ITP Glossary: Landry Shift

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.

Landry Shift

An offensive line technique, the Landry shift features all linemen but the center moving from a three-point stance, standing briefly into a two point stance, and back down into a three-point stance. Often, this also meant motion by the running back behind the wall of standing blockers, making it more difficult to see the new alignment of the backs. Legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry is credited with developing the shift.


Bill Belichick describes it:
“Basically what they did was they gave each player… different spots, so it could be like eight, nine, 10 spots they could line up in, and when they double shifted, which they usually did, then the player had to line up within two spots of where he was going to end up. So, the first time he could shift from A to B and then B to C, where he was going to end up, or from C to B back to C or wherever. And when the line went up and went down, that was just another distraction and I’d say temporary loss of some vision for the defense to recognize where the back was.” 


“Coach Landry’s idea probably was to keep those [formations] from being recognized until as late as possible by the defense and force the defense to communicate. But that line up and down was a little bit of a distraction – not distraction, but it just blocked the vision a little bit of the linebackers from recognizing exactly where everybody was until they went back down. They go on some quick counts, so it would force you to declare if you were going to do anything because they might snap it with everybody in a two-point stance, but most of the time they were up and down, and it gave the quarterback a little bit more time to watch the defense and see where they were going to go.”

“[I]t was a pretty complex scheme, so if you weren’t well versed in it, that’s not the kind of thing you just pick up and say, ‘Oh gee that looks good – why don’t we start running some of that?’ I think you’ve got to really know it and know all of the nuances to it and understand how it all fits together.”

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Bill Belichick and Tom Landry wrote this entry. Neither is on twitface.

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