Misdirection Football Plays – Using Misdirection to Attack the Defense

If you want to run a successful offense, running misdirection plays will make it easier to put defences in difficult positions. The basic idea of misdirection football plays is that you draw the defence’s attention one way (either with motions, play actions or bluff plays) and attack them the other way, or where they are now vulnerable. This idea also helps manipulate a defence’s numbers and alignments to gain an advantage. Misdirection plays are especially effective against man coverage teams.

Tennessee Titans vs Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 2, 17/9/17)

The Week 2 matchup of the Tennessee Titans vs the Jacksonville Jaguars was expected to be a close contest, with the high calibre Jacksonville defence expected to shut down the Titans offense. However, the Titans were able to be incredible productive against their opponents, racking up a large 37 point score against one of the best defences in the NFL. What most people don’t realise is that the Titans actually have a very good offensive line. This allows them to take on tough defences head on in the trenches and win most of their battles up front. However, there was a more important aspect of the Titans offense that allowed them to dominate this game. This article will analyse how the Titans were able to use misdirection plays to gain an advantage against a strong defensive team.

Play 1 – Swing motion + Invert Shovel

On this play, the Titans are in a two back 1×2 formation with the TE in the Wing position. The RB motions out to the right on a swing path pre-snap. The other RB (or in this case WR) runs an invert path with the TE running the Shovel path. The blocking scheme is a power run to the left with the right guard pulling. The QB first reads the swing motion to see if any defenders motion out to cover the RB pre-snap. If no one goes to cover the RB, then the QB will snap and throw the ball immediately to the swing. If a defender follows to cover the swing, then the QB will run the invert + shovel. The QB reads the End Man on Line of scrimmage (EMOL). If the EMOL sits or turns his hips in to cover the shovel, the QB hands off the ball. If the EMOL widens to cover the invert path, then the QB pitches the ball to the shovel.

The misdirection aspect of this play is really effective in drawing defenders out from the box to cover your RB on the swing. Also, there are 3 options to choose from, giving the offense an answer for each different read and making it even more difficult for the defence to pay attention to each one. This simple use of misdirection is a good example of how you can use it to gain an advantage in numbers, space and even alignment.

Play 2 – Fake RB Toss + TE Sweep

The Titans run this play from a double TE formation with a third TE in the Wing position, with a FB to the strong side. The Titans ran this play on the goal line, out of a condensed strong formation, which shows the defence they are setting up to run the ball over the goal line. This forces the defence to condense their formation to ensure they have the correct numbers to stop the run. The TE in the Wing motions pre-snap and the QB hands off the ball to the sweep and fakes the toss to the RB. The TE on the play side Arc blocks for the sweep and seals the edge for the TE with the ball to get outside for an easy touchdown.

Play 3 – PA + TE screen

This play is run out of a 2×2 formation with two TE on the same side in a tight formation. The QB fakes the hand off to the RB and then look straight down field. He then backs up and throws the ball to the TE running the screen.

This is a very effective misdirection play, as the Titans release their best TE downfield to draw the secondary’s attention while the other TE sells the block and then leaks out for a wide open screen underneath the defence with a convoy of O-Lineman in front. Also, the Titans ran this on a 1st and 20 situation, which meant that the defence would most likely be playing a conservative zone coverage to stop any deep throws and prevent the Titans from getting close to converting the first down. This allowed the Titans to take full advantage for a 32 yard TD.

Keep the defense guessing

Variation and consistent use of misdirection on a majority of your plays will make it very diffucult for the defence to get a feel for what you’re running as an offense. Misdirection is great against tough defences who will beat you one on one almost every time as it gets them out of position and forces them to adapt and play outside of their normal scheme. Misdirection allows your offense to set up defences with a certain look and then hit them somewhere else on the field. With this, the types of misdirection and varations you can use on your plays are only really limited to your imagination. There are many different ways to create misdirection, through formations, play action, motions, read option and moving the ball around. Experiment with different combinations and personnel to find what types of misdrection work in your offense and then throw them relentlessly at the defence.

Feature image photo credit:

photo credit: Keith Allison <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/22486360351″>Jameis Winston</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>



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