On the first day, the Football Gods created The Dive, on day two came the Sweep play! After these two days, the Football Gods most likely took 15 to 20 years of rest before adding anything else. In today’s modern game, the sweep has many variations and creative designs to get to the same result: Get the ball carrier outside the tackle box. I’ll explain the basic concept and most common variation of the sweep play.
The sweep play is one that you either love or hate. This is because at its most basic principle the sweep play is: A running back outrunning everyone towards the sideline, then up field. The ball can be handed or pitched to the running back to get them running outside of the formation. The offensive lineman can use various blocking schemes for this play to work effectively, including dive and zone blocking. The key to running the sweep successfully is having the running back reach the outside of the tackle box without any disruptions. Having a tightend use a reach block on the play side defensive end usually does the trick.
**Variations: Toss Sweep, Jet Sweep
This is one of the most common variations of the Sweep play. A very common misconception is that tossing or pitching the ball makes a play the toss sweep. This is NOT true! The toss sweep differs from the sweep by using a pulling lineman. Usually the play side guard pulls to ensure that the running back makes it to the outside if the tackle box uninterrupted. If the formation uses a tightend, the play side tackle is the pulling lineman. Depending on the personnel and strategy, a fullback can be used to replace the pulling lineman.