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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2010
Kirwan takes you from draft day to on-field offensive and defensive schemes, throwing in a fascinating day-by-day look at a team's weekly schedule, in his comprehensive and entertaining book. As a relative newbie to the game (and a girl to boot) I appreciated the deep background information on the history of the Wildcat play and the shotgun formation. Sophisticated fans will appreciate Kirwan's insider knowledge on many of today's players. There's even some fantasy football tips sprinkled throughout the narrative.

Rookie and veteran alike should pick this book up in time for opening weekend kick off.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
This is a thorough and informative book for anyone who considers themselves a serious football fan ... really helps you appreciate the strategy and nuances of what really is a complex game, but written simply and in straightforward language. A great gift for all those 'pseudo-fans' who may come un-informed (and who scream idiotic things at the TV every Sunday)!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2013
If you are looking to tutor your child into organized sports, I do not suggest this. It's quite advanced, sort of like coaching plays when you don't know what's going on. Not for the novice but more for an intermediate or advanced level American Football player
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
...let me start by saying what this book is NOT. This book is NOT for casual fans of the game who just watch with friends or significant others to pass time. This book is NOT a resource for people looking to learn the basics of the game. Some research online can easily give you this information. Finally, this book is NOT for people who don't enjoy critical thinking. You might say, "What does thinking have to do with football??? It is just a bunch of oversized guys beating the crap out of each other." Well, that is far from the truth, and this book illustrates why.

On the other hand, this book gives people who have been watching the game for many years a new perspective on the game, and gets into the strategic aspects of it. As the title suggests, the author encourages people to take their eye off the ball and watch what goes on with the other players. Where are the safeties? How are the linebackers and defensive ends lined up? Zone coverage or man coverage? Are the offensive linemen in a two-point or three-point stance? Is the offense running a 21 personnel or a 10 personnel? How do you know if the QB is going to run the ball, or pass it? If any of these questions make you go "WTF is he talking about," please don't buy this book. You are wasting time and money.

The author goes onto answer all of these questions, plus many more. You will understand the game from the POV of coaching staff something even the most die-hard NFL fans have probably never done (unless they played the game, of course). The book also discusses the business of football, and how talent scouts go about evaluating potential draftees, as well as the interactions between management and the players. In addition, the author has a chapter dedicated to each of the major positions (QB, WR, RB, LB, etc), and what makes a good player in each of these positions.

A fan of the game will understand it on such a deep level, that you will find yourself going to iTunes to download old games just to see if you can apply some of the things you learned. I know I did.

I took off a star because the editing work is not that good. The author mentions information in a later chapter that would have made more sense at the beginning. As I already mentioned and emphasized, he assumes a great deal of prerequisite knowledge that only someone that plays the game would have.

But overall, I found my football watching experience greatly enhanced after reading this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2012
This book is indispensable for understanding whats really happening. What is the A Gap? B Gap? Why was Warren Sapp the best 3 Technique in 4-3 but was useless as a 3-4 Defensive end? Why has Brandon Jacobs production declined since 2007-08, to the point he has just been cut by the Giants? Spoiler: Because defenses know the big back can only run in only 2 gaps, unlike Bradshaw and the usual faster (and less overpowering) Running Backs. The Giants also usually only use 11 personnel (1RB, 1TE) unlike the 21 personnel (1RB, 1FB, 1TE) standard in those Run Heavy 07-08 Giant seasons.
If you found my opening paragraph interesting, than you NEED to own this book. This book is for those smarter fans who already know the basics, and are totally unsatisfied with the glossy media coverage of the NFL, which tells you nothing about what actually happened last Sunday, and what will happen. This book starts to give you a glimpse of whats REALLY going on in the field. Pro-Football is just as Intellectually demanding as chess, and its strategic elements are fascinating. I knew this before the book, but I had no idea how far.

The conventional view most fans have is that its all about the talent of the players, bad teams are bad because they lack the famous stars. Its a match of strength and speed. But its not, everybody on the field is fast and strong...Its a chess match. The NFL is ALL about Gameplanning, half the game has been won during the week before by how the opposing coaching staffs have decided to attack eachother. I realize NOW why coaches are hired and fired so frequently, its not about Personality and "Leadership Skills" - Its how the team's talent is being used or misused every week, often what is happening is a result of being outsmarted and figured out, they must innovate or die. Than they make guesses as to how the opposing staff will react to their reaction.

For those who are going to buy this book, there are some great web resources to keep up with what's happened each week, once you've learned whats in this book. Footballoutsiders, Smartfootball, Profootballfocus. Reading this book began my learning process, and there's tons where that came from. Im looking into purchasing 'essentials of smartfootball' as Ive gotten into that sites archives. If you're the above average intelligence fan, and have had enough of ridiculous media talk of the same old junk, I cant stand hearing or listening or reading junk like this or that QB 'has what it takes to win'. NFL Network Playbook during the season is great, but Im never home for it. Ive heard Jaworski has a good show too. His book 'Games that changed the game' is worth a read. Also: While waiting for this book to arrive in the mail, Google NYTimes "Guide to NFL Defenses Part 1" - Its a 7 part series they published on the 5th Down blog last september, it was the first thing I ever read that REALLY taught me something. This book filled in the rest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2010
Pat Kirwan truly explains why I love football. It is quite literally, battle chess for the 21st century. I always knew this, but I wanted to know it more in depth. I knew that the defense is reading the offense, and the offense is reading the defense. I knew that the offense knows what they want to do, while the defense needs to react to what they see. But I wanted to get into the finer details of these relationships. I wanted to know what to look for, I wanted to know what the players are looking for. I wanted to know the differences why a quarterback like Peyton Manning is so much better than a quarterback like Jay Cutler. I wanted to know why one wide receiver with incredible speed and size, is not as good as another that is smaller and slower. Pat Kirwan addresses all of these questions that I had. He addresses the matchups, the mismatchups, the defensive line schemes and their intended usages, the offensive line schemes and their intended designs, and drafting players to fit certain schemes that may or may not be in place. It describes how a coach and his coaching staff can completely upend 2 years of draft picks if they change schemes. He goes over player assignments, reads, adjustments and audibles. Clearly there is more detail than he could possibly get into within the scope of this book, but this book provides a great foundation for allowing you to delve deeper into say, a coaches playbook type of book.

This book was exactly what I was looking for, and it was only made better in that it was written this year with the most current information at his disposal. Pat's ability to reference the past, present and future makes this a perfect read at this time.

The NFL is quite literally modern day battle chess; it is a battle of mental toughness, ingenuity and physical strength, but can only be truly understood when you understand some of the history of the game and the way the different schemes and types of play have affected how you prepare for any given Sunday. Read about the pump-fake-draw and you'll think to yourself, what other things can I do to make my opponent miss just half a step? It is made even more interesting when you truly realize that games are won in the off-season almost as much as it is won during the actual season.

I love this book and the game. Highly recommended read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2011
Finally a fun book that gets us up to speed with the 21st century game. If you've depended on sound bites from sports commentators to get your info, or read the local sports opinion piece as your "in-depth" look at football, then you need this book. Even if you're a fan of more in-depth knowledge like Football Outsiders, Rotoworld, play Madden daily, or even skip work to watch the NFL combine, this book will actually show you the game within the game, not just the simplified look you get on TV. You'll finally learn how players can read pass or run so quickly, why a DBs job is so hard, and what coaches actually do for their work week. My only draw back is that I'm a big fan of player evaluation and it kind of fell short on that, but this book is really about how players and coaches play the game, what you would actually have to do if you were in the NFL. Goes great with the book "Next Man Up" if you want to understand day to day NFL. Good job Pat...I hope you write another with even more info.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2010
Extremely insightful and easy-to-understand explanations of otherwise-complex football concepts. The book is not intended for total beginners who do not know the basics of football. But if you are at least a casual fan who has a bit of basic knowledge about the game, this book really takes you in depth on virtually every aspect of football--and it does so without becoming a boring or dry technical manual. In fact, I couldn't put the book down.

Some of the many things it covers are how to identify various personnel groupings and formations on the field, what those groupings/formations tell you about the play that is coming, what each player's responsibilities are, the differences in various schemes, and how the coaches' strategies are playing out on the field as you are watching. Kirwan also gives many examples to illustrate his points.

I've been looking for a book like this for quite a while and I'm glad I found this book before the NFL and college seasons begin. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2012
By all means, get the version with the DVD! Pat Kirwan is great at the chalkboard in explaining the intricacies of the sport, making making this a great complement to the text. Various positions and tactics are examined and dicussed as though he was writing for and talking to adults. If this book doesn't improve your appreciation of the game, you should just switch your viewing to ping-pong. Coupled with my tivo which allows me to slow viewing of play development or even fix it for examination, I may even eventually avoid disgracing myself when I belly up to the bar in my friendly Sports watering hole and engage my fellow enthusiasts in dialogue about the game. I come away with the impression that the area above those massive tree-trunk necks that we see on TV is used for a great deal more than just a battering ram.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2011
I just finished another great Sunday watching NFL football. Before reading this book, I only watched NFL if I had to socially with the guys or if the hometown team was in the playoffs. Now, I know what's going on and it makes it quite enjoyable. People think I'm actually knowledgeable because I can anticipate the play, break down what the defense is doing, point out what's going on on the line, etc. I also know the lingo. Even the route #'s (had to look those up). This is one of the few books I've read more than once and I still refer to it once in a while for a refresher or clarification. And I'm not a sports guy. But "take your eye off" has turned brute chaos into a game of grace and intellect. Seriously. Thanks, Pat. Be listening to you on the radio.
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