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The XFL’s Roughnecks offer a glimpse of the Lashlee offense

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June Jones’ Run & Shoot shares many principles with the Air Raid offense

St. Louis BattleHawks v Houston Roughnecks Photo by Thomas Campbell/XFL via Getty Images

Unlike Hal Mumme and the Air raid, June Jones didn’t invent the Run & Shoot offense. However, Mumme’s Air Raid and Jones’ Run & Shoot were both influenced and created by, respectively, the genius of Mouse Davis. Jones will coach the Houston offense in the XFL Saturday, February 22nd at 2pm eastern time on ABC. Hal Mumme’s Air Raid (click here for more info) will be on the 22nd as well, at 5pm eastern on FOX.

Jones and Davis met when Jones played quarterback for Davis at Portland State in 1975 and 1976. Over two seasons Jones threw 50 touchdown passes in an era where Rice QB Tommy Kramer (future Minnesota Vikings All-Pro QB) threw 37 career touchdowns as a four year starter. Even BYU’s Gifford Nielsen only threw 56 touchdowns in three years and the LaVell Edwards offense was the blueprint for the Air Raid offense.

If you don’t remember June Jones, he was the quarterbacks coach of the Houston Oilers under then head coach Jerry Glanville (now the defensive coordinator of the XFL’s Tampa Vipers) and working with Warren Moon. Eventually Jones brought his Run & Shoot to the Atlanta Falcons as both O.C. and head coach. After his stint in the NFL, Jones eventually turns up at Hawaii and coached there from 1999-2007.

While at Hawaii, Jones’ Run & Shoot produced a number of big stat QB’s like Timmy Chang who threw for over 17,000 yards and 117 touchdowns; Colt Brennan who threw for over 14,000 yards and 131 touchdowns in only three seasons; and current Washington State head football coach Nick Rolovich who tossed 34 touchdowns as a senior.

The most famous Run & Shoot QB is definitely Warren Moon from his days with the Houston Oilers. However, in college football lore, it might be David Klingler the former Houston Cougars quarterback. Klingler threw 11 touchdowns in a single game back in 1990, 716 yards once in a single game, 91 career touchdowns while at Houston, and caught one serious beat down by the Miami Hurricanes in 1991.

Some of the Run & Shoot’s most well known moments are beat downs. For instance, Buddy Ryan going full Stone Cold Steve Austin on Kevin Gilbride (current Head Coach of the XFL’s NY Guardians, do we all see a pattern here?) while both were coaching together with the Oilers.

The other is the Miami Hurricanes absolute destruction of the Run & Shoot and David Klingler’s Heisman Trophy campaign in 1991. The Baltimore Sun took every shot they could at Miami but in the end had to admit the Run & Shoot died on the table in ‘91. The Chicago Tribune was more favorable towards the Hurricanes in their write up, and of course it was one of SOTU’s “Games We Love” from the 2018 off-season.


Formations and personnel

The Run & Shoot will remind ‘Canes fans of Dennis Erickson’s offense from the late 80’s and early 90’s. The BYU, R&S, and Air Raid guys were all friends back when Erickson was coaching at Idaho and Wazzu. Unlike those old Miami teams, the Roughnecks don’t have a tight end listed on the roster. Erickson loved the tight end as Rob Chudzinski and Coleman Bell weren’t featured parts of the offense but played vital roles for Erickson and will for Lashlee, too.

Expect to see a lot of trips formation and bunched receivers in the Run & Shoot with Coach Jones calling plays. That’s a staple for concepts like smash, flood and mesh in order to force defensive backs to switch their responsibilities.

Philosophy

But a similarity you will see is in the choice and option routes granted to the receivers. Smart Football discusses the Choice concept on his blog, and the option route idea is a thing of beauty and Air Raid staple. I’ve written a ton about “6” here from the Air Raid offense but the beauty of 6 isn’t just that it’s a four verticals concept. It’s that each route has an option, and the QB can “tag” whatever he wants all over the field.

“6”

“6” + tags

Uncovered

Another R&S staple is the idea of uncovered receivers. If a receiver is uncovered, especially a slot, they will get a now throw. Klingler attempted this against Miami and Jessie Armstead had other ideas back in ‘91. But every team doesn’t have an Armstead-Barrow-Smith trio at linebacker that can shut down the “uncovered” slot.

Deep ball

Of course the big play is going to be a staple of the Jones-Walker relationship and Lashlee-King. Miami is supposed to have the speed from Mike Harley, Dee Wiggins and Mark Pope to do it, too.

Scramble drill

A staple of R&S and Air Raid offenses is a practice drill called the scramble drill. In the scramble drill the QB starts to move around the pocket and the receivers have to break off their routes, come back to the ball, and find space while on the move. In the GIF below you can see Mesh (92 when listening to Hal Mumme on XFL games) turn into a scramble drill.


Concepts

On the flood concept below, Walker, uses his legs to get more time and hits his receiver in the corner of the end zone. Expect similar play and results from D’Eriq King in the Lashlee offense. Former Tempe QB PJ Walker might be a great test case for King in the Miami offense as he’s mobile, accurate, and just seems to make play after play.

Below, Walker uses his legs again and works a half roll to hit his receiver in the middle of the end zone. I love how it’s not the typical jump ball fade (read about my disdain here) but instead a slant over the middle.

Hitting the double slant with an arrow or swing route is a Lashlee staple, too. I even wrote about it when I dissected Lashlee’s offense (read that here).


The Wrap

If you don’t enjoy watching PJ Walker play you won’t like King’s style, either. If you don’t like watching June Jones R&S offense at 2pm, and Hal Mumme’s Air Raid at 5pm, you shouldn’t turn on Hurricanes games this fall. Rhett Lashlee is a nice mix of the two schemes as the two schemes have also become a nice mix of each other. LaVell Edwards is smiling down on football everywhere this afternoon.

Walker’s highlights from Week 1 of the XFL

King’s highlights 2018