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Coaching in Football Video Games and Team Personality Part 1 
Posted on October 9, 2010 at 01:09 PM.
Of all the sports around the world, the role of the coach is most critical in American Football. No other sport has so many highly specialized positions, so the coordination of those positions is an integral part of the game.

So why is it that NFL games rarely address this subject with any depth? Madden's coaches provide small attribute bonuses, while coaches in the 2K series had virtually no influence whatever. NFL Head Coach 09 took a stab at it, but that was a game wholly devoted to the coaching art.

I'm going to present a proposal to gaming companies in general in this blog; a way to approach coaching that produces a realistic level of coaching influence and provides the user with another set of strategic choices in their franchise toolbox.

Types of Coaches

I have identified four key coaching "types". I feel I can boil virtually any coach down into one of these personality types.

It should be noted that the archtypes I am going to present represent the 'purest' form of the coaching style. This does not mean that there is no balance or no exceptions to the rules presented, but that, in general, all coaches can be loosely fitted into one of these categories.

Each style defines an approach to personnel and motivation.

The four types of coaches I have identified are; The Scientist, the General, the Tyrant, and the Executive.

The Scientist
* Examples: Bill Walsh, Hal Mumme

The Scientist believes in focus and preparation above all else. He is a student of tactics and the best are known for their game planning. Their teams tend to be well prepared and have an intimate knowledge of the system.

The Scientist is a schemer. He develops tactics and acquires players who will fit his system's requirements.

The Scientist prepares his team through focus, repetition, and a sense of professionalism and calmness. Training camps are light affairs compared to most coaches, focusing on teaching and evaluation.

The Scientist sees the quarterback as a special position; the most important position on the field, and devotes special attention to the QB. He tends to seek a calm, smooth, methodical style of quarterback with a focus on leadership, footwork, and accuracy.

The Scientist tends to be offensive minded and favor the passing game. His offensive system tends to be timing based and make use of many receivers, with the West Coast and Air Raid offenses being predominant among this coaching style.

The General
* Examples: Vince Lombardi, Steve Spurrier

The General is grounded in fundamental football. He believes in repetition and expertise among his players. He is generally known for having his players motivated and excited to play, as well as being extremely well versed in a fairly small but diverse system. The Excellence of Execution typifies this coach, who believes it's not what you do, but how you do it.

Like the Scientist, the General is a schemer. However, strategies for dealing with the opposition take a backseat to execution. The General believes that if properly executed, his system can handle anything the opposition throws at it. He will acquire players that fit the specific roles that his system requires.

The General prepares his team through will, determination, and toughness. Training camp is tough, but measured, designed to identify the players who fit into the overall scheme.

The General acknowledges the important role a QB plays, but tends to downplay the position in his system in order to not place too much weight on the player. He tends to seek a controlled, 'system' quarterback who does not make mistakes and provides good leadership.

The General tends to be offensively minded with a bias toward the running game. Power running and stopping the run are hallmarks of The General.


The Tyrant
* Examples: Bear Bryant, Mike Ditka

The Tyrant sees the football field as a war zone, and football as a test of manhood. His teams are known for being hard hitting, tough, physically intimidating units. To the Tyrant, system is secondary, athletes are everything.

The Tyrant tends to be flexible with his system, making use of the best players on his roster in the best position he can. Though he favors systems that require little thought or processing on the fly, this is because he wants athletes to allow their abilities to take over and dominate on the football field.

The Tyrant motivates through force of will. His training camps are long, harsh affairs that weed out the weak through trial by fire.

The Tyrant sees the Quarterback is one of eleven, holding no special status among positions. He is no more a leader of the team than a middle linebacker or center other than having play calling duties. He seeks a quarterback that typifies his mindset; a tough, gritty leader.

The Tyrant tends to be defensive minded with a focus on the running game. Systems that allow his athletes to read and react naturally and over-power their opposition are favored.

The Executive
* Examples: Bill Belichick, Joe Paterno

The executive is a director and sees his role as a leader of men. His teams are typified as well prepared and mentally focused groups who get the job done without regard to how. The executive is results orientated and does not allow blind faith in a system to derail him.

The executive is flexible in his approach to tactics, using the system best suited to the roster he has. He favors creating match ups and finding holes to overpowering his opposition, but does so dependent on what talent he has available rather than finding players who fit his operation.

Mental focus are important to the Executive, and his training camps tend to be fairly light teaching forums designed to identify his team's strengths so he can capitalize on them during the regular season.

The executive sees the QB as a potentially important position but realizes that a team without a great one must adapt to maintain success. He seeks an unselfish quarterback who is intelligent and adaptive.

The Executive tends to be an defensive minded coach with a focus on the passing game. He tends to favor flexible systems capable of putting a variety of players to use.

In future editions of this series, we will look at the affects these coaching types can have on a team, how coaches of the same type differ, how that can be implemented into an NFL video game, and how assistant coaches and coordinators fit in as well.

Unfortunately, due to unforseen circumstances, I will not be completing this blog series. Leaving it up as a point of reference only.
Comments
# 1 adembroski @ Oct 9
My apologies if it is unclear. I wrote this casually and did not revise. If you would be so kind as to point out problem areas I can clarify, I'd be happy to do so.
 
# 2 schnaidt1 @ Oct 9
ok wow, are u delirious? after i read ur lil comment....after reading through the first time without any problem whatsoever, i read it again looking for any areas that were hard to read or grasp.....ive simply come to the conclusion that u dont know what ur talking about. maybe u cant understand things unless its been dumbed down...idk. either way, GOOD right up AJ!!!
 
# 3 RedZoneD25 @ Oct 9
Great insight, AJ...This has been a lost cause in video games, I can't wait to see how you think that can change.
 
# 4 NoDakHusker @ Oct 9
lol did I read the same article as Steel? Where are these mistakes?
Anyway, nice read. I really enjoy your blogs, AJ.
 
# 5 PlatooN @ Oct 9
AJ, are you seriously asking for this much depth to a madden game?

Seriously though, The coaching thing needs to be addressed, it's absolutely useless as is. i mean common, if you hire Andy Reid you get +5 HB route running? how lame is that! Who ever designed and approved it both need a good stiff arm.

It can't stop at head coaches, For example in green bay, the hire of Kevin Greene as an olb coach has obviously paid dividends. Assistant and positional coaches should be included as well.

n dnot wuRRy itZ nOT [email protected] 2 r
 
# 6 Beastly Wayz @ Oct 9
I must have missed something from the first comment, yes there are some grammer errors, but not hard to read. I actually enjoyed the Blog, Thank you for this interesting read. Yes, sports games has lost focus on this point. I pray EA is listening and decides to make this a focal point in the future. How, I have honestly no idea, but hey that's why they collect the pay checks...

Again, Nice Read
 
# 7 Blak_Baki_Hanma @ Oct 9
Really great read.
Hell, I think I just learned somethin'... good stuff!

Maybe nfl2k13 can take these points into consideration.
Don't expect much innovation from Madden...
 
# 8 adembroski @ Oct 9
@TheCreep

This blog was meant as a preliminary setup for a series of blogs in which I will detail the way these would work in-game.

No, no +points in any category. The interaction of the coaches on a given staff will affect progression, of course, but wont give direct ability bonuses in the game. AI Behavior, however, will be altered.

As I said, I'll get into it in future editions. This is stage 1.
 
# 9 adembroski @ Oct 9
@Clutch masta everything I included was necessary to state, and you'll see why in future versions. The length was necessary and intentional. As part of the whole series, I'm confident you'll understand why I explained each coaching type in the detail I did.
 
# 10 Valdarez @ Oct 10
I wrote up a strategy explanation for how to employ coaching bonuses, offensive & defensive philosophy, team chemistry, and new player attributes for APF2K8, which was all for naught. Don't think EA will listen to anything either. They're going to do whatever they can to make $$$, end of story. Realism, fun, quality, etc all take a backseat. So nice blog, but I won't be holding my breath to see anything of quantitative value from the community make it into an EA Sports game in a way that truly betters the game itself.
 
# 11 adembroski @ Oct 11
Please post all comments in English, thank you.
 
# 12 supermanemblem @ Oct 12
good read but spurrier is definitely a scientist. his teams are never mistaken for tough because all he ever cared about was what he wanted to do when his team had the ball. also, scientists are found on the defensive side as well. rex ryan and a younger bellicheck come to mind. they spent years cooking up exotic schemes to confuse offenses. interesting concept though no doubt.
 
# 13 adembroski @ Oct 12
With all three, you only addressed one aspect of the equation (something I'll dig more into in a supplemental edition I'll do tomorrow more than likely).

Not saying you're wrong. I said that a given coaching type "tends" toward one way or another, not that its set in stone. Most scientists are offensive minded coaches, but not all.

However, there are two traits that define all scientists; they are schemers first and personnel guys second, and they produce focused, level headed teams over fiery, emotional teams.
 
# 14 supermanemblem @ Oct 13
perhaps. after re-reading, if you swap walsh with spurrier then it makes more sense to me. walsh was more logical in his approach. spurrier's focus is always on his next playcall and his lack of interest in anything but his offense is what got him run out of the nfl. hal mumme was cut from a similar cloth. i see the scientist as an experimenter who puts schemes together on theory and unleashes them on the field. they then tweak plays and schemes to counter what they saw. as for walsh, he was all about execution. montana and young were very smart men. aside from jerry rice, name another hall of famer they threw to. taylor, jones, craig, solomon, etc. were good players, but walsh's quest for perfection in execution is what made the niners so dominant during their run. again, i like what you posted, just engaging in a friendly debate on where you put the coaches.
 
# 15 adembroski @ Oct 13
While I understand where you are coming from, your argument isn't with where I placed these men, but with the names I gave the categories.

I'll be doing the next blog today, maybe that'll clarify where these categories come from better.
 

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