Winning Tactics: A Guide to the Best NFL Strategy Books

Are you ready to support your team this coming NFL season? Whether you’re a seasoned coach or an aspiring game student, every football fan wants to know what tactics will help their team succeed. The answer can be found in some of the best NFL strategy books. 

Football is a game of strategy and tactics. Major teams, from college to the pros, have their own playbook that every player must memorize. Considering the number of players on the field, understanding how the plays go and where the players run to is as important for the players as it is to the coaching staff. Unfortunately, the team playbook is unavailable for perusal outside of the team. To learn more about how a play transpires, read other sources, including books by noted football writers. This guide will take you through a selection of top-rated NFL strategy books that offer invaluable insights into football.

Take Your Eye Off the Ball 2.0 (2015) by Pat Kirwan

Pat Kirwan is a media personality who previously worked as an NFL scout, coach, and personnel guy. He is an expert on the subject, and his book is written for readers who are familiar with the fundamentals of the game and the players’ duties but are interested in learning more. If you can tell the difference between an under-the-front and an over-show at a glance or confidently explain why the Wildcat is essentially a variation of the Single Wing, this isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, that last line was gibberish, this book is for you.

The Pro Style (1976) by Tom Bennett

The Pro Style, published by Tom Bennett, is a picture-driven reference that details the professional game’s history, profiles notable coaches, and offers an excellent illustrated analysis of the rules and strategies of the game. You will slowly learn more about the history of formations and what that means for your approach. The appendix’s graphic account of football is almost worth buying the book for. Although this book is out of print (a shame), used copies are readily available.

The Genius of Desperation (2018) by Doug Farrar

The National NFL Correspondent for USA Today, Doug Farrar, delves deeply into the history of football strategy from the 1920s to the present. He demonstrates how new strategies develop over time and are often motivated by necessity (as when a coach needs to devise a new way to stop a division opponent). Farrar’s historical perspective makes the tendencies apparent, but it was difficult to observe this movement of ideas at the time.

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The Games That Changed the Game (2010) by Ron Jaworski

From Doug Farrar’s vantage point, we can peel back the layers and identify certain games that represent watershed moments in the evolution of professional football strategy. Here, Ron Jaworski accomplishes just that, analyzing seven games and showing how they constitute a radical departure from the previous approach. The games come alive in Jaworski’s hands, and after reading this, you’ll want to search YouTube for clips from the games in question.

Blood, Sweat and Chalk (2010) by Tim Layden

Blood, Sweat, and Chalk is an incredibly in-depth look at the lives of coaches and players involved in football. Through interviews with some of the greatest coaches, such as Bill Parcells, Vince Lombardi, Urban Meyer, and Nick Saban, this book provides a unique insight into building a championship team. Readers get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in the league’s locker rooms and meeting rooms. It’s filled with inspiring stories of success and failure and invaluable advice for players and aspiring coaches alike. This book is an absolute must-read for any fan who wants to learn more about the sport or any coach looking to improve their game.

America’s Game, The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation (2005) by Michael MacCambridge

A sweeping narrative of the NFL’s history, America’s Game is an excellent resource for fans looking to explore the past and better understand how pro football has become such an integral part of American culture. The book dives deep into each era, giving readers a complete picture of the struggles, successes, and personalities that shaped the league. MacCambridge interviews key sports figures, weaving their stories into his narrative style. This book is a must-read for fans looking to gain a greater appreciation for pro football.


Overall, these books cover a wide range of topics, from the history of pro football to tactical strategy, and all offer valuable insight into the sport. Whether you are a die-hard fan or just looking to understand the game better, I highly recommend each of these books as essential reading. So pick one and prepare for an in-depth journey into pro football! Happy reading!

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