My set-piece analysis this week continues on from my magazine piece on NFL plays, with this mini analysis looking at the jet sweep and how it can be utilised from free kicks.
A jet sweep is a play which sees a wide receiver cut across from the far side of the field to make an outside run. The offensive line looks to block the outside run, and the receiver picks up the ball on their way to the far side. The key aspect of this play is moving laterally in order to create separation, which then allows a vertical run.
We can see that this allows for massive amounts of separation to be created, and the blocking of the nearest defender allows for a running lane to open for the wide receiver. A play is still feinted to go back to the running back, as the jet sweep can allow for some disguise due to it being directly behind the line of scrimmage. This blocker on the outside defender can either block as he does here, or could run up the field to create space.
In a football sense, due to this play using a flat structure, I think offensive free-kicks relate quite well. We can see an example of a potential free kick routine here, where the player on the nearest side acts as the target player. This player pushes off their marker and makes a run towards the back post. Because the defender is reacting to this run, and due to the slight push off this player, separation will be created by the target player over this distance. The target player could also take a few steps forward first, to put the defender’s momentum going backwards. The rest of the attackers act as outside zone blockers, and so they all move to the far side of their marker and set blocks. This stops the whole defence from shifting across, and therefore the target player should get a free run around the blocks and towards the back post.
You wouldn’t use a tall target player here, but instead use a quicker player who can create that separation and get around the block quickly. As in other examples in my piece, timing is also important, and the runner should maybe push off after a feint from the inswinging taker in this example.