TOSS PART 2: 4-3 & 6-1 DEFENSE

In Part 2, we'll look at running the TOSS play against the 4-3 and 6-1 defense.  We'll also look at the TAGS and Formation adjustments that we will use to run the TOSS play effectively.


The Toss play was created to counter the stunts and defensive alignments of the 4-3 defense.  If you’re getting a lot of EZ stunts (#1 & #2 exchange responsibilites) or if the defense is trying to gap out the inside (DT’s in A gap, DE’s in B gap), then Toss is a great way to quickly get the ball on the perimeter.

Our basic blocking rules that we spoke about in Part 1 will work great against a generic 4-3 look (#2 stacked over #1).  Our PSG & PST should be able to get #1 & #2, regardless of stunts.  Our PSA will work his Fast Arc to #3.  Due to #2 being stacked, we tell the PSA that if #2 shows up on your track work thru him to #3.  This should give the PST time to catch up and get #2.  Normally we don’t have to do that.  If the PST punches with his inside arm to get the DE (#1) off of him and opens his hip/shoulders to the sideline, we make that block pretty easily.  #2 usually comes downhill right to the PST.


The most common adjustment we have to make against the generic 4-3 look is due to Cover 2 look by the secondary.  We can make a SWITCH call between the PSWR and PSA if we get Cover 2 and allow the PSWR to go to the Safety (now the NDD) and the PSA to block the Corner (now #3 and will probably get kicked out).  The SWITCH tag is a good adjustment if #2 is being blocked easily by the PST and also if the Safety is playing deep or is easily blocked by the PSWR (good matchup and/or good angle/depth).


A common look that we see from 4-3 teams is the 6-1 look, either a straight 6-1 (both #2’s on LOS or in Hip position) or the defense will show one side with a 6-1 look (normally the 3 tech side) and a 4-3 look to the Shade side.  We’ve talked about blocking the 4-3 side, now we’ll look at blocking the 6-1 look.

The biggest concern with this front is the alignment of #2.  Usually, the defense will walk #2 out to a Hip position or will put #2 on the LOS.  We now have to make a decision if it’s still viable to run Toss due to the possibility of being out leveraged by #2 and #3.  First, we have to decide how #2 is aligning and what is his responsibility.


If #2 is on the LOS and they are running Blood stunts (#1 & #2 crashing for Dive/QB), then Toss should be good.  PSG & PST should easily get #1 and #2, much like the stacked 4-3.  The big coaching point here is with the PSA.  The PSA has to realize that if #2 doesn’t try to flow outside, then the PST will get him.  By seeing this in PODS Drill at least once a week, the PSA will become conditioned to keep running his track and pick up #3.  We normally will not use the SWITCH tag against the 6-1 look, unless we get into a Flex look or Double Flex with the WR reducing his split to 5 yards from the Tackle.  The SWITCH tag only affects the PSA and PSWR.  Everyone else stays the same.

HIP LOOK (off LOS & outside the PSA)

From the Hip look, there is the definite possibility that #2 could be the Force defender, which is a big problem when running Toss.  We have to determine what #2’s responsibility is (QB or pitch) and also how he will attack the Toss (come upfield & turn everything back, or widen).  We usually won’t attempt to run Toss against this look from the Spread formation (normal 2x2) because we don’t want #2 to spike and kill the ball carrier on Toss.  The only way we would run it out of this is if #2 was flying to the pitch or if they were running a lot of 3-2 Exchanges (Safety or #3 on QB, #2 to pitch).  If that were the case, we could run Toss pretty easily by sending the PSA to kick out #2 when he widens and have the PST fill the alley for #3 (Safety).  The PSWR would have the Corner.  The BSA (ball carrier) would have to cut upfield under the PSA’s kick out block.


Usually though, we will get into some type of FLEX formation (WR in a 5 yard split from Tackle) or get into OVER (both WR’s to same side) and utilize our SWAP tag.  SWAP will put the PSWR on #2.  The PST & PSA will now pull around the down block of the PSWR.  They both must get outside of the WR’s block.  They essentially are responsible to sprint around the block to prevent #2 from running upfield and beating the block.  The PSA will work to the Corner and the PST should work for the Safety.



From FLEX, #2 has to decide if he’s going to line up inside or outside of our WR.  Usually he will still line up inside.  SWAP tag puts PSWR on #2.  PST & PSA would pull around his block and take Corner and Safety.  If the defense decided to adjust to a Cover 2 look against this, then we’d line up in OVER.


OVER normally gets the defense out of Cover 2.  Not always, but most of the time they will play Quarter-Quarter-Half (Cover 4 to the two WR side and Cover 2 on the nub side).  We can adjust the split of the inside WR on OVER.  Sometimes, we might go OVER FLEX and put him in a Flex split or we might just line up in OVER (split the difference between the outside WR and the Tackle).  The alignment of #2 varies out of OVER.  Most of the time, #2 will expand from his usual alignment, and sometimes he will align over or outside of the inside WR.


From OVER, we will utilize the SWAP tag as long as #2 is in a Hip position and not stacked.  If we give the inside WR the SWAP tag, he will attempt to pin #2 as long as #2 is inside of him.  Everyone would follow the normal SWAP rules.  If #2 aligns over or outside, the WR will push vertical at #2 as long as he can and then work inside to wall off the Near Safety.  The outside WR would block the CB.  The PST & PSA would attempt to get outside the inside WR’s block, but they would see that #2 is wide.  The PSA would now kick out #2 and the PST would turn up the alley for Safety or first threat.

One thing to always remember about the OVER formation…we’re always looking to the nub side to determine where to run.  If we get 4.5 defenders to the nub, that’s where we should go from a numbers standpoint.  If the defense puts 5 or more defenders to the nub, then we will run to the OVER side, again due to having a numerical advantage.  You would typically get into OVER with the idea to run Veer or Mid Triple to the nub side and then see what the numbers look like.  If the defense aligns in a Cover 2 look to the nub side, then you should run to the OVER side.  TOSS is an easy play to package to the OVER side and it also sets up your ZONE DIVE and MID DOUBLE to that side as well.

Please check out the TOSS CUTUPS vs 4-3/6-1 on the link below.  It will show examples of all of the things I’ve discussed in this post.  If you have questions, please let me know.  If you’re having problems viewing the video, it’s probably due to Silverlight.  On Windows, Google Chrome or Mozilla works best.  On Mac, Safari works best.  In PART 3, we’ll look at TOSS vs a 50 defense.