To kill two birds with one stone, I will continue to elaborate on the topic of pass pattern adjustments that began with Spurrier and some other plays by discussing the three-verticals play, known as "787" or the corner/post/corner combination. This is a big-play pass play effective versus all coverages, primarily cover 2 man or zone.
In this play, here diagrammed from a base Pro-Set, the outside receivers will run post-corner routes, and the inside receiver, Y, will run a "middle-read" route, or "adjustable-8". The running backs will control the undercoverage with a shoot and a swing route. The outside receivers and the middle receiver have simple keys to help them adjust their routes based on the coverage and the leverage the defenders are using against them.
Below is some video of the Patriots running this play (though with tight splits for the receivers and flipped as I have it drawn up):
Keys for Outside Receivers
The outside receivers are going to read the "two Bs" we emphasize to them every day: Bail or Bump. In this case bail is any coverage with the defender off 7 yards or more as long as he takes his read steps backwards.
In this case the receiver will get a free release and will run a true post-corner route, as shown below. Beginning with the outside foot back, he will release vertical for 7 steps and should reach at least 10-12 yards. He will plant on his outside foot and break at a 45 degree angle to the post for three steps, looking back at the QB on the second. On his third step he will plant his inside foot hard, open his hips and break for the corner at a hard 45 degree angle.
As shown above, we teach that if the corner stays inside he will break hard for the near pylon. If the corner stays outside or quickly is back over top of him, he will drive his outside elbow and plant his outside foot flat to the LOS, and begin to come back for the football. If this happens he will catch it at 18-22 yards (this requires QBs without strong arms to have great timing). I will get back to the QB shortly, but the QB is instructed to "throw him open", and the receiver must get to the football, whether it is thrown upfield or back flat to the sideline.
Bump or Up Coverage
For bump coverage, the corner may employ several different techniques: he may align off and then step up (roll-up corner); play hard man inside or outside; or be in cover two, aligned outside and playing zone. Each is shown below:
Versus a roll-up corner, the receiver must abandon his vertical step-based stem and must instead stem inside to get proper leverage.
Against man he will abandon his steps and look for the quickest vertical release to a depth of 10-12 yards. The move at the top is the same, if abbreviated. He will sell the post, look at the QB, then break for the corner. If the receiver does not beat the bump coverage he will get back over top and push vertical.
Lastly, against a cover 2 corner, he will free release inside to a depth of 5-6 yards, then push to 10-12, stick his inside foot to the post to sell the safety, then break high to the corner. He will allow the QB's throw to get him to the open area.
The middle-read receiver will take the fastest vertical release he can. He does NOT want to get slowed by the second level players. He will get a pre-snap and a post-snap look at the middle of the field. If the middle of the field is open (MOFO - cover 2, 0) he will go for it. If it is closed (MOFC - 1, 3, 4) he will run a square-in route.
He will take the fastest release and push to a depth of 10-12. If he reads MOFO he will stick his outside foot and head for the nearest upright. He wants to catch the ball at 18-22 yards, and is expecting to get hit after he catches it.
If he reads MOFC he will plant hard at 10-12 and will stick his outside foot and make a 90 degree cut. If he reads zone he will try to make eye contact with the QB and find the window between the linebackers to catch the football. If he reads man he will burst and sprint away from his defender.
Undercoverage Control Routes
Here, they are RBs, but they can also be tight ends, wingbacks, H-backs, etc. They will run control routes. The shoot is a straight route to a depth of 3 yards, no wider than the numbers. The swing is a straight run out from their original position (5 yard depth) for 4-6 steps and then they will look over the inside shoulder. Will get no wider than the numbers and no deeper than the LOS.
QB Drop and Reads
This is a 5-step drop timing based play, so the offensive line must be able to hold their blocks. The QB will take a 5-step drop with a hitch step, keeping his eyes downfield.
His primary key is the weak safety. Even before he understands coverages he must be able to find the weak safety and watch his movement. On this play, if the weak safety goes weak (cover 2, or lines up as a middle safety and rotates weak) the QB will read strong (Z-1, Y-2, A-3). If the weak safety stays in the middle or rotates strong, then the QB will read weak (X-1, Y-2, B-3).
Notice the QB reads outside to in on this play. This is a timing route and the primary timing is between the QB and the corner route.
As shown above, once the QB determines which direction he is going it then becomes a strict progression read, where he actually is reading the receiver rather than the defender, looking for open grass. This is similar to my article on the all-curl route, where the QB keys the middle linebacker and then does a strict progression. This also helps with "throwing the receiver open", and has actually helped cut down interceptions, since the QB has a better idea of whether the receiver is actually "open" rather than the reaction of one particular defender.
Below are diagrams versus various coverages, with the W/S circled:
Note: The QB needs to be be able to identify Cover 4. Since the play is designed to attack Cover 2 zone and man, and is very effective at it, you can expect the D to try to catch you by playing Cover 4--where they outnumber your deep receivers--and force an interception. With the W/S staying weak it indicates to the QB to go strong, which is good, but overall he wants to find the best outside matchup. We hope the middle route can control the safeties a bit, and the hard post-corner move can still get the outside receiver open. Regardless, this is not my favorite call versus Cover 4.
And below is video of the play as used by the Airraid teams. Courtesy of "otowncoach."
Conclusion and Other Uses
Below is a quick diagram of the play from a one-back formation, and the route shown for play action from the I-formation. It matters little to your players what wrinkles you add to it, but, as per my article on personnel and formations, it can matter a lot to the defense. The idea is to get you doodling; it can be aplied to lots and lots of situations.
This is one of my favorite passes. It is extremely adaptable to many offenses, formations, personnel, and situations. Furthermore, it is an aggressive pass play but also is very precise and can be well protected. It is not just a heave or throw without purpose. It is part of a well-crafted, timing-based passing attack.