Football Sweep Play

Football Sweep Play

What is a Sweep in Football?

A sweep in football is a rushing play in which the running back is given the ball and then rushes parallel to the line of scrimmage in either direction to the line towards the sideline. The ball can also be pitched to the running back while running in either direction.

The play gets the name from the sweeping arch the running back makes while running the route of the play. It is a fairly common play in most playbooks, but is most closely associated with the spread offense. There are variations of the sweep play that can be run. Popular variants include: the pitch sweep, the jet sweep, and the fly sweep.

Pitch Sweep

The pitch sweep is the second most common play of the sweep playbook. This particular play involves the quarterback behind the center and the running back in the backfield. The running back still runs in the sweeping motion, however, they receive the ball via pitch from the quarterback.

Jet Sweep and Fly Sweep

The jet sweep and fly sweep are both risky plays that usually involve a wide receiver carrying the ball rather than the running back. In these sets, the quarterback stands in the shotgun formation with the running back beside them. A third player, either a fullback or wide receiver, will rush parallel to the line of scrimmage and receive the ball from the quarterback after the snap, and continue rushing. These plays are very risky and can lead to big losses.