HB Lead Toss uses the strong side of the Spades formation to full advantage in the running game, working especially effectively against man defenses which crowd in tight and do not leave a defensive back out in the flats/curl zone area. The offensive line uses straight-ahead blocking, which including the tight end is usually able to block off the entire defensive line. The fullback has a short trip around the left end to take on the linebacker, sealing the core of the defense to the inside and springing the halfback to sprint freely to the outside.
While great vs. man, HB Lead Toss is not so effective against zone, unless you're a great inside cutback runner. Don't let this discourage you because this play will earn long gains when used in the right situations. You may have to be a bit of a gambler, but what good offensive coordinator isn't? Also keep in mind that with the particular balancing act of Spades, each play you run can be very valuable in setting up later plays. After you bust off a big run or two to the left side a smart opponent will shift into zone or manually adjust players to stop it from happening again. A couple more runs, even for only minimal gains, will provide a perfect setup for a pass to the right side.
|O-Line, TE, SE and Flanker||Run Block|
|QB||Pitch to RB|
|FB||Lead Far Left|
|RB||Receive Pitch - Sweep Left|
See the Madden Playbook Guide for a description of these symbols.
As mentioned above, HB Lead Toss is at its best when the defense plays full man-to-man coverage, leaving no defenders outside of the TE on the left side. As long as the FB gets in position to lock quickly and the O-line does an adequate job against the D-line, the RB will have wide open spaces to work with. Just run at a 45 degree angle until you get close to a defender or the sideline, then work the juke, spin or stiff arm moves.
The story is a little different against zone or partial zone defenses. In this situation the defense will be balanced across both sides of the field, with probably both a corner back and outside linebacker in position to cut off a quick run to the outside. In this case the FB will probably take an outside defender. At this point you have to make a snap assessment and decide whether there is room between the FB ant TE to just turn upfield a bit earlier than planned, or whether the defense has overplayed the run to the outside in which case a cutback to the middle is your best bet. I won't pull any punches here, if the defense has the left side covered they've already won half the battle towards stopping this play, so you may have to just take what you can get.
- Great running play that can break easy, long runs against man defenses
- Strong side TE and lead block by FB ensure maximum blocking power in front of the RB
- Great setup for passing plays by forcing defenses to cover the left side even though no receivers line up there
- Zone defenses will force the RB to cut back to the inside for shorter gains
- Because it relies on strategic play calling as much as execution it may not suitable for use several times per game
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