I’m not sure if this has been talked about and I’m just asleep, but a California high school football team is trying out a new type of offense, they call it the A-11 (it looks like they’re trying to promote it, they even have a web site with instructional videos and so on). Here’s their description of the offense:
The A-11 features up to all eleven players wearing an eligible receiver jersey number, either 1-49 or 80-99, with two quarterbacks in the shotgun formation, and with nobody under center – thereby meeting the criteria for a scrimmage kick formation. In their base sets, Piedmont has a center, and a tight end on each side, and three wide receivers to the right, and left respectively. By spreading the potentially eligible receivers across the entire field, it forces the defense to account for every possible receiver on each play. Of course, on any given play, only 5 of those players can go downfield to catch a pass, and the rest remain ineligible to catch a downfield pass on that particular play.
There is video of games at both of the links above if you want to see the offense in action. I think it looks interesting and it makes me wonder how it would work in the NFL. What would the defense do if the offense came out with two quarterbacks, two tight ends, a center, and six running backs/wide receivers? They couldn’t have the usual defense with linemen, because at least one of the receivers or running backs would be open right away (think about a defensive lineman lining up against a running back). I’m not sure it would work, but it would be interesting to see what happens.
Update: Hello, Scientific American people. You’ll note that I don’t really say anything about the math involved, so I’m not sure why I got a call from them but that’s ok. The reason I didn’t say much about the math is that I don’t know enough of the rules of football. I know that in this formation all 11 players are eligible to receive a pass before they line up, at least 7 have to be on the line, and that only 5 of them are once they do line up, but I don’t know even if it would be legal in the NFL (I’ve seen some people say that it would be outright illegal, while others say it would be ok at times–it seems that it would be illegal except for a few plays in college, since the rules state that a kick must be intended in this type of formation). I also don’t know which five are eligible (or how/when they would have to be designated).
Still, I do have some thoughts about it (non-math though). I do think this will be interesting in high school where it might confuse the defense and help smaller schools (they are less likely to have many of the big and athletic players, but this offense doesn’t need them as much). I also think this wouldn’t work well as a primary offense in the NFL because the players are too fast and too disciplined (imagine a linebacker, many of whom can run almost as fast as a wide receiver, with an open lane to the quarterback–they might be able to get to the QB almost as fast as the ball). Still, I think it could work for occasional plays in the NFL with the right players (I would imagine a QB in this system acting as an outlet passer–they would take the hike, almost immediately move, and then quickly lateral it to a back or the other QB for a pass). And it could make for an exciting play. What do you think?