At any level of football one of the most dangerous things to defend is speed on the edge of the field. As a result, defenses will work hard to keep outside leverage and keep everything inside of them. The battle for the offensive coach is how to get the speed on the edge of the field because it will result in a big play and open up the attack for the middle of the field.
Creating a Leverage Advantage By Using a Compressed Split
Traditionally the best way to get the speed to the outside is by putting more players on the edge and having them block for the fastest guy on the team. While this is an effective strategy it puts you in a force vs. force battle. What this means is that you will be attacking the edge with your blockers and they will be attacking those blockers with their defenders. If you have superior blockers you will win and get the edge. The only issue is that blocking on the edge tends to lead to more penalties because both the blocker and defender are in space and refs are more likely to see a holding penalty.
The other way to get to the edge is based more around leverage than force. As the offense adds more blockers on the edge of the field, the defense will naturally counter by adding more defenders. This battle, even if you have the better blockers, will cause the play to get strung out and give defenders more time and better angels to make a tackle. To counter this teams are instead moving their blockers in tight. This causes the defense to move their defenders in so they aren’t outnumbered at the point of attack. Normally the defense will place one defender outside with the instruction of don’t let anybody outside of you. If you are able to block this one defender, you now can get to the edge much quicker.
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One formation that Flexbone teams have been using to do this forever is the Nasty formation. The Nasty formation puts the outside receivers in with their alignment 3 yards from the Tackle and the Slot just outside of the tackle. The response to this formation is almost universal, the defense will move the Cornerback to the line to play outside leverage and keep the Safeties over the top. Whether you are a Spread or Wing-T/Flexbone based offense this presents you with the same situation. If you are able to block this Cornerback you will have access to the edge.
Many times the best way to get at a problem is not to put more force or people at it. One of the best lines about Spread offense I have ever heard is that the best block is the one you don’t have to make. If you need three blocks to make it to the edge you have three players that must win their battle. If you only need on block to get outside the defense you only need one person to win their battle.