Thursday, March 19, 2015

Flexbone-Goalline and Short Yardage

One of the common misnomers about the Flexbone offense is that it is not a good goal line or short yardage offense. This statement is completely false and very misleading. The Flexbone is a great goal line and short yardage offense, due to the fact that any time the base offensive play is actually three plays in one, the offense already has the defense on its toes. Many coaches feel that the absence of two or three running backs aligned in the backfield doesn't allow the offense to have a power running game which is a complete farce. In this chapter, the author will put to rest all of the coach’s short yardage offense questions.
Some of the regular formations that are good in short yardage situations are:
·         Base
·         Tight
·         Over
·         Bone
·         I
However, the most common formation to utilize in these short yardage situations is the Tackles formation shown in Figure 9-1. Tackles is a formation that simple moves the tackle from one side of the offense to the opposite side. The tackle that moves, will align outside of the offensive tackle that is currently aligned there to give the line a three man surface to that side. The X receiver will move down and align in a three point stance, three feet from the offensive guard. Everyone else in the offense aligns as they would normally.

Figure 9-1 (Tackles right)
            When looking at the Tackles formation, one can clearly see the main advantage the offense still has all of its receivers as eligible receivers. The offense is also now presenting the defense with not only a three man surface to contend with, but an unbalanced three man surface at that. To note, a three man surface is any time the offense employs three players to the immediate right or left of the offensive center. The reason this three man surface is such an important factor is that there are only two other offensive formations in the Flexbone that utilize this three man look. When opponents are practicing how to defend the Flexbone, they put in little time working on three man surfaces. The unbalanced look also serves to the offenses advantage, as the defense may not notice this and will not adjust, leaving them a man down to the strong side of the formation.
Tackles Run Game
            The run game out of the Tackles formation is endless, but with the slight change in the offensive structure, there are a few rule tweaks that must be practiced. To keep this formation, and its run game simple, the following is recommended:
·         Run this formation to the right or left only, especially early in the season. This will allow players to become more comfortable in executing their assignment if they only have to learn how to execute in one direction. This also involves moving the same tackle over every time as well, so the new teaching is limited to only one player instead of two.
·         Use a substitute at the X receiver if available. In the years the author ran this offense, there was always an offensive lineman or two that had some decent hands, but was a good blocker too. The author has put backup B backs here as well too. Sometimes the X receiver can double as a receiver or a tight end type, if this is the case that's great however it was never the norm in the author’s situations.
·         Keep the plays to a minimum. This is not the base offense, so don't attempt to run everything out of it.
The latter key in the list above is very important to note. The run game used on a year-to-year basis out of the Tackles formation was:
·         Quarterback Follow
·         Zone Dive/Give
·         Counter Iso
·         Rocket
·         Quarterback Sneak
Quarterback sneak is not listed in the primary run game, but is an easy install as all players, including the slot backs will simply scoop block in toward the center as the quarterback looks for an opening on either side of the center. All of these plays are fairly easy installs, as they are staples out of the Base formation. One question a lot of coaches have is why not run the triple option? Well, the reason is, the offense doesn’t have to in these situations. Short yardage, especially goal line is one area on the field where the offense is actually at a disadvantage due to the lack of space in which the offense has to work. Plays that involve a bunch of reads, or a bunch of moving parts in this area of the field, tend not to work as well, because the defense can overplay them, and can play much more aggressive than normal. All of the plays listed above, are quick-hitting, simple plays that still give the offense the illusion that it is running the triple, which the defense must honor at any time.
Don't get too complicated

            The Tackles formation is not limited to just short yardage. This formation is quite useful against odd defensive fronts, in setting these fronts up to run the Outside Veer. Many coaches have questioned the Flexbone's ability to run the Outside Veer, however, with some minor tweaking, the Flexbone can easily run this deadly offensive play.
            The first component to adding the Outside Veer to the Flexbone offense goes against one major rule talked about in earlier posts, and that is reducing the offensive line splits. On the play side, which out of the Tackles formation, would be to the overload side, the splits should be reduced to one foot. All other players can remain the same with their normal three foot split alignment. Reducing the splits, keeps the reads the same for the quarterback on Outside Veer as it would on the Inside Veer play. This reduction in splits also keeps the aiming point for the B back the same as well in terms of the angle that the B back takes to get to the line of scrimmage. The Outside Veer, as illustrated in Figure 9-2, is very simple to run, and the rules are shown below:
·         PST (Inside tackle)- Base
·         PSG- Base to Ace with center
·         C- Scoop/Ace
·         BSG- Scoop
·         BST (Outside tackle)- Inside gap, playside linebacker, backside linebacker (same as Veer)
·         PSWR- Stalk
·         PSSB- Seal playside linebacker to near safety
·         BSWR- Cutoff
·         BSSB- 2 step motion, pitch course
·         B back- Dive path (middle of inside tackle)
·         QB- Veer steps and reads

Figure 9-2 (Outside Veer)
Another good play to run coupled with the Outside Veer, is the Outside Veer Wedge. Wedge, as drawn in Figure 9-3, changes only the playside guard’s assignment. The guard will now scoop block to assist on the defender aligned over the inside tackle. This is a good play if the defensive tackle is a very good player and if the center can handle the nose alone. The latter point is very crucial to the offense’s ability to run the wedge play. If the center cannot handle the nose, the offense can simply run Outside Veer instead.

Figure 9-3 (OSV Wedge)
Tackles Pass Game
Playaction passes out of the Tackles formation can catch the defense off guard as to the defender’s eye, the Tackles formation looks like a run formation. The position of the X receiver is one of clever deception, and allows for quick strike routes down the middle of the defense from this alignment.
            Veer pass is the common playaction pass utilized in the Tackles formation in short yardage situations. The veer pass play can be run to either side with very good efficiency. Pass protection remains the same as do the routes shown in both Figures 9-4 and 9-5. It should be noted max protection is needed when running veer pass to the nub side of the offense.

Figure 9-4 (Tackles veer pass strong)

Figure 9-5 (Tackles veer pass weak)
            The idea that the Flexbone offense is not a good goal line or short yardage offense is a complete myth. The Flexbone and its plays are a great way to force the defense to defend the entire field in these short yardage situations.