and get the point of what they’re trying to do?

Try this instead:

The next time you want to study a scheme and understand it, focus on the “movement” guys on the field. You know, the guys who have to do most of the adjustment and flip sides depending on the formations and motions that an offense will use.

These are usually the outside linebackers and the safeties, especially the teams who love to put a safety down low to add an extra body against the run.

I recommend this for few reasons:

  • The core of the defense usually won’t move around that much, and won’t give you much to go off of, since the Mike linebacker sits in the box in about the same place no matter what the formation is, and the same for most of the D-Line.
  • Pay attention to the alignments of specific players and you’ll be forced to focus on the little things going on during each play.
  • Track the alignments of the edge defenders and the strong safety, and how they work with one another, and you’ll get a great handle on how the secondary is designed to work with the front.

Football is a player’s game first. People tend to forget that. Once you’ve got an idea of how a defense likes to move their players around, you’ve got a window into how the coach thinks.

Now instead of just having an explanation for what a guy has done in the past, you’ve got a way to anticipate what he’ll do in the future.

This is one of the strategies I use to put together my Every Play Revealed series.

In the past, I’ve broken down every single play of the Super Bowl and the National Championship Game, and
on the first day of April, I’m debuting a monthly newsletter that follows the same format.

Each month, I’ll be breaking down one team’s offense taking on another team’s defense, and I’m starting with the Denver’s defense taking on Carolina’s offense in the Super Bowl.

I’ll have more information available in the next few days, so stay tuned.

– Alex Kirby

Are you a “George Costanza” coach?

Well, are you?

I sure hope not. It’s not a compliment.

Let me explain…

There was a great Seinfeld episode where George figured out that if he just looked stressed out and annoyed at work, people would think he was busy and leave him alone.

I’ve worked with a few George Costanzas in my life. You know the type.

Guys who aren’t great at a whole lot, except for looking busy without actually doing anything at all.

It’s not the sort of thing you want to be known for if you ever want to move up in this business and maybe even get a job at a big time program like Michigan.

Speaking of Michigan, the Wolverines just had their annual coaches clinic, and Jim Harbaugh came up with that clever term to describe the kind of guy he doesn’t want around the program.

Jim, John, and their father Jack held a “Harbaugh Family Panel” where they got up on stage and talked about all things football.

Coach, blogger, and all around great American James Light was there in person to take it all in.

You can read his notes from the clinic here.

– Alex Kirby

Sunday Morning Links – December 13, 2015

It’s time for another NFL Sunday, so instead of watching another cookie-cutter pregame show, be entertained and get educated at the same time by reading some of the best football stuff online below.

Inside the Pylon

The guys over at Inside the Pylon are working very hard to put together a site that raises the level of football discourse, while still educating the fan who may be just starting out on their football journey.

They’ve got a ton of great stuff on the site, and it’s constantly being updated, but one of my favorite things I’ve read in a long time on football was this discussion between the editors of the site on strategy, play design, and other stuff.

It’s far better than anything you’re gonna watch/listen to on any of the pregame shows this morning, so do yourself a favor and read it now.

Dan Hatman’s “10 Scouting Rules” Series

Dan Hatman, Director of The Scouting Academy, has partnered with the guys over at Inside the Pylon to put out a series of posts on his “10 Scouting Rules.”

We’re right in the middle of this series, but he’s putting out a new one each day, and here are the first five below.

Click the links and get educated.

James Light Football

If you’re not aware of James Light’s site, get your head out of the sand and get over there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one online is better at breaking down the intricacies of different coverages than James.

I wanted to point out a couple of his latest posts that particularly interested me.

The whole site is great, and there are lots more resources there for anyone who wants to learn more about the game.

Ted Nguyen

Coach Nguyen is a Raiders fan (like myself) who has posted some great stuff recently on the Raiders schemes used each Sunday.

Check out what he wrote about the Raiders-Chiefs game here.

Breaking Down “The Greatest Show on Turf”

I’ve got a new book out on the X’s and O’s of the Greatest Show on Turf, the offense that featured Kurt Warner’s and one of the greatest offensive weapons of all time, Marshall Faulk.

Talent wins games, but it’s up to the coach to put your most talented players in a position where they can be most effective, and that’s just what Mike Martz did.

Get your copy here.

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