Calling Trick Plays – “Mark Zarb Style”

Mark Zarb was kind enough to allow me to release his “Trick Play” formula into the public domain. I’ve had the pleasure of using it for the past 12 replays and absolutely love it. I’m always amazed at how nearly each teams trick play attempt is accounted for. Traditionally, it’s the head coach that has the final say if a trick play is called and it’s no different on my tabletop. For example, if a “Fake Punt” comes up and the situation is unrealistic (backed up deep into my own territory, 4th and long situations, etc), I simply ignore it. The best part is that all trick plays are randomly selected to eliminate “gaming of the system”.

Step-by-step instructions are listed in the below standalone file. I hope that you enjoy this system as much as I have.

Trick Play Formula

“Thanksgiving Memories”

As my 2015 NFL replay gets ready for the Thanksgiving slot of games, I couldn’t help but think of the wonderful day my best friend, Mark Zarb, and I had together watching those games, enjoying Becky’s turkey and having a few drinks. It was a treat to be able to grill out a “cowboy cut ribeyes” on Black Friday but unfortunately I had to cut the trip short and fly down to Florida to deal with my ailing mother. The below picture was from the previous Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving (Mark and Greg)

Full Circle – 1968 AFL/NFL Replay

It seems like yesterday that I was searching EBAY for some APBA Football cards only to come across a listing for a 1968 AFL/NFL APBA card set compatible with the modern football game created by some gentleman named Mark Zarb. Of course, being a life-long New York Jets fan, I couldn’t believe my luck. Upon receiving the card set, I noticed Mark Zarb’s contact information at the bottom of the introduction letter and reached out to him. How would I know that I just found my brother from another mother? We both are life-long, die-hard, suffering New York Jet fans with a passion for the realism of APBA Football.

While Mark was still selling cards, I purchased and eventually replayed the 1967, 1974, and 1981 seasons. When he got out of the business, he took a hiatus from the hobby for a couple of years but not from our friendship. We routinely communicated and eventually I convinced him to come visit me down in Huntsville, Alabama in March, 2014.

That visit was pivotal because it brought him back into the fold as a card maker and a replayer. Since then, he has carded and replayed the following seasons: 1972, 1981 (revised from original) and 1978. In addition, he carded and is currently working on replaying the 2010 campaign. In between numerous Thanksgivings and Iron Bowls, Jet games, innovation discussions, fine-dining, and countless Crown Royal and Tanqueray’s together, he found the time to card me 1985, 1969 and 1998 seasons for my replaying pleasure.

I find it only fitting, that my tenth full-season replay will be the 1968 AFL/NFL season. Just for clarification purposes, this will not be conducted with the original set that I purchased all those years ago. This is a brand new set based off of “lessons learned” from the eleven football seasons that Mark has carded and well over a 1,000 play-tested games which have validated the innovations and methodology that we employ.

Macro or Auto-Sort “Standings”

In this corner, we have the number 1 contender, Auto-sort, versus the champion, Macros, in a title bout for the “Most User-friendly APBA Football Standings”. In this title bout the APBA Football community is the winner because both methods are tremendous timesavers. I’m always looking for ways to improve all facets (preparation, method of play, data input and reporting) of my replays and am blessed to have really smart friends. Denny Hodge created the auto-sort version and my APBA Football brother, Mark Zarb, created the macro-version.

These standings are designed to use in conjunction with the team workbooks that I posted a few days back. All you have to do is link each teams win, loss, tie, points scored and points allowed to the template. If using the auto-sort workbook, just link to gray-colored section.

Usage is very simple, for the auto-sort just open the file and the standings automatically adjust for each team’s winning percentage. For the macro version, just simultaneously press CTRL R keys and each divisions winning percentage is sorted. Press a second time and each divisions win record is sorted and press a third time and each division is alphabetically for teams with identical records. These functions happen a mind-numbing speed.

I know which one is my favorite but they are both winners in my book! Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t allow macro files to be inserted into a post but if interested email me at and I will send you the file.

2002 Standings(auto sort)

Tweaks to Existing Innovations & Introducing a New One

For several years now, Mark Zarb and I have corroborated numerous innovations and ideas with regard to APBA Football. Mark is the “brains”, he comes up with the conceptual ideas and transforms them into procedures or innovations. I apply those ideas/innovations to my replays to determine the effectiveness. Now, that Mark is playing full-time, we have double the data points to determine if it “works or not”.

The primary reason I replayed the 1969 AFL season was to be able to compare the statistics of the two replays. The following is the four objectives that I evaluated:

Objective 1. Assess adjustment to Fletch67 defensive ratings and Key against the Run.

Objective 2. Assess change to Double Coverage (Keying) formula for both Neutral and Situational downs.

Objective 3. Assess if change to “Situational Down and Distance” chart affected opponent’s ability to convert third down.

Objective 4. Assess frequency and playability of new “Pass Rush Impact” innovation.

Test Report 



Innovation – “Special Teams”

Special Team Return Charts

Since I will be introducing a new innovation by Mr. Dan Flynn on Friday, I wanted to take the time to post Mr. Mark Zarb’s “Special Teams” innovation. Mark has rated each team’s ability to cover both kick-off and punt returns. These ratings can either be A, B+, B, B- or C. Let’s say Team A is rated “B” on kickoff coverage and “B-“on punt coverage. A separate chart breaking down kickoff and punt returns into each of the aforementioned indices is included above (a sample of part of the kickoff return chart is below). In the Team A example, whenever they are covering a kick-off you would look up the result off of the returner’s card under column “B” on punt returns you would look up the result off of the returner’s card under column “B-“.

Special Team Example






Innovation Friday – “Timing Method”

I want to revisit a tremendous innovation created by Mr. Mark Zarb. Without question, the most important statistic in a football game is “Total Plays”. Why, because if these are off, guess what? All of your other statistics will be “off”, it has the ultimate trickle-down effect.

What is the purpose of an innovation? To improve or rectify an existing shortfall and enhance accuracy. Using the “out of box” rules for timing is a very “cookie-cutter” approach. I say this because it doesn’t account for all the different eras of football or the individual styles of each team. Let’s just look at the statistics from the 2016 NFL season, The New Orleans Saints ran the most plays from scrimmage with 69.06 compared to the Detroit Lions who had the least with 61.31. If interested in comparing NFL seasons from 2009 to present,

Let me provide you with a quick history lesson. Mark and I have corroborated for years on a variety of APBA Football-related issues. Mark is the creator and I’m the tester for all of his incredible card sets and innovations. Never was an innovation or idea “created in a vacuum”. Each of his ideas have been thoroughly tested to determine the “cause and effect” the innovation has on the game engine.

Mark’s “Timing Method” was based off of several of “our” replays that range from the 1960s to 2011. Mark compiled our notes and created the below methodology but it did not stop there. Since then, we have tested it another 60-plus games using two different methods. Mark used the combined “total-play averages” of each team and I used the combined total plays of each team in accordance with the actual box score. What we found, is we consistently came within a plus or minus 2 or 3 plays per game. What I love best about his system is it’s easy to understand and implement. Secondly, it offers the flexibility to counter any situation ranging from the “dead ball era” of the 1970s to Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Mark, I want to take a moment to thank you not only for all that you have done for me personally but for all that you have done for the APBA Football community. Without question, all of your innovations over the years as enhanced the Football gaming experience ten-fold.

Oguard62 Adjustment


Mark Zarb’s 1978 NFL Replay

I’m honored that my APBA Football brother and dear friend, Mark Zarb, will be posting  his 1978 NFL replay on my blog. This will be his fifth full-season NFL replay. His previous efforts can be reviewed on the left-hand sidebar under the “Mark Zarb Vault” widget. His posts will consist of the scoring summary and stat-line for each game”.

Mark will be using cards that he created for use with the modern boards. His preparation for a replay is “legendary” and his “post-game” presentation will be upgraded but still provide the same historical information that his readers have become so accustomed to. If you have never followed one of his replays, all I can say is you are really missing out. In my opinion, he is the finest replayer in the world.

During the 1978 season, the league expanded the regular season from a 14-game schedule to 16. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 8 teams to 10 teams by adding another wild card from each conference. The wild card teams played each other, with the winner advancing to the playoff round of eight teams.

The season ended with Super Bowl XIII when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

The average salary for a player in 1978 was under $62,600, up 13.2 percent over the previous year. Fran Tarkenton was the highest-paid quarterback at $360,000 and running back O.J. Simpson was the highest paid player, at just under $733,400.

The league passed major rule changes to encourage offensive scoring. In 1977 – the last year of the so-called “Dead Ball Era” – teams scored an average of 17.2 points per game, the lowest total since 1942.

  • To open up the passing game, defenders are permitted to make contact with receivers only to a point of five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. This applies only to the time before the ball is thrown, at which point any contact is pass interference. Previously, contact was allowed anywhere on the field. This is usually referred to as the “Mel Blount Rule”
  • The offensive team may only make one forward pass during a play from scrimmage, but only if the ball does not cross the line and return behind the line prior to the pass.
  • Double touching of a forward pass is legal, but batting a pass towards the opponent’s end zone is illegal. Previously, a second offensive player could not legally catch a deflected pass unless a defensive player had touched it. This is usually referred to as the “Mel Renfro Rule”.
  • The pass blocking rules were extended to permit extended arms and open hands.
  • The penalty for intentional grounding is reduced from a loss of down and 15 yards to a loss of down and 10 yards from the previous spot (or at the spot of the foul if the spot is 10 yards or more behind the line of scrimmage). If the passer commits the foul in his own end zone, the defense scores a safety.
  • Hurdling is no longer a foul.