What is the Offense in Football ? Types of Football Offenses: A Comprehensive Breakdown

What is the offense in football ? There are many different offenses a coach can chose when setting up their strategy to build a team. Usually a coach will build his offense based on his philosophy on how to score points.

Each coach is going to have a different philosophy and build an offense based on his style.

Each offense will have both pass and run heavy schemes. A coach will build his scheme based on his talent at each position. A coach will also game plan based on which team they are playing that week. Its important to understand the difference between and offensive game plan and offensive style. This article is going to focus on styles of offense.

Pro Style Offense

The Pro Style Offense is a balanced offensive system, which utilizes both running and passing plays. It typically features a quarterback under center, a tight end, a running back, and multiple wide receivers. The Pro Style Offense aims to use the strengths of its versatile players to create mismatches and exploit weaknesses in the defense.

This offense is commonly used at the professional and collegiate levels, as it allows teams to utilize their skilled athletes effectively and adapt to various defensive strategies. The video below explains in great detail about the details of a pro style offense.

what is the offense in football

Spread Offense

The Spread Offense aims to disperse the defensive players across the field by spreading out offensive players. This offensive system typically features four or more wide receivers, a single running back, and a quarterback in the shotgun formation.

The primary goal of this offense is to create space for individual matchups and quick, short passes, utilizing the speed and agility of the wide receivers.

It also opens up lanes for the running back, due to the defense being spread out. Various teams at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels employ this offense for its ability to make the defense adjust to various formations and strategies.

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Exploits defensive weaknesses

Quick, short passes

Opens up running lanes

Option Offense

The Option Offense is a run-heavy system that emphasizes the quarterback’s decision-making ability. This offense involves the quarterback reading the defense and deciding whether to hand off the ball to a running back, keep it himself, or pitch it to another back, depending on the reaction of the defense.

The primary goal is to force the defense to make quick decisions and commit to a certain strategy while the offense exploits their choices. This offense is commonly employed at the high school and collegiate levels, as it can be highly effective against undisciplined defenses.

Key components:

  • Quarterback’s decision-making
  • Multiple running options
  • Forcing defense to cover multiple threats

In conclusion, there are various offensive systems used in football, each with their strengths and weaknesses. The choice of offense depends on the team’s personnel, their specific skills, and the level of play. It is essential for teams to choose an offensive system that best suits their players’ strengths and effectively counteracts the opposing defensive strategies.

Formation and Alignment

The shotgun formation is a popular alignment in football, where the quarterback positions themselves 4 to 6 yards behind the center. Initially used primarily on passing downs, this formation has been widely adopted as a base formation by many teams.

The shotgun formation allows for improved visibility and more time to make decisions, aiding the quarterback in identifying defensive coverage and finding open receivers.

Pistol Formation

The pistol formation is a variation of the shotgun formation, wherein the quarterback lines up about 3 to 4 yards behind the center, and a running back lines up directly behind the quarterback.

This formation maintains the advantages of the shotgun formation while also allowing for effective running plays. The pistol formation can be especially useful for teams with a dual-threat quarterback, as it adds an element of unpredictability to the offense.


The I-formation is a more traditional, power-oriented offensive alignment in football. In this formation, the quarterback lines up under center, and two running backs align directly behind the quarterback in a straight line, creating an “I” shape.

The fullback, positioned closest to the quarterback, typically serves as a lead blocker, while the tailback carries the ball. The I-formation allows for a greater emphasis on running plays and play-action passing, which can create confusion for the defense.

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While there are a multitude of other offensive formations and alignments, these three examples illustrate the variety of options available to teams. Employing different formations allows teams to exploit weaknesses in opposing defenses and create advantageous matchups. In particular, modifying formations can help to create confusion and force the defense to adjust, providing a strategic advantage to the offense.

Key Positions

In football, there are various offensive positions that work together to advance the ball down the field and score points. This section will cover the key positions within the offense, including the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and offensive line.


The quarterback (QB) is the leader of the offense and is responsible for calling the plays and distributing the ball to his teammates. The QB’s main tasks include:

  • Throwing passes to wide receivers
  • Handing off the ball to running backs
  • Communicating with the offensive line to protect against potential defensive blitzes
  • Some of the most successful quarterbacks in football history include Tom Brady, Joe Montana, and Peyton Manning.

Running Back

The running back (RB) is a versatile offensive position, responsible for carrying the ball on running plays and sometimes acting as a receiver on passing plays. Running backs typically possess speed, power, and agility. They are responsible for:

Running with the ball to gain yardage

Protecting the quarterback during passing plays

Catching passes from the quarterback

Some notable running backs in football history have included Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Emmitt Smith.

Wide Receiver

Wide receivers (WR) are the primary pass catchers on the team. Their main responsibility is to run precise routes and create separation from defenders, allowing the quarterback to deliver accurate throws. Functions of a wide receiver include:

  • Running various routes to get open for passes
  • Catching passes from the quarterback
  • Blocking during running plays
  • Some prolific wide receivers in the history of football are Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens.
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Offensive Line

The offensive line consists of five players who protect the quarterback and create running lanes for running backs. The positions within the offensive line are:

  • Left tackle (LT)
  • Left guard (LG)
  • Center (C)
  • Right guard (RG)
  • Right tackle (RT)

Their primary responsibilities include:

Protecting the quarterback from the opposing defense during passing plays

Creating gaps for running backs to advance through

Collaborating with the quarterback to identify potential blitzes from the defense

Famous offensive linemen include Anthony Munoz, Jim Parker, and Larry Allen.

what is the offense in football

Play Calling and Strategy

Run-Pass Balance

A crucial aspect of play calling in football is maintaining a run-pass balance. An effective offense keeps the defense guessing, setting up opportunities to break big plays.

By mixing running and passing plays, the offensive coordinator ensures unpredictability and prevents the defense from focusing solely on stopping one type of play. A balanced offense usually allows for more sustained drives and keeps the defense on its heels.

Some strategies related to run-pass balance include:

Attacking specific defenders or parts of the defense

Setting up and breaking offensive tendencies

Sequencing a series of look-alike plays

Creating a balance of run-pass options


Tempo is another key element in play calling and strategy. Adjusting the pace of play can give the offense an advantage and keep the defense off-balance. There are several different tempos that can be utilized:

  • Fast tempo: Quick, no-huddle plays that force the defense to make quick decisions and limit substitutions.
  • Slow tempo: Using most of the play clock, allowing the offense to catch their breath and observe the defense.
  • Mixed tempo: Varying the pace of play throughout the game to keep the defense guessing and create strategic mismatches.
  • Utilizing tempo effectively can lead to an edge in certain situations, such as catching defenses in the wrong personnel or creating mismatches based on the size or speed of the players.

In summary, considering both run-pass balance and tempo is vital when constructing a game plan and calling plays. The offensive coordinator’s ability to blend these aspects of strategy contributes significantly to a team’s success on the field.

Above is information what is the offense in football.  Hopefully, through the above content, you have a more detailed understanding of what is the offense in football .Thank you for reading our post.

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