An offensive formation in football consisting of five down linemen, three running backs, two receivers or ends and the quarterback. The quarterback lines up under center with the fullback directly behind, while two smaller halfbacks or “slotbacks” are positioned at either end of the offensive line, behind the line of scrimmage. The flexbone is primarily a running formation, and is a variant of the similar “wishbone formation.”
The Flexbone formation is almost exclusively used at the college level, and is favored by teams who have intelligent, athletic players but weak passing quarterbacks. Due to the “triple option” this formation allows, less talented teams can run plays with more deception and versatility, while reducing the chance of costly turnovers in the passing game.
In the triple Option, or “veer” play, the quarterback sets one of the slot backs in motion to the opposite side of the line. As the slotback begins to pass behind the fullback, the quarterback takes the ball from the center and either hands the ball off to the fullback or fakes the handoff. If the fullback takes the handoff, he runs the ball up the center of the line. If the handoff is faked, the quarterback runs parallel to the line of scrimmage and either turns up field or pitches the ball to the slotback. “Triple” option equals three options with the football.
The Triple option forces defenses to plan their defense against a potential fullback run through the center of the line, while protecting against an outside rush by the quarterback or slotback. In addition to the Triple option, the flexbone offers four vertical passing threats, in the form of the receivers, ends and slotbacks. Against an eight-in-the-box defense (formed by defenses primarily attempting to stop the run) slot backs can catch short passes for large gains.
The flexbone requires quick, athletic and strong players to work effectively. Both the quarterback and running backs need to be tough, intelligent and agile, while the receivers have to possess strong blocking skills.