Monday, December 22, 2014

Flexbone Play Calling and Terminology

Play Calling
 Play calling in the flexbone offense is series-based. Since everything in this offense is based on the triple option, all play calling should revolve around this one play. Every series in the flexbone offense is built to attack certain things the defense is doing to take away the base play, the triple option. Here is a list of the basic series in a typical flexbone offense:

  • Option Plays and compliments
    • Triple Option (Inside Veer/Loop, Outside Veer)
      • Double Options
      • Zone Dive/Fullback Isolation
      • Quarterback Follow
      • Playaction Pass (Veer Pass, Switch Pass)
    • Midline (Arc, Blast, Fold, Seal)
  • Option Counters
    • Counter Isolation
    • Quarterback Counter Isolation
    • Counter Option
  • Rocket Toss
    • Rocket
    • Waggle
  • Rocket Counters
    • Rocket Counter Isolation
  • Speed Option
  • Sprint out Passing
  • Three Step Passing
  • Five Step Passing
  • Screens and Draws
            Each series is based off the series ahead of it, excluding the Option runs, and the passing game. This gives the play caller a set of answers for attacking a defense based on what the defense is doing. A great cheat sheet is called the "If-Then" Sheet. The If-Then sheet is to be used as a guide to attacking and taking what the defense is giving the offense when they have stopped the base play. Go here to download my latest version of the "If-Then" sheet.

            The play caller should attack every defense with the triple option first and foremost. If the base play is stopped, it should be noted how, and then utilize the If-Then sheet to make the next move, or play call. This keeps the offensive coordinator from guessing or grab-bagging at plays to try and attack the defense. The If-Then sheet is a systematic way of making a defense pay dearly for what they are doing to take away the triple option.

            Passing plays in the flexbone offense are of four various types. The first type is playaction passes. These are passes designed to mimic a run play. Waggle, Veer Pass, and Veer Switch Pass are all examples of tags that might be used in the playaction passing game. There are always play side routes, and backside routes in the playaction passing game. The receivers to the call side run the called or tagged routes. The backside routes, shown in Figure 3-1, go as follows, the widest receiver runs a post, and if there any receivers inside the outside-most receiver they will run a drag route. Playaction passing is the first passing plays that should be installed with this offense as their major role is to help make the base play work when the defense is doing something to take the base play away.

Figure 3-1 Backside Pass Routes

            The second type of pass in the flexbone offense is the three-step drop passing game. Common three step routes in this offense are the slant/arrow combination (figure 3-2), or vertical/arrow. The simplest thing to do with this offense is to mirror the passing routes on either side, and then utilize tags to change individual routes. The sky is the limit when it comes to route combinations, and a good Run and Shoot text will show this.

Figure 3-2 Flat/Arrow Route

            The third style of passing in the flexbone offense is the five-step drop passing game. Again, as with the three step passing game, the possibilities are endless when it comes to route combinations. Again, for simplicity routes should be mirrored on either side of the formation, however this is not a must. Some common route combinations for this offense would be the smash concept as shown in figure 3-3.

Figure 3-3 Smash Routes

            Lastly, is the sprint out passing game. Sprint out, is a directional passing concept that has a front side and a backside. All receivers should adhere to the backside pass route rule mentioned above. Sprint out passing in this offense is very important due to the nature of a running Quarterback. A full roll, or half roll scheme may be utilized in sprint out passing from the flexbone. There are several good route packages that can be installed, the author’s personal favorite is shown in figure 3-4, and is entitled comeback. This is a very difficult route combination for the defense to cover.

Figure 3-4 Comeback


The flexbone offense is a motion-based offense that requires a rhythmic cadence to allow for the initiation of the motion. There are three types of cadences involved in the flexbone offense, regular, repeat, and color.
The regular cadence will not be called in the huddle, and will be said at the same rate by all players. The regular cadence will consist of “Color, Number, Color, Number…Ready, Set, Go!”. The ball will be snapped on Go and the play will be run. If the Quarterback is going to change a play with an audible he must do it when he’s calling the color and the number sequence. Once he’s entered the wording part, he cannot stop as this is a rhythmic count used for timing and motion.

If a play call is tagged with the word repeat, then the offense is going on the second cadence issued by the Quarterback. For example, if repeat is called then the cadence would be “Red 14, Red 14, Ready, Set, Go…Blue 88, Blue 88, Ready, Set, Go”! The ball would be snapped on the second go. In the huddle the play would be tagged repeat. So, if the play is Base right 38 Rocket, then the call in the huddle is “Base right, 38 Rocket repeat. Repeat is also a play in and of itself. The call in the huddle would be Base right repeat. The offense would align in the formation called, and on the first cadence, the A back would initiate motion, and come to a stop aligned next to the B back as shown in Figure 3-5.

Figure 3-5 A back initiates motion

Once the Quarterback begins the second cadence, the Z back will initiate motion, and align opposite of the A back as shown in Figures 3-6 and 3-7.

Figure 3-6 Z back initiates motion

Figure 3-7 Repeat play final alignment

Once the second cadence has been said, the offense can either audible to another play, or call a timeout, all assuming that the defense has not jumped offside at this point.

            The Color cadence is a very simple way of saying that the offense will run a play on the first sound the Quarterback makes. Since in the regular cadence this sound is usually a color, hence the name “color”. All offensive players should be in a stance and ready to go when they come to the line of scrimmage when utilizing the color cadence. No motion can be used in the color cadence.

The flexbone offense is an offense that requires the use of motion. The following is a list of the types of motions associated with the flexbone offense:

  • Two-step motion- 2 step motion is used on the triple option play and is a motion that involves the slot backs. The slot will leave on the “t” in the word “Set” in the cadence. The idea is that the slot back should have taken two steps by the time the ball is snapped when utilizing this motion, hence the name “two-step”. The aiming point of the slot back is the heels of the B back. Two-step motion is not a motion that is called in the huddle.

  • Tail motion- Tail motion, as shown in Figure 3-8, is used on either the Rocket toss play, or some forms of the midline play. When a slot goes in tail motion, the aiming point, is again, the “tail” of the B back. The slot should leave on the “y” in “Ready” in the cadence. Tail motion is also a motion that will not be called in the huddle.

Figure 3-8 Tail Motion

  • Twirl motion- Twirl motion is a counter motion that will be called in the huddle. This motion, as shown in Figure 3-9, is always run by the play side slot back. The slot should leave on the “s” in the word “Set” in the cadence. The slot on the snap then plants off the deepest foot, opening back to the defense and executes the desired assignment.

Figure 3-9 Twirl Motion

  • Tagged motion- Tagged motion is motion where a player is tagged with a destination. The destinations are based on the aiming point numbering system as discussed in Chapter Two. The call will be the player’s position name, followed by the number of where the player is to motion to. An example is shown in Figure 3-10, the play call is Base right A 4 12 Blast. The A back in the base formation will motion to the 4 position (behind the right offensive tackle) and execute the assignment from there.

Figure 3-10 Tagged Motion

  • NOMO- NOMO simply means “no motion”. If the call is Over left NOMO 14 veer, then that means nobody goes in motion on the play. The offense will be running 14 veer with no motion by the slots.

When the offense needs to shift, the call will begin with the formation that the offense will align in, followed by the formation the offense will shift in to. For example, if the call is “Base Right, Trips Right, then the offense will align in Base right, and then when the Quarterback gives a “move” call, they will shift into Trips right. Once set, the Quarterback will initiate his regular cadence. Anytime two formations are called the Quarterback must initiate the shift by calling “move” at the line of scrimmage.

Audibles are at the discretion of the coach. Audibles can come in many shapes and fashions, but need to be a part of the offense. One audible that is must in any offense is an audible that simply changes the direction of the play that was called in the huddle. If the Quarterback, or coach reads something that tells them they should take the play in the opposite direction that it was called, they should call “opposite”. When the Quarterback says opposite to the offensive players, the same play will be run, only to the opposite side that it was initially called. An example would be if the play called was triple option to the offense's right side, but the Quarterback sees something such as a three technique in the right side B gap. The Quarterback can simply audible "opposite" at the line of scrimmage (it should be said twice to ensure that all the offensive players hear the audible), which now has the offense running the triple option to the left side of the offense. This is a simple and very easy audible to install from day one.

The following is a list of flexbone terminology that is used when communicating within the offense.

  • 2 step motion- type of motion used on inside veer where the motion back should have taken 2 steps once the ball is snapped.

  • Ace- triple team on a noseguard by the center and the 2 offensive guards.

  • Arc block- block used by the slots where they block outside of their alignment (opposite of a seal block).

  •  BSG- Backside guard

  • BSSB- Backside slot back

  • BST- Backside tackle

  • BSWR- Backside wide receiver

  • C- Center

  • Count- system of identifying who is to be left unblocked and who is to be unblocked. Number one is defined as the handoff key, and number two is defined as the pitch key, number three is the next "most dangerous" defensive back.

  • Crease-same as veer path, but used to define where the blocks will occur and where the isolation of the handoff key, and pitch key will begin. Defined as a line drawn from the nose of the B back through the middle of the playside guard's buttocks.

  • Cut-off block- block by a wide receiver on the near safety on plays away. He should read the safety and if he cannot get to him, the wide receiver should turn back and cut-off the corner.

  • Dangerous defensive back- a defensive back whose alignment makes it easy for him to take the pitch. This could be an inverted safety, or a safety at a depth of less than 10 yards, as well as a hard corner.

  • Flex- Double twins formation (doubles), or can be added to the end of a formation call to give a twins look to the call side (ex. "Base right, flex would put the "Z" and the "W" in a flex look.)

  • Handoff key (HOK)- The defender being read in the triple option for the give to the B back or the keep by the Quarterback. He is usually the first down lineman outside the B (4I).

  • Hard defender- One aligned in the gap the being attacked on the first level (defensive linemen).

  • Invert- When a safety, normally aligned deep, aligns at or less than linebacker depth.

  • Load- term that tells the B back to execute a fake and then block the handoff key.

  • Log block- trap block that ends up with the blocker sealing the defender down inside rather than kicking him out.

  • Loop- type of blocking scheme for the triple option where the tackle takes an outside release going around the handoff key.

  • LOS- line of scrimmage

  • Max protection- type of pass protection involving both the B back and a slot. This slot must execute tail motion in order to max protect.

  • Mesh- the contact of the football on any triple option play between the Quarterback and the B back.

  • MOFC- Middle of the field closed (Cover 1 or Cover 3).

  • MOFO- Middle of the field open (Cover 4 or 2).

  • Nasty- alignment by a wide receiver where they are 1 yard outside the offensive tackle.

  • Pitch key (PK)- The defender being read in the triple option for the keep by the Quarterback or the pitch to the running back. The pitch key is usually the first unblocked defender outside the handoff key, but may be different due to blocking schemes and game plan.

  • PSG- Playside guard

  • PSSB- Playside slot back

  • PST- Playside tackle

  • PSWR- Playside wide receiver

  • Push-crack-type of block by a wide receiver where they read the corner and near safety as to which to block. If the safety fills (cover 4) then the wide receiver will block the safety. If the safety pedals out (cover 2) then the wide receiver blocks the corner.

  • Scoop block- zone type block on the backside of a play that has the lineman accounting for the first gap to the first defender toward the play.

  • Seal block- block used by the slots where they block the 1st defender off the LOS inside of their alignment.

  • Slip- term called by lineman on midline and veer telling the B back to "slip" into the gap and wrap around a double/triple team looking for first linebacker to show.

  • Soft defender- A defender aligned on the second level or higher in a defense responsible for the offensive gap that the offense is attacking.

  • Stack- When there is a defender "stacked" right behind the handoff key.
  • Switch- Call that switches the responsibilities of the playside slot and the playside wide receiver.

  • Tail motion- a type of motion where the motion back should end up slightly deeper than the heels of the B back.

  • Tight- Formation that puts the receivers in a "nasty" position (wide receiver 1 yard outside of offensive tackle). Can be added as a call to give a nub look to the call side (ex. "Base right tight would put the W in a "nasty" alignment 1 yard outside the right offensive tackle)

  • Toad- term that tells the tackle to block the handoff key (short for tackle load).

  • Twirl motion- a type of counter motion meant to look like veer or rocket, but then turns and goes the other way. Motion man should plant off deepest foot and always turn inside so that they can see the defense.

  • Veer path- path of the B back on inside veer. If drawn a line would extend from the nose of the B back through the middle of the playside guard. Once to that aiming point, B back is instructed to run to daylight.

  • Veer Q- Term that converts the triple option into a double option where the handoff phase is being read, but the pitch key will be blocked.

  • Veer- type of blocking scheme for the triple option where the tackle takes an inside release coming underneath the handoff key.

            It should be noted that these terms are not universal, and could mean different things in different offenses. These are the terms that will be referred to in the remainder of the posts on the flexbone offense.