double wing offense

Double Wing Offense: A Complete Guide

Don Markham created the double wing offense in the 1970s. He ran it with his high school, and they posted a 309-110-1 record. His Bloomington High School also surpassed the national scoring record by recording 880 points in 14 games. 

For over 50 years, the double wing offense has been destroying defenses, scoring touchdowns, and winning championships. 

So what’s a double wing offense? A double wing offense is a variation of the single wing offense.  It uses zero line limits, two wingbacks, two tight ends, a quarterback, and a fullback. This ensures that a team attacks in numbers. Teams that want to run short, wide patterns use it to work the opponent.

In a double wing offense, the quarterback will hand off to the running back and immediately look for an option downfield. The quarterback can hand off to any eligible receiver in the pattern, or pass the ball immediately after he receives it from his running back.

You should learn about the double-wing offense, whether you’re a coach looking for new skills or just a fan ready to know more about the game.

What Is Double Wing Offense?

The double-wing offense is a form of attack that works by misdirection and dismantling the opposing defense. Double-wing offenses feature two tight ends, two wing-backs, the quarterback, and the fullback. As a result, the positions are more balanced in double-wing offense formation.

The double-wing offense is common in youth football, but professional footballers also use it. 

The double-wing offense uses different types of play to confuse the opponent’s defense and give you the upper hand. 

If your team likes to make heavy runs and short yardage, then the double-wing offense will be suitable and will benefit you.

The two tight ends form the basis of the alignment. They stand foot-to-foot. The quarterback and fullback follow the quarterback as closely as possible. Wingbacks, also known as running wingbacks, occupy both wings. On the same note, you also have two tackles, a center, and two guards.

player holding the football tightly with both hands


  • Counter runs
  • Strong attack
  • Power running
  • Easy formation
  • Multiple blocks
  • Great wedge play
  • An ideal power play
  • Numerous types of play
  • Outstanding play passes
  • Misdirects the opponent
  • Full use of the wingbacks


  • You need many blockers 
  • Sometimes it’s predictable
  • It’s pretty difficult to pull through
  • You must have a fast offensive line
  • You need multiple long ball carriers 
  • It can be difficult to make key breakers
  • It may not work if the opponent has mastered how to defend it

Double Wing Offense Formation

The double wing offense involves multiple plays like:

Play action passes: You may also refer to play action passes as play fakes or play action passes. It’s the complete opposite of draw-play. During this formation, the opponent may think that the team is making a running play, but it actually becomes a pass play before they’re aware of it.

The FB Trap: This is a fullback trap where a team creates enough space for the quarterback to simply turn and pass the ball to the fullback without taking any backward steps.

Other double-wing offense formations:

  • WB counter
  • TE pop pass
  • Double Reverse
  • Toss power drive
  • 40 gut wedge counter

When Should Double-Wing Offenses Be Used?

The best time to use the double-wing offense is if you have a strong offensive line. You’ll need a sharp center who’ll snap the ball and put it in play.

player in red jersey playing on the football  field

Second, you’ll need two tower guards to protect the center. Finally, you’ll need two guards to flank the guards.

You can use the double-wing offense if you have two tackles and a tight end on the offensive line.

If you’re a youth or high school team, you can make the double wing offense your to go to offense since most high school teams have multiple players who are good with the ball.

On the same note, if you have many talented ball carriers on your team, then the double-wing offense is a good fit.

This offense will also work for you if you have a quarterback that doesn’t know how to make perfect reads. Thanks to the straightforward blocking assignments, the quarterback doesn’t have to make many reads on the field.

The double wing offense is also popular with teams with fast quarterbacks who have a tendency to have their way with the ball.

Another way you can use the offense goal is to confuse and make defenses lose balance. This is because the double wing offense involves a lot of misdirected plays.

In the event that you don’t have a natural pocket-passing quarterback, the double-wing option may be suitable. A natural pocket passer is good but not necessary in a double wing offense.

When Should the Double-Wing Offense Not Be Used?

You shouldn’t use the double wing offense if your team doesn’t have enough tight ends to block your opponent.

Also, if you don’t have great ball carriers, you shouldn’t use double-wing offense. This is because it involves frequent play-action passes and counters from the wingback, which all require someone who is proficient with the ball. 

It’s not advisable to use this offense if you don’t have multiple players who can defend the backfield.

Similarly, if your offensive linemen aren’t fast on their feet, we don’t recommend the double-wing offense. The double wing offense requires an offensive line that’s adept on its feet in order to take advantage of its strengths.

How Double-Wing Offense Works

The double-wing offense works by throwing a double team at the opponent during the attack. There are two tight ends, two wingbacks, a quarterback, and a fullback in this offense. 

woman's football team with ball carrier running

The double wing offense works by using zero splits to help the linemen cover less distance with their runs and to attack and block in great numbers.

Besides the personnel and diagonal formations, this offense also uses smart plays and formations such as play action passes, fullback trap, wingback counter, 40 gut wedge, toss power-dive, TE pop pass, and double reverse.

How Do You Defend a Double Wing Offense? 

You can easily defend the double wing offense if you have excellent defensive tackles. As a first step, avoid interfering too much with your defense since this may put you at risk of being exposed.

Since the double wing offense uses the spaces between the tackles and tight end, assign a player to guard these spaces.

In order to defend the double wing offense, you must get your defensive end right. You can achieve this by reminding your defense to block the off-track hole. In this way, they’ll handle the fullback whenever he attempts to make a move. 

Instruct the tight end to stand as close to the fullback as possible. It’s best if they stand too close so that they can feel the fullback’s inside shoulder. This is the best way to cover this hole.

Nose tackles are also effective against double-wing offenses. If you employ nose tackles, you’ll cover full wedge plays and disorientate the double wing offense strength plays like the counterattack and off-tackle toss play. 

This is because it completely gets rid of the second puller. If the opponent tries to attack your linebackers, tell them to come together to block the hole.

The double wing offense can be difficult to defend because Don Markham built it to tear defenses apart. However, if you do things right, you can still defend the double wing offense.


Is Double Wing a Good Offense?

The double wing offense is a popular offense for youth football teams and professional teams alike. Double wing offenses are effective for teams with outstanding ball carriers and strong defensive lines.

victorious team running with the football

What NFL Team Runs a Wing T Offense?

Cleveland Browns are famous for using the wing-T offensive strategy. It helped them to have all their starting players on the field at once. This formation helped them move the ball faster to their playmakers.

Who Invented the Double Wing Offense?

Don Markham invented the double wing offense in the 1970s. He used it with his high school team, who posted a 309-110-1 record.


That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the double wing offense! Hopefully, you now understand what the double wing offense is, its strengths and weaknesses, as well as its formations.

To summarize, the double-wing offense consists of two tight ends, two wingbacks, the quarterback, and the fullback. 

We have also explored when to use and when not to use the double wing offense. You can use it if you have a strong offensive line and multiple players who are good with the ball in your team. 

In addition, you have gained an understanding of how the double wing offense works and how to defend it. The best way to defend the double wing offense is by keeping your defense intact and blocking any off-track holes. 

We also addressed some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the double wing offense. I hope you found this article helpful. Let us know what you liked the most about the double wing offense in the comment section below. 

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