Getting Vertical with the Smash/Post Concept

The following post is an excerpt from a comprehensive look at Hue Jackson’s favorite pass concepts at the OBR. Click here for the entire article.

Our final route concept is known as the ‘Smash-Post’. The play design integrates another coaching-favorite, the ‘Smash’ concept, with a post route coming from the opposite side of the field. Like the previous ‘Shakes’ concept, ‘Smash-Post’ is a split-safety killer.

Before putting the routes together, let’s look at each individually to see how the combination stresses the two-deep safeties.

‘Smash’ is the classic split-safety beater, consisting of a short in-breaking route like a hitch or fin from the #1 receiver and a corner route from the #2 receiver (should sound familiar to the hitch/corner in ‘Snag’). The play works best against the Tampa 2 (two-deep, zone-under), as it puts the flat defender (the cornerback) in a bind by creating a vertical stretch using the hitch and corner routes. Jump the hitch and the corner route will be thrown over his head against a safety that has to cover the distance from hash-to-sideline. Sink to cushion the corner route and the quarterback will throw the high-percentage hitch in front of the cornerback with opportunity for yards after catch. In this case, the short bait route is run as a flat by the tight end. The specific short route doesn’t matter here; as long as it breaks in front of the cornerback he still faces a vertical stretch.

The post route will come towards the flat and corner from the opposite side of the field. The #2 receiver will run a ‘Dino’ stem (West Coast nomenclature), or corner-post to give the appearance of ‘mirrored’ Smash routes while the wing runs a flat.

The concept is simple. Recall that Cover 2’s largest hole in in the middle of the field. When the safety breaks on the corner route, the hole is exaggerated, allowing the post route to run between the two safeties. The player running the post will use a ‘Dino’ stem (former San Francisco head coach Steve Mariucci included this route in a chalk session with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff) in which he fakes to the corner before breaking back to post. The fake should force the safety to open his hips away from the post, creating more room for the route.

Here’s how the routes look together. Notice how each side compliments the other to open the hole for the post route.

First, watch the corner route at the top of the screen. The Bengals elect to run a flat route with the running back underneath rather than an inside-breaking route from a wide receiver, but the effect remains the same. The safety to the Smash-side is forced to come off his hash to cover the corner route, opening a huge hole in the middle of the field for the post.

Although Green’s slight outside break at the seven-yard line doesn’t open the safety’s hips, Dalton threads the needle between the deep defender and the dropping MIKE (will sink to protect the deep middle-of-field hole in a Tampa 2). Good coverage by the defense, but better route design and execution by the offense.

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