Slotback

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The Slotback (SB) is used in the flexbone formation Flexbone Formation.svg
The Slotback (SB) is used in the flexbone formation

Slotback, sometimes referred to as an A-back or slot receiver, is a position in gridiron football. The "slot" is the area between the last offensive lineman on either side of the center and the wide receiver on that side. A player who lines up between those two players and behind the line of scrimmage fills that "slot." The slotback position is a fixture of Canadian football and indoor football where they act as extra receivers. It is also used in American football where the position requires a versatile player, who must combine the receiving skills of a wide receiver, the ball-carrying skills of a running back, and the blocking skills of a tight end. [1]

Contents

A similarly named position is the slot receiver, who is the third wide receiver in a 3-receiver set, the one who lines up between the outermost receiver and the end of the offensive line.

Slotbacks are often as many as five yards behind the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped and, in the Canadian and indoor game, may also make a running start toward the line of scrimmage before the snap. In most forms of American football, this would be an illegal motion, although a few professional leagues such as the World Football League and XFL allowed forward motion.

Role

Slotbacks are primarily used as hybrid running backs/receivers, but are often used to provide pass protection on blitzes and blocking as required on running plays. They are preferred over the wide receiver or tight end for receiving short passes or hand-offs due to their positioning being closer to the quarterback. When formations containing slotbacks are used in American football the team often has to go without a tight end, a fullback or a running back due to there being only 11 men on the offense and 7 being on the line of scrimmage, one reason they are rarer in the American game. However, as NFL teams have increasingly "defaulted to three- and four-receiver sets" in recent years, the slot receiver has become a fixture of American football formations. [2] In terms of a depth chart, a slotback is typically considered the third wide receiver and may be expected to be a "possession receiver" that can reliably catch a pass when covered by a safety, since they are most commonly used when converting medium-distance third-down conversions.

Slotbacks are used effectively in flexbone formations, in which they are used as extra receivers. Slotbacks are usually smaller and faster than the other positions used. they are also used for short passes and short runs to get extra yards or a first down or a third down drive.

It is important to note that players are not drafted to become slotbacks in the NFL. This position is filled as needed by a wide receiver or running back with the necessary skill-set to effectively play the position. Slotbacks must be able to block, catch, and evade tacklers at a high level to be productive. In 2019, the Navy Midshipmen football team had a highly productive season where their slotbacks gained over 1,500 all-purpose yards. [3]

In Canadian football, slotbacks are basically the same as wide receivers, except that they line up closer to the quarterback and can use the waggle (motion before the snap). They rarely block or run the ball and are almost always sent out to receive passes.

Examples

As the NFL has shifted to a pass-heavy league over the last few years there has been an explosion of slot backs. Some prime examples are the recently retired Darren Sproles and Larry Fitzgerald, and the still active player Christian McCaffrey.

Fitzgerald extended his football career by moving from an outside receiving position to going into the slot where he is able to use his veteran savvy and quick change of direction in tandem with his willingness to block to still be considered among the best in the league at what he does. [4]

McCaffrey entered the NFL in 2017 and has never failed to put up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage (as of 2020) in fact, in 2019 he totaled a thousand yards running and a thousand yards receiving, with a lot of those receiving yards coming from the slot back position [5] McCaffrey is a peculiar example, because most slot backs are not expected to get the most touches in an offense, but he was the Carolina Panthers' leading rusher over the last two seasons while also putting up great stats as a receiver as well.

Darren Sproles was never a prolific running back, but he was a great slotback. His 2011 season is the epitome of what a slotback should be. He ran the ball 87 times and he added 86 receptions for over 1,300 Yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns [6]

Slotbacks are very important in the CFL, where most formations include 3 slotbacks and 2 wide receivers in a 5-receiver set. In the TSN Top 50 CFL Players, 4 of the top players in league history were specifically slotbacks. These players are Allen Pitts, Milt Stegall, Ray Elgaard, and Terry Vaughn. These players were typically the most reliable receivers on their team every season.

In American football, slotbacks are labeled as wide receivers on depth charts. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

In gridiron football, not all players on offense are entitled to receive a forward pass: only an eligible pass receiver may legally catch a forward pass, and only an eligible receiver may advance beyond the neutral zone if a forward pass crosses into the neutral zone. If the pass is received by a non-eligible receiver, it is "illegal touching". If an ineligible receiver is beyond the neutral zone when a forward pass crossing the neutral zone is thrown, a foul of "ineligible receiver downfield" is called. Each league has slightly different rules regarding who is considered an eligible receiver.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Running back</span> Position in American and Canadian football

A running back (RB) is a member of the offensive backfield in gridiron football. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback to rush the ball, to line up as a receiver to catch the ball, and block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lineman (gridiron football)</span> Player in American or Canadian football who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage

In gridiron football, a lineman is a player who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage. The linemen of the team currently in possession of the ball are the offensive line, while linemen on the opposing team are the defensive line. A number of NFL rules specifically address restrictions and requirements for the offensive line, whose job is to help protect the quarterback from getting sacked for a loss, or worse, fumbling. The defensive line is covered by the same rules that apply to all defensive players. Linemen are usually the largest players on the field in both height and weight, since their positions usually require less running and more strength than skill positions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wide receiver</span> Offensive position in American and Canadian football

A wide receiver (WR), also referred to as a wideout, historically known as a split end (SE) or flanker (FL), is an eligible receiver in gridiron football. A key skill position of the offense, WR gets its name from the player being split out "wide", farthest away from the rest of the offensive formation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tight end</span> Position in American football

The tight end (TE) is an offensive position in American football, arena football, and Canadian football. It is a hybrid that combines the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be effective blockers. On the other hand, unlike offensive linemen, they are eligible receivers and potent weapons in team's offensive schemes.

This is a glossary of terms used in Canadian football. The Glossary of American football article also covers many terms that are also used in the Canadian version of the game.

  1. Legally positioned at the kick-off or the snap. On kick-offs, members of the kicking team must be behind the kick-off line; members of the receiving team must be at least 10 yards from the kick-off line. On scrimmages, at the snap the offence must be behind the line of scrimmage; the defence must be at least one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
  2. A player of the kicking team who can legally recover the kick. The kicker and any teammates behind the ball at the time of the kick are onside. Thus on kick-offs all players of the kicking team are onside, but on other kicks usually only the kicker is. The holder on a place kick is not considered onside.
  1. A defensive position on scrimmages, also called free safety. Typical formations include a single safety, whose main duty is to cover wide receivers. See also defensive back.
  2. A two-point score. The defence scores a safety when the offence carries or passes the ball into its own goal area and then fails to run, pass, or kick the ball back into the field of play; when this term is used in this sense, it is also referred to as a safety touch.

Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.

A formation in football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. There are both offensive and defensive formations and there are many formations in both categories. Sometimes, formations are referred to as packages.

The halfback option play is an unorthodox play in American and Canadian football. It resembles a normal running play, but the running back has the option to throw a pass to another eligible receiver before crossing the line of scrimmage.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Single set back</span> American football offensive formation

Single set back is an offensive base formation in American football which requires only one running back lined up about five yards behind the quarterback. There are many variations on single back formations including two tight ends and two wide receivers, one tight end/three wide receivers, etc. The running back can line up directly behind the quarterback or offset either the weak side or the strong side.

A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or trickeration, is a play in gridiron football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but also to maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Halfback (American football)</span> Offensive position in American football

A halfback (HB) is an offensive position in American football, whose duties involve lining up in the offensive backfield and carrying the ball on most rushing plays, i.e. a running back. When the principal ball carrier lines up deep in the backfield, and especially when that player is placed behind another player, as in the I formation, that player is instead referred to as a tailback.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American football positions</span> Specific roles that players take in American football

In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position". Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions", meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flexbone formation</span>

The flexbone formation is an offensive formation in American football that includes a quarterback, five offensive linemen, three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers. The flexbone formation is a predominant turnover formation derived from the wishbone formation and it features a quarterback under center with a fullback lined up directly behind the quarterback. There are two smaller running backs called slotbacks aligned behind the line of scrimmage on each side of the offensive line. The slotbacks are sometimes incorrectly referred to as wingbacks. But in order to be a wingback, there must be a guard, tackle and tight end all on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage and then the wingback off the line of scrimmage.

In American football, a play is a close-to-the-ground plan of action or strategy used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly, plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in a playbook.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

In American football, a back is a player who plays off of the line of scrimmage. Historically, the term "back" was used to describe multiple positions on offense and defense, although more descriptive and specific position naming is now common. Thus, "back" can refer to positions including:

In gridiron football, an ineligible receiver downfield, or an ineligible man downfield, is a penalty called against the offensive team when a forward pass is thrown while a player who is ineligible to receive a pass is beyond the line of scrimmage without blocking an opponent at the time of the pass. A player is determined ineligible based on his position at the time of the snap. When the ball is snapped, the offense is required to have no more than eleven players on the field, out of whom only six are eligible. On most plays, the eligible receivers include the quarterback, running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers, while the ineligible receivers are offensive linemen, including the center, offensive guards, and offensive tackles. However, in the National Football League, a quarterback is an ineligible receiver if he is directly under the center when he receives the snap.

The run and shoot offense is an offensive system for American football which emphasizes receiver motion and on-the-fly adjustments of receivers' routes in response to different defenses. It was conceived by former high school coach Glenn "Tiger" Ellison and refined and popularized by former Portland State offensive coordinator Mouse Davis.

References

  1. Association, American Football Coaches (2000). Offensive football strategies. Human Kinetics. ISBN   9780736001397.
  2. "The NFL's 11 best slot defenders".
  3. Wagner, Bill. "Navy slotback corps has been quite productive". capitalgazette.com. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  4. "Larry Fitzgerald And The Increased Importance Of The Slot Receiver". www.azcardinals.com. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  5. "Christian McCaffrey Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  6. "Darren Sproles Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  7. Alder, James. "What's the Slot in Football? Here's an Easy Explanation". LiveAbout.