Why don’t CFL teams use the I-formation more often nowadays? (& other alt formation discussion)

this is a question that kinda nags me from time to time and i don’t really have a definitive answer for myself.

i’ve always loved the old I-formation for shorter yardage running plays (or fakes to do so). i know in old days when passing wasn’t as prevalent it was more common. but almost all teams carry a fullback as well as a running back.

why don’t current day CFL OC’s use it more often?

also, triple-I ftw! what’s funny is the riders of course passed on this play and it was incomplete:

edit: let’s discuss other alternative offensive formations too!

  • TE formation plays
  • more wildcat direct snaps too please!

Overall, there's seems to be a lack of variety in formation and playcalling these days. Although, it seems to me that sweeps and fake sweeps are on the uptick this season, which I like.


excellent points! thank you. yea i love the sweeps and fake sweeps too.

i should also mention that i am of the opinion that in general, CFL teams don’t run the ball enough. i love passing plays, don’t get me wrong. but a good run game is so effective at opening things up, especially if used early in game (yea i know, bigger field, 3 downs, playing catch up and all). almost every game i watch, i find myself yelling at whatever offence is on the field RUN THE F*CKIN’ BALL!

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I have often thought that "going back" to some of the older offensive sets would be an advantage. I would like to see teams go to a TE more often. I think the QB under centre more often would be making the defense guess more as well. i also think that it would not be that hard to install either.


yes! i was going to mention tight ends too but thought it would be for another thread. but alternative formation discussion is good. will amend the thread title… thank you!

Yea i can just imagine how many games the bombers woulda won in the current and past two seasons if they listened to this sage advice. Gee they might even be contending for that coveted threepeat.... just kidding all... just pointing out there are different ways to do things than how they did it way back when.

My answer is: lack of practice time, which leads to vanilla play packages on both sides of the ball. There simply aren't enough hours in a week to install new plays out of different formations.

yes but why does it have to be a new play. i’m of the opinion it should be a more regularly used play in the playbook, rather than a “new” one. playbooks these days are huge.

also I-formation seems like it should be used more in bad weather condition games no? (it may be, i don’t have stats on such things). but plays with QB under centre tend to be more common in games with inclement weather conditions.

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i know this is NFL but speaking of alternative offensive plays, remember this awesome flutie drop kick? hilarity! doug flutie was awesome.

a related CFL question then, why don’t more CFL teams go for the rouge to win tie games?


I agree, but even running the same play out of a different formation demands practice. Football is a game of inches. If one guy lines up at the wrong spot or forgets the formation, the entire play might well fail. There are not enough hours in the week to do more than practice the same mostly vanilla set of plays.

The other reason is that coaches are creatures of habit, and most tend to follow trends rather than set them. Twenty years ago, everyone was running five-receiver sets and going vertical all the time, without much or any semblance of ball control. Today, the West Coast, or its adaptation to the Canadian game, is bog standard across the league.

I have long felt that a good coach, with the right personnel, could tear the league up running a pure RPO-based power offense with a blocking tight end, jet plays to the perimeter, and a mobile QB who can throw on the run. But most coaches just want their pocket-passing QB and their trad offense, because it's what they know and feel comfortable with.

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excellent points! thank you!

omg yes, all of that. :+1:t3:

on game day threads, i’m sure i’ll post RUN THE F*CKIN BALL more than once lol

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This is true - - however a good of mixture looks could only help make things more interesting and keeps defenses on their toes.

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At first I thought it was just a normal drop the ball and kick it as it was going down .

Thought yah okay it's a punt thru the uprights .

Then learned

The ball had to hit the ground first and then kick it

makes it such a difficult move to do .... .

makes the Flutie kick much more sweeter .

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yes an accurate drop kick off the turf is exceptionally difficult.

I think the Bombers's playcalling has been one of their advantages over the past several seasons. I don't know that they ever use the I formation, but they tend to use the run a lot and to use loads of different targets each game.


i’d also like to see more wildcat formation direct snap plays. i love those.

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Wishbone formation RPOs!

Bring em on!

And do it with 2 Canadian fullbacks to crush those tweener-sized LBs at the edge!


The topic of this thread is very much on my mind when I watch and follow CFL games. It was decided some time ago, because of success, that QBs should receive the ball from the center while in the shotgun. It just blows my mind of all the different options that teams are giving up on by doing that. The shotgun has an advantage, but so does having the QB lining up under the center.

Good lord, I could go on and on about this, and I probably will add more here when I have a bit more time.

For now, I will say that I believe one day - hopefully soon - an offensive coordinator will come along and recognize the benefits of running the waggle with the QB under center and using formations like the 'I' and even other more traditional formations. After all, they were all designed with success at one time, and could very well be beneficial one day again.

I still remember that simple play - a long time ago - when Tom Clements took the snap from under center and just ran the ball immediately up through the center all the way to the endzone. The defense left enough of an opening straight up the middle that Tom couldn't resist. That could not have been done if he was lined up in the 'gun'.

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