When you get right down to it, football is all about having the ball and making ground.
It’s simple: you can’t score if you don’t have the football. And even then, you won’t get anywhere near the end zone if you’re not making yards.
There are many different plays that can help teams keep the ball and score touchdowns that are the best in the world.
However, none has proven to be as effective as the Wing T offence over time.
The Wing T has been successful at all levels of football. It helped the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl in 1970, and it has also helped many youth and high school teams win state championships.
Because of this, this is a great way to play football in a youth system.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to set up this play and run it well. We’ll also show you a few hybrid Wing T formations that you can use to annihilate your opponents.
First, let’s go back to the 1950s.
What Is The Wing T Offense?
The first time the Wing T offence was used was by Dave Nelson’s Delaware University football team in the 1950s. They used the formation to destroy other teams.
Nelson is known as the founder of the formation because he led the university’s team to 105 wins and 48 losses during his 15 years as head coach.
Even though the Wing offence existed before Nelson became the head coach at Delaware, he made it a complete formation by adding a sweep move from the tailback, new blocking techniques, offensive line displacement techniques, and even a passing option.
At its core, the Wing T is a sneaky running play that blocks and pulls defenders out of position. This gives the quarterback (QB) or the running back (RB) the chance to exploit holes in the defensive line and gain valuable yards.
During Wing T offensive plays, a fullback, a tailback, and sometimes a halfback will either block defenders or run the ball up the middle of the pitch.
This makes it an attacking formation that is focused on the team and depends on many players doing their jobs right for the play to work.
In this formation, the QB usually throws the ball to a running back who is coming at a sharp angle to the line of scrimmage.
Who Should Use The Wing T Offense?
This play is used at all levels of football because it is a safe, tried-and-true way for teams to make good yardage.
But, as I’ve already said, it’s a great play for young teams whose players are still growing and getting better.
You probably won’t always find a 6-foot quarterback in high school who can throw darts 60 yards downfield and hit a target the size of a nickel.
In the same way, you won’t always find big, strong players who can block or carry the ball through defensive lines like in pro football.
Again, this makes this play a great tool for youth football coaches, and I like it because it gets the whole team involved in the action.
But what kind of teams should be in charge of the Wing T?
Teams With Blocking Running Backs
Since this is a very sneaky play, you’ll need to start players who know enough about football to move defenders out of the way, creating space for the ball carrier to run through.
That means that every player in the lineup needs to be able to block and draw defensive players out of position and away from space to make holes for your team’s ball carrier to run through.
A Smart Quarterback
You don’t need your quarterback (QB) to be the biggest or best thrower. They have to guess how the defence will line up and pass the ball to the running back, who will hit a hard line to split the defence and gain yards.
So, the quarterback also needs to be a confident runner. Like the Triple Option Offense, the Wing T Offense gives the quarterback a third way to score.
Tactically Minded Offensive Linemen
Your linemen need to be able to read the game just like your quarterback and running backs do. They need to know how the other team is lining up and where they will attack your quarterback.
It’s not true that all these guys do is push and block because they also make holes and pockets that dummy runners and ball carriers can run through. Without them, defenders can easily shut down your runners and stop you from moving up the field.
How To Set Up Wing T Formation Plays
The Wing T formation is a mix of the classic wing formation and the T formation. Two or three running backs will line up behind the quarterback, giving this formation its T shape.
A tight end (TE) and a wingback (WB) will line up to provide extra coverage on the wing of one side of the line of scrimmage.
Teams can also play a split end (SE) on the other side of the wing to balance the playout and pull a defender out wide. However, they can switch this player out for another RB to give the quarterback four offensive options.
In this formation, you can change who you play and where you play them, but the standard Wing T formation has the following players:
The offensive line should have six players, including:
- a center;
- x2 offensive guards;
- x2 offensive tackles; and
- a tight end.
In the backfield and on the sides, coaches usually do the following:
- a quarterback;
- a fullback;
- a wide back;
- a tailback; and
- a split end.
In a classic Wing T formation, the coach will decide which side of the field the team will cover with its wings before the game begins.On the right side of this diagram, the TE and the WB are in charge of wing coverage.
The tight end will take a spot just behind the line of scrimmage. In this play, you don’t have to be big to be a good tight end. All you need is power and speed.
These guys also need to be quick on their feet because they are the main blockers in this play and will block a linebacker’s direct path around the line of scrimmage.
In the same way, the WB needs to be quick, strong, and have safe hands.
WBs will sit a little deeper than TEs, and even though they are too far away from the QB to do a shovel pass, they can still trick the other team into thinking they are a wide receiver if the QB sees them open on the field.
Even so, keep in mind that their first job is to block defenders and help your ball carrier.
On this play, the QB will move closer to the snap and stand a little closer to the line of scrimmage.
At least two RBs will be behind him or on his sides, running sharp lines that either go around the defence on the wing or straight up the middle.
Usually, your tailback and halfback are your main players who carry the ball. To play this position, they don’t have to be big.
They just have to be strong, with a low centre of gravity and a lot of power to break through tackles and bounce off defenders.
The fullback, on the other hand, is the “decoy runner.” To trick the other team into giving you candy, these guys need a great football brain to figure out where the real ball carrier is going and where the space is, then lead a halfback or tailback into that space.
That means they have to be as fast as a running back but usually much bigger so they can block defenders.
Lastly, coaches usually put the SE on the other side of the field to pull another defender away from the crowd at the line of scrimmage.
The SE can help your team gain yards if your QB sees that the defence is clogging up the running lanes in the middle of the field. This is because the SE can throw wide and long.
How To Run It
You can run a lot of plays once your players are in place, but here are some of my favourites.
Since Wing T was first made, the buck sweep has been used. It’s a trick play where your offensive guards and fullback run a fake play around the wing side of your offence while the halfback goes upfield with the ball.
This play is meant to keep the linebackers in place or move them to the right side of the field, away from the field.
Since most runners move to the right, linebackers and safeties won’t know where the ball is going and will take longer to figure out where the play is going.
This lets you take a free shot through the middle, but it can be hard to do it right.
Because there are so many runners crossing lines, your team must move at precisely the right time.
Your quarterback has to cross over with your halfback and fullback, and your offensive guards have to move quickly enough to the wing to make holes for your halfback to shoot through.
Two guards leaving the line of scrimmage and counting on the centre to tackle and block oncoming linebackers is also an unusual move.
But if you do it right, you can move the crowd away from the scrum and onto your wing, leaving big holes in the middle of the field.
In contrast to the play above, the jet sweep is a much faster move with the ball, this time around the TE to the outside.
This time, the HB will start his run far away from the QB and the FB. The FB will make a fake run ahead and crash into the line of scrimmage as a dummy runner.
But once he’s past the line, he’ll try to tackle either the W or M linebacker.
The TE will try to cover the S linebacker while the HB sweeps around the back of the scrimmage to attack the gap on the wing. He’ll be blocked on his right by the WB, and if his TE can’t get free to help block further up the field, he’ll be able to hit the safety.
Toss Blast is a combination of the triple-option offence and a wing formation. It is a Wing T/Wing T formation.
In this play, the QB has four ways to attack. The first is his SE, who will make a long run upfield and attack the safeties at the back of the field.
The second player he sends out is his fullback. He will make a long run around the back of the field and attack the wing channel that the TE opened up.
His halfback is his other running option, and he will again take a hard line between the OT and TE. The quarterback can also run himself and follow a similar sweep route to his fullback, who will block the right-side cornerback.
But this play is set up for the HB to go straight.
With each offensive lineman taking on a defender, there will be spaces between the tight end and the right offensive tackle on the right side of the line of scrimmage. This will let the runners get around the corner.
Also, the HB can make some good yards on this play because his FB loops around to block the corner and his WB moves up the field to hit the SS.
Strengths And Weaknesses Of The Wing T Offense
This play works at any level of football, and it’s best used when you need a reliable way to get yards. But there are a few things wrong with it.
Here are some of the Wing T formation’s most important pros and cons.
Good with undersized linemen
At the youth level, you don’t have to have big linemen to run this play right. In fact, you need linemen who are pretty quick on their feet because a lot of plays in the Wing T offence depend on your linemen moving outside the line of scrimmage to take out linebackers and cornerbacks. This makes it a great play for young teams with players who are still growing.
Can win without having a gunslinger QB
You don’t have to throw crazy “Hail Mary” passes to win. And especially at the youth level, where kids are still learning and getting stronger, not many quarterbacks will be able to throw big bombs.
So, even if a team lacks a quarterback capable of throwing big bombs, the Wing T is a safe and reliable way for them to move up the field and attack the end zone.
As football plays go, this might be one of the best ways to trick the other team. Plays like the buck sweep can confuse the defence about where the ball is and stop them from getting to your players, giving you time to sneak the ball upfield quickly on a different route.
Hard to get right
With so many runners going in different directions, it can be hard to pull the wing tuck in the right direction.
Each player has to hold their run perfectly so they don’t run into another player and block the right player at the right time to make space on the field.
Exposes the QB
When your quick offensive linemen move away from the line of scrimmage, they can leave holes that a fast linebacker could use to attack the quarterback or stop one of your runners before they get too far.
The Final Play
It can be hard to coach this formation, especially with young players. But if it works, this formation is a great way to trick the other team and gain valuable yards.
The most important thing we can tell coaches who want to use the Wing-T offence is to keep things simple.
This play has a complicated structure, and it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. For example, teaching your runners to take straight routes makes things easier and helps you get the next down more quickly.
Once your team has learned how to use the Wing T formation, I’m sure you’ll start to see results on the field.
Head over to Champlair’s football pages for more tips from the NFL playbook!