Scouting doesn’t just have to be in real life. You can take a look at the team you’re going to play and adjust your game plan accordingly. As I have said in the other articles about face-to-face play, there more than one way to go about scouting. I will review what I like to do. For this article I will be using two Quarterbacks from the recently released 1976 set. I really believe that the APBA game is best played with that era of football, it was designed then and the game play just “fits” the era better.
My two choices are Ken Stabler and Dan Fouts:
Stabler had one of the great seasons for a quarterback ever, up until that season. He and Bert Jones had a QB rating over 100, the first two since Staubach in 1971 and the first time that two guys in one season were over 100. Fouts, at 25, was handed the keys to the Chargers and finished the year as a very average quarterback.
I’ll be referring to this chart:
My scouting starts with what I will call the “power numbers”, how many 1, 2, 3 and 4 does he have? Part of that is I will want to know what happens if I blitz and the 3 and 4 become 1 and 2? My next check is for interception numbers. How many and how many specifically are 24 and 25? I want to know what I am going to get for turnovers and I am going to be very happy to see the 24 and 25 because I’ll be able to play more S and still get the interceptions. I’ll want to see 26 and 27 results, because if the QB can run I may need to account for that (as I did with Mariota in the defense article). Finally I like to see how many sacks I have a shot at.
So with Stabler you get a very strong double 1 and a 2. He doesn’t, however, have any 3 or 4 results. He has a 24 and a 25 so I can get picks but he only has 1 20. With a 28 and a 29 he will get sacked but not the big sack. He has a 26 so he is not a huge threat to run and his R column is dreadful so it’s basically another sack. Fouts, on-the-other-hand has a 2 and a 4 for power, he has a 21 and a 25 for pick numbers, plus 3 20’s so there are defenses that will push Dan over 3 picks and in one case much higher. With a 28, 29 and 30 he can get some big sacks. He has one 26 and his run column is actually pretty good.
Let’s start with Stabler. First if the ’76 Raiders are opponent get your mind around giving up some points. This is a really good offensive team. A check of the chart shows that Stabler has 2 picks and it’s hard to get even a third. So if the Raiders roll out 3-Wide what is better, Dime middle or Nickel light? Let’s see, if I go Dime Middle then we’ll assume that the Raiders will be BS even, there are plenty of A receivers after all. That means 16 completions (basically half or a little more with the RP/ Fumble et al.), 2 interceptions and 3 touchdowns. If I go nickel light then he’s BD up two lines so you pick up a half an interception but no completions or TDs. So if the choice is Dime Middle or Nickel light and I think he is going medium I think I’d opt for nickel and drop the running game down 2, even in light plus a yard. Now if it’s short he’s up to a tremendous 21 completions, with 2 interceptions and 3 touchdowns against a dime and 19.5, 2 interceptions and touchdowns against a nickel. So again I like the nickel. One more thought on defending Stabler, because he doesn’t have a 3 or a 4 you’re not going to add any additional touchdowns to him even if you blitz. Look at the chart, he’s either 2 or 3 TDs. The 1 is always a TD and there are a few short passes where the two doesn’t get it done. My theme is there’s no “harm” in blitzing and you do knock his completion percentage down.
Fouts is different, as you’d expect. Against a Dime Dan is going to get 12.5 completions medium and 18 short. In both cases he gets an interception and a touchdown. Against a nickel the completions are 12 and 16.5 but you take a TD off the board and medium Fouts goes to 3.5 interceptions. So I would be very comfortable blitzing but if I am not blitzing I am likely to stay in S otherwise because I am not getting enough out of going to D.
Remember the basic tenet of defense is don’t be predictable but if you scout you can ride the odds. If the opposing QB has a 3 on 66, therefore no 1 or 2 results, stay away from the blitz. It’s tough to score without a TD result. If you can force field goals from the Raiders of ’76, that’s a win.