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

this is an amazing discussion, thanks to all you who have contributed. i’m enjoying your comments and ideas immensely. :football::+1:t3:

also, sorry but i keep running out of likes lol

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I formation works well for counter plays, too (how's that for old school!) Where you fake to one back and have him block the hole left by the pulling guard, who is headed to the other side to lead block for the 2nd back who actually gets the ball.

Ah the old days of run strategy.

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We also used to run a halfback pass where we'd play action to the halfback, step behind the FB block, and the HB would come out the other side of the A or B gap for the short pass. I used to audible to that if I read 2 deep zone with a wide receiver set. My TE would run an out to pull the LB, both receivers run streak or corner, and the play would run strong side so the pass would go to where the sam had just vacated. We'd run it from either I or T.

If we had done it a few times, the safeties would creep up.. that's when we'd throw a deep double move post.

I'm thinking you probably tried to keep an eye on the TE running that out before releasing the ball to the HB. That could have been a good option as well sometimes if you're reading a 2 deep zone. Those deep guys have to cover the streaking receivers.

But thinking about it, the HB is a safe play with the linebacker gone.

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I'd watch the TE all the way to look the LB over to him. Then pivot and throw to the HB after the TE made his break

Yeah, that's good execution.

When it worked! Lol! It was still high school ball, after all.

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Miss that play.

i saw this the other night in NFL action. i wish CFL teams did this kind of stuff more.

so it’s 4th and one. QB Lamar Jackson lines up in shotgun (but is a actually a running back here) and then the TE Andrews jumps in under centre to take the snap and pitches it to Lamar, who runs for the first down. amazing play. love LJ’s stiff arm near the end of the play.


I-formation might be more useful if the CFL field were narrower like an NFL field, but why screw up a great game by doing that?

that trick play wasn’t i-formation

lol @ screwing up a good game.

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The I formation is a thing of the past. It might work as a surprise but only once... Even crappy teams have D coordinators and hopefully defensive players that are smart enough and fast enough to negate any advantage any team running the I ... It just had too many negatives and not enough positives or it would be used don't you think... After all I would hope the coaching staffs running teams we like are far smarter than we the fans are.... Except for maybe this season's Rider staff😬

i love a good running game and especially running quarterbacks :slightly_smiling_face:

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Everything goes in cycles. As defenses get smaller and quicker to counter quick-out and RPO style offenses, those offenses will get bigger and go more smash-mouth. Then defenses will get bigger and tighter to the line, and offenses will adapt again and go quicker.

It's all a big dance that will never end


Speaking of dancing, start out with a more usual one-back formation and use the waggle to put a slotback in front of the running back at the snap. Maybe it could be called an eh? formation.

I'm glad I stumbled upon this thread. I also have long thought that the League's OC's seem to have a Big 12 mind set about passing and basically use the run game as an after thought or in situation for short yardage. For a long time I have thought that if a team invested in a large group of O-Linemen ( Centre included) and brought back single and double Tight End sets with the backfield in I formation ( or even T), many Defences were ripe for the picking ,especially on the edges. This is because ,as the League became pass happy, many D Ends and Sam and Will Linebackers are undersized. In the Outside LB case, many are just blown up DB's. If you ran that I or T set with a Tight End to the Field side, a properly executed power sweep 10 to 20 yard run before contact...Something I would also like to see is not only bringing the QB back under Centre more often but breaking the huddle quickly, running up to the line of scrimmage, and , snapping the ball as soon as the O is set. this would also not allow Defences to switch out once they see an Offensive formation...


Honestly they should get rid of the waggle. It makes the receivers have to beat the DB with actual skill. The waggle is probably one of the reasons why we see such vanilla packages. I remember when we use to see QB's line up under centre. Now every play is out of the shotgun.

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Welcome back,
times, they be a changin

The I formation itself was formed on the premise that with all backs lined in the middle, the defense can't read which way the play will go.

The first major advantage of the ace set (single back set) in Canada anyways is that with unlimited motion it allows THREE guys to waggle.

The I is really only used with lead blocking which has become a thing of the past in the CFL. I think it has to do with the lateral attack of the field that has been prevalent for the past 15 years or so which keeps the defense from blitzing so much. If you're going to use multiple backs, then at least 1 extra back has to run wide to lead for the ball carrier. It certainly won't work for jet sweep. That FB is better deployed somewhere else, or even substituted for an extra slot receiver who is already out wide to block downfield for the sweep. It is even better for a screen pass, you can load up one side with 3 or even 4 receivers instead of using a 2nd back, and set up big screen plays, which are a great way to keep the defense from attacking your backfield with blitzes.

The jet sweep itself is also heavily misunderstood by your average armchair coach. More than just augmenting your run game, the jet sweep attacks the field laterally which keeps the linebackers honest. Every time your speedy guy motions across that backfield, somebody (usually that outside LB) HAS to scrape him. The defense cannot afford to give Tim White or Brandon Banks or Schaffer-Baker the corner. They have to respect the outside which makes them hesitate to blitz. It's the same as what we know as stretching the defense vertically with deep passes, except that it's horizontal (with a wiiiide-ass Canadian field) and doesn't take 3 seconds for the route to develop. :wink:

Everyone in Hamilton hates Condell and one of the main reasons is that they hate the jet sweep. Well, the jet sweep has been one of their most successful plays over the past few seasons. Not only has it given the TiCats run yards even when their o-line has been in the dumpster, it has also lessened the blitz, which has been a terrific way to protect their QB with that same dumpster fire o-line. Condell has been a genius almost literally making the proverbial 'chicken soup out of chicken s**t' yet the Cat fans have been trying to run him out of town for years because they don't understand the zen of offensive playcalling, attacking the FIELD, not the defense.