While I usually am content to get into our base alignment and run TOSS until we bludgeon the defense into submission, I do realize that there will be days that we are not as effective as usual.
Sometimes it will be based on our kids not performing well or missing the game altogether due to illness or family emergencies. Other times the defense will simply have better players or a better coach and they will cause us problems that way. And to further complicate things, each season we will be dealing with a different group of kids that have different skill sets. All of these factors contribute to our realization that sometimes we need the ability to change our formation or the mechanics of a specific play in order to continue moving the football offensively.
In a continuing effort to keep things simple, we have found that the easiest way to make changes in our formations and play mechanics is to simply create Tags. Tags can signal a subtle change in alignment that we would prefer to go unnoticed, or an obvious shift that pressures the defense to adjust to our alignment very quickly. And then of course we can also change the way some plays attack the defense.
The 3 types of Tags that we use in the Double Wing Offense are:
Tags can be used alone for small adjustments. Tags can be combined with other Tags for more dramatic adjustments. Some Tags can even be taught as automatic adjustments in certain situations so that your offense can adjust at the LOS.
Most Tags only affect 1 or 2 players; so the entire team doesn’t need to memorize each one. That doesn’t mean we don’t want everyone to learn all of the different Tags and what they mean for our offense. It just means that they should focus on learning their own Tags until they know them perfectly and then they can start learning all of the others.
ALIGNMENT TAGS (attached right after the formation)
Alignment Tags adjust our formation straight out of the huddle to test a defense’s recognition. Many defenses aren’t well coached enough to recognize an unbalanced formation or a slightly widened point of attack. EXAMPLE: Grey Over Toss on Hit
ON – tells the WB to remain ON the line of scrimmage when the Center calls ‘READY’. The ON Tag is a great way to go unbalanced and widen out a DE or get more blockers on a tough DT for our TOSS play.
OVER – tells the QT to line up on the Strong Side between the ST and SE. We use the OVER Tag when we have a slower or less agile Tackle who doesn’t pull very well. It is also a great way to go unbalanced and widen out a DE or get more blockers on a tough DT for our TOSS play.
UNDER – tells our ST to line up on the Quick Side between the QT and QE. We use the UNDER Tag to add a blocker and create a bubble for our ICE play or if we need to widen the defensive line on our TRAP or CUT plays.
NASTY – tells our SE to widen out his split to about 18-24 inches. The NASTY Tag is a great way to widen out a tough DE that is giving our FB a hard time on his kickout block on our TOSS play.
FLEX – tells our SE and QE to widen out their splits to about 18-24 inches. This puts us in a Flex Bone look. This will loosen up a defense in a hurry, especially if we run some Trap/Fly and Rocket/Wedge Series stuff at them.
BONE – tells our HB and WB to line up in the Wishbone formation. We like to do this on occasion to really pound off tackle and get North/South a little quicker. This is also a great way to combat teams that stack the outside and crash down on our TOSS play because it gives us one more kick-out blocker coming from an inside out angle. And we also have an additional Series of plays that uses this formation exclusively.
EYE – tells our HB to get into his I formation alignment so we can run our offense with little to no motion.
STACK – tells our HB and WB to line up in the Stack I formation. We like to do this on occasion to really pound off tackle and get North/South a little quicker. This is also a great way to combat teams that stack the outside and crash down on our TOSS play because it gives us one more kick-out blocker coming from an inside out angle.
SHIFT TAGS (attached right after the formation)
We use Shift Tags to adjust our formation by shifting on the ‘Ready’ signal. This shift to pressures the defense to react quickly before we snap the ball. Quite often we catch a defense over shifting or committing too many defenders to one of our shifts. Other times they don’t react strong enough and we have them flanked or outnumbered. Most of these Tags are designed to spread the defense out a little bit. This allows us to either continue with our power running game or it allows us to take advantage of a defensive personnel group that is weak against the passing game. However this playbook won’t go into nearly as many passing plays and scenarios as are made possible by these simple formation adjustments.
EXAMPLE: Grey OUTSIDE Toss on Hit
OUTSIDE – tells our FB to shift outside into a Flanker position about 8 yards outside the TE. For our TOSS play, the QB will take the FBs job of kicking the first defender to cross the LOS. On any play where the FB fakes into the line, we make no adjustment other than the ST needing to close the gap for the pulling SG. We use this Tag to get rid of a stud CB that is hurting our TOSS play. We also use this Tag to get a stud receiver outside where we can take advantage of a weak CB in a one on one situation.
TWINS – tells our SE and WB to shift outside into a Twins alignment about 8 yards outside of their normal alignment while maintaining their 1×1 yard relationship. We use this Tag to widen out the CB and OLB. We like to combine this one with the OVER call and run our TOSS play. This Tag also gives us some interesting flexibility in our passing game.
SPREAD – tells our QE and HB to mirror the TWINS look of our SE & WB. This puts us in a 2×2 formation that can really spread a defense out for us to exploit the middle of the field with WEDGE, TRAP and ICE. Of course it also lends itself to some spread passing as well.
TRIPS – tells our SE and our WB to shift into their TWINS alignment and tells our FB to shift to his OUTSIDE alignment. This will give us a TRIPS look on our Strong Side with the FB in a 1×1 alignment off the inside hip of the TE that mirrors the WBs 1×1 alignment off the outside hip of the TE.
SWING – tells our QB, FB and HB to shift into the Single Wing, allowing a direct snap to either the HB or FB. This alignment allows us to run most of our offense with little or no change in assignment. On ‘READY’ the QB shifts behind the B gap, the FB shifts 3 yards behind the Center’s Strong Side leg and the HB shifts 4 yards behind the Quick Side leg.
PLAY TAGS (attached right after the play / blocking scheme)
We use Play Tags to have our QB change the way that a play is run. And while we intend for everyone to run the play like there is no change, it is important that they all know how these Tags affect each play so that we don’t get any penalties for linemen down field on a pass or a fumble when the back who was supposed to fake tries taking the ball instead.
EXAMPLE: Grey Toss Keep on Hit
DOUBLE – tells the QB to help the FB by double-teaming the DE on our TOSS play. Sometimes a stud DE just seems to absorb the kick out block from our FB and is still able to come back and make a play on the ball. We will usually try to widen that DE out with our NASTY, ON or OVER Tags, but when all of those fail, we can always double him.
KEEP –tells our QB to keep the ball and follow the called play. This basically gives us an extra blocker at the POA on many of our plays. And this is a great way to get a QB involved in your running game if he is a good ball carrier. We don’t teach or rep these as separate plays. Just throw them in once in awhile to reinforce how the Keep Tag works.
PASS – is a simple adjustment call to any running play that tells the Strong Side Tight End to run a corner route to get behind and outside the defense. It also tells our offensive line to pass block. And it tells the QB to take 2 or 3 steps like the play call and then throw a fade type of pass over the outside shoulder of the TE. We use this play when we catch a CB playing the run too aggressively or just plain not paying attention.