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Why Did the Single Wing Offense Die Out?
At one time, the single wing attack resembled today’s spread attack. Invented by Pop Warner in 1907, it was the most common offense in its heyday. At one time, there were more teams running the Single Wing than there weren’t, at all levels of football. In the 1930s and 1940s, over 80% of College and Pro teams were running the Single Wing Offense.
Why do we see so few teams running the Single Wing Offense today?
Why is he dead?
There are many theories of which here are some of the most popular and logical:
With so many teams running the single wing, the “familiarity factor” made it easier to defend. Just like today, the first time you see anything like a 5 wide attack it takes you by surprise, but after playing 4-5 times with 5 wide teams it becomes much easier to defend. Imagine defending the same offense 8 out of 10 games for 20 consecutive years and training against it every day (assuming your team ran the single wing on offense). The familiarity factor would be quite high.
The peloton theory
The shift to two-platoon football resulted in specialization which in turn allowed “finesse” players to play the game at Quarterback and Wide Receiver. In the 1950s and before, most players played both ways. Even the great YA Title quarterback has played both ways, leading the NFL in interceptions while playing it safe. Title also excelled as a punter, playing special teams like most starters did at the time. Players of that era had to be tough, physical, and durable football players who had to excel in many facets of the game. Today, College and NFL players play one-sided and are highly specialized. Even today many teams from the Lycée huddle together. This specialization allows more time to be spent practicing complex offenses and developing less physically dominant players.
The sinking of the Titanic
The factor of the 1940 NFL title game. With the largest national audience ever, the Chicago Bears, using their new Straight T offense, defeated the Washington Redskins and Single Wing 73-0. This sonic beating on the national stage led many to believe that the Single Wing was as good as a slingshot in a gunfight, it was thought to be antiquated and “old fashioned”. Horse and buggy stuff from the days of air travel and indoor plumbing. This may have been the nail in the coffin of the Single Wing as many teams began to abandon the Single Wing for the next biggest thing, the T formation. Just like today, coaches are walkers , they jump on board with the next biggest thing that has captured their attention and the unsteady hearts of their fans.
Guardians of the Faith
Fortunately, the single wing never really died. There were college teams leading the Single Wing well into the 1960s. A number of highly successful high schools never stopped leading the offense, including Menominee Michigan’s Ken Hofer. The Maroons have led the Single Wing for 40 years and have made the playoffs in each of the past 13 seasons and have won 3 state titles with it in the past 9 years alone. Virginia’s Giles is another who has stayed with the wing for the past 20 years and has won 2 state titles in the past 6 years alone. There are a handful of high schools like this that have kept the offense alive with forward/back youth coaches where the offense has really started to catch fire over the past decade. Add to that what Urban Meyer has done with the single wing and you have a rush of coaches jumping back on the single wing bandwagon. There were 25 or more College Division I teams that ran at least one streak of single-wing plays in their offenses this season. Heck even the Miami Dolphins got in on the act with the Single Wing in their incredible turnaround this season.
Modern single wing
While today’s single wing still contains many of the basic principles of the 1940s single wing; Crushing at the point of attack, using angles and leverage, deception and great ball fakes, movement and great passing game action. The unique wing that many of us use today also includes new features such as: Jet or Fly Sweep series, Trap and Screen games, Mesh or Air Raid overrun concepts and much more.
Youth One-Wing Football
How wide is the single wing at youth level? Will the familiarity factor kill my chances of succeeding?
Our latest research with marketing executives from several very large companies and surveys of over 1,000 youth coaches tells us:
There are approximately 2,500,000 children playing youth football today.
Today there are approximately 120,000 youth football teams.
Around 2,400 of these youth teams lead the single wing attack.
So, we Single Wingers are still in the minority and the familiarity factor is still low, as around 2% of youth football teams run the Single Wing. But those who embrace the offense are increasing and will continue to increase with the advent of seeing it on television on Saturdays and Sundays. The same goes for the success that a number of our teams have had at the National Pop Warner Championships and other major tournaments. With so many teams having so much success with it at youth level, interest is bound to spike. But don’t worry, my teams always do well in the long run. We ran it for 11 seasons against a lot of the same teams and a lot of my competitors have bought my book, have my DVDs and come to this website daily. We have a tracking tool on the website that shows me which cities are visiting the website each day.
Junior soccer coach
The moral of the story is to expect to see more Single Wing Football wherever you are. But don’t worry we are still a minority they have yet to stop it and if you purchased the book you have the countermeasures at your fingertips for the most commonly used techniques and patterns to stop this offense .
One last thought: Are you curling up? Do your best players play both ways? Are you able to dedicate 5 days a week of training time to offense only, no defense or special teams? Boy, the youth play and dynamics seem to fit more into the mold of 1940s and 50s team constraints, don’t they?
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