The Double Wing Offense: A Comprehensive Football Guide

High school football players spread out to stretch.

Within the landscape of football, there are many types of offensive formations that are utilized to various degrees. One of these offenses is known as the “double wing.”

So, what is the double wing offense in football?

The double wing offense is a formation that features two tight ends, two wingbacks, and a fullback. It emphasizes running plays, misdirection, and ball control with strong blocking and power running. The formation is balanced and aims to outnumber the defense at the point of attack.

While the double wing offense might not be used as much in professional football, it sees usage in the lower levels of football. Throughout this article, we’re going to dive into the pros and cons of the offense, the different variations of it, and much more. So, make sure to keep reading!

What Is the Double Wing Offense?

The double wing offense emphasizes misdirection and tearing down the opposing defense. It employs two tight ends, two wing-backs, a quarterback, and a fullback, making it a balanced formation. This offensive strategy is known for its ability to outnumber the defense at the point of attack.

The double wing offense is a variation of the single-wing offense, with the difference lying in the personnel on the field. Having two tight ends and two wing-backs allows for more flexibility and versatility in the execution of plays.

This formation is particularly effective in youth and high school football, as it can lead to simple yet effective plays that keep the opposing team guessing.

In a double wing offense, it is common for coaches to call the same play multiple times in a row or employ lengthy drives in order to wear down the defense and gain yardage. By focusing on a limited number of complementary plays, the offense can create conflicts for the defense, leading to successful drives down the field.

When implementing the double wing offense, it is crucial that each football position does its part to contribute to the overall success of the team. As a series-based offense, understanding each player’s role and executing the plays effectively will make the difference between a successful double wing offense and one that falls short.

Double Wing Offense Formation

The double wing formation is a powerful offensive strategy in football that emphasizes misdirection and power running. In this formation, offensive linemen align in tight splits, allowing them to effectively block their defenders.

The main components of a double wing formation include two tight ends, two wing backs, a quarterback, and a full back in the backfield.

Tight ends play a crucial role in the double wing offense, as they are required to block defenders and occasionally catch passes. With two tight ends on the field, the formation becomes more balanced and provides additional blocking support for the running game.

Wing backs are positioned outside and slightly behind the tight ends, creating a versatile and dynamic backfield. These players can either carry the ball, serve as lead blockers, or run pass routes. Their ability to go in motion before the snap adds an element of unpredictability to the offense.

The quarterback and full back are lined up directly behind the offensive linemen. While the quarterback is responsible for handing off the ball to the running backs or executing passes, the full back serves as an additional blocker and can also carry the ball for short yardage gains.

Positional Responsibilities in the Double Wing Offense

In a double wing offense, each player has specific responsibilities to ensure the success of the formation. The offensive line focuses primarily on blocking the defense and creating running lanes for the ball carriers. They often engage in multiple double teams at the point of attack, targeting the play-side defensive tackle and nose guard.

The full back plays a crucial role in the running game, frequently serving as the primary ball carrier. On certain plays, such as the wb counter, the full back leads the charge by blocking the play-side defensive end, creating space for the wing back or tight end to carry the ball.

It’s essential for the full back to have good vision and decisive decision-making skills to exploit running lanes successfully.

Wing backs, as the name suggests, occupy positions on the edge of the offense, typically aligned just outside the tight ends. In the double wing offense, they serve as both ball carriers and key blockers for the backfield, demonstrating versatility and athleticism to execute their responsibilities effectively.

Tight ends hold an essential role in the formation, primarily responsible for blocking the play-side defensive tackle and creating running lanes for wing backs. On passing plays, they also have the potential to become receiving targets; however, this offense heavily emphasizes running the ball.

Quarterbacks in the double wing offense have slightly different tasks than traditional quarterbacks. While they still have the responsibility of handling snaps and managing the play, they won’t be throwing the ball as often. Instead, they are responsible for executing precise handoffs, fakes, and waggles, ensuring the play’s smooth progression.

Overall, the positional responsibilities in the double wing offense highlight the need for strong teamwork and communication. Each player must execute their tasks effectively for the offense to succeed in moving the ball downfield. Players must also have the ability to make quick adjustments based on the defense’s actions, making this offense a dynamic and challenging system to master.

How Does the Double Wing Offense Work?

The offensive and defensive lines collide in a high school football game.

The double wing offense is a powerful, run-heavy strategy employed primarily at the youth, high school, and college football levels. It operates by utilizing misdirection and dismantling the opposing defense, with an emphasis on strong blocking and multiple ball carriers.

This offense features a balanced formation consisting of two tight ends, two wing-backs, the quarterback, and the fullback. Tight alignments are crucial, as the tight ends are placed foot-to-foot, creating a compact line of scrimmage. 

In the double wing offense, players must work cohesively, moving as a single unit, which is what distinguishes it from regular offensive schemes.

Ball carriers in the double wing offense are predominantly the wing-backs and the fullback, with the offense focusing on exploiting gaps in the defense. These ball carriers are often set in motion before the snap, creating unpredictability and forcing the defense to constantly adjust.

One of the key factors in the success of the double wing offense is the double team blocking technique utilized by the offensive line. Double teaming helps create significant running lanes for the ball carriers and fortifies the line of scrimmage.

This emphasis on strong, coordinated blocking makes it difficult for defenders to pass rush or blitz, limiting their ability to penetrate the backfield and disrupt the play.

The double wing offense is often compared to the Wing-T offense. While both are similarly designed to emphasize strong running games, the key difference is that the double wing offense employs two wing-backs, whereas the Wing-T offense utilizes one wing-back and a split end.

As a result, the double wing offense places even more emphasis on the run game and deception, increasing its potency when executed correctly.

Is the Double Wing Offense Used in the NFL?

The double wing offense is a unique style of football play that focuses on misdirection, power running, and balanced personnel to dismantle opposing defenses. Unlike traditional formations, the double wing offense features two tight ends, two wing-backs, the quarterback, and the fullback, providing more balance and versatility. However, despite its distinctiveness, it isn’t commonly used in the NFL.

In the NFL, offenses are always evolving, and teams try to adapt their playcalling to the strengths of their personnel. While some aspects of the double wing offense may be incorporated into NFL playbooks, it is unlikely that the formation is used as a primary offensive strategy.

The NFL is a pass-happy league, with teams generally favoring aerial attacks over ground games due to the rules that have made passing easier and more efficient. Moreover, the athleticism and speed of NFL defenses can often negate the effectiveness of the deception and power running tactics inherent in the double wing offense.

The use of some elements from the double wing can still be found in specific situations in the NFL. For example, teams might utilize two wingbacks in short yardage or goal line situations to maximize blocking and increase the chances of scoring or achieving a first down.

Additionally, the NFL has seen an increase in the usage of hybrid players who can fill multiple roles, allowing teams to experiment with different formations, including some elements of the double wing offense.

Double Wing Offense Variations

The double wing offense is a versatile and deceptive offensive scheme in football. Developed by Don Markham, this formation has evolved over the years, with various variations now in use.

In its classic form, the double wing formation features two tight ends, two wing backs, a full back, and a quarterback. This balanced setup effectively outnumbers the defense at the point of attack and creates opportunities for misdirection plays.

One popular variation of the double wing offense is the spread offense. In this setup, the two wing backs are positioned wide, while the full back and quarterback remain in their traditional positions.

This arrangement gives the quarterback more time and space to make longer passes downfield. The spread offense is particularly effective when the team has a strong-armed quarterback and fast, agile wing backs who can catch the ball in open spaces.

Another variation of the double wing offense involves utilizing an unbalanced line. This means that one side of the offensive line has more linemen than the other. The offense still maintains its main principles of misdirection and overpowering the defense at the point of attack. However, by overloading one side of the line, the offense can further exploit mismatches against the defense.

These variations of the double wing offense demonstrate the flexibility and adaptability of the formation. By making slight adjustments to the positioning of players, coaches can create unique game plans that exploit the strengths of their personnel and exploit the weaknesses of the opposing defense.

Pros of the Double Wing Offense

The double wing offense offers several advantages for football teams, making it a popular choice for youth and high school levels. One of its main strengths is the ability to execute a powerful running game, which takes advantage of the offense’s balanced formation. 

This formation consists of two tight ends, two wing-backs, a fullback, and a quarterback, allowing the team to keep the defense guessing and creating opportunities for various players to carry the ball.

Misdirection is another notable feature of the double wing offense. Since players in this formation are evenly distributed on both sides, it becomes difficult for the opposing defense to predict where the ball will be going. This uncertainty can lead to confusion and missteps, giving the offense an edge during play.

A well-executed passing game is also possible with the double wing offense. Play-action passes can be used effectively in this strategy, as the defense will constantly be on the lookout for power-running plays. Play-action passes work by deceiving the defense into thinking that it’s another running play, only for the quarterback to drop back and pass the ball downfield.

Although the double wing offense is not primarily focused on passing, incorporating a solid passing game can provide a considerable advantage.

Cons of the Double Wing Offense

The double wing offense is a powerful and methodical strategy that emphasizes multiple tight ends, offensive linemen able to pull, and versatile players in the backfield. However, it also comes with some drawbacks that can limit its effectiveness.

One main disadvantage of the double wing offense is a lack of adaptability. Since it relies heavily on tight formations and running plays, it often becomes predictable to defenses. 

Defenders can adjust their positioning and quickly learn to recognize the motion cues from the wingbacks, placing extra focus on the direction of the motion. As a result, the Double Wing Offense can become one-dimensional and easier for disciplined defenders to stop.

Another con is the increased importance of the offensive line in this scheme. The effectiveness of the double wing offense depends on the performance of the offensive linemen. 

If the linemen do not have the required agility and coordination to pull and create effective blocks, the offense can struggle to generate significant gains on the ground. When facing dominant defensive fronts or quick linebackers, the double wing offense can have a tough time finding the running lanes it relies on.

The passing game within the double wing offense is also limited. Although it does include a few play-action pass options, the focus on ground-and-pound running can render passing plays less effective. 

This offense does not feature a wide array of pass routes, and with tight ends and backs primarily focused on blocking, there are fewer viable targets for the quarterback. As a result, if the team falls behind in a game and needs to make up points quickly, the double wing offense may not offer the necessary offensive firepower.

Defending Against the Double Wing Offense

The defense on a high school football game stand on the balls of their feet in anticipation of the play.

Defending against the double wing offense requires a solid game plan and efficient execution by defenders. The primary goal is to control the line of scrimmage, especially in the A and C gaps. By doing so, the defense can effectively shut down the running game and force the offense to rely on their passing game, which is typically less developed in double wing formations.

Focusing on controlling the A and C gaps, linebackers play a crucial role in stopping the double wing offense. Linebackers need to read their keys quickly and react to the play, attacking the line of scrimmage with aggression. By doing this, they can help disrupt the offense’s blocking schemes, neutralize the misdirection plays, and contain the running game.

As for the secondary, safeties in this defensive scheme should be prepared to give run support and tackle aggressively. They can act as additional defenders in the box, ensuring that the Double Wing offense does not outnumber the defensive front. 

Safeties also need to be ready for the occasional passing play, maintaining discipline in their coverage and reacting quickly to any potential pass threats. Although it is generally more focused on stopping the run, the defensive line also plays an important role in defending against the double wing offense. 

Gap discipline is crucial for defensive linemen in this scenario, as they are expected to maintain their assigned gaps while also applying pressure on the offensive linemen. A strong defensive line will help to disrupt the double-tight end formations and force the offense to adapt their strategy.

Double Wing vs Single Wing

The double wing offense is a powerful and popular system, especially at youth level football due to its heavy run tendencies. Featuring tight line splits and a focus on off-tackle power, the Double Wing relies on strength and numbers at the point of attack. 

On the other hand, the single wing offense is an older and more traditional system that is still utilized by some programs.

The double wing offense prioritizes efficient run blocking schemes, bringing more blockers to the point of attack. Utilizing tight line splits, the offensive linemen are in a better position to execute double teams and down blocks.

Additionally, the Double Wing often employs multiple players in the backfield, allowing for a variety of misdirection and power running plays. Examples of successful double wing plays include the 40 Gut Wedge and off-tackle power.

In contrast, the single wing offense focuses on deception and unbalanced formations to create confusion among the defensive players. With the use of a direct snap to a running back or a hybrid quarterback, the single wing can offer multiple options such as passing, running, or even an option play, all from the same formation.

This often forces the defense to make quick decisions and can lead to big gains if they fail to correctly identify their assignments. One key distinction between the two offenses is how they handle pass plays. The double wing is primarily a running-based system, with passing plays being less frequent and often utilized as a surprise tactic.

Conversely, the single wing can incorporate a more diverse range of play calls, including a higher percentage of pass plays. While not as pass-heavy as modern spread offenses, the single wing does offer more balance and variety in its play-calling.

Given their unique characteristics, both the double wing and single wing offenses can present challenges for opposing defenses. While the double wing utilizes strength and power to wear down its opponents, the single wing uses deception and unbalanced formations to create confusion and mismatches.

Double Wing vs Wing T

The Double Wing and Wing T offenses are both popular and efficient offensive systems used in football. However, they possess some key differences, which make them suitable for different teams and situations.

The double wing offense is a balanced formation utilizing two tight ends, two wing backs, a full back, and a quarterback. The formation focuses on outnumbering the defense at the point of attack and creating conflict through complementary plays.

On the other hand, the Wing T offense employs seven players lined up on the line of scrimmage, including a split end or wide receiver, two guards, two offensive tackles, a center, and one tight end. Utilizing misdirection and motion, the Wing T confuses defenses, spreading the field horizontally and choosing the right moment to attack the vulnerable areas.

Despite their differences, both offenses share some similarities. For instance, they both use wingbacks to maximize the ground attack, and both systems thrive on deception and strong fundamental execution.

However, the double wing is generally more power-oriented, relying on brute force to create physical mismatches, while the Wing T emphasizes speed and agility to exploit defensive weaknesses.

Choosing between the double wing and Wing T offenses primarily depends on personnel and coaching philosophy. Teams with powerful linemen and strong running backs may prefer the Double Wing for its sustained assault on the line of scrimmage.

Conversely, teams with quick and agile players might benefit from the speed and deception inherent in the Wing T system.

Double Wing vs Flexbone

The double wing and flexbone offenses are both popular and effective offensive systems in football. Although they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences that coaches and players need to understand in order to effectively implement and execute these formations.

The double wing offense is characterized by having two wingbacks positioned on either side of the formation, often symmetrical and close to the offensive line. This formation emphasizes a power running game, utilizing multiple blockers and misdirection to create space for ball carriers to advance down the field.

The double wing is particularly effective for teams with strong offensive linemen and versatile running backs. Coaches who prefer a run-heavy approach while also having the ability to mix in some play-action passing can greatly benefit from the double wing philosophy.

The flexbone offense, on the other hand, is a modified version of the wishbone offense and is mainly known for its incorporation of the triple option. In this system, the quarterback has the option to hand off the ball, keep it, or pitch it to one of the wingbacks – all based on the defense’s reaction. 

The flexbone does not typically use tight ends, which allows the formation to maintain a more balanced look and keep the defense guessing play direction. This offense is particularly effective for teams with quick and agile quarterbacks, as well as running backs with good decision-making abilities. 

Additionally, the flexbone offense is well-suited for teams with smaller, less physical wide receivers since it relies less on the passing game and more on misdirection and quick reads.

When comparing the double wing to the flexbone, it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your team. The double wing provides a more power-oriented running game, but can also include some passing plays with its tight ends.

The flexbone focuses on quick decision-making and speed, emphasizing the triple option and keeping defenders off balance. Ultimately, both offenses can be effective, but choosing the right one for your team requires a proper evaluation of your team’s personnel and skill sets.

It is also crucial to consider the level of experience and knowledge that your coaching staff and players possess when choosing between these two offenses.

Managing the intricacies of the double wing or the flexbone could be a difficult task for inexperienced players or coaches, so it’s essential to ensure that your team is equipped with the necessary skills, understanding, and commitment to execute either offense successfully.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Double Wing a Good Offense?

Yes, the Double Wing offense can be an effective strategy for football teams. It is especially useful for teams with strong tight ends and offensive linemen, as well as versatile players who can fill multiple roles in the backfield. The Double Wing offense relies on power running and deceptive plays to overpower the opposing defense and gain yardage on the field.

What Is a West Coast Style Offense?

The West Coast Offense is a football strategy that focuses on short, quick passes and emphasizes precision and timing. This offensive approach aims to dominate ball possession, control field position, and reduce turnovers.

It often utilizes a versatile passing game that includes screens, slants, and quick outs to exploit weaknesses in the defense, thus creating mismatches and wearing down opponents.

The West Coast offense creates more opportunities for playmakers, such as running backs and receivers, to make plays in space. Moreover, it allows the quarterback to throw high-percentage passes, putting less pressure on him to make significant downfield throws.

Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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