For some Wing-T teams (as well as some Spread-T teams), when it comes to attacking the edge the Rocket Toss is going to a better option than the Speed Sweep or the Buck Sweep. Rocket will be better for teams that are undersized up front, play against defensive ends that are of a high caliber and for teams that will never get into any type of zone blocking. Why is this so? Well, in the Buck Sweep, the ball carrier is going to get the ball after a short high motion, after the QB has faked to the fullback. He then will stretch the edge and must rely on the down block of a wing back on a defensive end. As far as plays go for the Wing-T, it is rather slow hitting. Not to mention all the moving parts like having two pulling guards on linebackers in space. For Speed Sweep, the ball carrier is going to receive the football directly behind the center, and be on the edge in a few steps. This is great for creating a stretch of the defense and opening up creases to cut up inside of. With the Rocket Toss, the ball carrier is going to get the ball in full stride behind the play side wing back, that means there is no need to block any down lineman inside of your offensive tackle! When the ball carrier gets the ball, he is already on the edge, the only other play in football that can rival the way Rocket stretches the entire field is going to be the bubble pass. The defense must defend the entire width of the field with rocket toss. Best of all, the rocket motion matches up with belly, trap, counter, sally, the option series and all the play action passes!
Here is a look at some examples of the Rocket Toss in action:
While you can run the Speed Sweep and the Rocket in the same offense, it will be more beneficial to choose just one, and marry it. So, that said, why would we choose to base the offense off the Rocket Toss in place of Speed Sweep or Buck Sweep?
- Undersized Offensive Line – The nature of the play means we can eliminate the need for blocking any down lineman inside of the tackle. In fact, offensive tackles will not have to block a five tech in the traditional sense either. He will be racing the defensive lineman to the sideline and looking to turn up inside (we will detail this later). This means that we do not need to control bigger and more athletic defensive lineman, and we can use our smaller size to our advantage. It also takes the most common defensive technique (squeeze and scrape) and turns it into something that will hurt the defense!
- The Defense has to Cheat – you will find that in order for the defense to protect the flank, somebody is going to have to cheat. A DL will have to fly out on the snap, a linebacker will have to vacate the box or a safety will need to come flying down field. All of these things open up other aspects of the offense allowing you to call the appropriate response.
- Stretches the Entire Field – there is only one other play that can stretch the entire field like the Rocket Toss does. This makes it extremely easy to identify which defenders are responsible for run support and contain.
- Extremely Easy to Teach – For the most part, the entire offense has just one rule, “Rip and Run”. This is a very easy technique to teach and only requires desire by the blockers. They are going to “race” the defender to the sideline and rip up field once they get their hat on the play side number.
Rules for Rocket Toss
X: The wide receivers to the play side are going to be responsible for blocking the corner backs. They will close the distance between themselves and the corner as quickly as possible. Just before reaching the corner they will break down and “chatter” their feet so they can engage the corner without losing him in space. This does not have to be a devastating block. The blocker just needs to get on the corner and take him where he wants to go. Once the defender picks a side, the receiver will drive his feet, forcing him on his path. If the wide receiver is on the backside of the play he will take a path to crack the safety, which will set up a downfield block for any possible cutbacks made by the ball carrier.
Y: Your Tight End will have the same rules and techniques as the wide receiver if he is split out. If your Y is on the line, then he will use the same techniques as the play side tackle, or the backside offensive linemen, in accordance with the direction of the play call in relation to his alignment.
Blocking Wing: The blocking wing is the wingback on the play side of the formation. He is responsible for getting his head outside of the first man outside of him. He does not worry about anything inside of him. If there is no defender outside of him, he will take a path to the safety. If the play side linebacker crosses his trajectory while on his path, he will take him. (never pass up color)
Rocket Wing: The rocket wing is going to be your ball carrier. On the “set” in the QB’s cadence, the wing will start his motion. He will open and step directly at the fullbacks heels. By the time the wing gets to the fullback he needs to be running at full speed. The wing back CANNOT get any deeper than the fullbacks heels. Once at his heels he needs to flatten his path out to be parallel with the line of scrimmage and running full speed. He should receive the ball when he is behind the play side wingback. Once he has the football he will be racing to the edge and looking at the block of the wide receiver. If the wide receiver turns the DB out, he will cut up the field and north. If the DB is being pushed inside by the wide receiver, he will then get to the sideline outside of the defense.
Fullback: The fullback will align with his heels at four yards behind the ball. On the snap, we will block the backside defensive end. It’s not that the backside end has a chance at the play, but rather it will set up the sally draw, the play action drop back and the keeper after the toss fake. Also, due to the fact that you will be running belly a lot, teams may key the fullback, the fullback going backside may hold some of the pursuit on the toss.
QB: The quarterback will snap the ball when the rocket wing is directly behind the fullback. If he snaps it too early, the wing back will not get the ball far enough out on the edge, so make sure the QB is patient and doesn’t snap the ball until the appropriate time. Once the ball is snapped, he will take a half step back with his play side foot and then pivot hard to reverse out for the toss. After he reverses out, he will step with his pivot foot directly at the wing back receiving the toss. It is imperative that he QB keeps his arms strait and the hands never come higher than the waist. If his elbows bend or his hands go higher than his waist the ball will go over the wing backs head, so keep on him about this and keep him disciplined.
Playside Tackle: The Play side tackle is going to do everything he can to get outside of the defensive end. This is a “race” to the outside.his first step is going to be a lateral step that will open his shoulders and gain considerable ground. Once the tackle has taken his third step he is going to try and rip up field with his inside arm. This is a violent rip, he is trying to turn his shoulders back up field so he can block any scraping linebackers. If the tackle cannot clear the defense end, he is going to lean into his rip and continue to race him outside. If the tackle clears the defensive end, he is going to turn up field with his shoulders while still sprinting and looking inside with his eyes for scraping linebackers.
Playside Guard: You have two options that you can use for your play side guard. First, you could give him the same rule as the play side tackle. This could be better for a guard that cannot run that well. If your guard can run, even just a little, I highly recommend pulling him to get an extra body at the point of attack. The guard’s first step will open and gain ground and depth. He will then be on a full sprint to get outside of the tackle. Even though the tackle is “racing” to the sideline as well, you will find that the guard has little problem getting outside. Once outside the guard will turn and sprint up field with his eyes inside looking for any defender in pursuit that is unblocked.
Center and Backside OL: The center and the backside offensive linemen have one rule, “Scoop”. Scoop means that they will try and cut off any backside DL. If there is a DL in the gap to the play side the OL will take a flat step down line and rip across the face of the defender. The OL must lower his level to do this. The OL’s entire body will have to turn to accomplish this. The second step will also be gaining lateral ground but can also gain up field ground as well. If the OL rips through clean, we will climb all the way up to the safety! If the rip is “dirty” meaning the DL is engaging him he will fight to rip clean and go to safety. If the play side gap is empty, the backside lineman can go straight to the safety! Take a path to cut off the safety. Coaching Point: Get to the safety by running full speed, but slow down once you get there, he is a DB, you’re an OL, don’t let him shake you in space. Use the phrase, “8, 8ths to 7, 8ths” to illustrate the throttling down.
Rocket vs Odd and Even Fronts
Against both the even and the odd fronts, the outside linebackers are going to be the key blocks. If they are flying outside you should be able to cut up inside of him as the wing back washes him out. If he is problematic for you, you can slow him down by getting into a nasty set, and cracking him. We will cover this in the next section on change ups!
There are to very easy change ups to the rocket toss that are simple and effective in their implementation. For one the wide receiver will crack the safety, and the other, the wide receiver will crack the outside linebacker.
Crack is the first change up. The WR cracks the safety and the wing kicks the corner. All other players remain the same for the play. This is a great play against aggressive safeties.
If you need to slow down some outside linebackers, getting into a formation with a nasty tag is a great way to do that. The formation above is “Open Nasty”. Any time you have toss called in a nasty set, the wide receiver knows that it is an automatic crack on the first linebacker inside of him. This will set an edge and also make pursuit difficult for anybody inside of the crack block.
You should use the Rocket Toss in same manner as you would the Speed Sweep. Stress the edge until the inside run game opens up. Rocket pairs up nicely with all the base Wing-T and Flexbone plays! Its biggest advantage may be the ease at which it can be installed. If you would like to know more about the Rocket Toss and other aspects of the Wing-T, then follow this link to “The Speed-T Offense: Vol 2” to learn everything that you need to know to run it effectively. Make sure to subscribe to my email list so you can be updated anytime a new article posts, and follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt.