|The nickname refers to the four backs who roughly assume the shape of an open Umbrella, with the two Halfbacks shallow and wide and two Safety men deep and tight. Then, when we have a 6-1-4 formation, there is the backer-up to suggest the handle of a bumbershoot. |
In general, it is the role of the Umbrella to act as a sort of flexible basket and adjust itself to contain any attacking situation, by moving in one side or dropping back on the other, but always as a unit and never without interdependence.
To give another idea of variations on a basic formation, we use the umbrella most often in a 5-2-4 and work eight changes off it.
1. We can red-dog the backers-up through the line, with the Ends holding to protect the outside.
2. We can send in an End from one side and a backer-up from the other, with the backer-up on the end side sliding off to cover and the End on the backer-up side dropping a few yards to protect the vacated area.
3. We can send all seven linemen and backers-up charging in.
4. With a man in motion, we can wheel the Umbrella to pull three men onto the strong side. We do that depending on the quality of the opposition.
5. We may play Zone defense in the backfield, with backers-up dropping straight back watching out for hook passes.
6. We may play Man for Man in the backfield, with the backers-up covering the Fullback and one flat. To give that a minor change-of-pace variation we sometimes slide an end out to cover the flat, in lieu of the backer-up.
7. We may go into a 5-1-5, with a combination of some men man for man and others in zone defense.
8. We may go into a 6-1-4, to shift rapidly into a 4-3-4, with a combination of man for man and zone, if a pass develops after the snap.