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, but is also used in American football. The slotback 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 prior to 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]

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 the still active players Christian McCaffrey, and Larry Fitzgerald.

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 have been very important in the CFL, as marked by 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 reliable producers every season with a knack for rushing, receiving, and blocking to lead their respective teams to many wins over the years.

On depth charts, slotbacks are labeled as wide receivers. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Running back Position in American and Canadian football

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A wide receiver, also referred to as a wideout, formerly a split end, is a ball-receiver in gridiron football. A key position, it gets its name from the player being split out "wide", farthest away from the rest of the offensive formation.

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Single set back American football offensive formation

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Halfback (American football) Offensive position in American football

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American football positions Positions in American football

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Flexbone formation

The flexbone formation It 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, Air Coryell is the offensive scheme and philosophy developed by former San Diego Chargers coach Don Coryell. The offensive philosophy has been also called the "Coryell offense" or the "vertical offense".

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.

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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.

Christian McCaffrey American football running back and return specialist

Christian Jackson McCaffrey is an American football running back for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Stanford and was drafted by the Panthers eighth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. As a sophomore in 2015, McCaffrey was named AP College Football Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He holds the NCAA record for most all-purpose yards in a season with 3,864. McCaffrey holds numerous NFL and Panthers franchise records and is one of the few players to ever record 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, doing so in 2019.

References

  1. Association, American Football Coaches (2000). Offensive football strategies. Human Kinetics. ISBN   9780736001397.
  2. https://touchdownwire.usatoday.com/2019/06/01/the-nfls-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.
Positions in American football and Canadian football
Offense (Skill position) Defense Special teams
Linemen Guard, Tackle, Center Linemen Tackle, End, Edge rusher Kicking players Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist
Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System) Linebacker Snapping Long snapper, Holder
Backs Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat, Change of pace), Fullback, H-back, Wingback Backs Cornerback, Safety, Halfback, Nickelback, Dimeback Returning Punt returner, Kick returner, Jammer, Upman
Receivers Wide receiver (Eligible), Tight end, Slotback, End Tackling Gunner, Upback, Utility
Formations (List)NomenclatureStrategy