As I complete my look at the basic offensive formations I decided I couldn’t finish the series without having a quick look at the Goal Line formation.

This formation, as most formations do, goes under the guise of a few different names including ‘Jumbo’ and ‘Full House’. This formation really has just one aim in mind – to gain vital short yardage by the use of brute-force. To help the offense achieve this gaining of short yardage, they add in an extra big guy or two. To make way for these bigger players teams will remove the wide receivers. These are replaced with tight ends, fullbacks or extra offensive linemen.

Goal line offense formation

Variations of the Goal Line Formation

The image above is just one of many variations you might see when a team goes into the goal line formation. In this one, I’ve removed the two wide receivers and added in a second tight end (TE) and extra offensive lineman (OL) – that OL could be a tackle (T) or guard (G).

Variations could be to add a second OL instead of the second TE to beef up the offensive line even more. In the image, I put a TE on either side of the line but you could see both on the same side to give more blocking power on a run to that side.

If a team doesn’t employ a decent blocking fullback (FB) you could see the formation used with just the ball-carrying HB in the backfield and yet another lineman or TE added onto the line. On the flipside of that, if a team has plenty of blocking FB’s and/or TE’s, a couple might line up in the backfield along with the HB – this is generally known as the ‘Fullhouse’ variant.

A Fullhouse variant of the Goal line formation

Basically, the goal line formation is all about getting those big bodies into the lineup and running the ball behind your blockers. As the name suggests, you’ll see this formation used when the offense has made it to the opponent’s goal line and need to make it over from a yard or two. You could also see it when they are very close to the first down marker at any point on the field.

Any Deception Plays used?

Although the formation is most often used to run the ball, it’s not uncommon to see one of the ‘skill players’ slip out of the melee to catch a quick or delayed pass.

In the first example, I had two TE’s on either end of the line as well as two running backs in the backfield. Usually, the running backs would carry on as if it’s a running play up the middle in order to keep all/most of the defense occupied in that area of the field whilst one, or both, of the TE’s slipped out towards the corner of the endzone to catch a pass from the QB after he’s faked the handoff.

Just one kind of passing play from out of the goal line formation. The QB ends up passing to one of the TE's.

The image above may look a little messy but, basically, the quarterback ends up passing to the tight end who has slipped out of the action in the centre of the field where the running backs are faking a run up the middle  in the hopes that he can get free or outplay a defender who’s tasked with watching for this kind of thing.

And that’s it really, not much more for us to know about the goal line formation apart from it is mainly used for power running up the middle in an attempt to gain short yardage. But, at the same time, there is a slight threat of a passing play being run out of the formation.

That’s it for the offensive formations part of NFL Fan School for now as I’ll be moving on to the defensive side of the ball and delving into some of the basic formations there.