A skill player executes a slice block when he runs behind the line of scrimmage from one side to block an edge player on the opposite side, with the rest of the blocking moving in the other direction. Ben Muth of Football Outsiders writes, “It’s a great way to divide the defense in two, because everyone is flowing one direction, and the slice block stops the momentum of one defender and creates a nice seam.” Because the slice takes time to develop, the edge rusher might believe he is unblocked and not expecting the slice. The movement by the slice blocker can also create confusion as to the intended direction of the run. The slice block is known as a “rim” block in some schemes. If the target is an interior defensive lineman rather than an edge player, this type of block is called a wham block. If the blocker is an offensive lineman rather than a skill player, the block is known as a trap block.
Tight End Slice Block
Teams often run a slice block with a tight end or wingback, as the Detroit Lions do here:
On this stretch slice or “zone rim” play, the Lions zone block right while tight end Eric Ebron (#85) slice blocks outside linebacker Erik Walden (#93). This slows Walden’s backside pursuit, and running back Ameer Abdullah (#21) darts to the play side for a 10-yard gain.
Blocking with the Big Back
Some teams rely on a fullback or H-Back to execute the slice block. The Northwestern Wildcats utilize “superback” Dan Vitale. On this first down play, the Wildcats line up with 12 offensive personnel, with Vitale in a wing alignment to the right. Northwestern runs split zone – an inside zone run with a slice block on the backside:
Vitale (#40) cuts across the formation to knife defensive end Alex Keith (#9) to the turf with a cut block. Left tackle Blake Hance (#72) again works to the second level at the snap, sealing off the left linebacker. Because of the alignment and angle of the defensive tackle, center Ian Park (#63) executes a combination block with left guard Brad North (#69) on the defensive tackle. Running back Justin Jackson cuts (#21) inside of the combination block, and is dragged down at the 1-yard line.