Creating Explosive Plays off Play Action Part Deux: Using Triangles

The following post is an excerpt taking from a comprehensive breakdown of Robert Griffin III’s 2012 ROY campaign posted at The Orange and Brown Report.

In addition to red zone and short down-and-distance play action concepts, Washington took several vertical shots downfield in positive down/distance situations. The offense hit two long touchdowns off play action in a 38-31 victory over divisional opponent Dallas in week 12.

In 20 personnel with twin receivers to the field (wide side), the offense hit their first big gain of the game through the air using a variant of variation of the Air Raid’s famous Y-Cross concept. The route combination features a deep crossing route (run more like a Dig here) from the X receiver, a seam route designed to clear out the middle of the field by the Y receiver, and a flat route by the H-back. The Z receiver (at the bottom of the screen) runs a quick hitch to act as a hot route will also keeping the cornerback from coming inside to squeeze the throw to the crossing route. Notice the triangle created by the routes

The Cowboys are playing a 3-deep, 3-under coverage shell behind a fire zone blitz. Note the safety at the bottom of the screen at the snap of the ball. Look at both his depth and distance from the hash. Because the safety is playing a SCIF technique due to the blitz, he must carry anything vertical by the #2 receiver. Move your eyes back to the where the deep crosser makes the reception. Without the seam route to clear out the SCIF defender, he would be in great position to make a play on the ball.

Next, move to the WILL (the only linebacker not on the line of scrimmage). Like the safety, he is playing a SCIF technique. His first responsibility is to cushion the seam against any vertical route before breaking on anything short to the flat. The H-back’s flat route pulls him up just enough to allow the crossing route to hit over his head.

This play is a great example of why good coaches do not design routes in a vacuum; they must work together to stretch defenders and clear space.

RGIII’s progression is likely:

  1.   Peak the seam
  2.   Deep cross/dig
  3.   Flat route

The seam route clears out the SCIF defender to the left side of the defense while the flat route pulls up the SCIF defender to the right, allowing RGIII to easily thread the needle for a 60-yard touchdown.

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