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Coaching Football’s Zone Offense, by Stan Zweifel

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by Terry Matthews  |  @Gridironalytics |   Published Sep 1, 2018

+ Book Review

Coaching Football's Zone Offense, by Stan Zweifel

by Terry Matthews  |  @Gridironalytics   |  Published November 29, 2018

Image Credit: Cliff

With Coaching Football’s Zone Offense, college coach Stan Zweifel wrote an enormously prescient book, describing in detail the dominant offensive philosophy of the modern era of football: the zone-based offense. Pervasive at every level of football, the fundamental concepts underpinning the zone offense have infiltrated and influenced probably every playbook of every coach in the NFL and college.

Zweifel provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at why the zone offense rose to ascendency the way it did, but also why the team he was then associated with (the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) transitioned to a zone offense. Primarily but not exclusively, Zweifel cites issues related to developments on defense: the new zone blitz scheme for instance, and goes on to illustrate how the zone offense fixed or negated these issues.

Indeed throughout the book, Zweifel continually underlines the main points that make the zone offense so attractive to football coaches at all levels of the game:

  •  Simplicity
  •  Misdirection
  •  Personnel-friendliness

According to Zweifel, his own program’s change to a zone offense was about simplifying things, and creating on the offensive line a blocking scheme better able to cope with the kind of complex looks defenses began to show them (a tradition of complexity on defense that’s continued right up to today, and perhaps a reason why zone blocking schemes continue to be the norm as OC’s try to make it as easy as possible for their O-linemen to do their job).

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The book is doubly interesting in showing, in extensive detail, the pragmatic changes that are often the true first-movers that re-write how the game is played, as opposed to the idea new innovations in football are often conceived in isolation from the game itself. Schemed up with pen and paper and entirely abstracted from the cold, hard realities of the game.

This, pointedly, is not how the zone offense came about – or why it continues to evolve and develop the way it does.

Zweifel uses each chapter to illustrate how zone principles effect every facet of the zone offense, first starting with actual formations, before proceeding to describe various nuances of stock zone plays, including the inside zone run play, outside zone run play, misdirection run plays, up to the play-action pass game and RPOs out of a zone offense.

Backing up all his points, Zweifel uses play diagrams to illustrate what he’s describing in the text. All of which are clear and concise, and show the proper execution of a play or some nuance of the scheme.

The zone offense philosophically is built upon simplicity, resourcefulness and pragmaticism, with a pinch of old school hit-them-in-the-mouth aggressiveness – and this fact permeates and is consistently highlighted by Coaching Football’s Zone Offense, coloring every subject our author covers. Each moving-part of the offense must be able to adjust and adapt, fluidily masking weakness and accentuating strength, never veering from a central philosophy that champions the multifaceted approach to football, both situationally and as part of a wider gameplan. Explaining why the zone offense has been so successful – and continues to be so successful.

All told, Zweifel wrote the premier piece of literature on football’s ever-popular zone offense.


To purchase a copy of Coaching Football’s Zone Offense, click here