ITP Glossary: Spin Move (Defense)

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From block shedding to 5X5 kickoff formation, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Spin Move (Defense)

A spin move is pass rush maneuver in which a defender rotates, or spins, his body 360-degrees, inside or outside, to escape or avoid a block near the line of scrimmage. Used as both a predetermined move and a counter/escape to an initial move, the spin maneuver compliments the speed and bull rush by taking advantage of a blocker’s reactions. Pass rushers often set up the spin move with their first step by either exploding straight at the blocker (bull) or attacking the blocker’s outside shoulder from a wide angle (speed). Depending on the pass rusher’s approach and the blocker’s momentum, a spin move can be made to the inside or outside of the respective blocker. While interior rushers can attempt to spin, the tighter space and proximity of blockers makes it less prevalent than for outside rushers.

Oakland Raiders DE/OLB Khalil Mack (#52) executes an outside spin move against Cleveland Browns RT Mitchell Schwartz (#72), beating him for a strip sack on the following play:

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Aligned as a 9 technique, Mack explodes forward off the snap and then out at about a 45-degree angle with his outside foot on his second step. He then takes a jab step inside toward the B gap, causing Schwartz to slow his feet and open up in preparation for contact. With the blocker reacting inside, Mack counters to the outside with a spin move.

The defender first sweeps his left arm/elbow across the blocker to fend off Schwartzs hands. Mack then plants his outside foot, sinks his butt and drives his far hip around the blocker. The linebacker finishes the spin maneuver by clubbing/stabbing the back of the lineman with his right arm/elbow in order to clear free. Mack turns the corner with no wasted steps and accelerates to the QB for the takedown.

One of the all-time masters of the spin move is former Indianapolis Colts DE Dwight Freeney (#93). In a battle between two All-Pro players, Freeney uses an inside spin to counter and beat Houston Texans LT Duane Brown (#76) on the following play:

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Freeney fires out of his 9 technique alignment and takes a wide angle at first. The seven-time Pro Bowler attacks Browns outside shoulder with speed before pivoting his head/body directly toward the blocker, presenting a bull rush move. The left tackle reacts by slowing his feet and opening up to engage the pass rusher with his arms. Once Freeney reads this reaction, he sweeps, plants, and sinks, driving off his inside hip around the blocker toward the B gap. The pass rusher clears the block by swinging his left arm/elbow through the back of the lineman in a stabbing-like motion, using the momentum to springboard toward the QB for the sack.

The spin move, which can be utilized by any penetrating/pass rushing defender across the line of scrimmage, requires well-coordinated footwork, body balance and flexibility in the hips as well as the ability to set up and read a blocker. Although a pass rusher tends to give ground back to the blocker and risk losing sight of the QB on a spin move, the maneuver, when well-timed, can be an effective weapon against impatient blockers and quick setting offensive lineman looking to meet the defender at the line of scrimmage.

Here’s what it looks like when a defender doesn’t use his arms to gain leverage on the offensive player or work to get his hips around the blocker.

A spin by itself clearly isn’t enough to get the job done; it’s all about technique. 

Going back to the Mack example above, it is common to see players who do not use their arm/elbow to help them gain leverage, and get to the hip of the lineman. This leaves them spinning in the middle of the chest of the OL and unable to escape the block.

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Brian Filipiak wrote this entry. Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Filipiak

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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