A skill player executes a wham block when he runs behind the line of scrimmage to block an interior defender from the side. The interior rusher often initially believes he is unblocked and does not expect the wham. Surprise is key because the blocker is typically a tight end or H-back matched up against a 300+ pound behemoth inside. By blocking the interior defender with a skill player, an offensive lineman is freed up across from the defender to move to the second level and block other players. If the target is an edge player rather than an interior lineman, this type of block is called a slice block. If the blocker is an offensive lineman rather than a skill player, the block is known as a trap block.
Wham vs Nose
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3, the New England Patriots utilized the wham play – with tight end Rob Gronkowski (#87) leading the way most often – several times out of a few different formations and personnel groupings.
Midway through the first quarter on a 2nd and 4 from the Jacksonville 42, the Patriots use the TE wham with 11 personnel on the field. The play hinges on trap blocking the 1 technique nose tackle, Abry Jones (#95), tilted toward center:
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As a result of the wham block, Jones is pinned up against fellow defensive tackle Michael Bennett (#96), who has been sandwiched by C David Andrews (#60) and LG Shaq Mason (#69) on a double-team. Gronkowski’s trap not only secures a massive running lane while freeing up Andrews to provide help on Bennett, but also allows RG Josh Kline (#67) to block linebacker Telvin Smith (#50) at the second level. Running back Dion Lewis (#33) presses the hole as RT Sebastian Vollmer (#76) helps part the sea on a kick out / down block against DE Chris Smith (#98). Lewis sprints into the secondary for a 10-yard gain.
On a number of occasions in the game, the Jacksonville defensive line had an interior tackle playing the aforementioned titled nose technique. The wham block can be particularly effective against this defensive alignment since it eliminates the need for a double-team and/or a difficult reach block attempt by the center on the tilted nose.
Wham vs 3 Technique
In the second quarter, New England ran the TE wham again on a 1st and 10 at the Jacksonville 42 but with a slight wrinkle in formation. Deploying 12 personnel, the Patriots load up on the left side of the formation with both tight ends:
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In this instance, the wham block targets the 3 technique defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (#93) but it creates many of the same advantages as seen in the previous play as well as some new ones. Gronkowski’s pre-snap motion over-shifts defensive back Davon House (#31) into the box and displaces him as the contain / force defender on a potential run bounced to the outside. By letting Alualu go unblocked initially, LT Nate Solder (#77) targets the linebacker at the second level right off the snap as Gronkowski completes the blindside trap block on the disadvantaged defender.
The blocking scheme also creates two more leverage advantages on the weak side by executing a fold block. Instead of blocking the tilted nose tackle, Andrews slips through to the second level to hit linebacker Paul Posluszny (#51). This leaves Kline – also free because of the wham block on Alualu – to fold under Andrews and pick up the 1 technique at a better angle.
With the entire Jaguars front reacting to the wham action and collapsing the middle of the line of scrimmage, running back LeGarrette Blount (#29) presses it inside before nimbly bouncing outside and past House for a big 22-yard gain.