ITP Glossary: Bunch Formation

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From off man coverage to scramble drill, 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 and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Bunch Formation

Bunch formation is three or more receivers on the same side of an offensive formation, clumped closely together along the line of scrimmage. Potential advantages of a bunch formation include picking off defenders by using crossing routes, and the creation of personnel mismatches in speed, size or skill through forced switches of defensive assignments on receivers.

Below, the Baltimore Ravens are using a receiver and two tight ends in a tight split to the right side of the formation:  NFLPreview3RavensPlay3Still1

Here, three Carolina Panthers wide receivers bunch on the left in slot formation:NFLPreview2KCPlay2Still1

The Oregon Ducks offense lines up in a bunch formation wide to the right:CFBReview2Play1Still1

Prior to the snap, wide receiver Charles Nelson (#6) leaves his QB’s side and comes in motion toward the bunch. Oregon is showing a screen on this play but they are really running switch vertical routes ‒ trying to bait the defensive backs into flowing forward on the screen action:CFBReview2Play1Still2

The inside trips receiver (Devon Allen – #13) swings into the backfield as the screen receiver. The other two WRs, Bralon Addison (#2) and Dwayne Stanford (#88) pause at the snap to simulate blocks, then break on vertical routes aiming inside. Nelson stops his motion just inside Allen, then swings to the outside and deep along the sideline on a vertical route. This play works at the outset.

The defense is in Cover 1, and as the players switch responsibilities on the screen/switch verticals from Oregon, cornerback Jermaine Edmondson gets sucked in a few steps toward Allen, allowing Nelson to gain separation on the outside. But the single-high safety is senior R.J. Williamson, and the veteran plays this perfectly ‒ gaining depth as the play develops, putting him in perfect position for the interception:

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Pressure off the edge played a role as well. Defensive tackle Craig Evans (#72) uses a bull-rush to force Adams to step up in the pocket and away from the intended target, making this a more difficult throw to execute.

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

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