Offset Offensive Line Part 3- Linebacker Flow & Reads

I’m really getting into this series; firstly because it’s always good fun thinking about the X’s and O’s of football, but also because it reminds me of things that we do well, or things that we do instinctively that should be key in coaching players.

Firstly in this series we looked at what an Offset Offensive Line actually is, then we looked at how we align to it and how gap responsibilities work. Now we’re going to look at how our linebackers read, and react to plays.


When I talk about flow with our Linebackers, we are almost always talking about how the backfield movement defines how we play our gap responsibilities. We break it down into three different types of flow:

Hard Flow: This is when the Running backs attack the Line of Scrimmage Vertically; plays such as Dive,  Inside Zone, and Lead plays are all good examples of them. It’s your bread and butter plays that in theory, you should be able to stop with your base gap assignments.
Disclaimer: You may need another Linebacker to help ‘Mop-up’ if you have a lead blocker.

Here’s one of three examples that I made earlier, with our base alignment in the 3-5 before shifting to adjust for the offset line.


Full Flow: This is when the backfield moves horizontally in front of us, and attacks outside of the tackles. We call full flow on toss, stretch, sweeps and Outside Zone. These plays require a quick read, and for our linebackers to shuffle in the play direction before hitting what we call a “Flow gap”, these can be either “To”(towards us) or “Away”(away from us)

Remember: the alignment has not yet been adjusted for the offset line


Split Flow: This is where the backfield attacks two directions at once, or use a combination of both Hard and Full Flow. This is arguably one of the harder types of flow to defend, however scouting of teams often allows us to force teams into making a decision that we want them to make. We’ll talk about this later though so that we can get into it in more detail.

I’ve adjusted the alignment in the diagrams now to show where we would be vs the offset line


Now that we’ve covered the different types of flow, in my next article we’ll be looking at how Flow To/Away works, and how we can alter gap responsibility in a way that helps us to shut down the rushing attack without bringing extra players into the tackle box.

—Link will be here—-



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