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Football 101: What's the difference between a Jet Sweep, an End Around and a Reverse?

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Do you know what grinds my gears? Listening to an NFL analyst call an end around a reverse. Or call a jet sweep an end around. I expect the talking heads to know what they're talking about, especially since they are paid handsomely to do so.

Jonathan Daniel

This is a Jet Sweep to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

I'll accept the term "Fly Sweep" for this as well. Some coaches refer to a Jet Sweep when it's given to the wide receiver that is in motion. Some call it a Fly Sweep when it's a hand-off to a wing-back out of a Wing-T or Double Wing offense. The Fly/Jet terminology could vary from coach to coach, but it's basically what you see in the above GIF.

The wide out runs in motion, parallel to the line of scrimmage. The quarterback takes the snap right before the wide out reaches him, he opens up and puts the ball in his receivers belly. He then fakes a hand-off to the running back going the opposite direction of the sweep.

The jet sweep can be run with the quarterback under center (like above), or with him in the shotgun or pistol. The only difference being in shotgun, the ball is snapped right before the motion man runs in front of the QB. He still gives the ball to the wide out, then fakes to the back running opposite the sweep.

Look at the GIF above. Chicago Bears tight end Dante Rosario swims over Green Bay outside linebacker Julius Peppers and heads right for the corner. Had Peppers not gone inside, but fought to maintain outside leverage, Rosario probably would have stayed with Pep.

Peppers was peeking inside, but the biggest reason this play worked was Green Bay safety, #21 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, allowed himself to get sucked inside. The Packers are a 3-4 team of defense, but presnap they were giving a 4-3 look, with Clinton-Dix playing at the linebacker level.

When I coached we faced a lot of this type of action and we taught our linebackers to cross-key, which is to key on the wing-back or wide out across and on the opposite side of the formation.

Since Jeffery was coming in motion to Clinton-Dix's side of the field he has to be aware of a potential hand-off. He wasn't and Chicago left tackle Jermon Bushrod cut him off.

This is a fake Jet Sweep then a hand-off to Matt Forte.

Since the jet sweep features a player running so fast down the line, it naturally draws defensive eyeballs to the his motion. All three Carolina linebackers flow to their right, as does the safety that comes flying into the GIF. This allows Matt Forte to have fewer defenders to his right, and if not for a good open field tackle, he would have picked up much more than just a 1st down.

This is a Reverse to Philly Brown.

A reverse is designed to get an entire defense flowing one way via a hand-off or a pitch, then have that ball carrier give the ball to a teammate that is running in the opposite direction. Two separate hand-offs or pitches is a clear cut way to identify a reverse. Hearing a commentator call an end around a reverse makes me want to write a very strongly worded letter.

A "double reverse" would be when a team runs a reverse, but then the 2nd ball carrier hands-off to a third ball carrier. Imagine if Philly Brown in the play above were to hand off to another Carolina player that is heading back in the other direction. Needless to say the double reverse is rarely run in the NFL. Defensive players are just too fast to expect such a long developing play to work.

For some reason analysts call an end around then a hand-off on a reverse a double reverse. Technically this is wrong. It's just a reverse. And to me it's like hearing nails on a chalk board. Here's a video from NFL.com incorrectly calling the play a double reverse.

Double reverse implies that a single reverse has been run, before the double portion of the reverse comes to fruition. In that NFL.com video an end around was the first portion of the play, not a reverse, therefore it can't be a double reverse.

I started searching for a GIF or a video clip to show a true double reverse, but kept stumbling upon numbskulls that were calling it something it wasn't and my blood pressure couldn't take any more idiocy.

This is an end around to Devin Hester.

It is not, I REPEAT NOT, a reverse.

Notice the fake hand-off to the Atlanta tailback to the right side of their line. That is designed to get the defense's eyes on him and to suck the player responsible for back side contain down the line of scrimmage. Now look at Tampa Bay's #57 Larry English. He's responsible for back side contain. Now imagine him saying "Oh $h!t!' as he realized he screwed up.

An end around is a hand off to a split end (often times, but not always. the Z receiver), or to a player lined up in the slot, or to a player flexed off the line of scrimmage as a wing.

This is an End Around gone awry

In this GIF, the Saints run a very similar play to the Hester one above. There are three differences however. One, quarterback Drew Brees reverse pivots before faking to his running back. This is a wasted movement and may even be a detriment to the play. If the point of running this play is to get the defense flowing towards the running back, then the quarterback should open up that same direction.

Two, the end around is a give to flexed tight end Josh Hill. New Orleans wants to show strength to their right, then hit the end around back to the weak side.

And three, New York outside linebacker Quinton Coples (#98) stays home to crush the play.

This is just one variation of a Fake End Around

The Bears have shown Alshon Jeffery on the end around since Marc Trestman took over in Chicago. The Packers know this and they were ready. Look at the Green Bay corner (#37 Sam Shields) at the top of the screen. He recognizes the end around so he follows Jeffery's motion. Shields has his own "Oh $h!t!" moment when he realizes Jeffery was just faking the end around before reversing field back to whence he came for the easy dump off pass.

As you can plainly see, the End Around is not a Reverse. The Jet Sweep is not an End Around. Please go out and share what you've learned with the world. When you hear an expert commentator incorrectly identifying one of these plays, tweet him, email him or write him a strongly worded letter.