The speed sweep football plays go by many names; jet sweep, fly sweep and speed sweep and can be effective for certain youth football teams.
The speed sweep involves a wing, slot or flanker running at full speed motion, taking a handoff from the quarterback and sweeping the opposite end from where he came in motion from. The play is extremely effective at getting that speedy running back to the edge quickly.
There is even an entire offense built around this concept, called the “Fly Offense” that is run by a handful of High Schools. Many High School and even College Football teams incorporate the jet sweep into their regular offensive sets and series. Today many Wing T, Double Wing, I Formation, Ace Set and even a few Single Wing teams have Jet Series plays or add Jet Motion to some of their football playbooks. Unfortunately most TV announcers mistakenly call this play a reverse or end around, I have no clue how they get that term from a simple motion sweep action. Most Real football coaches know this is a Jet, Fly or Speed sweep play.
Once the defense starts flying to the motion to the outside, there are a number of complementary football plays that can be very effective: fullback trap, fullback wedge, “G” play with QB or Fullback, bootleg and waggle pass. The key is to have very tight mesh fakes to the fullback during the regular jet sweep plays. Some teams run the fullback first before the motion back, most have the fullback run his fake or take just behind the motion backs motion and of course have the QB bootleg away from the play. The tighter the mesh between fullback and motion back the more effective these football plays will be. The teams that do this well make this a boom boom play, all three backs going in different directions after a split second slight of hand mesh. Now making it work like that is another story.
This football play can be blocked in a variety of ways, with most teams going to a “reach” technique with the playside linemen and track blocking on the backside. Many youth football teams even pull the playside guard and tackle. With the speed the motion man is coming at, they feel they can leave the playside defensive tackle unblocked and he still can not get to the play if the motion man gains a bit of depth at the handoff. Some teams lead the motion man with a running back, others offset a blocking back to that side. Still others at the youth level may even pin the end man on the line of scrimmage in with a wing or slot and down block it with a GOD rule, Inside Gap, On, Down. However you run it, the play will not work unless the motion back is running at FULL SPEED. Your motion man has to be trained to trust the QB and his landmarks and run all out.
My only personal experience running the Jet Sweep was with an age 13-14 team, running the Double Wing Offense. This was a “B” level team that was very short on talent, size and players that I got just one week before their first game (fired entire coaching staff 1 week before their first game)and in addition to head coaching an age 8-10 team. We were able to add a speedy player to our team in week 3 of the season, due to very low numbers (17). We were looking for a way to put this speedster in space without throwing the ball, as our QB was very inaccurate. We were able to get the handoff to the motion man down well with a day or two of practice by making sure we had our timing and landmarks down, but it took quite a bit of tweaking and reps to get down, it is a play series that requires a tremendous amount of precision and time. Our QB would open up to the motion side, then bootleg away from the motion.
The hard part for us was getting good tight quick fakes to the fullback after the handofff or fake to the speed motion back and making a tight mesh. Making that work to a reasonable level and getting the timing down so we could run our fullback traps, G plays, fullback wedges, bootlegs and waggles out of it took at least 2 weeks. Our wedge never seemed to work very well off this action because it took too long for the fullbacks to get into the wedge after the motion back fake. We were able to get our speed back to the outside with this play. Running the jet sweep on short yardage situations was where we had the most success.
Since the edge is so tight on the Double Wing Offense and the Wing is motioning at full speed, the motion would start just an instant before the snap. To make sure we were not called for “offsides for simulating the snap” we had our motioning wing take a very slow deliberate drop step as the start of his motion. Many uniformed referees think you have to be in motion for one second before the snap, that is incorrect and probably is confused with the rule that every player must be set for one second before the team can go in motion. Doing the slow deliberate drop step seemed to solve all those issues. Since we had only one player with speed, it limited the amount we could run this play, as the defense could just set up wide opposite the wing the speed player was set to and counter the play call.
In 2000 I saw an age 8-10 youth football team in Council Bluffs, Iowa run the Fly Offense as their base with very tight jet motion. They were a very well coached youth football team with speed to burn. They were quite good, but the same coach in 2002 was running a different offense, so it may be talent dependent, like many offenses out there.
If you have the time and the speed, adding some jet motion plays to your offense may be helpful. When I mean speed I mean you have two reliable running backs that are both in the 95th percentile for the entire league. This is a precision based series, not a silver bullet, so if the execution of your base offensive football plays is not very good, this could be a big waste of time. Coaching Youth Football well means you have to decide if you have the talent and if you want to take valuable practice time to add something like this to your attack. For me it made sense just the one season, but I have not closed the door on doing some more of it in the future, especially if I had two reliable players with very good speed.
Dave Cisar-With over 15 years of hands-on experience as a youth coach, Dave has developed a detailed systematic approach to developing youth players and teams that has enabled his personal teams to win 97% of their games in 5 Different Leagues.
Dave is a trainer of youth football coaches nationwide. He has a passion for developing youth coaches so they can in turn develop teams that are competitive and well organized, while having fun and retaining players. His book “Winning Youth Football a Step by Step Plan” was endorsed by Tom Osborne and Dave Rimington. His DVDs and book have been used by teams nationwide to run integrity based programs that win championships.
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