Creating a Series with Drew Tallman

What is a series?

A series is a group of plays that look the same at the beginning of the play but attack at different areas. This could be from the initial back field action or from the initial route stems of the wide receivers.

Why is it important?

The main thing having a series of plays does is aid in deception. By having multiple plays that look similar at the start, defenses can’t guess what play will be run by reading the initial movements of the offense.

What type of plays make up a series?

  • Off-tackle- A play that hits to the outside of the tackle ex: a play power play
  • Outside- A play that hits wide ex: a sweep play or quick pitch.
  • Inside- a play that his in the middle of the defense ex: a trap play
  • Qb fake away from action– A play that his in the opposite direction of the initial fake ex: a bootleg play. This can also be considered a counter.
  • Play-action- A play where the quarterback fakes a run play and throws a pass
  • Screen pass – a play where the quarterback throws the ball behind the line of scrimmage usually with other offensive players releasing downfield to block .

To have a full series you don’t need all of these but you would at least like to have an inside play,  off-tackle play, outside play, and a counter or play-action( A qb boot can be both of these).

How many series and formations

  • Lots of formations with a small amount series– Many spread offenses in college take this approach by running only a few core plays but use multiple formations to help protect their plays.
  • Lots of formations and lots of series – This would be closer the pro style strategy of the NFL. Pro football teams don’t have the time constraints that lower levels have to deal with. This allows them the learning time needed to be multiple in formations and plays.
  • Small amount of formations with lots of series– I would classify the run and shoot offense by June Jones in this category. They basically had only two formations and ran multiple concepts out of those formations. Flexbone option teams could also be in this category.
  • Small amount of formations with small amount of series – Youth offenses must be concerned  with executing plays correctly above all else. By limiting the amount of formations and plays time is spent on perfecting the few plays they do run.
  • Mixture of all– In all honesty most types of offenses would likely be in this category. It is hard to specifically say a offense only has for example “a few formations and lots of series” . This because teams are different even if they have similar offensive styles.

Example of Series

Power series

  1. Power – off-tackle play           H/T for gif
  2. Power sweep – outside play H/T for gif
  3. Trap- inside                     H/T for gif4. Power pass- play-action  H/T for gif

If you notice all of the plays in this series have a backside pulling guard at the start of the play, and other then the sweep (which pulls another player) you can’t tell the difference between the plays in the first couple seconds of the play.


Having plays in a series is important. If you don’t use a series of plays defenses can react very aggressively to your play because they know based on the initial action  where the ball is going to go. What you want on a play is defenders in multiple parts of the field that are concerned the play can be potential directed to their area. This slows pursuit to the actual play allowing it to be more successful.

This post was inspired by Drew Tallman and his book Winning Play Sequences in Modern Football.