By Scott Dieterich
Offensive Coordinator / QB & FB’s Coach
Parkview Baptist School (LA)
I would like to open by thanking X&O Labs for the opportunity to share this report with you. As a coach, I greatly appreciate the value of the resources that football coaches from across the country share and the forum that X&O Labs provides for its readers is greatly appreciated and respected.
As a long-time flex bone offensive coach, there are a few things I need to begin this report with to help the reader understand the “why” and not just the “what” of this article. Just as there are many different varieties of the modern spread offense, the same can be said for today’s modern flex bone offenses. I believe it’s safe to say that most flex bone offenses are similarly deeply rooted in a few core plays (i.e. triple option & midline options etc.), but there are many subtle differences within different versions of the flex bone offense. Some of these differences are not always easily noticeable and they can include elements such as the types of complementary plays used, the type & frequency of the passing game, and the use of formations and personnel.
The main concept that will be covered in this article will be using different formations and specializing personnel in the flex bone offense to be the most effective and efficient. I believe that most high school coaches learn many things from visiting and studying college teams every year. But not all things transfer down to the high school level equally. The main issues that most often must be considered for high school coaches are time and the ability of our players. We are a 1-platoon team, so we must share our players in each phase of the game (O-D-K), which greatly limits our time with them in each phase as well as limiting how much we can put on each of them mentally. This article is written with much thought given to these issues. Things obviously change for the better when a coach has more time and/or more ability with regards to his players. It will also be assumed that there is some working knowledge by the reader of the flex bone offense. This article will touch on some of the plays we use in this offense, but the plays will be covered more within the context of how they are used with different formations more so than in-depth detail of the plays themselves.
Flex Bone Formations
The discussion for formations in any offense can’t accurately be complete without considering the assignments & roles of specific players & positions within each formation, for each play, and vs. all defenses. All (11) positions on each play are vital, but within the flex bone offense, there are (2) positions that have “more on their plate” than any others; The QB & the Halfbacks. NOTE: I call our halfbacks “T & Y” or collectively “TY-Backs”; many flex offenses call this position “A-Backs”. The formation itself cannot necessarily take pressure off the QB, but we do try to take pressure off the Halfbacks by limiting where we align our halfbacks and what we ask them to do.
The Split-End or Wide Receiver is a position that isn’t very demanding mentally, but physically it is very demanding in its own way. Many flex teams have really expanded recently what they will ask this position to do by specifically using the SE to align and perform more like a TE. Again, I have seen this done effectively at the college level but I really haven’t seen it trickle down to the high school level very effectively and consistently. Again, a college team can recruit specifically what they are looking for to fill the needs of what they ask their positions to do where most high school teams must develop their players to best fit what they can within their natural abilities.
The “integrity” or effectiveness of a formation in the flex bone offense for us comes down to a (3) key concepts that we try to maintain with 99% of our sets:
- Always have an “attached” halfback. By having an attached halfback this gives us the most flexibility for the plays we run.
- Always have a “true” fullback aligned behind the QB. A true fullback threatens the defense immediately and it is the trigger for many of our plays. When a flex bone team doesn’t have a true fullback, this eliminates much of what a defense must defend.
- We want to be able to run the bulk of our offense out of all formations that we use, especially our options: By making the defense always align option sound to both sides of a formation greatly limit what they can do defensively and still be sound.
A Few Different or Unusual Alignments that you may notice within our Formations
I really don’t care for coaching something just because “that’s just the way it’s always been done” or because “that’s what everybody else does.” I don’t mind thinking outside of the box a little bit, especially when I feel like it gives our players the best chance for success. Below are a few alignment things that we do differently as compared to most flex teams.
- Our TY-Backs/Halfbacks align deeper than most flex teams – this tends to make most of their assignments easier such as improved motion paths & blocking fits.
- Our Fullback (aka B-Back) is aligned in a 2-point stance. Although it’s rare to see this from a flex team, I feel the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
- Our O-Line is aligned further up on the LOS than most flex teams that tend to get as deep as legally possible with their O-Line. We feel this alignment helps us our O-Line function better overall in most blocking situations.
- Our T.E. will align in a 2-point stance many times. We give the T.E. the choice to align in a 2 or 3 Point stance and many times they choose the 2-point stance because most of their assignments are executed easier from this alignment.