Spread Option

The Spread Option is an offensive set featuring varying numbers of running backs, tight ends and receivers to go along with the typical five offensive lineman and a quarterback in the gun.

The diagram below illustrates how the players might be aligned. Note: The receiver alignment varies greatly in the spread, but the base often includes some form of a 2×2 or 3×1 set.


While there are some variations, the typical alignment of players for the Spread Option are:

  1. Offensive Lineman – Offensive lineman in the Spread Option usually take a wide split of 3 or more yards.
  2. Wide and Slot Receivers – The receivers in the Spread Gun align in just about every conceivable position. Most commonly coaches will use either a 2×2 or 3×1 set. Usually 2 of the receivers align wide, outside the numbers, while the remaining receivers align in various slot positions depending on the play call, blocking scheme, or route combination.
  3. Quarterback – In a shot-gun alignment, 4-5 yards behind the center.
  4. Tail Back – The Tail Back will align to the left or right of the quarterback and will vary his depth according to the play call. In some cases, Spread Option teams use two backs. More commonly, however, teams put slot receivers in motion to effectively become running backs for certain plays.

The Spread Option offense is a derivative of pass heavy Run-and-Shoot formations that feature 3 or more wide receivers. It uses the same isolation principles found in other option offenses, however, it seeks to spread the defense even more horizontally and will usually put the ball in the air more than other option offenses. Teams can run any variation of the option. The most common being the double option Zone Read. The Spread Option offense is now more complex with various motion techniques and formations allowing teams to run triple and quad options.

Spread Option teams also commonly use other formations in certain situations to either gain a numbers or leverage advantage over the defensive scheme they are facing. Slot Receivers, and Split End’s are sometimes replaced with a Tight End or Tail Back. Take a look at some of the other Spread Gun formations and see what Spread Gun coaches run.

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