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Author Information

Founder and Owner of the Flexbone Association. Since 2007 we have provided the tools necessary for teams to succeed running the Flexbone Association System. Over the last ten years over 200 teams have been instructed by the Flexbone Association. I've consulted with teams and or run camps everywhere from Belfair, WA to Key West, FL. The Flexbone Association strives daily to help coaches succeed with this time tested offense, I have been a football coach for 16 seasons, currently at Harrison High School in Kennesaw, GA I played at St. Mary's Springs High School in Fond du Lac, WI under legendary head coach Bob Hyland. I've been fortunate to be part of five state championship teams (1997,1998,2002,2011,2012). In 2011-2012 St. Mary's Springs led the state of Wisconsin in scoring and set consecutive school records for points scored, Psalm 27

Why You Must Commit to the Flexbone Offense: Part Three – It’s Personnel Flexible

The first part of this series discussed why the Flexbone Offense is system based, why that system should appeal to you and what the benefits of running the system are. The second part of this series discussed how the Flexbone Offense neutralizes your opponents defensive line, and how that in turn helps your offensive line significantly. One of the biggest concerns people have when deciding to change or commit to an offense is personnel considerations. When contemplating this change, a coach will always try to plug in their own players where they believe they will fit into the new scheme. There are some common misconceptions out there about what is really needed, or what you can get by with at each position. I will examine those misconceptions and give you a guide for what characteristics you will need for each position. I’ll also show you what you don’t need to run this system. 

niumatespWhat You Will Need

You will need a set of players who can and will play fast. They don’t have to be the fastest kids in the state or be able to win the 100 meters in the spring, but it would help. In order to play fast, you need players that know what they are doing.  This is yet another reason it is imperative for you to decide on a system. The players must know what’s expected of them. If they must memorize new plays and new skills every week, they are going to become hesitant, slow and unsure of what to do. Aid your team in playing fast by trimming down your playbook and committing to a system of offense. Reap the benefits of how fast they are now able t play because they are sure and confident in what they are doing. 

Lets use Navy again as an example. I have the utmost respect for the men who coach there and the players who choose to play there. Most players who end up playing at Navy have very few Division-One offers to play football. Far fewer of them have offers from BCS level programs. Navy can get one or two here or there, but their roster is not litters with four and five star prospects. Yet every single season they can compete with and beat BCS level teams. This is not an accident. They are disciplined, are coached very well and are invested in a system of offense. 

Given the first consideration of what you need, you need players who can and are able to learn. Frankly, I get tired of hearing coaches blame their players for being “stupid” or saying things like “my kids cant learn that stuff” or “I know that would be too complicated for my players.” Most often, I find this simply means the head coach or assistant coaches don’t actually want to learn how to teach the system. It has nothing to do with the players. 

What You Don’t Need

You won’t need a bunch of physical specimens running around the field. Of course if you have those players, that only helps you achieve your goals. You will be a state championship caliber team if your personnel is at par or better than your opponents, each and every week. The thing is, you can run and be successful in this offense without those players. 

You will not need overly specialized players. If you take a look at other offensive philosophies, you need some very specialized players with special physical talents. If you are coming from an I-formation system, what types of specialized players do you need? The first thing you need is that huge fullback who can lead your tailback through the hole all night long. It would help if this player is north of 200 pounds, is physically strong and fearless. and can make quality blocks play after play. 

You will also need a pretty special tight end. A tight end is literally not needed in the Flexbone Offense. Can you use one? Sure you could, some teams have been successful with it, but I don’t recommend it. Quality tight ends are hard to find, and unless you are at a big school with those players on a yearly basis, if you are going to try to find a quality tight end on a yearly basis; this is going to be a difficult proposition for you. 

If you have a Wing-T background, they are similar in some respects in terms of what the formation looks like on the field, but the execution and personnel considerations are vastly different. This will be the subject of a future article. At the basic level, for pure personnel considerations, like the I-Formation, in the Wing-T you will need to have a great tight end. He should also be your best pass receiver. Tight ends are totally unnecessary with the Flexbone Offense. I’ll expand on the differences between the Wing-T and the Flexbone at a later date. 

If you are coming from a heavy passing system, you can pretty much throw all those characteristics out the window. You don’t need the gunslinger, the sleek, fast and elusive receivers, and the offensive line who can pass set in their sleep. If you have coached football for more than 15 minutes you know that one of the hardest concepts to teach to your team is pass blocking. You are asking a physically inferior player, in most cases, to block a physically superior player for three to four seconds from hitting your most valuable player.  I’ll show you position by position what you will or won’t need, and some misconceptions that come with each position. 

dobbstexasbowl1The Quarterback

Rightfully so, the first position coaches concern themselves with is quarterback. Most coaches are worried they don’t have a player who can handle the physicality, and the mental preparation, along with having the running ability to succeed. Do you need a great runner to really achieve with this offense? Yes you do, but it’s not required to move the ball and give your team a chance for success. 

You also don’t need to worry about having a guy who can throw tremendously well to win the game. You need a guy who can throw well enough if you want to win big, but you don’t need a dynamic passer who can throw for over 200 yards a game, just to keep you in it. 

The following is a list of characteristics and or responsibilities they will need to accomplish. Take these items into consideration when selecting a Quarterback for your team. 

  • You must know your assignment 100% of the time
  • You must protect the football
  • You must possess confidence, and display this confidence to your teammates
  • You must be willing to take charge and lead, and do so positively
  • You must take responsibility for your own play
  • You must trust your teammates
  • You must trust your reads
  • You must be willing to learn the system, and be able to check plays at the line
  • You must posses great fundamentals in all phases of the game, especially the option game
  • You must be unselfish
  • You must sell your fakes
  • You must be willing to take a big hit, and run the exact same play again with confidence
  • You must be able to gain 7 yards on 3rd and 7 when your reads dictate that you keep the ball
  • You must be able to defend the decisions you make on each play
  • You must be willing to put in the time outside of practice to master the system
  • You must read the defense before lining up under center
  • You must make if/then decisions
  • You must understand the perimeter of a defense
  • You must be willing to be the offensive coordinator on the field

jonathan.dwyerThe Fullback (B-Back)

The next biggest misconception about this offense, is that you need some sort of crazed wild man at fullback to succeed. I’ve heard it time and time again and dispelled the notion over and over again. Most coaches who aren’t familiar with the offense, or do not like the offense and dead set on the fact that you need a 6’2” 225 lb. fullback in order to succeed. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. In 2002 we went 14-0 and won the state championship with a fullback who was 5’8” 175. He wasn’t running over any linebackers. He wasn’t a pile pusher. There were things he did well. He hit the line of scrimmage lightning fast, he had very good fee, he rarely took a solid hit, he took care of the ball, and he finished runs on his nose. This is the example I use every single time I hear this misconception about the fullback position.

This player does not need to be a tremendous blocker. They will be asked to block from time to time, but not as much as in other offensive systems, where the fullback is basically a glorified guard who lines up in the backfield. Simply stated, put your best running back at fullback, and let the chips fall where they may.

The following is a list of characteristics and or responsibilities they will need to accomplish. Take these items into consideration when selecting a Fullback for your team.

  • You must know your assignment 100% of the time
  • You must protect the football
  • You must run through arm tackles
  • You must be willing to carry the load
  • You must be willing to run fearlessly
  • You must sell your fakes
  • You must be willing to block in the run game and the pass game
  • You must be mentally and physically tough, you may need to carry the ball numerous times in a row
  • You must make the mesh right. The Quarterback has alot going on. Find the football
  • You must relish contact

roddyjonesThe Slot Backs (A-Backs)

Slotbacks, also known as A-Backs, do need to be versatile players. How many players do you have on your roster who are between 5’7” and 5’11” and 150-180 pounds? I’d be willing to bet you have a good number of players in that general range. Nearly every school in America has a bevy of players who fit those height and weight parameters. A-Backs do not need to be in that range to be effective players. I use those numbers to illustrate the fact that you are going to have players who fir the typical size for a slotback. Look at Navy’s roster. What do you see there? The height and weight of their players is probably pretty similar to your players. They may be a bit heavier, but that’s likely due to them being in a collegiate weight program.

The following is a list of characteristics and or responsibilities they will need to accomplish. Take these items into consideration when selecting the slotbacks for your team.

  • You must know your assignment 100% of the time
  • You must protect the football
  • You must be a very versatile player. The position calls for you to be a great runner, blocker and receiver
  • You must be able to beat one on one coverage
  • You must maintain your pitch relationship at all times, it is your responsibility to be in the right spot, not the Quarterbacks. 
  • You must know how to identify various defensive personnel, and be able to identify #3 on every snap.

battapagliaoflThe Offensive Line

The offensive line, or lack thereof, is usually one of the biggest if not the biggest reasons people decide to run the Flexbone. I cannot think of a single offense that is more lineman friendly than this one; however, this is not an offense for big slow slugs. Let those kids play D-Line. You can get by with smaller kids, as long as they can get off the ball quickly, and aren’t afraid of the contact. They have to be willing to play physical and get their face in a block. This is the ultimate effort position. One of the best linemen I’ve seen execute the skills needed to succeed in this offense was 5’11” 205.  He wouldn’t be overpowering in another system, but he got off the ball quickly and played fast. 

The following is a list of characteristics and or responsibilities they will need to accomplish. Take these items into consideration when selecting the linemen for your team.

  • You must know your assignment 100% of the time
  • You must be a tireless run blocker
  • You must play with quick feet
  • You must be willing to get on the ground and cut block every play
  • You must be able to recognize defensive fronts and understand who to block
  • You must communicate with the other linemen as well as the skill position players about how the play will be blocked
  • You must be selfless and willing to sacrifice for the team
  • You must play with 100% effort at all times
  • Center – Will be the best lineman we have – Must be able to block a head up nose tackle
  • Guards – Will be bigger, better blockers – They will be responsible for blocking for the FB
  • Tackles – Smaller, quicker linemen – Must be able to get to the second level and block linebackers, or get on the edge and run on Rocket Toss

The Wide Receivers

The players who man this position aren’t your standard wide receivers. These guys can affectionately be known as wide tackles. They will be asked to block much more than they are needed in the passing game. Similar to other positions, you need a player willing to do that dirty work to be successful. I have always told my receivers that we might throw six or seven times a game, but when we do, we are throwing for touchdowns. Therefore, they have to be prepared and ready to score when the time calls for it. You won’t need players who are dynamic play makers, you need the guy who is willing to block, and be able to score on play action passes. Similar to the offensive line, the players who play here are players who are not looking for glory. They have to be players with a team first attitude. You prototypical prima donna receivers will not fit. 

The following is a list of characteristics and or responsibilities they will need to accomplish. Take these items into consideration when selecting the wide receivers for your team.

  • You must know your assignment 100% of the time
  • You must protect the football
  • You must be an excellent stalk blocker
  • You must be able to gain yards after the catch
  • You must sell your fakes
  • You must be able to identify personnel and understand who to block
  • You must be selfless and block relentlessly without getting the ball thrown your way
  • You must run great routes
  • You must catch the ball with your hands


When you commit to the Flexbone Offense, you won’t need to fill overly specialized positions. You won’t need a tight end. You won’t need your classic fullback. You won’t need a gunslinger at Quarterback, you won’t need playmaking receivers, or a great pass-setting offensive line. You wont need any of those things. All you need are players who are willing to learn, and have the confidence to play fast. I have often called this the best “plug and play” offense there is. Nearly any high school football program in America can move the football, given they are coached well. If you are ready to commit to the Flexbone Offense, let us help you with the Flexbone Association Academy and or a Flexbone Association Camp


Feature Photo: AP

Ken Niumatalolo Photo: Kevin Jairaj/US Presswire

Ricky Dobbs Photo: Navy Photo

Jonathan Dwyer Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Jeff Battapaglia Photo: Navy Athletics

Brandon Turner Photo:  Nick Wass

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