The Creators of the Air Raid Offense
The guys who created the Air Raid Offense.

Are you ready to take your football team’s offense to the next level? Look no further than the Air Raid Offense – a system that has revolutionized the game and left defenses scrambling to keep up.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll dive deep into the formations, plays, and philosophy behind this explosive passing attack, giving you all the tools you need to install it for your football program.

The Air Raid Offense Mindset

If this video about the Air Raid doesn’t get you excited then please leave this site.

Before we get into the X’s and O’s, let’s talk about the mentality behind the Air Raid offense. This offense is all about aggression, tempo, throwing the ball quick to people who can run, and putting constant pressure on the defense. It’s a “pass first, ask questions later” kind of approach that requires a certain level of fearlessness and innovation.

As a coach, you’ve got to be willing to buck tradition and embrace a new way of thinking. The Air Raid isn’t about establishing the run or grinding out the clock – it’s about spreading the field, getting the ball into your playmakers’ hands, and lighting up the scoreboard.

If you can get your team to buy into this mindset and trust the system, the results will speak for themselves.

Air Raid Offense – Personnel

To run the Air Raid effectively, you need the right personnel on the field. This offense typically features:

  • 1 Quarterback
  • 4 Wide Receivers
  • 1 Running Back
  • 5 Offensive Linemen

The key here is to have a QB with a quick release, good decision-making skills, and the ability to spread the ball around. Your receivers need to be athletic, have reliable hands, and be able to create separation. And your O-line? They’ve got to be agile enough to handle those wide splits and give your QB time to sling it.

Air Raid Offense – Formations

One of the hallmarks of the Air Raid Offense is its use of spread formations. By aligning your receivers from sideline to sideline, you force the defense to cover the entire field, creating mismatches and opening up passing lanes.

Here are a few of the most common Air Raid formations:

  1. Ace (2 x 2) – this formation features two receivers on each side of the field. This balanced look makes it tough for the defense to cheat to one side or the other.
  2. Early/Late (3 x 1) – this formation features three receivers to one side of the field and a solo receiver to the other side. The Running Back’s alignment depends on the play that is currently being ran.
  3. Green/Blue (2 x 1) – this formation is two Running Backs in the backfield, two receivers to one side of the field, and a solo receiver to the other side.
  4. Empty (4 x 1 or 3 x 2) – this formation has no Running Backs in the backfield. Instead, all five eligible receivers are lined up as wide receivers, forcing the defense to spread out and cover everyone.

By mastering these formations and learning how to attack defenses from each one, you’ll be well on your way to Air Raid domination.

The CORE Air Raid Offensive Plays

The Core Run Plays for the Air Raid Offense

Now that you’ve got your personnel and formations in place, it’s time to dive into the heart of the Air Raid: the plays themselves.

While there are countless variations and wrinkles you can add, here are some of the core concepts that every Air Raid coach should have in their playbook:

  • Mesh – The Mesh concept is a classic Air Raid play that creates a “pick your poison” scenario for the defense. Two receivers run drag routes over the middle, settling up if the defense is in zone or keep going if the defense is in man.

With all that traffic in the middle of the field, defenders often get lost in the shuffle, leaving someone wide open for an easy completion.

  • Four Verticals – As the name suggests, Four Verticals sends all four receivers streaking down the field, stretching the defense vertically. This puts immense pressure on the safeties and forces them to make tough choices.

If they bite on the inside routes, the outside receivers will be open for big plays. If they stay back, the QB can hit the seams or check down to the RB.

(Or if you give your wide receivers the option – they can turn their vertical routes into comebacks.)

  • Y-Cross – The Y-Cross is a versatile play that can attack multiple levels of the defense. The key is the deep crossing route run by the Y receiver (usually the tight end or inside slot).

This route draws the attention of the safeties and linebackers, opening up space for the other receivers to work underneath or on the sidelines.

(NOTE: Y-Cross is my favorite out of all of the Air Raid Passing Concepts.)

  • Shallow Cross – The Shallow concept is all about getting the ball to your playmakers in space and letting them go to work. One receiver runs a shallow crossing route, while another runs a deeper dig or in route.

Meanwhile, the RB sneaks out into the flat, giving the QB a check down option if the initial reads aren’t there.

  • Stick – The Stick concept is a quick-hitting play that takes advantage of defensive mismatches. The outside receiver runs a MOR fade, while the inside receiver runs a 4-step hitch route. The last part of the play is the flat route by the running back. The quarterback reads the apex defender and throws opposite of him.

The idea is to create an ‘inside/outside’ read for the QB and put the defender in conflict. If they jump the stick route, then the flat will be open, and vice versa.

  • Corner – The Corner concept is a quick-hitting play that takes advantage of defenses trying to stop the stick concept. The outside receiver runs a ‘snag’ route, while the inside receiver runs a 4-step corner (aiming for the front or back of the pylons.) The running back runs the flat and the quarterback takes what the defense gives him.

The idea of Corner is to take advantage of defenses when they try to stop the Stick concept. (This is an example of ‘If/Then’ play calling.)

By mastering these core plays and learning how to run them from various formations, you’ll have a solid foundation for your Air Raid offense. But don’t be afraid to get creative and add your own tweaks and variations based on your personnel and opponents.

Air Raid Offensive Philosophy

At its core, the Air Raid philosophy is all about exploiting mismatches and attacking the defense where they’re weakest. This means using your formations and plays to create one-on-one matchups, overwhelm zones, and force defenders into making tough decisions.

One of the keys to this approach is tempo. By pushing the pace and not letting the defense catch their breath, you can keep them on their heels and prevent them from making substitutions or adjustments.

Going Fast In The Air Raid Offense Is Crucial!

Another important aspect of the Air Raid Offense philosophy is adaptability. While it’s important to have a core set of plays and concepts, you also need to be able to adjust on the fly based on what the defense is giving you. This means having a variety of tags, checks, and audibles in your back pocket.

For example, if you notice that the defense is playing soft coverage and giving you the short stuff, you might check into a quick screen or hitch route. Or if they’re blitzing heavily, you might call for max protection and take a shot downfield.

The key is to always be attacking and never let the defense dictate the terms of engagement. By staying aggressive and proactive, you can keep them guessing and on their toes.

Installing the Air Raid Offense

How to install the Air Raid Offense in 3 Days.

Of course, none of this matters if you can’t effectively install the Air Raid Offense with your team. This is where practice and preparation come into play.

One of the biggest challenges of the Air Raid Offense is getting your players to master the small amount of formations, plays, and adjustments.

A typical Air Raid practice might include:

  • Individual drills focused on route-running, ball skills, and footwork.
  • Installation periods where you walk through new plays and concepts.
  • “Skelly” or 7-on-7 sessions to work on timing and execution.
  • Team periods that emphasize tempo, communication, and decision-making.

The key is to break things down into small, manageable chunks and then build up to game speed. Don’t be afraid to spend extra time on the details, as they can make all the difference when it comes to executing on game day.

It’s also important to use a variety of teaching methods to reach all of your players. Some may learn best through visual aids like playbooks and film study, while others may prefer a more hands-on approach.

The Air Raid Quarterback

At the heart of any successful Air Raid offense is the quarterback. This is the player who makes everything go, and the demands on them are immense.

An Air Raid QB needs to have a unique blend of physical and mental skills. They must have a quick release, excellent footwork, and the ability to make accurate throws from a variety of arm angles.

But just as important as the physical tools are the mental ones. An Air Raid QB must be able to process information quickly, make split-second decisions, and keep their cool under pressure.

They also need to be a master of the playbook, able to check into the right play based on the defensive look and communicate clearly with their teammates.

In short, being an Air Raid QB is not for the faint of heart. It requires a special kind of player who is equal parts athlete, scholar, and leader.

Frequently Asked Air Raid Offense Questions

Can the Air Raid Offense work at the high school level?

Absolutely! In fact, many high school teams have had great success running the Air Raid. The key is to adapt the system to your personnel and skill level.

Do you need a mobile QB to run the Air Raid Offense?

While having a QB who can make plays with their legs is certainly a bonus, it’s not a requirement. The Air Raid is more about quick decision-making and accuracy than mobility.

How do you maintain a balanced offense while running the Air Raid Offense?

Balance in the Air Raid doesn’t mean a 50/50 split between runs and passes. Instead, it means being able to attack all parts of the field and keep the defense honest. This can be achieved through a mix of quick passes, screens, and the occasional draw or power run.

What if I don’t have the personnel to run a true Air Raid Offense?

The beauty of the Air Raid is that it can be adapted to fit your personnel. If you don’t have a prototypical Air Raid QB or a deep group of receivers, you can still use many of the core concepts and philosophies to enhance your offense.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, the Air Raid Offense is more than just a collection of plays or formations. It’s a mindset, a philosophy, and a way of approaching the game that can revolutionize your offense and take your team to new heights.

By embracing the Air Raid and all that it entails – the aggression, the tempo, the adaptability – you can create an offense that is almost impossible to defend.

But it all starts with you, the coach. You must be willing to break free from the shackles of tradition, to think outside the box, and to empower your players to do the same.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to join the Air Raid revolution and start lighting up scoreboards like never before!

Remember, as the great Mike Leach once said: “Swing your sword.” Attack, attack, attack, and never let up. That’s the Air Raid way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some game film to study and some new trick plays to draw up. The game is always evolving, and so must we.

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