Pin And Pull – What Is It And How Is It Run

In Football Content, Offenseby vIQtoryLeave a Comment

One of the new football trends is the Pin & Pull offensive scheme. As most schemes do overtime, it continues to evolve through coaching tweaks and innovation.

What Is The Pin & Pull System? The Pin and Pull Scheme involves rules for offensive lineman to pull if they’re uncovered by a defensive lineman. This allows for more offensive lineman to get involved in both inside and outside zone runs.

Pin And Pull

Pin and pull concepts have become increasingly popular in the last 5 years.

Why? It’s easy to implement!

Similar to how zone, gap and power schemes work – the pin & pull scheme has a set of rules which allow for lineman to communicate with each other to execute the best possible blocking scenario. The base rules for the pin & pull system are as such:

  • If uncovered, pull play-side
  • Down blocks fill for the pulling lineman, typically in the back-side gap (which tend to be an easier leverage block)
  • Running backs follow the pulling lineman for added downfield blocking support

The pin and pull system looks similar to the outside zone play, as it still has some of the same characteristics, such as arc releasing and reach blocking.

What’s The Difference Between Covered and Uncovered?

To fully understand the Pin and Pull blocking scheme, the first rule of thumb is to understand the difference between “covered” and “uncovered”.

Covered Lineman

A covered lineman is when a defensive lineman is lined up in a head up alignment, such as 0, 2, 4, 6. If you’re unfamiliar with defensive alignments, take a glance over our breakdown here before you continue.

0 technique

Above is an example of a player who is in a “0” technique, covering the center. Coaches more than likely, will elect for the center to block head on and try to out-leverage the defender.

Covered may also mean (depending on the scheme), that the play-side gap has a defender in it. For example, in the picture below, the center is “covered” because there is a player in a 1 technique, occupying the play-side A gap.

1 technique

Uncovered Lineman

Uncovered lineman are offensive lineman who have players lined up with no defensive lineman lined up over them, or a player in a gap backside. These techniques on the defensive side of the ball range from 1,3,5,7,9 as well as 2i,4i and 6i’s.

3 technique

In the above picture, the center is uncovered, and will more than likely get involved in the pulling game.

What Are The Benefits Of Running The Pin And Pull?

The benefits of the pin and pull are:

  • Down blocks are often a high percentage block to out leverage a defender
  • Pulling offensive lineman give better angles to linebackers scraping down hill
  • It gets backside lineman involved in the play, who are normally hinging or trying to get to second level

The key is the down block – which can include both Tight Ends and running backs (at the high school level), utilizing leverage and body position to shield defensive lineman

Variations Of The Pin & Pull

Most people think the pin and pull system must be run out of the spread. Although it does help give the running back a better vision for a cut back lane, the toss sweep can be just as effective.

Here is a great piece from Seth on the Michigan blog MGOblog , where he details how the Michigan Wolverines successfully run the Pin and Pull from 22 personnel.

At times, we can see up to 3 lineman pulling to the play side toss. As mentioned, down blocks are high percentage blocks that eliminate the most immediate threat (the defensive lineman) away from the play.

What’s unique about this play, is the TE coming in motion, to down block the defensive end so more defenders can pull around the edge. Very creative from Coach Harbaugh and his staff.

Here is another 22 personnel variant from swgerlarch on youtube:

Tagging Pin And Pull With RPO’s

As RPO (Run Pass Option) schemes became more popular over the years, teams began coupling the RPO scheme with the pin and pull scheme.

Coaches can simply call one play, tag it with a RPO, and gain a run advantage as well as a high percentage passing advantage.

Coach McKie has a fantastic Youtube channel, here is a piece from his channel and how he adds RPO’s to the back end of his pin and pull.

Disrupting The Pin And Pull

Now that we’ve learned the basics of the pin and pull, we need to understand how defenses may disrupt it. 

How do you stop the pin and pull?

Penetration From The Defense

Penetration from any of the pulling guards can blow the play up in the backfield before it even begins. Defenses will often delay blitz or show a blitz last second to hopefully disrupt the mental part of the blocking scheme.

Also, if the down blocks aren’t clean from a weaker player (a tight end or running back blocking a defensive end) it can cause a cluster of pulling guards. Offenses that like to run these types of plays to the boundary, may see a cluster, especially with edge penetration

Setting The Edge

Similar to penetration, setting a hard edge from a defensive lineman or outside linebacker blitzing can also cause some clutter. This is why teams have opted to tag an RPO to the play, to put these outside backers in conflict.

If the linebackers do decide to blitz, coaches have simply added a tag to replace them. The best way to slow down the linebackers and put them in conflict is to tag an RPO on to every one of your pin and pull plays.

How do you run the pin and pull? What are your rules when teaching youth, high school and college players the Pin and Pull? Let us know below, or tweet at us on Twitter!

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