An empty set in football is an offensive formation that features no players in the backfield but the quarterback. This formation features five players lined up as potential receivers in place of the missing players in the backfield.
Empty sets are run when the offense wants to pass the ball. Since there are no players in the backfield there is no one for the quarterback to hand it off to.
By replacing backfield players with more receiving options this formation can cause trouble for a defense.
With five receiving options, the defense is going to have their hands full. Generally, offenses use two or three receivers in their formations.
Using four or five receivers in the empty set often means the defense is going to use a nickel or dime package in order to compensate for these receiving threats.
Benefits and detriments of the empty set
More passing options
One of the main benefits of the empty set in football is that it gives the quarterback plenty of players to throw to.
In man coverage one of the receivers should get open as the defense will be forced to put many players in one on one matchups. Between the five receivers, in the empty set it is likely that there will be a mistmatch that the offense can capitalize on.
Against zone defense this formation can overwhelm defenders looking to cover one area of the field. By running multiple players through a zone the defensive players can get spread and put out of position.
Utilizing these wide receiver numbers offenses can put a lot of pressure on a zone defense.
Two Minute Drill
Another benefit of the empty set is that it works great when looking to conserve time. The two minute drill is a great example of when an empty set can help you offense.
When looking to move the ball a long distance without burning too much time the offense will pass the ball. This is because incomplete passes and players travelling out of bounds stop the clock.
Using the empty set the quarterback will be able to move down the field while often stopping the clock between plays.
Having a few receivers run routes towards the sideline is one easy way that the empty set offense can help your team out in crunch time.
Showing your hand
One negative aspect of this formation is that the defense is likely going to know that you are passing the ball.
Though you are able to run the ball out of this formation it is quite uncommon. For this reason, the defense can make substitutions that allow them to effectively stop the passing attack.
Additionally, the defense can play call as if they know the offense is going to pass the ball. This makes the job of the defense a lot easier as they do not have to worry about run defense responsibilities on each play.
Lack of pass protection
One more detriment to the empty set is that there will not be extra players for pass protection. Oftentimes players in the backfield such as running backs and fullbacks will help protect the quarterback.
If a blitz is coming these players will often stay in the pocket and block any defenders that make it through the offensive line.
Without any players in the backfield it is up to the offensive line to contain them. This can make blitzes quite effective against this formation.
That’s all on the empty set learn about the jumbo package for more information on personnel groupings in American football.