Football Spread Punt Formation
What Is a Spread Punt Formation in Football?
The spread punt formation is a special teams formation used when a team needs to punt the ball. The spread punt formation is the most popular punting formation in football at all levels, and it is widely used in the NFL.
The formation consists of positioning five linemen close to each other at the line of scrimmage, two tight ends to block the defense’s tackles, two punt gunners, one personal protector (who will either call a punt or a fake punt) positioned about five yards behind the line of scrimmage, and of course, a punter positioned around 10 yards behind the personal protector. Inside the spread punt formation, coaches can either set a man-on-man or zone blocking scheme, with the zone being the most popular one. The players in the linemen positions are sometimes linebackers and tight ends who, after serving as linemen, will look to attack the punt returner.
Pros of a Spread Punt Formation
If the formation is executed well, a punt will rarely be blocked, as there are eight players directly involved in protecting the punter. It is also easier to run a fake punt play with the spread formation, where the personal protector can run or pass the ball while tricking the defense into believing a punt is being kicked.
Cons of a Spread Punt Formation
One drawback of the spread punt is that, with this formation, punt returners tend to have longer returns. This is because the spread punt formation focuses on each lineman and linebacker blocking a specific defender, which leaves fewer players to cover the returner when they first catch the ball. Similarly, because the spread punt formation is a zone formation, where each offensive player covers one defender, it is vulnerable to an overwhelming blitz by the defense, which can open up gaps to the punter.