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Joe Gibbs innovates his guts out

Hat tip to Extreme Skins for finding this Bucky Brooks H-Back mention. Full disclosure before we begin: I gave Bucky a really hard time this March for overusing the word "explosive" to describe draft prospects. I found his analysis at the time to be quite bland and uninformative. The small segment repeated below is much better, and I give due credit to Brooks for a job well done.

The H-back is replacing the Fullback on offense.
The conventional fullback has slowly been replaced by the H-back on offense. The H-back, a hybrid tight end/fullback, was originally brought to prominence by Joe Gibbs during his first tour of duty with the Washington Redskins in the 1980s. But more teams have been using the H-back as part of multiple tight end sets to keep defenses guessing.

Because an H-back lines up in the backfield or along the line and is used in motion, teams can show multiple formations without changing personnel. On one play, the H-back can line up in the backfield and be a lead blocker on power running plays. On the next, he can line up on the line and play the role of a conventional tight end as a blocker or receiver. But he generally is used as a motion player in the backfield. Regardless of where he lines up, the H-back's athleticism and receiving skills pose a major problem for defenses.

Washington's Chris Cooley is the perfect example of the modern H-back. He has the speed and athleticism to be a major threat in the passing game, but is also powerful enough to be an effective lead blocker on running plays. He allows the to present several different looks out of their base personnel group.

None of this is new to Redskins fans, and is repeated here only because it speaks to a narrative that I'm all too happy to support: that Joe Gibbs is a coaching genius responsible for changing the game more than most his peers. Brooks notes that the Colts changed from a 3 WR set to a 2 WR set w/ an H-Back, in response to Brandon Stokley going down to injury. They won the Super Bowl, by the way.

Another of Gibbs' widely adopted innovations is the two tight end set, which he used to combat Lawrence Taylor's freakish ability to get after opposing quarterbacks. Joe Theismann knows what I'm talking about.