Clarification on how an H-back is used..

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Clarification on how an H-back is used..

Postby Skinsfan55 » Sun Apr 25, 2004 7:45 am

Okay, I think I understand what one IS... but lately it's been sounding like one is used, well like this.

You have a QB, 2 WR, 1 RB, 1 HB, 1 TE and 5 OL for 11 guys. The H-back can line up in the fullback slot or at a TE position or split out to a reciever slot? Am I correct so far? And it seems like an H-back (when they are not blocking and kicking arse) goes out to catch passes, and the tight end is used as more of a 2nd tackle?

Did I get it right? If not, I need some help with this.

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Postby verm04 » Sun Apr 25, 2004 10:00 am

Yes, you are. The h-back is exactly the hybred fullback/tight end player. He can line up in any of those 3 pplaces and can either ceiver or block in each.

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Postby RedskinsFreak » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:24 pm

You got it. The "tight end" is usually nothing more than a sixth lineman.

My thought was that Cooley was better suited for HB than for TE. But it looks like he might be the first to do either.

That might be a wrinkle in the new Gibbs thinking if Cooley DOES play TE. He'd be the best pass-catching threat to play there. If the defense starts thinking they have to cover this guy -- more ammo to Joe.
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Postby skinsfaninroanoke » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:41 pm

Keep in mind that the Hback often lines up in the traditional fullback spot - which is why there is some confusion to what they are. Why they have to be so smart is that they read the defenses and shift to one side of the line or the other in motion. This either fools the defense into shifting to the fake side, or gives the Skins another blocker.

What is fun in Gibbs offense is when 5 guys shift positions at once... the TE, HB, RB and 2 WR. It just causes hella confusion on the part of the defense. And with Williams throwing wrinkles at Joe, I bet Joe has come up with major wrinkles to throw back at the defenses.

Imagine a shift, for example, that brings the TE to the left side of the formation, shifts the HBack to the right, the twin receivers now split - one to the left and one to the right. The RB just takes a step forward into single back position. Which way will they run? Are they going to run? Could be max protect with only 2 - 3 guys going out.

I love this thinking.
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Postby welch » Thu Apr 29, 2004 1:48 pm

There is more on the H-back in the Football 101 section.

When Dan Henning and Joes Gibbs invented the formation, the two normal NFL sets were

(a) I-formation, with an upback (aka fullback) right behind the QB, and a tailback behind him. When the I-formation upback took the ball, who led him into the hole? The tailback was behind, so the play often was often as weak as a QB sneak.

Therefore, the upback hardly ever ran the ball. That was the problem when George Alen signed Rigins, but made him an I-formation fullback. people complained: all that money for such a famous star as Rigins, and what has he produced?


(b) The other typical set was the twin-setback, usually a big fullback paired with a smaller, faster halfback. Each set-back was supposed to block for the other. When Gibbs persuaded Riggins to unretire ("I'm bored, I'm broke, I'm back"), he had Joe washington and Riggins. Washington was too small to block effectivbely, but he was very fast, slippery, and a fine receiver. Riggins was a good blocker, but, even in a normal game, his hands were battered and clawed from holding onto the ball as defenders tried to rip it away. So, it was never much of an option to throw a 20-yard out to Riggo, especially since Washington could not handle defenders rushing the QB.

(There had been an "all-big-back" fad in the '60s, when coaches imitated Vince Lombardi's great Packers of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung.)

Gibbs says that Hennings asked why they shouldn't replace one of the RB's with a genuine TE, since TE's block and catch passes... That gave them a personnel group somewhat like the I-formation, but with a better blocker and better receiver than any FB would be.

The H-back lined up all over, and usually was the last man in motion. As was mentioned, Gibbs used to love having one guy go in motion, stop, shift two or three guys someplace else, settle, and finally have someone else in go motion when the ball was snapped.

[Oh, and a "defense" of Donnie Warren's pass-catching, which probably isn't needed here. Warren was a pretty decent receiver in his early seasons. It was only toward the end of the '80s that he became almost entirely a blocker.]

So...who will play H-back and who will play TE? Gibbs will know, and I don't pretend to know in advance anything he will do. Yes, new wrinkles...that's Gibbs.

But I do know that it is great fun to remember what he did with those TE's and H-backs, and to imagine what he will do this season!

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