|Pro Set (Near)|
|This formation offers great variety to the offense.
With the tight end to block and two running backs in the backfield, they can use lead runs (where the fullback leads the halfback through the hole), or misdirection plays (where one back fakes the run in one direction and the other carries the ball in another).
The alignment of the running backs allows good running straight ahead or strongside, particularly lead running to the strongside. Weakside running is less effective. Passing is fairly good, with two wide receivers plus the tight end, and the two running backs in the backfield able to release or block.
|In this formation, there are two wide receivers, one tight end, one wing back, and one running back (who stands alongside the quarterback in the backfield). The passing game is balanced, but not particularly strong deep, and the running game is relatively poor (the running back is likely to be stationary when he takes any handoff) even though the tight end is available as a blocker.|
|This is the most common shotgun formation, where the wing-back is replaced by a third receiver. This offers the greatest threat from the passing game whilst still retaining some semblance of a running game.|
|The most extreme shotgun formation is the Shotgun Spread, in which the tight end is replaced by a fourth wide receiver and the lone running back moves up to the line of scrimmage as a wing back. The running games in non-existent, and it is usually only used in desperation.|
|Ace (One Back)|
|This is a three receiver formation where one running back (sometimes referred to as an H-back) sets up close to the line of scrimmage outside the tight-end as a wing back. This permits him faster release into the flat or over the middle, but he is much less effectivew as a runner or blocker.|
|Goal Line is the ultimate running formation, in which an extra offensive lineman replaces the only wide receiver from the Jumbo formation. This adds yet another blocker at the further expense of the passing game.|
|Slot (One Back)|
|A formation with an extra receiver can be achieved by removing a running back and bringing in a wide receiver, to produce this formation. Passing to the wide receivers is significantly improved, but passing to the running back will be poor. The role of the tight end is unchanged, but the running game is restricted as there is only one running back in the backfield.|
|In this formation both running backs are set directly behind the quarterback, with the fullback in front and the halfback 2-3 yards deeper than in a pro set. The running game is strong, especially up the middle, at the expense of the passing game (the running backs take longer to release into the flat or upfield and cannot pass-block as easily, being directly behind the quarterback at the snap).|
|An alternative for extra blocking power is the Jumbo formation, in which the second tight end is brought in at the expense of a wide receiver. With two tight ends it has all the benefits of a balanced line of scrimmage but there are still two running backs available for misdirection and lead running. However there is only one wide receiver, so the passing game, particularly deep, is fairly weak.|
|Pro Set (Far)|
|Similar to Pro Set (Near), but instead of one running back offsetting to the strongside he is offset to the weakside. Straight ahead running is unaffected, but weakside running is improved at the expense of the strongside.|
|The Split is a variation of the Ace formation, with both running backs lining up as wings (near the line of scrimmage). The variation in the passing game is optimised, with two wing backs, two wide receivers and the tight end, but with no-one in the backfield, the running game is non-existent.|
|This is a basic formation, where both backs are offset, one weakside and one strongside. Lead running and running up the middle are poor, but running is otherwise good to both strong and weak sides.|
|In this formation, the tight end is removed and there are four wide receivers. There is now no strongside to the offensive line, and the running game will be poor. There is no run blocking other than the offensive line, and successful running is dependent upon the passing game keeping the defense out of specialist run defenses. The passing game is particularly good, but with no tight end and only one running back, is almost entirely restricted to the wide receivers.|
|Two TE Balanced|
|Another common set is the Two Tight End Balanced formation, where one running back is removed and a second tight end sets up on the weakside of the line of scrimmage. This effectively removes the strongside / weakside differentiation. The blocking is now equally strong to either side, at the expense of the ability to use plays which require two running backs (misdirection or lead runs).|
|Two TE Strong|
|A variation on the Two Tight End Balanced formation, where the second tight end lines up on the strongside. Here there are two extra blockers to the strongside, but rushing to the weakside will probably be very poor (unless the defense over commits to the strongside).|
|The Wishbone formation is rarely used in pro football, but
is still the staple of many college teams. There is only one receiver and only
one tight end, but there are three running backs set in the backfield, one directly
behind the quarterback and one offset slightly to each side. It is particularly
strong for misdirection and option running, but is very weak in the passing
game. Wishbone teams normally run most of the time and throw only a few passes
The success of the wishbone is primarily due to the lower quality of collegiate football and the willingness of collegiate coaches to allow their quarterbacks to run with the ball. In the pros, the extra speed of defensive players prevents teams consistently running misdirection plays.
|The Wing-Three formation is an alternative four-reciever formation with only three wide-outs, but with the second running back moved to become a wing back (the same as in the Ace). The running game is almost as weak as with the Stretch, but with a running back and a wing back available, the passing game is available to both running backs and wide receivers.|