ITP Glossary: Inverted Veer

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.

Inverted Veer

The inverted veer, also known as the power read, is a relatively recent changeup made to the classic veer play. While it is not exactly clear who invented or ran the play first, there is no question regarding the coaches or players who made it famous. That honor belongs to Justin Fuente & Andy Dalton at TCU (2009) and Gus Malzahn & Cam Newton at Auburn (2010). Like its sister play, the veer, the inverted veer is an option running play that gives the quarterback the choice to either hand the ball to a runner or keep it himself based on the reactions of a pre-defined read defender. Unlike the veer, however, the running back runs full speed to the sideline, parallel to the line of scrimmage from the shotgun formation, while the QB slides in the same direction focusing on the read defender. If the QB opts to keep the ball, he will run inside the edge defender similar to a power concept, hence its alternate name, the power read.

While the inverted veer is most often run with a RB in a shotgun alignment, there are variations on how teams can create the sweep motion. The play can be run from various running back alignments. The RB can align far from the quarterback to build up speed before the mesh point, closer to the quarterback creating a quick read, or can also be run from a sweep or jet motion.  

In the play below, Memphis executes a power read with jet motion from a wide receiver coming across the formation. Memphis has the ball on a 1st and 10 in Ole Miss territory, up by three points and looking to expand its lead before the half. They come out in 11 personnel in shotgun wing formation with a single receiver to the boundary and twin receivers to the wide side of the field in slot formation. Ole Miss has it’s 4-2-5 nickel personnel on the field with two high safeties. Just prior to the snap, Memphis WR Roderick Proctor goes into jet motion towards the formation to the right. Ole Miss responds by dropping its strong safety down to the boundary while the free safety rotates behind him to cover the middle of the field.

Inverted Veer Still 1Just before Proctor crosses his face, QB Paxton Lynch receives the snap, Ole Miss rolls into a Cover 3, and Memphis TE Alan Cross and RB Doroland Dorceus both release upfield as the boundary WR comes back toward the formation with a crack block on the strong safety.

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As this is unfolding, Lynch reads the playside defensive end at the mesh point. If the DE stays home, Lynch would give the ball to Proctor on a jet sweep, but the DE, along with the free safety and both LBs, actually widen with the jet motion. As a result, Lynch keeps the ball and runs inside the gap created by the widened DE. Luckily for Ole Miss, its defensive tackle makes a great play fighting through three different blockers to make a shoestring tackle on Lynch or else this would’ve been a much larger gain for Memphis.

The play design above, was by Justin Fuente but, as mentioned, the inverted veer was also made famous by Cam Newton at Auburn. In 2015, one of the well-documented explanations for the success that the Carolina Panthers had, was offensive coordinator Mike Shula’s ability to work some of those Auburn concepts that Newton had so much success with in college, such as the inverted veer / power read, into Carolina’s offense. The next two plays are an example of that.

In this first play, Carolina has the ball on Seattle’s 41-yard line in shotgun with 11 personnel on the field with Seattle showing a base 4-3 under front with a Cover 3 shell over the top. At the snap, Newton puts the ball in RB Mike Tolbert’s belly and reads playside DE Cassius Marsh. Marsh expands and plays the RB sweep, so Newton pulls the ball and runs inside of Marsh for a 1st down.  

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Later in the same game, Carolina has the ball on their own 30-yard line and align in the same shotgun formation with 11 personnel. Seattle matches with a six-man box, nickel personnel, and a Cover 3 shell over the top. This time, RB Jonathan Stewart is in the game with Newton. At the snap, Newton reads rookie DE Frank Clark who squeezes down the line of scrimmage. As a result, Newton hands the ball to Stewart who muscles through a slew of Seattle defenders for an eight yard gain.

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Despite its success in the college game, the inverted veer / power read is not a concept that many NFL teams are able to run on a consistent basis because of the hits that the QB takes running through the line with the football. But, as QBs with the size and athletic traits of Cam Newton or Carson Wentz enter the league, the inverted veer may soon gain in popularity in the NFL as well.

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Sean Cottrell wrote this entry. Follow Sean on Twitter @PhllyDraft.

Video courtesy of DraftBreakdown and NFL Game Pass.

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