Phrase of the Day: Halfback Pass! What is it?

The phrase of the day is, “Halfback Pass”.

A halfback pass is a trick play or a gadget play, where the offense starts out running a toss sweep. The Halfback/Running Back/Tailback reads the various routes as he’s running to the side of the field the play is called on. They are normally run to the side of the field that the back throws with, but it’s not set in stone. If a defense bites on the running play, someone might be left open and the offense can connect on a big play. If nobody is open, then the back tucks the ball down and gets as much yardage with his legs as possible.

The play is broken down in the following two graphics.

Part One is the Toss.


The five offensive lineman come off the ball engaging the defense like normal. The formation used above is a 2WR and 2TE set. Those receivers come off the ball like on a normal running play, either blocking and moving down field or running their men out of the play. As mentioned above, the running back takes the pitch and reads the field as he moves to the right.

Part 2, The Throw

In the play above, the X receiver is running a Post Route, and his Z receiver is running a Go route. The LTE is running a drag, getting depth and the RTE is running an out route.  The QB would like to throw to X or Z if their DB responsible for them bit on the run play (meaning they abandoned the possibility of the pass). If that is the case, then the offense can hit on a huge play. If the two deeper targets (navy dashes) are covered, then the QB can look to the two shorter routes (orange dashes) that the TE’s are running and then are both in the same direction. If they too are covered and he’s protected, he can take another look deep, take off and try to get as many yards as he can running the ball, or throw the ball away to avoid losing yards.

Another concept that is introduced into the 2nd graphic is called a, Quarterback throwback which is simply when the QB hands off/tosses the ball to a back/receiver and runs down field. If nobody follows him, then that can be a big play. The throw to the QB is shown by the white dash above.  They aren’t run very often because it puts the QB at risk to unnecessary hits, but they do occur.

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