Chip Kelly’s (Buck) Read Sweep

The Eagles Chip Kelly has taken the NFL by storm, bringing many exciting nuances and concepts to the league. One of these concepts is the Buck Sweep. Kelly’s Eagles run the Buck Sweep while reading an unblocked defensive lineman, making it more of a Read Sweep. Traditional buck sweep involves pulling both guards with the play side Tackle and Center blocking down, as pictured below:

Credit: Smart Football's "Does anyone still use Lombardi's Packer's Sweep"

Credit: Smart Football’s “Does anyone still use Lombardi’s Packer’s Sweep”

Kelly’s Eagles also pull multiple lineman, but primarily use the Center and play side Guard instead of both guards. Kelly’s read sweep leaves an unblocked defender as a read man and is often accompanied by arc motion going away from the play (like Lombardi’s Sweep). The play side Tackle blocks down, and the pullers work through to the second level:

Read Sweep

The unblocked read man is the 1-technique Defensive Tackle. He’s completely unblocked, but hesitates just enough to make himself a non-factor in the play. This is the beauty of the read element; it can block interior defensive lineman even with no QB run threat. The center and play side guard pull wide, attempting to stretch the defensive front 7 horizontally, while the play side Tackle blocks down. The frontside defenders over pursue the play, (#57 and #30) allowing the Running Back (#25 LeSean McCoy) to cut up field for a solid gain. Meanwhile, the backside guard and tackle execute an X-block (or cross block) which is helped by the arc motion from the Wide Receiver:

Kelly’s Read Sweep is versatile and changes the read man depending on the front. Below,  Dallas plays a 0-technique along with a 3 technique weak side and a 4i play side. The read man is the weak side 3-technique. The Eagles still pull the Center and play side Guard; the play goes for a huge gain because the play side Tackle crashes down hard and washes both the play side 3-technique and the 0-tech:


The read man is signified by the circled defender. Once again, leaving him unblocked allows the weak side Guard to climb to the second level and block a linebacker. The beauty of this scheme is that it is executed without any real run threat from the Quarterback:

Finally, the Read Sweep is executed below twice with the end man on the line of scrimmage “EMLOS” being the read man. Here, the Eagles don’t pull the Center and Guard when faced with a 0-technique. Instead, the play side Tackle pulls along with the play side Guard:

Again, the Eagles execute the Read Sweep with the EMLOS as the unblocked defender, this time with arc motion. They face a more traditional front from the Rams with man to man coverage (as opposed to against Washington or Dallas above) The Eagles are able to have the pulling Guard kick out the Defensive End and the pulling Center works through and up to the second level.


While the play can be quite effective without a true run threat at the Quarterback position, a dual threat QB can elevate the scheme to the next level and stretch a defense extremely thin horizontally. Below, the Eagles run the read sweep Week 1 of the 2013 season with the Center and play side Tackle pulling:

Overall, the Read Sweep is a variation on Buck Sweep that adjusts on the fly against different fronts. It allows lineman to get to second level, even without a true running threat from the QB. It also sets up other running plays by keeping unblocked defensive lineman slightly hesitant instead of attacking. The arc motion can also be incorporated to help the offensive line and hold either linebackers or LOS.


The Eagles had success in Week 1 with a variation of Buck/Read Sweep, or “Jab” sweep.  Jab sweep is similar in blocking scheme, but gives a mixed flow read to the Linebackers because the Running Back is on the same side as the direction of the play. This time, the QB doesn’t have a read, while the Running back takes a drop step to time up with the pulling lineman. Here, the pulling lineman are the play side Tackle and the Center:

Jab Sweep



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4 thoughts on “Chip Kelly’s (Buck) Read Sweep

  1. “Buck sweep” is a Wing-T play based around an inside run threat by the fullback (i.e., a “line buck”, as they were known c. 1920).

    Read Sweep, sure; power sweep, fine, Lombardi sweep, no problem — none of them involve an inside run fake. Just don’t call this “buck sweep”…

    • Great point. I agree the clips shown are actually a number of different plays. (Jab Sweep, Lombardi Sweep, etc) I’ve consolidated them for explanation purposes so someone who is new to the game will be able to recognize the general blocking scheme and learn. (Hence the “buck” in parenthesis) With respect to the inside run threat to be true buck sweep, I’d consider the Michael Vick clip a modern version of the buck sweep, where the Quarterback can act as the inside run threat.

      • The inside run threat (Wing-T Buck Trap) precedes the C/D gap threat of Wing-T Buck Sweep, forcing the defense to prioritize “A” gap defense first — and lest we forget, Buck Sweep a la Wing-T is not a hashes/numbers/sideline play by design.

        In short, I still have a problem calling any of these variations “buck sweep”, but that is probably because I am older than dirt…


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