Gameplan - Playbook
Just as in real-life, in Gameplan you call all of your plays during a game from a "playbook".
In Gameplan this is split up into five sections, Offensive formations, Running Plays, Passing Plays, Defensive Plays and Special Teams, plus a "Hints and Tips section".
Click on the links below for more details of the various sections of the playbook.
1.1 INTRODUCTION - The table below shows the formation codes and names for each formation available, the number of each player type on the field in that formation, and the general effectiveness of the formation for different play calls.
1.2 WING BACKS - Running backs lined up in wing back positions are more effective as receivers than in their usual positions, but much less effective running or blocking (though they can block, and at a pinch run the ball if they go in motion). A wing back is likely to be a better receiver and a bigger threat after the catch than a tight end, although there are several defences in Gameplan that effectively key on the running backs, and fewer that specifically take out the tight end. Wings are less effective as blockers (than either tight ends or full backs), being largely restricted to outside running plays.
1.3 BASIC FORMATIONS - The basic offensive formation in pro football is the one we call the pro set. This lines up with five offensive linemen, the quarterback, one tight-end, two wide-receivers and two running backs (the full back and the half back). The running backs are both set in the backfield, one directly behind the quarterback and one slightly offset to the strongside.
1.4 STRONG SIDE - The side where the tight end lines up is known as the strong side (since the offence has the extra blocker on that side). The other side is known as the weak side. We assume the tight end is normally set at the right end on the line of scrimmage, from where he can block as a lineman or release to catch like a receiver. The strong side is the open side for the quarterback (in Gameplan quarterbacks are always considered as being right-handed).
1.5 WIDE RECEIVERS - The wide receivers are normally split one each side of the line of scrimmage. The weakside receiver starts on the line and is sometimes known as the split end (he's the other end from the tight end). The strongside receiver starts a yard behind the line of scrimmage and is sometimes known as the flanker. It is the flanker who is most usually seen "in motion" and this extra freedom makes him more difficult to jam on the line of scrimmage. Usually a team has their most dangerous receiver as the flanker.
1.6 BASIC VARIATIONS - The Pro Set Near (A) offers great variety to the offence. With the tight end to block and two running backs in the backfield, they can use lead runs (where the fullback leads the halfback through the hole), or misdirection plays (where one back fakes the run in one direction and the other carries the ball in another). The alignment of the running backs allows good running straight ahead or strongside, particularly lead running to the strongside. Weakside running is less effective. Passing is fairly good, with two wide receivers plus the tight end, and the two running backs in the backfield able to release or block.
The Pro Set Far (K) formation is similar, but instead of one running back offsetting to the strongside he is offset to the weakside. Straight ahead running is unaffected, but weakside running is improved at the expense of the strongside.
The Open Set (O) formation is the third combination, where both backs are offset, one weakside and one strongside. Lead-running and running up the middle are poor, but running is otherwise good to both strong and weak sides.
In the I formation (I) both running backs are set directly behind the quarterback, with the fullback in front and the halfback 2-3 yards deeper than in a pro set. The running game is strong, especially up the middle, at the expense of the passing game (the running backs take longer to release into the flat or upfield and cannot pass-block as easily, being directly behind the quarterback at the snap).
1.7 TWO TIGHT ENDS - Another common set is the Two Tight End Balanced (T) formation, where one running back is removed and a second tight end sets up on the weakside of the line of scrimmage. This effectively removes the strongside/weakside differentiation. The blocking is now equally strong to either side, at the expense of the ability to use plays which require two running backs (misdirection or lead runs).
A variation is the Two Tight End Unbalanced (U) formation, where the second tight end lines up on the strongside. Here there are two extra blockers to the strongside, but rushing to the weakside will probably be very poor (unless the defence over commits to the strongside).
An alternative for extra blocking power is the Jumbo (J) formation, in which the second tight end is brought in at the expense of a wide receiver. With two tight ends it has all the benefits of a balanced line of scrimmage but there are still two running backs available for misdirection and lead running. However there is only one wide receiver, so the passing game, particularly deep, is fairly weak.
The ultimate running formation is the Goal Line (G) formation, in which an extra offensive lineman replaces the only wide receiver from the Jumbo formation. This adds yet another blocker at the further expense of the passing game.
1.8 THREE RECEIVERS - A formation with an extra receiver can be achieved by removing a running back and bringing in a wide receiver, to produce the Slot (H) formation. Passing to the wide receivers is significantly improved, but passing to the running back will be poor. The role of the tight end is unchanged, but the running game is restricted as there is only one running back in the backfield.
An alternative is the Ace (E) formation, where a running back (sometimes referred to as an H-back) sets up close to the line of scrimmage outside the tight-end as a wing back. This permits him faster release into the flat or over the middle, but he is much less effective as a runner or blocker.
1.9 FOUR RECEIVERS - To produce a formation with four wide receivers it is necessary either to play without a tight end, or without any running backs in the backfield.
In the Stretch (S) formation the tight end is removed and there are four wide receivers. There is now no strongside to the offensive line, and the running game will be poor. There is no run blocking other than the offensive line, and successful running is dependent upon the passing game keeping the defence out of specialist run defences. The passing game is particularly good, but with no tight-end and only one running-back is almost entirely restricted to the wide receivers.
The Wing-Three (Z) formation is an alternative with only three wide receivers, but with the second running back moved to become a wing back (the same as in the Ace). The running game is almost as weak as with the Stretch, but with a running back and a wing back available the passing game is available to both running backs and wide receivers.
The Split (L) formation is a variation of the Ace formation, with both running backs lining up as wings (near the line of scrimmage). The variation in the passing game is optimised, with two wing backs, two wide receivers and the tight end, but with no-one in the backfield the running game is non-existent.
1.10 SHOTGUN FORMATIONS - The various shotgun formations are variations on the other passing formations, in which the quarterback lines up four to seven yards deep in the backfield instead of immediately behind the centre ("under centre" in football parlance). Rather than handing the ball directly to the quarterback on the snap, the centre must pitch it and the quarterback must catch it. This longer snap increases the chance of a fumbled exchange, but the quarterback gains extra time to read the defence, dodge the pass rush and find an open receiver.
In the Shotgun Ace (B) formation there are two wide receivers, one tight end, one wing back and one running back (who stands alongside the quarterback in the backfield). The passing game is balanced, but not particularly strong deep, and the running game will be relatively poor (the running back is likely to be stationary when he takes any handoff) even though the tight end is available as an blocker.
The most common shotgun formation is the Shotgun Ace (C) formation, where the wing-back is replaced by a third wide receiver. This offers the greatest threat from the passing game whilst still retaining some semblance of a running game.
The most extreme shotgun formation is the Shotgun Spread (D) formation in which the tight end is replaced by a fourth wide receiver and the lone running back moves up to the line of scrimmage as a wing back. The running game is non-existent, and it is usually only used in desperation.
1.11 WISHBONE - The Wishbone (W) formation is rarely used in pro football, but is still the staple of many college teams. There is only one receiver and only one tight end, but there are three running backs set in the backfield, one directly behind the quarterback and one offset slightly to each side. It is particularly strong for misdirection and option running, but is very weak in the passing game. Wishbone teams normally run most of the time and throw only a few passes per game. The success of the wishbone is primarily due to the lower quality of collegiate football and the willingness of collegiate coaches to allow their quarterbacks to run with the ball. In the pros the extra speed of defensive players prevents teams consistently running misdirection plays.