Countering Defensive Adjustments For The Jet Sweep

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By Chris Booth, Head Football Coach, Peterstown Middle School, Peterstown, West Va.

Back when we first went to the Spread Offense, we were especially successful in using the Jet Sweep. Within two seasons, however, we began to see a variety of strategies that opposing defenses used to make defensive adjustments in an attempt to take this play away.

During that timeframe, the vast majority of our opponents primarily used either a 5-3 or 4-4 defense versus our spread.

Initially, when we first started using our Jet Sweep, opposing defenses we faced failed counter the motion of the slots with rotation or had their outside linebackers (OLBs) vacate their area and follow the motion man.

Without adjustments, Diagrams 1a and 1b (seen below) basically shows what we had to block when we first ran our Jet Sweep.

DIAGRAM 1a: Jet Sweep (Vs 4-4 Defense).

DIAGRAM 1b: Jet Sweep (Vs 5-3 Defense).

By the end of the second season of using our Spread Offense, whenever we ran the Jet Sweep, we began to see adjustments from opposing defenses.

Diagram 2 (shown below), illustrates some of those initial defensive adjustments.

DIAGRAM 2: Jet Sweep (Defensive Adjustments). The motion-side OLB has vacated his area and has followed the slot across the formation during the pre- and post snap. By the time the ball has snapped, meanwhile, the safety crashes downhill to help stop the sweep.

Diagram 3 (shown below), basically shows the same principle, except that the LB rotates one position over during the pre-snap phase of the play.

DIAGRAM 3: Linebacker Rotates One-Position Over Pre-Snap.

The safety again comes crashing downhill so that by the time the ball has snapped, he can help stop the sweep. Diagrams 4a and 4b (shown belown), basically shows what we were seeing at the snap.

DIAGRAM 4a: Defensive Adjustments To Jet Sweep – At The Snap (4-4 Defense).

DIAGRAM 4b: Defensive Adjustments To Jet Sweep – At The Snap (5-3 Defense).

Countering The Counters

To counter these defensive adjustments, our players were taught to read the pre-snap adjustments and to run one of the following four plays instead of the Jet Sweep.

Which play we use is pre-determined during that week’s practice, but can be changed at any time during the game.

PLAY NO. 1: Running Back Middle-Counter (Vs 4-4 Defense).

DIAGRAM 5: Running Back Middle-Counter (Vs 4-4 Defense). In this play, we fake the Jet Sweep and block the defensive front as follows…

LEFT OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Blocks the left defensive end inside-to-out, by putting his helmet toward the left side of the DE’s body and driving him to the left.

LEFT OFFENSIVE GUARD: Blocks the left defensive tackle inside-to-out, by putting his helmet toward the left side of the DT’s body and driving him to the left.

CENTER: Blocks the play-side LB to the left.

RIGHT OFFENSIVE GUARD: Blocks the right defensive tackle inside-to-out, by putting his helmet toward the right side of the DT’s body and driving him to the right.

RIGHT OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Releases downfield on the Jet-side Inside LB and seals him away from the running lane. This block is made easier if the LB takes any false steps to his left during the fake by the motion slot and the QB. It’s important that the QB and motion slot to give good fakes for this play to be successful.

RIGHT SLOT: Blocks down on the right DE.

PLAY NO. 2: QB Inside Wham (Vs 4-4 Defense).

If the left Inside LB is NOT influenced by the Jet fake, and he stays at home, we utilize the “QB Inside Wham” play as shown in Diagram 6 below.

DIAGRAM 6: QB Inside Wham (Vs 4-4 Defense).

LEFT OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Blocks the left defensive end inside-to-out, by putting his helmet toward the left side of the DE’s body and driving him to the left.

LEFT OFFENSIVE GUARD: Blocks the left defensive tackle inside-to-out, by putting his helmet toward the left side of the DT’s body and driving him to the left.

CENTER: Blocks the left Inside LB.


RIGHT OFFENSIVE GUARD: Blocks the right defensive tackle inside-to-out, by putting his helmet toward the right side of the DT’s body and driving him to the right.

RIGHT OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Blocks the right DE inside-to-out.

RIGHT SLOT: Blocks the right Inside LB inside-to-out.

RUNNING BACK: Blocks the left Outside LB.

QUARTERBACK: Rides the motion slot until he is behind the right OG and attacks the A-Gap on the right side of the formation.

PLAY NO. 3: Running-Back Left-Side Counter (Vs 5-3 Defensive Adjustment).

If the defensive front is changed to the 5-3, our players are taught to cal a “Left-Side Counter.”

DIAGRAM 7: Running Back “Left-Side Counter” (Vs 5-3 Defensive Adjustment). In this play, we fake the Jet Sweep and block the defensive front as follows…

LEFT OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Kicks the left DE out.

LEFT OFFENSIVE GUARD: Blocks the left Outside LB.

CENTER: Blocks the Nose Guard to the right.

RIGHT OFFENSIVE GUARD: Pulls left and traps the left DT.

RIGHT OFFENSIVE TACKLE: Blocks the right DT to the right.

RIGHT SLOT: Blocks the right DE to the right.

QUARTERBACK: Fakes the Jet Sweep with the motion Slot and then gives an inside handoff to the RB who attacks the left-side B-gap.

PLAY NO. 4: Fly-Shallow-Fly (Vs 4-4 or 5-3 Defenses).

All of the adjustment plays do not have to be running plays. Play No. 4 is an effective passing play we have a lot of success with and use when defenses make adjustments to stop our Jet Sweep.

DIAGRAM 8a: Fly-Shallow-Fly (Vs 4-4 Defense).

DIAGRAM 8b: Fly-Shallow-Fly (Vs 5-3 Defense).

OFFENSIVE LINE: Delays a count before forming a pass pocket.

LEFT OUTSIDE RECEIVER: Runs a fly pattern.

LEFT SLOT: Fakes the Jet Sweep and then pass blocks.

RIGHT SLOT: Runs a shallow route. In this route, he runs behind the defensive line, from right to left.

RUNNING BACK: Fakes the inside counter, and then pass blocks to the left.

RIGHT OUTSIDE RECEIVER: Runs a fly route.

QUARTERBACK: Carries out a fake with the motion slot and running back, and then reads his receivers with a progression of:

  1) Right Slot

   2) Left Outside Receiver

   3) Right Outside Receiver

It is important to remember that the installation of these adjustment-plays takes some time to fully implement and that the total number of plays should be small. If you remember this simple rule, you can turn the defensive adjustments against the defense and make them less willing to overload against your Jet Sweep – which, in turn, makes your Jet Sweep all the more productive.

Chris Booth is currently the head football coach at Peterstown Middle School, Peterstown, West Va. He has published numerous books and videos that are available through Coaches Choices at CoachesChoice.com.

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