In American football, a smashmouth offense is an offensive system that relies on a strong running game, where most of the plays run by the offense are handoffs to the fullback or tailback. It is a more traditional style of offense that often results in a higher time of possession by running the ball heavily. So-called "smash-mouth football" is often run out of the I-formation or wishbone formation, with tight ends and receivers used as blockers. Though the offense is run-oriented, pass opportunities can develop as defenses play close to the line. Play-action can be very effective for a run-oriented team.[citation needed]

"Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust"

This term describes run-heavy offenses such as those used by coach Woody Hayes of Ohio State University in the 1950s and 1960s. A grind-it-out ball control offense, it relies on time of possession utilizing a high percentage of inside running plays off of handoffs by the quarterback to advance the ball down the field. Hayes relied primarily on the fullback off-tackle play. A quarterback under Hayes would often throw fewer than 10 passes a game. Hayes is credited as saying "Three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad".[1]

Run to Daylight

The central two plays in this philosophy are off-tackle run and the so-called Packers sweep. In both plays, the offensive line would work to seal off a running lane for the back to use, and the running back would aim for this corridor rather than a specific pre-snap hole. In the off-tackle run, the quarterback would hand off (often to the fullback) who started running to the position between the tight end and tackle, but would aim for the best hole that developed. In the sweep, the two guards would pull to form the outside wall of the running lane, while the center and run side tackle would form the inside wall of the lane. The fullback would lead the path through the lane for the half back, who received a pitch from the quarterback.[citation needed]

College teams that used the Smashmouth offense

NFL teams that used the Smashmouth offense

Start End Team Head coach Offensive coordinator
1959 1967 Green Bay Packers Vince Lombardi
1969 1970 Washington Redskins Vince Lombardi
1977 1980 Dallas Cowboys Tom Landry Dan Reeves
1981 1992 Denver Broncos Dan Reeves Rod Dowhower, Mike Shanahan, Chan Gailey, and George Henshaw
1982 1992 Chicago Bears Mike Ditka Ed Hughes and Greg Landry
1986 1991 Minnesota Vikings Jerry Burns Bob Schnelker and Tom Moore
1993 1996 New York Giants Dan Reeves George Henshaw
1997 2003 Atlanta Falcons Dan Reeves George Sefcik and Pete Mangurian
1997 1999 New Orleans Saints Mike Ditka Danny Abramowicz
2005 2006 Jacksonville Jaguars Jack Del Rio Carl Smith
2008 2011 Miami Dolphins Tony Sparano Dan Henning and Brian Daboll
2009 2014 New York Jets Rex Ryan Brian Schottenheimer Tony Sparano and Marty Mornhinweg
2015 2016 Buffalo Bills Rex Ryan Greg Roman[a] and Anthony Lynn
2016 2017 Tennessee Titans Mike Mularkey Terry Robiskie[4]
2016 2019 Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett Scott Linehan
2019 present Baltimore Ravens John Harbaugh Greg Roman[a]
2019 present San Francisco 49ers Kyle Shanahan -



  1. ^ a b Roman's offense has also incorporated elements of the Option and Spread offenses, utilizing mobile quarterbacks such as Tyrod Taylor and Lamar Jackson.[2][3]


  1. ^ "Royal took Longhorns from oblivion to No. 1". buckeye extra. 9 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-10.
  2. ^ Kasinitz, Aaron (2019-01-12). "Baltimore Ravens OC Greg Roman by the numbers: How he fared in San Francisco, Buffalo". Archived from the original on 2019-06-22. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  3. ^ Gillis, Andrew (2019-11-25). "How Greg Roman turned the Ravens' offense into the talk of the NFL". NBC Sports Washington. Retrieved 2020-01-01.
  4. ^ "Titans' exotic smashmouth rated as one of NFL's best offensive schemes". Titans Wire. USA Today Sports. 2017-07-05. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  5. ^ "Pro Football Statistics and History |".