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Friday, August 26, 2005

The Shallow Cross and the Holy Trinity from Bunch

Making Passes Look Alike Part 2

As discussed in the last article, sending all your receivers vertically is often very difficult to pattern read for zone defenders, safeties, as well as the very disruptive rovers/floaters. However, any quick look at the football landscape reveals that many, many teams successfully use lots of shallow crosses and flat routes. Given the discussion and some doodling on paper this is a surprise. These routes are almost silly: aside from being simple to jump and wall off for many defenders, they often give away what the one or two vertically releasing receivers will do.

However, my point is not that these routes are irrelevant, yet teams should be careful how they use them and it is possible that they are overused. For example, many coaches teach the passing game based on the reaction of one defender. For example, on the curl/flat combination shown below, the coach will say that if the linebacker widens with the flat, throw the curl. However, if the defense wants to, it can always double cover the curl and cover the flat one on one and take it away.

So, briefly, why do teams run these types of routes? Of first importance is who they are run against; often it is linebackers and safeties, who are weaker pass defenders. Second, the throws themselves are often easier than other throws, which can require more timing and the ability to squeeze the ball between defenders--many of these throws are simply underneath defenders.

Third, structurally, they are easy to understand and often easy to read. While this is a fear if the defense is too good, again, simplicity often favors the offense. If I send a player immediately to the flat, then I can quickly see the defense's reaction. If I send two receivers vertical it is not apparent to the QB who the D will eventually leave uncovered.

Lastly, while they (usually) are poor at threatening vertically, they can still be packaged together to create rubs, picks, and mismatches. Whether in the traditional bunch set or simply a shoot route by a running back versus a slower linebacker, we can all envision circumstances that make them effective. Therefore these routes, often better than 3 or 4 vertically releasing receivers are good at causing the defense to put itself in a numbers bind (I.E. three defenders to cover two receivers or four defenders to cover three receivers. This is what can win football games from a strategy point of view.) The point of this article is to show some of the right ways to use them and some of the proper considerations.

I'll begin with the shallow cross series as I have run it, which has a few variations and has come under a few names, including the West Coast "drive" concept, or just shallow cross in mine. It is a simple inside-out read for the QB, who reads the shallow cross, to a curl or in-breaking route, to the flat (or sometimes a wheel route). Sometimes there are backside reads as well, but for now I will just show it with a post route and a backside flat to control the outside linebacker for the crossing receiver.

In the lower left is how Purdue runs the play, which is basically the same even if the techniques are slightly different.

However, no matter how you dress it up, the play does not exist in a vacuum. In my earlier article I talked about the same plays being run from multiple formations. Yet, the D cannot be totally fooled if every time one guy comes in, another pushes vertical, and another goes to the flat. It simply becomes recognition and reaction for the defense; in other words they can pattern read you.

Quickly, I'll show a few other combinations of routes that look similar. First, the now famous mesh/snag/triangle route:

And the follow/angle combination:

Shallow, snag, and follow (which is what I call them--insert Shakespeare's famous question here) form what I call the "Holy Trinity", which are imperative for any good passing team, particularly if you plan to use the bunch packages. Intuitively, you can see the advantage to using these together, but it becomes more apparent if I draw it first as what the stems look like on each play, and then as a branch of possibilities:

Since that looks a bit messy, here is each route individually:

The defense cannot pattern read anymore, because every play is like a kind of dynamic route tree. You've achieved the same equilibrium with these short routes as you had when all your receivers vertically released.

In this case you can still get double teamed, but they will be unable to jump the underneath routes for fear that a shallow may become a whip or that a shoot route may become a wheel or an angle route.


All this is part of making your offense cohesive. Again, no play exists in a vacuum. You do this for the same reason that you run draw plays or that you run your play action passes off of your favorite run plays instead of plays you don't even run. They keep the defense honest and make you difficult to defend. If I have five pass plays but they all look markedly different, I become easier to defend. If I can mix in all the formations, substitutions, and then, even if the defense accurately reads run or pass and can identify the receivers, yet still can't tell if there is a whip or a shallow coming, or a corner or a curl (or a post), then I have been successful.

It doesn't really matter how you integrate it into your system, whether they are separate plays or tags or whatnot, but the important thing is to make it difficult for the D and easy to teach. For the last two diagrams I will show you how Spurrier integrates this same idea into his two favorite pass plays (which, to add to the confusion, are built off his favorite run play, the lead draw).

First, Spurrier loves the curl/corner read play, which I discussed in this article and the common dig/post pass, shown below:

Laid on top of each other, it looks like this to the defense:

He's been doing this for years. Constant three way threats all around, the threat of multiple vertical receivers, including post and corner routes, are all staples of the Old Ball Coach's offense.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Making Pass Plays Look Alike

Pattern reading is one of the most crippling tactics a defense can employ against an unprepared or poorly organized pass offense. Even a successful passing team can suddenly find themselves unable to get anyone open. Think about what it is like trying to throw against your own defense when they all know your plays.

I was actually kidding: if your own defense can always identify what you're doing, then that is probably a sign that you need to rethink things. The issue is that as often as possible the defense should not know for sure where the receivers will wind up until the ball is actually thrown. This is done by making routes look alike.

The first thing is that your eligible receivers must learn how to explode off the ball and make every route look like they are going deep. If a receiver can explode and make the DB think he is going deep, and then has the skills to stop and change direction in two (or sometimes three) steps, then he can always get open versus one defender. Imagine a pass play with four (or five) vertically releasing receivers: each could go deep, stop, or go in or out at any time. Further, no single receiver can afford to be double teamed until the intentions of some of the other receivers have been given away, at which time the ball should already be thrown.

In fact, most 3-step drop passing games and many timing routes look just like this. Below are some diagrams of possible combinations and routes put together (some put together quite casually, not all are vouched for as great plays).

Drawing the route tree can be thought of as showing what it is like for a defensive back: he is backpedaling and he sees all the potential ways that receiver could go. However, if he can pattern read, even if he doesn't know with 100% probability what a receiver is going to do, if he can narrow it down to one or two things, then the offense is on a slippery slope downhill.

So, if defensive backs have a hard time pattern reading vertical releases, then what can they pattern read? Well, they read routes that immediately show where the receiver is going, as shown below:

I.E. Shallow crosses and flat and shoot routes. Or in other words: the bread and butter of many, many football teams' passing games.

Homer Smith wrote a few articles that very convincingly decimated the usefulness of some of these routes, particularly the flat route. You can threaten no more than one defender, who can always take it away. In the world of football strategy, this is not how you win football games. You win football games by isolating your players in one on one matchups that they can win and score against and occupying two defenders with one receiver, thereby creating those one on one matchups. Defenses will trade one for one every single time. Think about what bunching or stacking receivers is intended to do, or the multiple threats that tight ends and H-backs can present.

Moreover, these routes a) are easily covered or "squeezed" by the LBs, b) they usually signal exactly what the vertical releasing WRs are going to do (i.e. if the slot flies to the flat, then the corner knows he will only run a go or a curl, but will not run an out route), and c) does not threaten the deep coverage so the safeties can help double team the downfield receivers.

I used to be a bit more sceptical, but I think it is safe to say that the NFL, from a strategy standpoint, is obviously the most sophisticated football being played at any level. (Though certain strategies, such as many option football strategies, are deemed too risky because of injury to the quarterbacks.) There is simply so much more time, money, and experience at every level of the teams--from players to coaches to technical assistants, and there is too much incentive and reward for success for it not to be.

Thus, I think it would be a fair test to say that if these routes are as useless as they seem to be on paper under careful analysis, then someone would have realized this, whether explicitly removing them on purpose, or implicitly they would get phased out when they analyze piles of play results and use the most successful rotues and packages.

A quick scan of any NFL game will show you that lots and lots of shallow crosses and flat routes are being called, completed, and used successfully. While running the risk of asking the obvious (or simply making the simple complicated), but why?

The first, and probably most important reason, is that these routes are simply shorter and easier to complete than other quarterbacks. Most are less than 6 yards, compared with the vertical stem routes, which are 10-15 yards (at least) downfield, and, knowing that we can use the Pythagorean theorem to determine how far the pass actually needs to go, this could be a 15-25 yard difference between a 5 yard route and a 12 yard route. This is important both because of simple success rates, but also because football teams and quarterbacks are human, psychological beings, and I am a big believer in getting QBs established early with easy throws to get them comfortable.

Second, they do focus on the LBs and the undercoverage, who are often weaker defenders. This is a less strong reason because routes with vertical stems can and still do attack these underneath defenders, but there is no mistaking it with the shorter routes.

Lastly, while you do immediately lose deep threats from the route, you can still create new route trees off these pass releases, creating new uncertainty for defenders, which is what I will discuss in my next article.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Three-Verticals and Converting Pass Patterns

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.

Bail Technique

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.

Middle Route

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.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Risk and Return in Play Selection

Below is a chart describing the probability (based on a normal distribution) of gaining 10 yards in 3 plays, based on a particular play's expected gain/variance relationship (or three different plays with the same characteristics):

Chart courtesy of reader Brad Eccles.

You can muse on this for some time, but this is accounting for losses, as well. It shows the important relationship between risk and return but also demonstrates--looking at the steep slope for the results on the right hand side of the chart--that average or expected return has a huge effect, implying that higher return rather than conservative playcalling strategies are beneficial, even accounting for risks (standard deviation).

Quick caveats: This is highly abstract, and takes no account of down or distance or position on the field; what may have a low standard deviation or high return in one circumstance may not in another. Also, the standard deviation for higher returns may need to be higher than 20. I still am looking for a large enough set of data to analyze.

Lastly, and this is not a bad thing, is that the assumption of a normal distribution may be off, because I would imagine that returns for a football play are heavily skewed (i.e. in a single play it is more common to gain 30 or 40 yards than it is to lose 30 or 40 yards.). This may also work in the favor of aggressive playcalling, particularly if you can quantify turnover/field position risk.

Controlling the Ball With the Pass - Bill Walsh

Old article from 1979 but still a good one. From the Unofficial Westcoast Offense Site:

Emphasis below is mine--

Controlling the Ball With the Pass
former San Francisco 49ers and Stanford Cardinal

My philosophy has been to control the ball with the forward pass. To do that we have to have versatility-versatility in the action and types of passes thrown by the quarterback.

Dropback Passes

We like the dropback pass. We use a three-step drop pattern, but more often we will use a five-step drop pattern of timed patterns down the field. From there we go to a seven-step drop. When our quarterback takes a seven-step drop, he's allowing the receivers time to maneuver down the field. Therefore, we will use a three-step drop pattern when we are throwing a quickout or hitch or slant which, by and large, the defense is allowing you to complete by their alignment or by their coverage.

The five-step drop pattern for the quarterback calls for a disciplined pattern by the receiver. He runs that pattern the same way every time. He doesn't maneuver to beat the defensive back.

Too often in college football, either the quarterback is standing there waiting for the receiver, or the receiver has broken before the quarterback can throw the ball. These are the biggest flaws you will see in the forward pass. Now when the receiver breaks before the ball can be thrown, the defensive back can adjust to the receiver. Any time the quarterback holds the ball waiting for the receiver to break, the defensive back sees it and breaks on the receiver. So the time pattern is vital.

Play-Action Passes

You can't just dropback pass. You have to be able to keep the defense from zeroing in on your approach. That's why the play pass is vital. By and large, the play-action pass will score the touchdown. The dropback pass will control the ball.

For play-action passing, we have certain blocking fundamentals that we use. We will show different backfield actions with basically the same offensive line blocking. We will go to the play pass as often as we can, especially as we get to the opponent's 25-yard line.


In Scoring Territory

I have seen many teams march the ball beautifully, but right around the 15-yard line, they are already warming up their placekicker, because right at that point defenses change, the field they can operate in changes, and suddenly their basic offense goes all to pieces.

My contention is that if we are on their 25, we're going for the end zone. Failing at that, we will kick a field goal. In an evenly matched game, I don't want to try to take the ball from their 25 to the goal line by trying to smash it through people, because three out of four times, you won't make it. Unless you are superior. Of course, if you are vastly superior it makes very little difference how you do it.

Why? First, every defensive coach in the country is going to his blitzes about right there. The pass coverage, by and large, will be man-to-man coverage. We know that if they don't blitz one down, they're going to blitz the next down. Automatically. They'll seldom blitz twice in a row but they'll blitz every other down. If we go a series where there haven't been blitzes on the first two downs, here comes the safety blitz on the third down. So we are looking, at that point, to get into the end zone.

By the style of our football, we'll have somebody to get the ball to a little bit late-just as an outlet to get 4 or 5 yards, to try to keep it. But from the 25 to the 10, we're going for the end zone.


Short Yardage

We have standard passes to throw against a goalline defense. Too often people try to go in there and butt heads with good linebackers on the goal line. Too often they don't make it.

If we get inside that 5-yard line, half the time we are going to throw the ball. Now, if you're marching through somebody, you can just close your eyes and hand the ball off But when it's very competitive, that goal-line pass is vital. So we have a series of those. We never call them anywhere else on the field.

When we are around their 35-yard line in a short-yardage situation, if we don't see somebody standing deep down the middle, we're probably going to go for the six points.

To make it on third-and-1 we will often throw to a back out of the backfield. Third-and-3 is the toughest of all to make. We have a certain list of runs and a certain list of passes. When we have a third-and-3, we don't grope. We go to it.

Mini-Curl/Spacing Concept

A play that is gaining in popularity is the spacing/mini-curl. A simple route that happens quickly (especially important with protection becoming more and more difficult), Norm Chow at USC, the University of Michigan and many others have been using this play.

This description comes via Ted Seay, via the Chucknduck boards.

Coach: No film, but the following comes from Jody Ashby, on Coach [Andrew] Coverdale's staff at Newburgh Castle HS in Indiana:

Spacing - is the old curl/out route cut in half. So, think miniature post curl, arrow, and a sit route. You can make this look a ton of ways, but I'll give you the most basic way we would run it. Michigan does a lot of this (for your reference). Lets take a bunch formation, the outside receiver who is off the ball runs a miniature curl (4 yards vertical, skinny post to 7, drumroll and stick the toe in the ground, present your numbers to the quarterback, you will get some width on your initial steps to help create spacing), the middle receiver on the ball, runs the mini sit route (he should aim for the far shoulder of the "danger" defender, his depth should be @ 4-5 yards, he is the outlet), the inside receiver is off the ball and runs the arrow route (he should get width fast, aiming point would be 4-5 yards, but should emphasize width first, if he reaches the numbers and hasn't received the ball turn up).

The quarterback uses a big 3, because we want the mini-curl. He will use his shoulders to encourage the flat player to chase the arrow, opening up the mini-curl lane. He will often see the arrow pop open quickly reading flat defenders shoulders, but he will complete it for 2 yard gains, if he's patient, the mini-curl will work itself open. If his mini-curl lane was invaded from inside, he would go to his outlet "the sit." We often have a single on the backside of this and we will always check to see if we can throw single first. If we are unable to throw single, then we should have the numbers (unless 0 coverage) to work the spacing route. If you have "The Bunch Attack" book and look at the mesh route with a stem call, which gives you a sit route (because of the sandbox rule), there you have it - A quick version of mesh stem AKA "spacing."

Diagrams below are mine:

Jeff Tedford on Quarterbacking

Start with the playbook, which Tedford wants quarterbacks to "learn" rather than memorize - akin to thinking in a foreign language rather than simply memorizing the right sentence for ordering dinner in a restaurant.

"So much of the game is the mental part, being prepared scheme-wise, and understanding the game, and understanding the concepts, so they understand on every play where to throw the football," Tedford says. "It's not memorizing; you find a lot of times that kids will memorize, but they have to understand the whole concept, and the whole field. There's a purpose for everything we do with every position, and they need to understand what that purpose is."


As he teaches understanding of the playbook, Tedford begins by drawing diagrams with pencil and paper. From that, he'll move on to the checkers. Across a table from his quarterback, Tedford arranges 11 checkers in a defensive formation, against the quarterback's offense and asks the quarterback to show what's happening - what's the formation, what's the pre-snap read, what's the play call, what are the possibilities out of the formation, what are the protections, what are the routes? "I'll make them say the snap count, the whole thing, and what happened," Tedford says.

I've never used checkers to teach a quarterback, but if Jeff Tedford says something about quarterbacks, I'll listen. Read the full article here.

Shovel Option (Urban Meyer)

The shotgun options and shovel options have become very popular recently, particularly with Utah Coach Urban meyer taking the job at Florida. Below are some coaching points from J.C. Easton (formerly coach of Raines H.S. and currently semi-pro coach) again from Jerry Campbell's site from this thread here.

Qb takes snap and attacks EMLOS. His aiming point is 2 yds. outside the original alignment of the play side end. IF DE comes upfield to QB, the QB will throw the shuffle pass to the back. The RB's land mark is inside hip of PST. BSG pulls and leads for the RB. If the DE crashes inside following the down block of the PST, the QB keeps and gets his butt upfield! The play side slot receiver takes bucket step and gets in pitch relationship with QB. He looks for pitch!!! This is out of spread gun.

Out of an EMPTY GUN the play works identically. The 3 receiver on the trips side replaces the RB as the guy who gets the shuffle from the QB. On the snap, he runs down the LOS with his land mark the inside hip of the playside tackle. This example features the play being run to the open side, away from the TE who is flexed to about 6 yds.

Here is a video link from the thread from another poster, which is very helpful. Also, below I have shown a couple of (very quick, sorry for the sloppiness) drawings to help show what this looks like.

Urban Meyer - Zone Read

Football's Golden Son for now is worth looking at a bit. Nothing revolutionary, but lots and lots of coaches incorporate some of these concepts now, and they are quite sound. I have never incorporated the triple from gun and am not an expert--check out Jerry Campbell's books and notes or study Meyer and others' offenses this coming fall--but it is fairly easy to incorporate the backside read by the QB in the zone or any frontside run play from gun.

Petrino at Louisville will incorporate this into more than just the zone, which is how I have used it. I use the QB read of the backside end with our "base" or "Wrap" or guard-pull scheme, which I diagrammed a few months ago here.

The University of Louisville will pull both the backside guard or the backside tackle (not something I do as much because it is harder to get the tackle over there in time) but both are viable tactics and easy to do.

Incorporating the QB read is simple and can essentially add another runner to your offense. From there you can add a pitch relationship with another runningback or a slot man. (Check out the earlier article on the no-back shovel and Meyer's offense here.)

Also, along with this are some broad outlines about the Utah/Bowling Green/Meyer offense and some coaching points, and diagrams from the 2002 Bowling Green playbook (very simple, so not overly informative, but the written material is excellent).

Mike Sanford - Bill Williams Football Clinic, San Diego, Ca March 2005

Offensive Strategy and Goals

1. about 65% run 35% pass
2. 95% out of shotgun
3. Most physical and best zone blocking team in the country
4. Stretch the defense across the field and make them play assignment football

3 Critical Keys

1. Protect the football
2. Score in red zone
3. Convert third downs, practice scenarios

5 Offensive Goals

1. Win
2. Score 66% red zone TD
3. No Turnovers
4. 45% on 3rd down conversions
5. 55% run efficient (4 yards a carry)

Wide receivers have key blocks every single down

Center's snap needs to be perfect everytime

Zone Read Play - 14/15 Read


- 7 in the box / cover 0 = audible to option or pass
- 6 in the box = block playside 5 and leave 1 (backside DE) Read
- 5 in the box = block 5 (give inside zone)

Running Back:


- Toes at 6 yards, inside foot on guards outside leg


- Shuffle step, step replace step and go, looks like a draw play, close gap with QB, responsible for creating mesh point, rollover ball , hands together even if QB keeps

Aiming point:

- Outside leg of PSG, Read first man of center to outside foot / butt of tackle (B gap)
- Slow to, Fast through - make cut and get vertical

Quarter Back:


- Toes at 5 yards, shotgun (practice everyday with center for a perfect snap)


- Wide open step, pivot opposite foot, extend ball, watch inside shoulder of read man - upfield = give
stay home = give
down line = keep

Aiming point:

- C gap in general
- Read C gap defender - could be DE or LB

Offensive line:

- Inside zone blocking front and backside
- Splits are 2 ft guards, 3 ft tackles

Sprint-out and Half-roll Passing

Discussion of half-roll protection and diagram from my original website:

Our half-roll protection is very similar to that used by the run and shoot, except our QBs have more freedom to keep rolling out. It is actually designed as a full-sprint out, but the QBs usually end up stopping and setting up after a half or semi-roll out.

It has been a great benefit to vary the launch points for our QB. I am a firm believer in dropback passing, but a simple way to roll-out has been very effective. Further, this has helped a diverse number of QBs, particularly shorter QBs and ones without strong arms. I think many QBs can be more comfortable with the rollout and half-roll passing game.

The Rules:

Backside Tackle: Backside Tackle: Turn and Hinge
Backside Guard: Turn and Hinge
Center: If covered or shade to callside, reach. If uncovered with no shade to callside, turn and hinge.
(Note, on turn and hinges, unless you make immediate contact begin to get depth to stay between the QB and your man. You do not want to be still on the LOS as the DE comes upfield)
Playside Guard: Reach, plug hole/backside
Playside Tackle: Reach (Note: On any reach block, if you are unable to reach, ride your man out to the sideline. Don't get beat outside trying to reach hopelessly. A man pushed out of bounds and kept on the LOS is just as effective.)

RB: Take two steps to callside, looking at outside rusher. Look for OLB or outside rusher to come shooting, block first color that shows. If none show, check middle and then backside. You are the QB's bodyguard. Step to rush, do not wait for him to get to the QB.

QB:Pre-snap look is key. QB will go at a 45 degree angle to a depth of 5-6 yards and then will level off. He will need to get his eyes up, and look downfield. He can continue moving parrallel to the LOS, but he must know when he must stop and step up in the pocket and deliver the ball. If he breaks contain he can continue out, he does not have a set place he has to be, but he must be smart.

This is a protection reliant on the QB being smart. On a dropback everyone knows he should be in the pocket, 5-7 yards behind the center. In this protection his blockers are doing the best they can and he needs to find the best space to throw or run the football from.

He must help his blockers by not getting into trouble and thinking he can outrun everyone. He must have a good sense of timing and be well practiced, as this type of dropback is not as carefully calibrated as our 5 and 3 step drops are. However, its simplicity has been a real asset to us.

Below are some of my favorite sprint out/half-roll pass routes and a (very) brief discussion of each. I like to keep them simple. Also, this series becomes even more viable in the red zone, where giving your QB a run-pass option can be a huge boost to your O. Also, most of the passes are designed to go to the outside, since a) one advantage of moving the pocket is making these passes shorter, b) it puts the defenders in a tougher run/pass bind and c) throwing on the run is easier when the receivers are either stationary or moving in the same direction as you are, so we try to limit receivers to these two categories.

1: My favorite movement pass. The outside man runs a post-curl, looking to make his post move at 8-10 and then curling at 13-15, depending how upfield the defenders are. #2 wants to run a 10 yard out. I like to speed cut this out, but some good passing teams prefer a sharp cut. The QB reads outside to in. He wants to throw the out route every time, but if they fly out he will point his shoulders inside and throw the post-curl. If the post-curl isn't there he thinks run, looking to cut back against the grain. I've seen more than a few long-TD runs by QBs on rollouts, almost all cut-back runs.

2. My second favorite. #1 runs a whip. He will release inside and push to 6 yards and turn back to the QB. Versus man he will pivot and run back to the sideline, versus zone he will turn back to the QB and slide with him. #2 runs a 10-12 yard corner. The QB reads corner to whip, again looking to run/cutback if they are not there. Great in the red-zone.

Also, you can run this from trips sending a man on a seam route (#3) or a go route down the sideline (#1). Either can hurt the defense, but the go is the easier throw for the QB.

3. Great sideline route. Outside receiver runs a comeback to the sideline, making his break at 15. The slot pushes to 12-14, turning inside to the QB but pivoting back outside. Again, the QB reads outside to in.

4. This is a simplified version of the run and shoot choice route, diagrammed in 6. You can tag or call the single receiver's routes, and then from there read across the field as the receivers come into the QBs view. Some coaches would prefer to read deep to short for the deep cross and shallow cross/drag, and while this would be desirable, the receivers come into the QB's vision in this order and this will better reflect how the defenders will actually react to the receivers.

5. This is our adjustment to the first play I diagrammed. Here, the slot runs an out and up and the post-curl looks to whip back out to the sideline a bit more. Great if if you've thrown this a few times and the deep cover men (safeties/corners) think they can jump your possession passes.

6. The run and shoot choice route, thrown in just because it is so effective. Most of you won't want to install all the reads (I didn't), but it's a play many teams have had great success with.