The Pro Set offense, sometimes called split backs, was an incredibly popular offense for close to 40 years in the NFL, and is still used quite a bit.
Originally, it was constructed as a running offense that would use playaction fakes to get over top of the defense, but it has been successfully used in modern times to run the West Coast Offense – a ball control passing offense.
Pro Set Formation
The pro set is characterized by it’s balance, and it’s ability to get the ball to any of the area of the field very quickly, and this is done by splitting the fullback and halfback, lining them up parallel, behind the 3 and 4 holes. The quarterback lines up behind center, who has his guards and tackles lined up on both sides. This formations versatility makes it equally effective with three receivers or three tight ends and all the other variants in between - feel free to adjust plays to reflect your best personnel.
Famous Pro Set Offenses
- Mid 2000s Philadelphia Eagles
- 1970s Dallas Cowboys
Pro Set Offense Strengths
- Short Range Passing
Pro Set Offense Weaknesses
- Power running
- Long Range Passing
Pro Set Offense Plays
If you're interested in learning more about Pro Set Offense, make sure you check out our Pro Set Playbook. It's packed with 10 simple, fun and effective plays designed for youth and high school football. All explained with player responsibilities, step by step diagrams, and implementation tips for coaches.
Below are some sample plays you can check out.
Running Play: Jumbo Right 26 Power
Time to get fancy! This reverse is a great play when your up against an overaggressive defense that leaves their lanes prematurely. You need a receiver with good speed and a quarterback that can lay down a good block for this play to work well. Try it out after successfully running the 58 Quick Toss a couple of times.
- LT: Takes one step right, before looping around to the CB
- LG: Releases downfield to block weak side LB
- C: Blocks NT to the strong side
- RG: Releases downfield to block strong side LB
- RT: Slant blocks the strong side DT, maintaining the block
Backs & Receivers
- LTE: Blocks weak side DT to the inside
- RTE: Blocks strong side OB to the outside
- Z: Sprints back towards the fullback, taking the handoff and running around the end
- FB: Takes the pitch from the QB, heads outside before handing off to Z coming back the other way
- TB: Takes two quick steps right, then takes off to the weak side to lead block for Z
- QB: Reverse pivots, pitching to the FB, then bootlegs around the other direction, lead blocking for Z
- Your QB’s block on the weak side OB is vital to the success of this play. If you’ve got a QB who shies away from most contact, you might want to try lining up both your TEs on the left - but this will bring more attention and defenders to that side.
- Don’t wait until 3rd and long to pull this out - the defense will be weary of trickery. Try it out on 2nd or 3rd and short - or even 1st and 10!
Passing Play: PA Pro Big Left Boot Right Throwback
This play is at it’s most effective when inside of your opponents five yard line, when the defense will be forced to defend run first and pass second. If the RTE is covered, the QB has plenty of other options, ranging from Z in the back of the end zone, the HB in the flat, or even just taking off for the end zone himself.
- LT: Reach blocks man
- LG: Reach blocks man
- C: Reach blocks weakside DT
- RG: Reach blocks man
- RT: Reach blocks man
Backs & Receivers
- LTE: Runs a deep in route
- RTE: Drop steps, running parallel to the line until he crosses to the strong side, then, gets deeper before running the swing route
- Z: Motions right, getting a little bit of depth, turns downfield about five yards wide of the RT, running a flag route
- FB: Sells power fake, pass blocks on weakside
- HB: Runs a flat route
- QB: Fakes handoff to FB, bootlegs right, throws to RTE
- You need a pretty mobile TE for this play to work well - if it takes him too long to get into position, the QB will be left out on an island.
- The QB and RTE will need to practice this play a lot. If the pass is thrown to early, the RTE will not be ready for the pass, and too late, the defense will have had time to read and react.
For more plays like this, check our complete Pro Set Playbook today!
More Football Offenses
- I-Formation Offense: great for playing smash mouth football and overpowering the defense at the line
- Double Wing Offense: uses two wingbacks to set up power runs and misdirection plays
- Singleback Offense: a versatile passing offense, which also works well for draws and outside runs
- Spread Offense: spreads the defense horizontally, making it easier to isolate man coverage, as well as find and throw to the holes in the zone
- Wing-T Offense: an all-time favorite at the youth level, which emphasizes counters, reverses, bootlegs and short passing plays
Or, if you need help develop fundamental offensive skills, don't miss our drill collections covering quarterbacks, offensive line, running backs and receivers.