The Air Raid and the Single-Wing. Not terms you normally hear in conjunction with each other, unless someone is making a snarky comment intended to show opposite sides of today’s football spectrum. However, a deeper look may show something different, and illustrate the versatility of both systems. In Part 3 of our series, Jay Phares takes a look at the Air Raid concept, “Y-Sail.”
Y-SAIL (SINGLE-WING CREASE)
The single-wing was designed to put defenders in conflict and physically punish them for a single wrong step. Normally, we associate the offense as putting defenders in run responsibility conflict; however, the single-wing has had the capability to put defenders in run/pass conflict long before today’s RPO trends. In our version of the single-wing, we have blended a familiar offensive pass, the Air-Raid Y-Sail concept, with the strong-side tailback sweep run. This three-level stretch on a single high defensive backfield shell is perfect for attacking a mismatched corner or over stressed curl/flat defender, as well as for putting the force player to the strong-side in a run or pass reaction dilemma. The pass threat affects the defense vertically, and the run sweep threat affects the defense horizontally.
Breaking the unbalanced single-wing right formation is not ideal for how we traditionally want to attack, but as a solid rule to remain offensively sound and balanced, we must have at least a single pass for each formation variation in order to take advantage of defensive misalignment or conflict possibilities. Whomever we decided to use at the flanker spot must have the speed to force a quick decision from the corner, where he must declare on the snap whether he will run with the vertical route or jump the flat. Pre-snap alignment, stance and eyes from the corner will tell us a lot about what his post-snap technique may be. We will peek at the vertical on the snap and look off to the arrow/shoot/flat route immediately if the corner turns his hips and runs. If he sits on the flat route, it is possible we can throw to the vertical in the hole between the corner and the half safety. In result, conflict is created at the corner/half safety third-level.
A majority of the time we will not get a great look at the vertical route due to corners playing off at least 5-yards pre-snap. Once he bails the flat area, the timing and spacing of the sail/crease route and the arrow/shoot/flat route begin to take hold on the curl/flat player. The difference in the depth of the routes creates the vertical stretch on the curl/flat player’s zone, while the timing of the routes creates the horizontal stretch of his zone. The better the spacing and timing, the more difficult zone coverage of both becomes. The 2-on-1 match-up creates a decision that must be made quickly and in a large space. If the defender is too tight to the sail/crease, the flat is there, and vice versa. In result, conflict is also created at the curl/flat second-level.
On the backside of the play, we will use our weak-side tight end to run a middle of the field open or closed read route, attacking the open area of the zone or running away from man, another popular Air-Raid principle. Only against certain defensive pass coverages will we look to throw this backside route and it will be deemed at “press-box” call.
Finally, the sweep run threat is a sure hard force trigger for any defender focused on stopping a heavy run tendency based offense. Thus, run/pass conflict is created at the first level/line of scrimmage.
The similarities between the four diagrams are obvious, another example of influence between the two offenses. Whether you’re seeing a two-high shell and having to slightly adjust the routes, or manipulating a 9-man heavy run box to check to a 1 high shell with a formation variation, the Y-Sail/Crease concept delivers in multiple eras of offenses.
The following single-wing clips are from the 2013-2015 seasons:
Fear The Wing!
This is part 3 of 5 in the series “Air Raid & The Wing.”