If you’re looking to run a spread out the defense horizontally, the singleback offense is the formation for you. Most commonly using a tailback, a tight end, and three receivers, the idea here is to spread the defense out horizontally, so that vertical passing lanes are more available to your QB.

Singleback Formation

In singleback formation, you have one halfback behind the quarterback, with the quarterback again under center, with his guards and tackles on either side of him. Most often a team will then lined up three receivers and one tight end, but if you’ve got a great fourth receiver, or you just really want to spread out the defense and get them in their dime package, feel free to switch the tight end out.

singleback offense formation
Singleback Formation

Famous Singleback Offenses

  • 2007 New England Patriots - With three very different and very talented receivers in Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Jabar Gaffney, the Patriots let Tom Brady loose, picking defenses apart and setting NFL records in passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season.

Singleback Offense Strengths

  • All Passing Plays
  • Draws
  • Outside Running
  • Versatility

Singleback Offense Weaknesses

  • Power running
  • QB Protection

Singleback Offense Plays

If you're interested in learning more about Singleback Offense, make sure you check out our Singleback 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.

Get The Singleback PDF Playbook



Below are some sample plays you can check out.

Running Play: Singleback Trips Right Blast Option

Play Strategy

If you’ve got a QB with good legs that is a good decision maker, this play can be absolutely deadly. You can run it in almost any situation, but it’s most effective with lots of field to work with on the weak side, so wait until you’ve got the ball on one the hash marks, and let ”˜er rip!

singleback offense passing plays
This drill is most effective with lots of field to work with on the weak side.

Offensive Line

  • LT:  Seals the DT outside with a block
  • LG: Double teams NT with C
  • C: Double teams NT with LG
  • RG: Reach block the strong side ILB
  • RT: Reach block the weak side ILB

Backs & Receivers

  • LTE: Seals the DE outside with a block
  • SE: Releases to stalk block the CB
  • WB: Releases to stalk block the CB
  • SB: Backs up 3 steps on the snap, waiting for the QB to get outside of the RT - then swings outside
  • TB: Runs straight up the RG’s right leg, then downfield
  • QB: Pivots to the FB with the ball out, then reads the DL to make his decision - hand off to FB, run outside or pitch to SB

Coaching Tips

  • As the QB reverse pivots with the ball out, he’ll actually put it in the arms of the TB, and they will run together for a couple of yards.
  • The QB needs to focus on the weakside OB and read his reaction to make his decision on whether to hand it off to the FB or peel outside for the option, and if/when to pitch the ball to the SB.

Passing Play: Singleback Slot Left 99 Y Motion Right Option TB Protect

Play Strategy

singleback offense passing plays
This play is at it’s best against the cover 2, when the SS will be forced to either help on Z over the top or Y inside.

Offensive Line

  • LT: Pass blocks man
  • LG: Pass blocks man
  • C: If LB rushes, blocks him. If not, helps LG
  • RG: Pass blocks man
  • RT: Pass blocks man

Backs & Receivers

  • TE: Runs a quick out, is the hot receiver on this play
  • X: Runs an outside streak route
  • Y: Motions right, turns downfield 3-5 yards outside of TE. Starts off in fly route, makes SS read at 15 yards and either runs the curl, deep in, or continues a streak
  • Z: Runs and outside streak route
  • TB: Protects QB from first defender through the line
  • QB: Takes a five step drop, dumping off to TE on third step if the blitz is coming. If not blitz, waits for TB to make read, gets him the ball

Coaching Tips

  • If the QB and SB still aren’t quite sure what kind of coverage their facing after the motion right, he can go back in motion to the left again for another chance to confuse and decipher the defense.
  • The SB needs to read the SS correctly: if he’s deep, run the curl, if he’s inside, run the streak, and if he’s outside, run the in.

For more plays like this, check our complete  Singleback 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
  • 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
  • Pro Set Offense: provides excellent balance, allowing you to get the ball to any area of the field very quickly
  • 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.