ITP Glossary: Bend

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, 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.


On an outside zone run, the running back has three options: bend, bang, or bounce. As the offensive line flows to the playside, the running back takes the handoff at the mesh point and reads the defense. He can bend back to the weakside, bang into an open rushing lane, or bounce to the edge and try to out run the defense to the sideline.

Washington running back Alfred Morris will run the outside zone stretch play, looking to bounce, bang, or bend this run against the Philadelphia Eagles defense:NFLReview4WashingtonPlay2Still3Safety Walter Thurmond (#26) has walked up to the edge of the defense, outside of the tight end, guarding the E Gap. When this play begins he angles directly into the backfield, careful to take away the bounce read to the outside. In addition, defensive end Fletcher Cox (#91) and outside linebacker Brandon Graham (#55) line up next to each other on the line of scrimmage, across from the left tackle and TE. Together, they take away the bang read from Morris.

But he can still bend to the weakside:

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The RB takes the handoff flowing to the left, but seeing the play develop, he sticks his left foot into the turf and makes a hard cut back on his bend read, angling against the grain of the play. From there, he runs away from OLB Connor Barwin (#98). The linebacker eventually chases him down, but not until Morris has picked up 13 yards and a first down.

Bending Away From Penetration

On this play the San Diego Chargers have Rivers under center, with 11 personnel, tight end trips on the left. The Cincinnati Bengals have their 4-2-5 package in the game.

San Diego runs outside zone here, with Melvin Gordon starting to the left:NFLPreview5SDPlay3Still1

Off the snap, Bengals’ 3 technique defensive lineman Geno Atkins (#97) explodes into left guard Orlando Franklin, driving him backward:NFLPreview5SDPlay3Still2

Thankfully for the offense, the backside linemen have their defenders covered, opening up the bend read for the running back:

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Gordon sticks his left foot into the turf and cuts to the backside, finding nothing but daylight. He puts a tremendous juke on safety Reggie Nelson (#20) before finally being dragged down near midfield.

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

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