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Why Did the Single Wing Offense Die Out?
Once upon a time, the single wing offense was like today’s spread offense. Invented by Pop Warner in 1907, it was the most common crime in its heyday. There was once a time when there were more teams at every level of football running a single wing. In the 30s and 40s over 80% of college and pro teams ran single wing offenses.
Why do we see so few teams running single wing offenses today?
why did he die
Here are several theories that are more popular and logical:
With many teams running a single wing, the “familiar factor” made defending easier. Just like today, the first time you see something like a 5 wide offense you will be surprised but after playing a 5 wide team 4-5 times the defense becomes very easy. Imagine defending the same offense for 20 years in a row for 8 out of 10 games and practicing against it every day (assuming your team runs a single wing on offense). The recognition factor will be very high.
The move to two-platooning football led to specialization that allowed the “good” players to play the game at quarterback and wide receiver. In the 50s and earlier, most players played both ways. Even the great quarterback YA title played both ways, leading the NFL in interceptions played by a safety. Title also excelled as a punter, playing special teams as most starters did in those days. Players of those days had to be tough, physical, durable football players who excelled in many aspects of the game. Today’s college and NFL players play singles and are very special. Many high school teams still play platoon today. This specialization allows more practice time for complex offenses and the development of less physically dominant players.
Sinking of the Titanic
1940 NFL Title Game Factor. With the largest nationwide audience ever, the Chicago Bears, using their new-fangled Straight T offense, beat the Washington Redskins and Single Wing 73-0. This sound on the national stage led many to think that the single wing was as good as a gun sling, old and “old fashioned”. Horse and buggy luggage in the days of air travel and indoor plumbing. This was probably the nail in the single wing’s coffin, as many teams began abandoning the single wing for the next big thing, the T formation. Just like today, coaches are bandwagoners, jumping on board with the next biggest thing that catches their attention and the fickle hearts of their fans.
Fortunately the single wing never really died. In the 1960s, college teams were running the single wing. Many successful high schoolers never stopped running an offense, including Menominee Michigan’s Ken Hoffer. The Maroons have been running a single wing for the last 40 years and have been to the playoffs in each of the last 13 seasons and have won 3 state titles in the last 9 years. Giles from Virginia is another guy who has stuck with the wing for the last 20 years and has won 2 state titles in the last 6 years. There are a handful of high schools like this that have kept the offense alive with some forward/backward thinking young coaches where the offense has really caught fire in the last decade. Add in what Urban Meyer has done with the single wing and you have a stampede of trainers jumping back on the single wing bandwagon. 25 or more Division I college teams are playing at least one series of single wings in their offenses this season. Heck even the Miami Dolphins starred with a single wing in their surprising turnaround this season.
Modern day single wing
Today’s single wing has many of the main principals of the single wing of the 1940s; Powerful at the point of attack, using angles and leverage, deception and excellent ball fakes, motion and great play action passing. The single wing that many of us run today includes some new bolts such as: jet or fly sweep series, trap and screen games, mesh or air raid passing concepts and more.
Youth Single Wing Football
How widespread is the single wing at the youth level? Is the familiarity factor going to kill my chances of succeeding in it?
Our latest research of marketing executives from several large companies and surveys of more than 1,000 youth coaches tells us:
About 2,500,000 children are playing youth football today.
About 120,000 youth football teams exist today.
About 2,400 of them are youth teams running single wing offences.
So us single wingers are still in the minority and the familiarity factor is still low as only about 2% of youth football teams are running a single wing. But the takers of the offense are growing and will continue to grow with the advent of watching it on TV on both Saturday and Sunday. The same goes for the success many of our teams have had at the National Pop Warner National Championships and other major tournaments. With so many teams having so much success with it at the youth level, interest is sure to grow. But don’t worry about that, my teams have done consistently well for a long time. We’ve been running it against many of the same teams for 11 seasons and many of my competitors have bought my book, have my DVDs and come to this website daily. We have a tracking thing on the web site that shows me which cities hit the web site each day.
Training youth football
The moral of the story is to expect to see more single wing football wherever you are. But don’t worry, we are still in the minority, they still want to stop this and if you buy the book you are at your fingertips for the most commonly used techniques and schemes used to stop this crime.
One last thought: Do you do platooning? Do your best players play both ways? Can you spend 5 days a week practicing just on offense, not defense or special teams? Boy the youth game and dynamic fit more into the mold of the struggles teams had in the 40’s and 50’s, don’t they?
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