Turn On The Jets Football School – Offensive Positions

In this week’s TOJ Football School, Joe Caporoso reviews the different positions on an offense

In this week’s Turn On The Jets Football School, we review the offensive positions and the letters commonly associated with them. Don’t miss our previous article where we covered the four vertical route concept…

It is worth noting that every offensive system is not identical. Some may categorize different offensive positions by different letters. This article is meant to provide an overview of common terminology and categorization used for further clarity when discussing different players and their role. Furthermore, receivers are becoming more interchangeable these days, frequently bouncing between multiple positions. For Jets fans, I refer to the 2010 team frequently as a point of reference as the players on that team had fairly clearly defined roles so they provide good examples.

X, Split End – The “weak side” receiver who is on the opposite side of the formation of the tight end who sets the strength of the set. This receiver is on the line of scrimmage and thus cannot go in motion. Traditionally, this is a bigger, more physical receiver who is capable of winning on routes outside the numbers. For a Jets fan point of reference, Braylon Edwards used to play this spot for the team in 2010. Last year, David Nelson was playing it a good amount prior to the Percy Harvin trade, at which point Eric Decker began to see more time there. It is reasonable to surmise that when he isn’t being used in the slot, Brandon Marshall will see most of reps at the X spot.

Z, Flanker – The “strong side” receiver who is on the same side of the formation as the tight end. This receiver is off the line of scrimmage and thus can go in motion prior to the snap. In a two receiver personnel group, he is frequently in the slot on the same side of the formation as the X. Traditionally, this is a more route versatile receiver who is quicker than the X. For a Jets fan point of reference, Santonio Holmes used to play this spot for the team in 2010. Last year, Eric Decker was seeing most of his reps here prior to the Percy Harvin trade. After the trade, he bounced between X, Z and slot more frequently. Harvin saw many reps here if he wasn’t being used out of the backfield. Decker could be back to seeing a good amount of reps here, along with Jeremy Kerley in certain formations.

Y, In-Line – The traditional, in-line tight end who is generally in a three-point stance off the tackle setting the strength of the formation. This Y is usually a strong blocker and a key component of a team’s running game. For a Jets fan point of reference, Ben Hartsock used to play this position for the team in 2010. Last year, Jeff Cumberland handled this role despite probably being miscast for it. The recently signed Kellen Davis is a traditional Y tight end and could push Cumberland for playing time there.

F, Move – Generally a more flexible, athletic tight end who can move around the formation, either as a slot, H-Back or fullback. This player will be off the line of scrimmage and utilized to create mismatches primarily in the passing game. For a Jets fan point of reference, Dustin Keller used to play this role for the team in 2010, while Jace Amaro primarily functioned in it last year and will hopefully see a bigger role in it going forward.

S, Slot – It gets a little trickier here. Some offenses just call this a “F” even when it is a wide receiver, instead of a tight end meaning there could be two “Fs” in certain formations. Some offenses letter it S, while others could use W or just classify it as a second “Z.” For our purposes, let’s refer to it as the “S,” for the traditional slot receiver role. For Jets fans point of reference, Jerricho Cotchery played this for the team in 2010 and last year Jeremy Kerley primarily played it, although Eric Decker and Percy Harvin began to take more reps there as the season went on. This will still be Kerley’s primarily role but Brandon Marshall could see a big chunk of his reps here as well.

One last note, a halfback is traditionally referred to as the A Back, while the fullback is the B Back.

In the images below, the X is circled in yellow, the Z is circled in red, the Y is circled in orange and the F or S is circled in blue. 

In the first play, David Nelson is the X on the outside, while Decker is the Z in the slot on the same side of the formation. Cumberland is at the Y, while Amaro is lined up at fullback as the “F.”

FINAL 3 JPG

On the second play, Zach Sudfeld is the Z while Cumberland is back again at Y. At the bottom of the screen, Decker is the X while Kerley is the F or S.

FINAL 2 JPG

Finally, we have Decker back at the X, with Cumberland still at the Y. Amaro is in the slot as the F, with Chris Owusu on the outside as the Z.

FINAL 1 JPG

I discussed this a bit further in our mid-season review of the Jets offense over on our YouTube channel.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports