George Kittle on why Kyle Shanahan calls plays he knows won't work

Interesting offensive philosophy–give up some plays early to make another work later.

I think Ben Johnson did the same thing on the 51 yard TD to Brock Wright against the Jets.


It’s definitely a chess match, sometimes you gotta set some traps. Esepcially the way teams study film, formations, and tendencies. Love that aspect of football.


100%. Ben does this, for sure. I used to do that as a coach as well. It’s not that they flat-out wouldn’t work, but they wouldn’t typically go for more than designed to…like 3 yard dive plays, lead plays, etc. Late in 3rd quarter, start hitting them with some counter action, fakes, etc. Our coach is doing this not only from within games, but …
…I’m guessing he’s putting stuff on film for future weeks, knowing _____ is good at defending ____, so he gives them film on how we do certain things.

Our OC is great at wrinkling the ■■■■ out of the offensive call sheet.


Matt Patricia was ahead of his time. He was doing shit that didn’t work before it was cool!

On a more serious note I watched an in depth film review someone did on Matt Patricia’s offensive playcalling in New England. The guy covered one play that Matt stole from something Kyle Shanahan had done against the Seahawks the previous week. But it went over like a wet fart in church because Matt just used the play with no context as to why it worked for the 49ers. Kyle had spent several games setting that play up so that the wrinkle he added to it would break open. Fatty tried to jump right to the wrinkle with no setup. Derp!



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Stop It Michael Jordan GIF


Chris Farley Lol GIF


I am not sure this is all that sexy or new or even fresh. In HS 30 years ago we would start running dive plays. They moving into the trap series. The in the second half we would start running the counters. This is football offense 101. Yeah we run the play action pass off the exact same action as our front side dive play. Now the dive play is typically only good for a yard or 2 but if we get them to bite the play action pass goes for 20+ yards.
Sometimes I think they just run out of anything interesting to write so they just rehash stuff.
This is also why the Rams run a ton of plays out of the bunch formation. If you run all your plays out of the same formation you no longer tip or give any indication on what you are about to run.
Why do you think they run a bunch of hooks with the WR early…yep so when they run the stop and go the corner will hopefully decide to jump the route…this is all kind of basic stuff just done with more window dressing. He is not doing anything new or fresh.


First - I agree with you that this concept isn’t new. That being said the way Kyle does playcalling and play design really is in the top 5 in the current NFL. But it requires getting into the very specific details of the playcalling and tracking them over the course of a season or multiple seasons to see the beauty of it. As you and Natty have pointed out, a long time ago you were running plays with a natural progression. Well think about that. If everyone knows that is the progression, why would professional defensive coordinators and professional defensive players who have been doing it at the highest level not know that? So to do it at the NFL level requires more nuance and planning.

I am a huge fan of using the same formations and using play design to add wrinkles. Peyton Manning and the Colts dominated the league with this concept. They were even consistent with Marvin Harrison lining up n the right and Reggie Wayne lining up to the left. As you said, it makes it so that the defense can’t jump plays based on knowing the formation and situation. But it also has the additional benefit of tipping the hand of the defense if they change something. So the defense is left with (3) options. They can run the same defense over and over and try to out execute the Colts. They can change up their playcalling and tip their hand to Peyton Manning on what the defensive call is based on the formation adjustment. OR…they can run defensive concepts that are not tied to the defensive formation. The last one is hard to do, but its something the old Ravens defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed could pull off.

Lions fans should remember the dangers of trying to use tons of formations and personnel groups to trick defenses. That’s what Joe Lombardi tried, based on his time in New Orleans. But he didn’t have the knack for it like Sean Payton. So any defense that studied the formation and position group knew what the playcall was.


This is why I am excited about the Lions keeping Ben Johnson and the additions of Gibbs, LaPorta and Montgomery. I think it allows the Lions to do the above without substituting can use same formations or same group of players to stress defense in different manners.

I love the fact that they didn’t sleep on the offense in the offseason both FA and the draft. They had a top 5-10 offense but weren’t complacent worked to make a strength stronger.

Can the season get here already.

Anyone remember when the offseason chatter was Jim Colleto and his “signature play” talk? IIRC is was some kind of off tackle run or some such.

Yep, we’re going to run this one just like it’s drawn up and we’re going to execute it because that’s what we do.

Man, Ben Johnson is light years away from that crap.


and to piggyback on this thought….

Shanahan uses pre-snap motion as a weapon… more than any other play caller (though his boy McDaniel may try to best him).

Shanny uses motion to stress the defensive communication, creates leverage against coverage, dictates coverage mismatches, and even just gives the defense a little shiny distraction to slow the pursuit on a run play.


That’s a good point and I think it has been referenced, sort of, in the offseason by Ben J. He has talked about having Gibbs start in the backfield, then go out wide, then in motion and end up in the backfield again or on the other side of the field.
Which leads me to ask, those more intuned with the Lions/Ben last season, did he use motion much or was it other things that made him so good?

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Going all the way back to the playoff loss to the Redskins in 1991…I recall the Redskins had run a short yardage play to the right side of a specific formation something like 15 times in a row that season. Then, during the playoff game, they used the same formation, but took it to the left and of course scored a touchdown. This stuff has been going on as long as there’s been football. Keep it just tricky enough so a guy like Jarrad Davis can’t figure it out.

Ben Johnson is the next great Shanahan, no doubt.


that’s a great video!!!

3 key plays against the division rivals….
and a game winner to Brock against the Jets!!!

Thanks for posting, bro. Great video, & nice find.

There is even more intricacy to it than the breakdown shows too. How often does a crackback block turn into a release, or an all out “fake block”? It’s the equivalent of misdirection on a counter play. SO good. Our TEs, OL, & RBs are carrying out fakes, and so is Goff. That is high level strategy, but also high level coaching. Attention to detail and winning at the margins. Goff looking guys off, faking in the wrong direction, etc. Our entire team is having fun with this and are probably more disciplined than most think. We are a very smart team, as well as aggressive.

With the way our coaches communicate honestly, I’m gonna guarantee you that they are not just saying “fake here in this way”…they are saying “here’s what this fake does, and if you can perfect it, this play will work”.
This gives us such an advantage, especially on offense. There will be things like this happening more on defense now too, as we have more talent. Sneaky pressure coming from unexpected places.

I love how Campbell calls this “weaponizing all players as much as you can.”
It’s like our guys have Jedi mind tricks & opponents have no idea what to expect.

This won’t go away when Ben does. Hope it is as good though. Ben’s creativity is SO good.

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I keep sayin it…

Lose battle, win war Is a thing


The opposite is also true. McVay and the Rams ran everything out of 11 personnel which worked great for a while until a counter for it was found.

I think the Rams “struggles” had much more to do with losses on the O line and the WR group than personnel alignment.

The Super Bowl against Patriots was a choke job by McVay, … but they also didn’t have Kupp and Gurley was broken.