The Lombardi Sweep

May 18, 2017

When Vince Lombardi arrived in Green Bay in 1959, he brought with him the split back handoff sweep. He had used it extensively with the New York Giants where he served as offensive coordinator.  In New York he loved to hand it off to the multi talented Frank Gifford.  Gifford had speed and moves, and could also throw well.  Lombardi loved the halfback pass and always keep it in his play arsenal.  Just the threat of the halfback pass seemed to limit the defensive backs ability to come and and attack the sweep.

Lombardi decided to make the sweep his number one play.  He positioned his offensive players to run the play and ran it over and over against all defensive looks.  Coach Lombardi convinced the Packers that no one could stop them from running the play.  He taught the play with passion and his team responded by executing it to perfection.  When the defensive teams tired in the second half, Lombardi’s Packers would run the sweep and physically dominate them.  Their opponents knew that if they could not stop the Packer sweep, they could not win the game. They had to put extra time into defending the play just to be able to hold their own.

Lombardi’s philosophy of running one play to perfection was sound then and is today as well.  He had other complimentary plays and passes off the sweep which caused great problems for their opponents.  It is important to be known for something.  As a team, what is it that you do so well that causes concern for the other teams on your schedule?  What are you known for?  If you can’t answer that question, you might want to reconsider your philosophy.  Players are best when they are confident and they are confident when they are familiar with the play or defense.