Cincinnati’s Post-Handoff Jump Pass

While Tim Tebow may have been the guy who made famous the so-called “jump pass”: where a run-threat player runs towards the line on a run-action before raising up and tossing the ball to a (hopefully) wide open receiver. It’s an extreme form of a play-action “pop” pass over the middle, and with guys like Tebow in charge it had a single-wing twist.

And so the play has existed, largely as a novelty, for the past few years. Until this past weekend. Cincinnati ran the coolest spin on the jump pass that I’ve seen: they lined up in a tight I-formation, handed the ball to the deep I-back, who then threw the jump pass. And watch the tight-end: he kicks out the end man on the line of scrimmage before releasing — no, free releasing — to the middle of the field where he was wide open.

And watch the right guard, as Cincinnati really sells the play-action by pulling a lineman to fake the “Power-O” play.

Great play and call.

  • AP

    LSU actually tried that same play earlier this year, but failed. It was @ UF and near the goal line on a 3rd down I think.

  • Chase_Stuart

    Great post and breakdown. That is a very cool play and looks much more effective to me than say, the typical halfback pass. By not running a toss, it is easier to sell the play as a run.

  • smartfootball

    I agree, though down and distance makes a difference. The traditional halfback pass is essentially a way of optioning off of the support defender (depending on who it is), who is typically an outside secondary guy like the strong safety. This one attacks the middle of the field, and on most downs either the weak safety (on most coverages) or a corner (maybe in quarters), no matter what the coverage, is probably going to be deep even if it is a run until the ballcarrier crosses the line. But since this was a short yardage deal and a compressed formation, was the perfect call.

  • The crazy thing about this play is that from the moment Cincinnati lined up it was obvious something was up. I am a UC fan and In three years of Butch Jones the Bearcats have gone under center maybe three times. There was simply no way Syracuse would have any idea what was coming. All they knew was that this was way out of the norms for the Bearcats offense.

  • Kansas State tried this as well in the game against Texas Tech. Similar goal-line situation, and the play got completely blown up. At the 1:03:45 mark of this video.

  • Matthew Heuett

    The jump pass was made famous well before Tebow was even born. It was a
    favorite trick play of the Bears back in the early 30s when they had
    Bronko Nagurski as their fullback.

    From The Illustrated History of Pro Football by Robert Smith:

    effectiveness was doubled by a rule change that the professionals
    adopted in 1933. This season the pros permitted a back to pass the
    football forward from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. (Before
    that he always had to be five yards behind the line.) This rule allowed
    the Big Bronk to come charging at the line (where terrified defensive
    men would hastily stack up to meet him) then stop in his tracks and flip
    a pass to a receiver just a few yards beyond. Bronko used to jump into
    the air as he tossed his short passes, enabling him to get the ball
    over the heads and hands of the crowding defensive players.”

  • smartfootball

    I never said he invented it, but there’s no question that he made it famous — for a new generation, if nothing else. I have no doubts that aspects of this have been used since the forward pass was legal.

  • Fair enough, I can get behind that sentiment. I’d bet the Nagurski jump pass from the Bears’ stodgy old T formation probably looked pretty similar to Cincinnati’s I formation variant.

    And hey, I apologize if I came across as being confrontational in my first post, because that wasn’t my intent. I’ve been reading your stuff for years, and this time around I happened to remember that passage and figured you might find it interesting.


    Play doesn’t work without him.