Tag Archives: offensive formations

Twins Adjustment Part 2

As mentioned below, there are several adjustments that can be made according to how the opposition plays the slot receiver. That section focused on the Will linebacker playing in an apex, like in the diagram below.

But what if that Will moves towards the ‘Z’ receiver in the slot position? If he does this, this likely indicates the defense is favoring the pass in this situation. It could also mean two things for coverage.

1) Will staring down the ‘Z’ – Cover 1/0
2) Will staring in the backfield – Zone (likely Cov 3 or a variant)

Running the ISO play to the weakside vs this is obviously a favorable call for the offense, as illustrated in Twins Adjustment Part 1. But what about other plays?

Another favorite of mine is the weakside power or counter play.

This can be tweaked in two ways. If you realize that the Rover, or Sam linebacker is flowing more than illustrated in this play, or if your playside tackle, guard, and the center can account for the playside linebackers, you can have them adjust back a gap to account for these men.


This adjustment to the Power play is really useful for a multitude of reasons that will be explained in a later post. Briefly though, you can attack the defensive structure. If the defense likes to protect that Sam linebacker with a tough nose tackle who is hard to move and therefore hard to combo block, then having the tackle come all the way down on the Sam with the Guard essentially wrapping on the Mike, you can account for these players. This just depends on your philosophy or the defense and their studs.

What other plays can you run against this? Well, running is preferable. Yet a quick slant can be good as well to the X if it is run against loose man coverage.

Here, the offense does fast flow away from the Twins side. This should attract the linebackers. The QB pulls back two steps towards the backs, almost like he opens up for a run. He stops, turns, and reads the X. He should come open if this is man. With the Will likely very concerned with the “Z” (he’s a LB covering a receiver, its man coverage, he’s out of the box), if the X sells a quick move to the outside, gets the corner to over pursue in that direction and he comes underneath, there should be a large running lane for the X.

There are other variations for the Twins adjustment that I will likely come back and talk about, especially its use in the Flexbone attack with a covered receiver.

Remember, always look at the purpose of a formation or what the defense indicates. This is the lesson of this blog. If something doesn’t serve multiple purposes in your offense, is it really useful? Can it be effective in the running and passing game? If not, why use it unless you really only care about running, passing, or perhaps telling the defense exactly what you plan on doing.

The Twins adjustment has many useful purposes in an offense. Use them all and use them all wisely.

Twins Adjustment Part 1

Most teams utilize the “Twins” set, sometimes known as “slot” as well. The twins formation is simple. It is illustrated below.

At least for myself, the “Twins” set is really an adjustment, not a formation. This adjustment is a unique tool in many aspects of the game of football.

What is the purpose of the Twins adjustment? The Twins adjustment essentially forces the defense to show their hand. Are they playing the run, or the pass, and what is their coverage? For instance, in the first diagram listed above, the Will linebacker is splitting the difference between the “Z” and the left tackle. This is an indicator. An indicator is essentially a tell for the offense and the offensive coordinator. By playing the Will in an “apex” position between these two offensive players, several assumptions can be safely made.

1) It is a zone coverage. If it was man, the Will would play over the slot or on an inside shade. If a team is good at disguising between man and zone, the Will must show his hand by who he stares at just prior to the snap. If he looks at the QB, it is more than likely zone. If it is the receiver, it is man, and he will likely adjust right at the snap, or at a hard count if an offense is good at this.

2) He is not blitzing. If the Will was indeed blitzing, he would creep, or move towards the LOS, at the snap of the ball. He would also more than likely move more towards the tackle.

The Twins adjustment therefore opens up the eyes of the offense. But it also opens up the running and the passing game. By playing the Will in an apex position, the defense has “fudged”. They may be able to stop a player from gaining 10 yards, but they should not be able to stop them, at least from that position, from gaining efficient yards, 4 to be exact.

Let illustrate how this can be done first of all in the run game. In the illustration below, we see a basic weakside Iso out of the I versus a generic 44 defense.

Here, the fullback leads up on the Mike. Usually, this is not a great play against the 4-4 defense. The reason is obvious, they’ve out numbered you at the point of attack.

How does an offense account for this extra guy? Well surely, a receiver can’t block a Will consistently. Or can he?

Here, we see the same play design. No changes in the blocking scheme. The difference? The receiver technically blocks the Will by pulling him out of the play. The ‘Z’ takes an inside path, to attempt to get the will. If this is not possible, he blocks the FS.

Here is a pair of critical coaching points. The Fullback must attack the inside shoulder of the Mike. The Center and backside guard must combo through to the Sam. If these 3 blocks can occur successfully and in that manner, the runningback ‘S’ will be in a one on one situation with a FS if everyone holds onto their blocks momentarily. By the time the Will pursues to the ball carrier, the RB should be at six yards or greater if the Iso is as quick hitting as it is designed to be.

Now what happens when the defense adjusts? The offense must adjust. When that will stays inside, there are several alternatives to get him to stop cheating. First – throw bubble to the Z, as shown below.

With the Will cheating, this should be a huge play if the X can block the corner.

Next, a simple pass play. My favorite are those that attack the vertical seam of the defense, namely, the smash pattern. Usually a Cover-2 Beater, the Smash pattern can be excellent against cover 3, especially in this situation (or out of trips, but that’s another day).

In this situation, the Will will likely bail hard (if he doesn’t blitz) to try to get to collision the initial Seam by the “Z”. The Stop route, at no more than 4 yds depth, should come open then underneath. If the corner jumps it though, a big play could come from the post-corner route over the top (this is especially nice in a Cover-0 look when that free safety adjusts over the top of the “Z”). If that Will is a phenomenal athlete and can make the drop to take away that initial seam and cover that stop route efficiently afterwards, or if the QB hesitates early, his vacancy from the curl should open a spot for the Y to come open where the Will used to be by running the drag.

However, there are other big play ideas available. Some people like to run a screen to the X receiver. This is very useful.

My favorite RUN action versus 44 like this is a flood concept mixed with a power fake. In my opinion, nothing gets an outside linebacker to bite like a good old power fake with a pulling guard and a fullback flying up. The full back “slips” by into the flat. The Z runs a 10 yd out. The X can run a go or a post. I feel the post clears out the free safety and the corner the best.

For those insistent on running or looking for a change up, the stretch or toss play with a pair of cracks is also a good idea in order to get the perimeter fast.

I hope you enjoyed the first half of this breakdown of the twins adjustment. In the coming days, I will add a section on how to adjust when the coverage changes to Cover 1 or 0 more specifically, and how to pass and run against a Will playing closer to the Z rather than the backside tackle.