League Wide Go-to Plays

Sorry it took a while, I’ve been working on this on and off for the past few days.

I don’t want to neglect the offensive side of the ball, so here’s a post on some mainstays around the league.  They will look familiar, as these two can be found in every playbook in the NFL and NCAA ranks.  Hell, most high schools run these too, so if you played you were probably involved in one or both at some point.

Power O – The best play in football.

Ok, that’s just my opinion.  It’s a 2-back run.  This one should ring some bells for Giant’s fans (VikingsCowboys,Redskins under Gibbs, Chargers under Marty, and a bunch of others ran this play to death too).  In fact here is Power to the 6 hole run to beautiful perfection.


Giants I Rt 36 Pwr vs Panthers 4-3 Over


Here’s how you block it vs. the major fronts.  Let’s keep it extra simple- this is just the O-line and backs against the Defensive front seven.  Can you involve the WR/account for the secondary?   Of course, you can run motion, make the F an H-back type and bring him from all over for that kick block, use the Z as a fake reverse, run their guys off, stalk block, crack down… limitless possibilities.  We are just going to look at the bare bones of the scheme.




It’s an off tackle run, in the gap family.  There’s basically gap or zone runs, and you can tell which one is happening in front of you just by watching the line’s first step.  Simplest way to look at it- in zone blocking, the entire line will step play side as one.  In gap blocking, most of the line will step down away from the hole, and there will be a kick or lead block by a pulling guard, fullback, or both.

The key is the play-side double team, either the 3 tech or the 4/5 tech.  Movement on that down lineman is necessary- if the DT gets penetration, the pulling guard and fullback will be thrown off track, and the whole play will take an extra half second… so it’s going nowhere.  The back-side guard is pulling to the 6 hole,  but he has to know if the PST or Y gets pushed back a bit, don’t fight to get the edge, it’s not a stretch or sweep.

It’s great against the odd front, as you can see you get two double teams and your guards are uncovered so they get out easier.  However, if that 3-4 Will backer can run down your RB the BST has to check his rush.  Also, if you get a 4-3 Under front with a 5 DE and 9 Sam play-side, that gets your Y involved with doubling the DE, who is a guy  like Tuck or Peppers, so that’s not usually ideal.

Chargers Trade-to Dbl Rt FX-Swap Fin to I 36 Power vs. 4-3 Under

In the videos, you can see both Ward and Tomlinson get the same read.  Ward is against a 4-3 Over, Tomlinson an Under, and both times the Y and PST end up in a stalemate or the Fullback is met on the outside, either way the right move by the pulling guard and RB is to cut up to the bubble.  Perfect.

Mesh Concept- A well known 5-step drop route.

Let’s start with the chalkboard.  You can run Mesh a hundred different ways, but here are  my favorites. 




These two are out of 1-back sets, so you’re spreading the field a little.  Bring the Z in motion to avoid a jam and get him some separation from the sideline for his corner route.  In the second play, the Z is at the wing so he can run the post and challenge the middle.  I prefer this because the post is an easier throw and there’s a good chance the Sam or Mike LB will carry the Z a bit if he is playing the seam zone, giving the X a bit more space underneath.




A little more interesting here- Bunch and Empty.  Out of Bunch, the D has to respect the run; to make them, you can go out of a Pro set with a Fullback.  If your line can give you time the QB can execute a fake Dive, Z around.  You might remember the cowboys passing a lot off this type of fake last season.  It really freezes the LB’s while your Mesh pattern is developing.  Risky though.

The Empty set is also risky because you’re protecting with 5 and it takes a bit to develop.  Every play the QB needs to read the SS and figure if the middle of the field will be closed (Cov 1, Cov 3) or open (Cov 2, Cov 4).  In this set, if it’s open he wants to check the post before going to the Mesh. If not, the Wheel is a great Cov 3 or Man beater.

Now, the Mesh itself.  The idea here is to be able to attack zone or man coverage.  The Y digs to about 6 yards and drags cross-field while the X takes off dragging at about 4-5 yards.  They cross with the Y behind the X.  If the LB’s are in zone, the hope is the Y will drag the Seam or Hook-Curl defender, while the X might do the same to the opposite side backer playing the mirrored zone.  If either defender runs with a crosser and fails to pass off quickly enough, the Y or X could come out of the middle into that vacated zone, catch and turn upfield.

If it’s man to man coverage, then it works as a rub- the Y and X are crossing within a yard of each other, and hopefully the Corner who is following his man (X) will get caught up with the Y in traffic allowing the X to come free.  If the Y reads zone he can sit on his route after he crosses; if it’s man he keeps heading to the sideline.

The strength of the pattern is versatility.  You have a deep option most ways you run it, and you can run this against any coverage.  The risk is you need some time on the 5 step drop.  Most coaches I’ve talked to prefer to run this out of gun, and I tend to agree- allow that QB to survey the field from the snap.  The play action is cute, but it’s really a drop back play.

Of course, you could always just skip that and keep running power.

Thanks for reading!   I had a hard time coming up with something that people will actually enjoy, so please leave a comment if you have anything you want to see- any play, offense, defense, spec teams.  I don't mind doing these at all since I'll probably use the slides I make for my own playbooks in the future.

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