A quarterback sneak in football is a running play in which the quarterback rushes the ball into the middle of the formation. Quarterback sneaks are primarily used in short-yardage situations.
On a quarterback sneak, the offensive team is usually going to bring out a personnel grouping full of blockers. These larger players have the goal of pushing back the defensive line in order to get the quarterback some easy yards.
On most rushing plays the ball carrier is going to have a predetermined hole or gap in the offensive line he is going to hit. The offensive line will then create this hole by blocking defenders.
This isn’t the case on a quarterback sneak, instead, the quarterback will simply try to move the ball forward any way that he can.
This way the offensive line will not worry about opening up a hole but rather just pushing the defensive line backwards.
When Is The Quarterback Sneak Used?
Since this play is almost exclusively used in short-yardage situations it is not required that the quarterback gains a large number of yards.
Instead, these plays are usually used when on the goal line or when in a third or fourth and one.
When within a yard or less of the goal line the quarterback sneak can be an effective play. The quarterback will first try to push into the offensive line to work his way into the endzone.
Alternatively, if the line doesn’t get him into the endzone the quarterback may reach for the goal line. This is done by reaching over the pile of players. Once the ball crosses the goal line the play is blown dead.
This is a somewhat risky play as the ball can be batted out of the quarterback’s hands. But since he only has to get it to the goal line to conclude the play it is less risky near the end zone.
Third and fourth and ones are another pair of situations that often see quarterback sneaks.
The reason this play is used is simply that it is the most effective way to gain a small amount of yardage.
This play will almost never go for more than five yards but its success rate for one yard is higher than almost every other play in football.
Benefits Of Quarterback Sneaks
Now that you know what a quarterback sneak is and when it’s used it’s time to break down what makes this play.
One of the reasons that this play is so successful in short-yardage is that there is an extra blocker. On most rushing plays the quarterback is going to hand off the ball and stand in the backfield.
If the quarterback himself is the ball carrier this means there is one more player on the field that can block for him.
This way the quarterback will have ten blockers in front of him to gain this short yardage. Defenses are not used to facing this many blockers at the line of scrimmage which makes this rush difficult to stop.
Fastest Way To The Line Of Scrimmage
Another reason that the QB sneak is a great play for short yardage is how fast the ball gets to the line of scrimmage.
On most rushing plays the quarterback will receive the snap and then hand the ball off to the running. This transition takes a second or two giving the defense a chance to get into the backfield.
On a qb sneak, the quarterback is going to receive the snap and rush the ball immediately. In most cases, the quarterback is going to be under center. This will allow him to receive the ball and rush it within milliseconds.
There is no faster way to get the ball back to the line of scrimmage than a quarterback sneak. This makes the odds of this play getting into the endzone much higher.