Football is a game of strategy, where coaches and players constantly seek innovative ways to outsmart their opponents.
One such strategy is the draw play concept.
The draw play is a deceptive running play designed to catch the defense off guard and create opportunities for big gains.
Below we’ll look at the details of the draw play concept in football, its history, execution, and its effectiveness in different game situations.
The History of Draw Plays
The draw play concept has been a part of football since the early days of the sport.
It was first introduced by legendary coach Pop Warner in the early 1900s.
Warner believed that by using misdirection and deception, he could create running lanes for his backs and exploit the defense’s aggressive pursuit of the quarterback.
Over the years, the draw play has evolved and become an integral part of offensive strategies in both college and professional football.
Coaches have developed various variations and formations to execute the draw play effectively, making it a staple in many playbooks.
Understanding the Draw Play Concept
The draw play is designed to deceive the defense by making them believe it is a pass play, only to hand the ball off to a running back.
The objective is to create confusion among the defenders, allowing the offensive linemen to engage in pass blocking while the running back exploits the gaps in the defense.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how a draw play is executed:
- The quarterback takes a drop-back, simulating a pass play.
- The offensive linemen initially set up for pass protection, taking a step back to create the illusion of a pass play.
- The running back, positioned behind the quarterback, acts as if he is pass blocking before receiving the handoff.
- Once the handoff is made, the offensive linemen transition from pass blocking to run blocking, creating running lanes for the back.
- The running back reads the blocks and looks for openings in the defense to exploit.
The success of a draw play relies heavily on the execution and timing of each player involved.
If executed correctly, the draw play can catch the defense off guard and result in significant gains on the ground.
Football 101: Draw
Key Elements of a Successful Draw Play
To execute a draw play effectively, several key elements must be considered:
The timing of the draw play is crucial.
It requires the offensive linemen to sell the pass protection before transitioning to run blocking.
If the linemen engage in run blocking too early, it can tip off the defense and nullify the deception.
2. Offensive Line Technique
The offensive linemen play a vital role in the success of a draw play.
They must initially set up for pass protection, taking a step back to create the illusion of a pass play.
Once the handoff is made, they must quickly transition to run blocking, engaging with the defenders and creating running lanes for the back.
3. Running Back’s Patience
The running back’s patience is crucial in a draw play.
Unlike traditional running plays where the back hits the hole immediately, the draw play requires the back to wait for the blocks to develop before making his move.
This patience allows the offensive linemen to engage with the defenders and create running lanes.
Deception is the cornerstone of the draw play concept.
The quarterback, offensive linemen, and running back must work together to sell the pass play and make the defense believe it is a genuine passing situation.
The more effectively they can deceive the defense, the greater the chances of success.
When to Use the Draw Play
The draw play can be an effective weapon in a team’s offensive arsenal, but it must be used strategically.
Here are some situations where the draw play can be particularly effective:
1. Against Aggressive Pass Rushers
If the defense has a strong pass rush and is consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, the draw play can be used to exploit their aggressiveness.
By drawing the defensive linemen upfield and creating running lanes behind them, the offense can take advantage of the defense’s over-pursuit.
2. In Long Yardage Situations
When facing long yardage situations, such as third-and-long, the defense often expects a pass play.
The draw play can catch the defense off guard and create opportunities for a big gain.
The element of surprise can be a game-changer in these situations.
3. To Control the Clock
In situations where the offense is trying to run out the clock and preserve a lead, the draw play can be an effective tool.
By keeping the clock running and picking up positive yardage, the offense can control the tempo of the game and limit the opposing team’s opportunities to score.
How to Defend Against the Draw Play
Defending against the draw play in football can be challenging because it’s designed to exploit over-aggressive defensive fronts and take advantage of teams that are heavily focused on pass defense.
Here are some strategies for defending against the draw:
Discipline and Patience
The key to stopping a draw play is maintaining discipline and patience.
Defensive linemen need to avoid rushing upfield too quickly.
Linebackers and defensive backs should wait until it’s clear that it’s a pass play before dropping into coverage.
Read the Offensive Line
Typically in a pass play, offensive linemen drop back into pass protection almost immediately.
In a draw play, they may also initially drop back to sell the pass, but they will quickly engage in run blocking.
Watch for this shift as it can be a tell that a draw is coming.
Just like any other run play, maintaining gap control is crucial.
Every player on the defense has a gap that they’re responsible for.
It’s important to stay in those gaps to prevent the running back from finding a hole to run through.
Watch the Running Back
The running back‘s behavior can often indicate whether it’s a draw play.
If he takes a pause before getting the ball or if he stays closer to the line of scrimmage instead of going out for a pass, it could be a draw.
Linebackers are typically the key to stopping the draw play.
They need to read the play accurately, stay patient, and react quickly once they identify it’s a draw.
They should fill the running lanes quickly and meet the running back at or behind the line of scrimmage.
As always, solid tackling fundamentals are crucial.
Defenders need to bring the ball carrier down on first contact to prevent additional yards after contact.
As with any football play, understanding the tendencies of the opposing team can be a big advantage.
If certain situations, formations, or player alignments often lead to draw plays, recognizing these can give defenders a heads-up that a draw might be coming.
While these strategies can help, it’s important to remember that football is a game of deception and adjustment.
Staying flexible and adapting to the evolving game situation is also critical to successfully defending against various offensive strategies, including the draw play.
Examples of Successful Draw Plays
Let’s take a look at some examples of successful draw plays executed by top teams:
1. New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick, have consistently utilized the draw play to great effect.
In a game against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, the Patriots executed a perfectly timed draw play on third-and-long, catching the Chiefs’ defense off guard and converting for a first down.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
College football powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide is known for its strong running game.
In a game against LSU in 2019, Alabama executed a draw play to perfection, with the offensive line creating running lanes for the back to exploit.
The play resulted in a touchdown and played a crucial role in Alabama’s victory.
FAQs – Draw Play
1. What is a draw play in football?
A draw play in football is a deceptive running play designed to catch the defense off guard.
It involves making the defense believe it is a pass play before handing the ball off to a running back.
2. When was the draw play concept first introduced?
The draw play concept was first introduced by coach Pop Warner in the early 1900s.
3. How does a draw play work?
In a draw play, the quarterback simulates a pass play, the offensive linemen initially set up for pass protection, and the running back acts as if he is pass blocking before receiving the handoff.
The offensive linemen then transition to run blocking, creating running lanes for the back.
4. What are the key elements of a successful draw play?
The key elements of a successful draw play include timing, offensive line technique, the running back’s patience, and deception.
5. When should a draw play be used?
A draw play can be particularly effective against aggressive pass rushers, in long yardage situations, and when the offense is trying to control the clock.
6. Can the draw play be used in youth football?
Yes, the draw play can be used in youth football.
However, it requires proper coaching and execution to ensure the players understand their roles and responsibilities.
7. Are there any risks associated with the draw play?
Like any play in football, there are risks associated with the draw play.
If the defense reads the play correctly or if the offensive execution is poor, it can result in negative yardage or turnovers.
8. Can the draw play be effective in the red zone?
While the draw play is more commonly used in open-field situations, it can still be effective in the red zone.
However, the condensed space and faster reaction times of the defense make it more challenging to execute successfully.
9. How can a team practice and perfect the draw play?
Teams can practice and perfect the draw play through repetition and attention to detail.
Coaches can simulate game situations in practice and provide feedback to players on their execution.
10. Are there any variations of the draw play?
Yes, there are several variations of the draw play, including the delayed draw, the sprint draw, and the shotgun draw.
These variations add different elements of deception and timing to the play.
The draw play concept in football is a strategic tool used by coaches and players to deceive the defense and create opportunities for big gains on the ground.
By simulating a pass play and then handing the ball off to a running back, the draw play catches the defense off guard and exploits their over-pursuit.
Timing, offensive line technique, the running back’s patience, and deception are key elements in executing a successful draw play.
When used strategically, the draw play can be a game-changer in critical situations.
However, like any play, it requires proper execution and understanding of each player’s role.
By incorporating the draw play into their offensive strategies, teams can add an element of surprise and keep their opponents guessing.