The art of writing a smart book about football, a review

I’ve blogged about college football for almost nine years now, which is either an indication of my level of sanity or of my enjoyment of the game.  (I suppose the two aren’t mutually exclusive, though.)  One of the things that blogging has contributed to the latter is that it’s given me the chance to run across some folks with truly sharp insights to share about football.

One of them is Chris Brown.  Lord knows I’ve linked to Chris’ work many times here, both what he’s posted at his blog and his work at Grantland.  Chris also wrote a book a few years back, The Essential Smart Football, that I reviewed.  About that book, I wrote this:

Hell, he’s managed to make the NFL interesting to me and I haven’t cared about pro football for a long time.  I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

I still can’t.  Chris has a knack for writing about things that make me think about the strategy and tactics of football in a way that few others do.  Sometimes he’s good enough at it to drive me crazy.

So when I tell you that he’s published a new book, The Art of Smart Football, there’s a temptation on my part just to leave things at this:  go buy his book; it’ll make you a better football fan.  But he and his book deserve a little more than that.

Chris shifts from the pros to college and back to the pros seamlessly, as do many of the people he writes about in Art, like Pete Carroll.  But there is a common theme that runs throughout this book – the give and take of strategy.  As he writes in the chapter entitled “Monster Mash”,

Coaches and quarterbacks nowadays are exceptional at identifying and exploiting defensive weaknesses.  Defenses now, with the rise of spread offenses, often give away their soft spots by how they line up, and the myriad of reads, packaged plays, and options make exploiting these weaknesses ever-simpler stuff.

But football is a game of give and take, and defenses are responding…

That’s as true for Nick Saban as it is for Pete Carroll, as true as it is for Chip Kelly (on whatever level he’s coaching) as it is for Art Briles, as true as it is… well, you get the idea.  And there’s plenty more of that in Art – the book, not the coach, I mean.  Simply put, it’s a great read.

So I guess I will leave you with this after all:  go buy Chris’ book; it’ll make you a better football fan.



Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

16 responses to “The art of writing a smart book about football, a review

  1. Russ

    Well, since you recommended it, and it’s really cheap on Kindle, and it’s a short read, and I’ve got a long flight coming up, sure, I’ll buy both.


  2. Leggo5

    Just ordered it. If it stinks, I’ll blame you personally, Senator. My punishment will be to only read all of your posts once.


  3. “Coaches and quarterbacks nowadays are exceptional at identifying and exploiting defensive weaknesses.”

    That’s some in depth analysis right there.


  4. Cousin Eddie

    Looks like he owes you a commission or at least a personally signed copy, assuming he his not a student-Athlete and can’t do stuff like that, as I ordered a copy off your recommendation and it looks like a few more people will.


  5. 69Dawg

    It seems to me the least secret thing that the defense doesn’t do is disguise their alignment. Offense lines up defense lines up QB looks to sideline and sideline calls play based on defenses alignment. So why not just spread the defense out in such a way to not give away the assignments of the players. If the offense can run it’s play from numerous alignments why can’t the defense? Anybody want to help me out?


  6. Thanks! I have so much other reading on my plate now for things that are more integral to my life but I will probably enjoy this a lot more!


  7. And one question Senator, will we be tested on this assignment? 😉