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Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look
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Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,373 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Provides fans the skills to watch a football game by showing readers how to compile data from a game, introducing the players and their roles, and mastering the NFL draft.
Paperback, 225 pages
Published August 1st 2010 by Triumph Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  1,373 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This has been a very interesting and educational read for a woman like me, who

1) did not know too much about the game to begin with apart from the basics
2) is not from the US
3) nevertheless tried to impress her huge NFL-fan of a husband by appearing to know more about it than she does.

PLUS, I did enjoy it. Pat Kirwan has an easy, entertaining style and never appears to be looking down on the reader from any heights of expertise. He is eager to share what he knows and why he loves the game. The m
Tim Lowe
Nov 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I love football. Specifically professional football. Very specifically NFL football.

I used to pride myself on knowing more about football than my circle of friends. I knew the difference between a 3-4 defense and a 4-3. I knew what "cover 2" meant. I had a firm grasp of the difference in assignments for players depending upon the called play.

In football, there are many little dramas playing out every time the ball is snapped. Most people resort to following the ball since that is "where the acti
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy read. The DVD, which seems more like pimping out the book, actually clarifies the book in a lot of ways.

Not surprisingly, towards the end of this book, he mentions that good coaches need to identify the learning styles of their players so they can maximize the message. I guess I'm visual.

I purchased this book because I was hoping I'd have a better understanding of offensive and defense play sets, across both the WCO and Air Coryell philosophies. Turns out this book describes everything in a
victor harris
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for any fan who wants to know more about the on-field and office operations of the game. Very clearly explained and arranged in very manageable sections.
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who want to expand their football learnin'
A bit torn on this one because for the first two-thirds, I felt like I was learning quite a bit, and for the last third, not as much.

Pat Kirwan - who, coincidentally, coached at Hofstra, my alma mater - is a former coach and current NFL analyst and sports-writer. You can pick up on his biases pretty easily (dude obviously loves the Patriots), but in general, he lays down an even-handed, accessible look at the current(-ish) incarnation of the game, as broken down by position and offense v. defens
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you spend 6+ hours on the weekends watching football, definitely get this book!

A basic understanding of football is required for this book: 11 players on the field, first down is 10 yards, the yellow first down line on TV isn't on the actual field, etc.

I picked up this book after listening to Jim Miller and the author, Pat Kirwan, on SiriusXM radio all season long and was blown away at their analysis of how the games would play out on Sunday.

This book, like the show, is very insightful and
Scoop Erickson
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
Without a doubt, this was one of the best books I've ever read on the art of watching and understanding football. It definitely bears re-reading, which I plan to do, in order to absorb all of the information it offers those who want a deeper appreciation of the game. ...more
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read for fans of the NFL who know a bit more than the basics. If you have limited experience/knowledge this book might be a bit over your head. If you have played tons and watch regularly this book might be a bit basic. If you're somewhere in between this is a fantastic read. I will probably have to read it again and refer to while I'm watching games next season. At this point I feel like I understand a bunch more, but couldn't quite explain what I know to someone who is in the d ...more
Stephanie L.
Jan 30, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
For the uninitiated football fan, who wishes not only to understand some of the things they're seeing on the field, just before the snap, but also the responsibilities each position needs fulfilled for a player to be successful, this book offers the complete package, and more.

Pat Kirwan uses images and a lot of words to make sure he gets the point across for each position and scheme he needs to explain. For example, he'll begin explaining the differences between the 4 - 3 and 3 - 4 formations, e
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a decent book to provide a deeper than entry level introduction to professional football. Some aspects may be too advanced for someone just trying to learn the game, while others are overly simplistic for a fan that has good grasp on the sport already. It is certainly a book that can provide a quick reference and Mr. Kirwan is honest about the game he has devoted his professional life to. Overall, it is an enjoyable read and insightful.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I learned quite a bit from this book, since I've come to realize I don't have a very deep understanding of many aspects of football. However, there's quite a bit of fluff and many references to people that are dated and not explained. I recently read Blood, Sweat and Chalk as well, and that book was better for getting deeper into football strategy. ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Liked: Interesting discussion of how much player intelligence matters. Also very enjoyable future NFL predictions
Disliked: Complicated formation and route analysis with a lot of unfamiliar terminology.
Rick Borgo
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Everything I could have asked for in terms of learning about the inside language and culture of the NFL. Great insight.
Lib DM
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very dry, awful diagrams. Wildcat chapter pretty much useless now.
Terry Mohr
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
provides the next level analysis of all football positions. Fun read and gives insight into the american football game.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-nfl
Really enjoyed this book.

If you're a NFL fan and you want to know more about what goes on, then this is a must read. I really love the insights and detail that goes into this book.
João Grossi
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, I began to enjoy football much more. It really improves your understanding of the game.
Jun 04, 2021 rated it liked it
It’s a good book with a lot of solid football terminology, I was just expecting more. Seems more tailored to the casual fan just getting into football.
Jan 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was fascinating and showed me that I have a lot to learn about the game of football. I only wish I would have read it sooner.
Asher Abramson
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Learned some things I didn't know about football, but Tony Romo & film review Twitter get me a lot more bang for my buck. ...more
Zach Koenig
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The premise of Pat Kirwan's "Take Your Eye Off The Ball" is simple: outside of the typical sideline shot that highlights most NFL plays on TV, there are a thousand-and-one other things transpiring that can give clues as to what is really going on beyond just following the flight of the ball. How deeply the reader wants to delve into Kirwan's discussion is a different matter entirely.

If you use this book as a study guide for NFL offenses, defenses, off-seasons, and everything in between, you will
James Dunphy
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I spent the summer with a coworker who read this on our breaks. He was like me, very interested and knowledgeable on American football, but had little playing experience outside the backyard. I picked this up an anticipation of football season around August, but it got lost in my backlog until I finished it now at the midway point of the season.
The book is very nicely organized and flows well from chapter to chapter. The first half is generally dedicated to the offensive side of the ball, with c
Aug 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, nonfiction
This book is very good, though it's not perfect and it's not for everybody.

The subtitle is "How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look" which is sort of what the books tells you. A more accurate subtitle would be "The Things Pat Kirwan Wants You to Know about Football." Only the first chapter is really about training your eye to look at different things on the field, and it's not particularly in-depth. (I thought for a moment while reading the first chapter that the book was going to teach m
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Good read if you're into NFL football and want a deeper look. Overall, a lot of good information. It was a little slow at times, but chapters 13 and 14 alone were worth the read for me. Great inside info about the entire draft process, including trade valuations and gamesmanship and Kirwan has great ideas about the future of the sport. Some of them have already begun to take shape in the 8 years since the book came out. Recommended read. ...more
Dave Maddock
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
Two years ago I had very little interest in football. When I decided to learn about it, I immediately checked this book out from my library. It was too obscure for me then. After watching two seasons of football, I tried again. This time it was fantastic.

It answered a lot of my questions about technique and strategy that simply are not explained during broadcasts or news coverage. Such as: identifying offensive and defensive formations, the difference between 3-4 and 4-3 defense, general techniq
Jenny's Book Life
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-it
I was right. When you understand the rules of a sport, it becomes much more exciting. I have enjoyed learning about football....I especially enjoyed gaining basic understanding of the playoff stuff because suddenly I know what those commentators are talking about. I'm in the "in crowd" now. How rude that they all assume we know what sixth and fifth seeds are. But now I do!

These football books all seem to be written with some assumption that you already know certain things. And maybe that you are
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
There are almost no books that teach non-players about football, so I was happy to find this gem.

Overall the book is helpful to understand what is happening on any given play and what each player is doing to help the play succeed.
The drawback is that the book skips over all of the basics - names of positions and formations - and even some intermediate information. It would have been much better if they included a chapter in the beginning of the book that covered that information, or even inclu
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
The author devotes each chapter to different skill positions and illustrates his ideas well with diagrams and route trees. He peppers his discussion with relevant examples. Also present are inset boxes with detailed answers to FAQs like 'How long does it take to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and vice versa?'

Not a whole lot of new information or knowledge for me, mostly because I knew most of the concepts discussed here (3-4 vs 4-3, zone vs man etc) but for a casual fan of the game this could be in
Harrison Miller
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When reading this book i quickly became very amused and gained a greater respect of the game of football from the college level to the NFL level. Kirwan does this by giving you incite into what the players and coaches look for, as the book progresses you start to see the difficulties for both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, you start to see just how complicated it is to be calling the plays on both sides of the ball. I also liked this book because it allowed me to understand how d ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
A really outstanding book for people who know the basics of football, but want to take their understanding to a deeper level. As the title suggests, Kirwan takes you deep into the action that's happening all over the field when you're not looking--the offensive line, pass coverage, defensive schemes, and a whole lot more. There's also a lot of information about what happens off the field: scouting, the draft, and coaching. I have to say, that part of it felt like getting a glimpse inside the sau ...more
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