skip navigation

Learn How NFL Teams Use Running Backs in the Passing Game

By Brendan Leister, USA Football, 03/01/19, 12:00PM CST


The more receivers an offense gets into pass routes, the more horizontal and vertical stress they can put on the defense.

With the spread offense so prevalent at the lower levels and teams throwing the ball more than 50 times a game, running backs are coming into the NFL with more developed receiving skill sets than ever before. This has led to NFL teams becoming more interested in finding running backs that can have an impact in the passing game. Today, we look at five ways NFL teams used their backs in the passing game during the 2018 season.

The offense shifts from a pistol full house set to a 2x2,12 personnel formation. The right flanker goes in fly motion.  At the snap, the offensive line fakes outside zone and the QB boots away, faking a handoff to the flanker. The RB releases to the flat with speed to out-leverage the corner as he bumps inside to match the flanker’s motion. The QB reads from the flat to the cross by the backside tight end.