Football Fundamentals: I-Formation RB Pull Replace Plays

This is a series post with lots of play diagrams. Where it lacks depth, it hopefully makes up for with breadth. The goal of this post is to demonstrate the many run game nuances that are at your disposal, outside the very basics that you can find almost anywhere. I will point out some key attributes for the plays, but for the most part the diagrams will stand alone outside a brief description. This post is limited (out of necessity) to strongside plays that are given directly to the RB. It does not include FB runs, or QB runs, or H-Back, Wing, TE, or WR runs. It also doesn't include option plays. Those are things for future posts.

Why did I select an I-formation, which is mostly going out of fashion, and how do I expect this information to be utilized? The I-Formation is a classic 2-back set that, by the time it was implemented, had the benefit of a lot of football history. It is also a highly adaptable run formation, along for offsets, for H-backs, and other aspects that allow essentially any run concept to be incorporated into its framework. And that's the important bit: you can look at an I-Formation run play and easily carry it forward to many modern formations. For instance, by altering footwork and possibly timing, any of these plays can be utilized in the following:

  • 2-Back Shotgun Runs (with the second back potentially being a FB, an H-Back, a Wing, or a Sniffer)
  • 1-Back Shotgun QB Runs (utilizing the RB as an added blocker)
  • 1-Back Shotgun Read Options (the read of a run-run option, run-pass option, or pass-run option take the place of the additional blocker).
Many of the best current offenses often circle back to old formations. In the NFL, along with the modern spread concepts, you see a lot of the best offenses utilizing Wing T concepts. This set of plays does the same where it can (though, again, recognize that the option packages and fake packages are not included in this post, so it is somewhat limited). Below, you will see each play blocked against the two fundamental Even Fronts (4-3 Over and Under).

This article will focus on plays where pullers are replaced by Backs

Pull Replace
Backside Wham
Rather than a trap, the "trap" blocker comes from the backfield. Widen the alignment of the FB for a better angle.

Frontside Wham
Similar, but now aiming front side of the formation (or backside 1T to the next frontside player).

Influence Wham
Run Sweep or Pin and Pull? Utilize that influence with your blocking up front and them wham the backside open as the LBs flow with the pull.

Lead Crunch
Crunch widens the wham play to the playside, aiming for a playside 3-Technique. Note, if there is no playside 3-Technique, the TE will just act like an in-line blocker would and block down on the next defender. You can choose to run it with influence pulls vs an Over front (as seen above) or maintain simple gap scheme regardless.

A gap version of the midline play, here, you will utilize your FB to cut block the first DL 3-tech or outside and quickly hit up inside of it. A great quick hitting play that gets the OL to the second level and keeps the DL on its toes.

Influence Midline
Teams attacking your Down G game? Now influence them with a frontside pull and cut/seal the player over the puller.

Power F
Teams keying your OGs? Replace the pulling OG with a back. This gets a block to the frontside faster and prevents the backside of the play from keying through the guard.

Counter HF
If you can do it with Power then you can do it with Counter. Keep the OG home to prevent the backside 4-tech from chasing down the play and utilize backs to get extra blockers to the point of attack.