A variant of the “single wing” offensive formation that featured an unbalanced line, but made some significant changes in the backfield.
The “A formation” was used primarily by the New York Giants football team in the 1930s and 1940s, and like the Single Wing was a precursor to formations like the “shotgun” and the “wildcat.” Unlike the Single Wing, the “A” formation was designed to snap the football to the quarterback, who was positioned further back from the line and closer to the center. The backfield lined up on the weak side of the unbalanced line, while the wingback lined up on the strong side. A single split-wide receiver would line up to the right of the formation.
The primary advantage of the “A formation” was that the center could snap the ball to any of the players in the backfield, rather than just to the tailback. The formation provided a less powerful running game, but made offensive strategy more unpredictable, as the multitude of options available could keep the defense guessing up until the ball was snapped.
Invention of the “A” formation is attributed to Steve Owens, coach of the New York Giants. The “A” in the name has little significance, as Owens merely referred to the traditional Single Wing as his “B” formation.