Before breaking down Denzel Ward, I’ve included links to a few of my favorite X’s & O’s resources. Each book has greatly influenced the way in which I think about the game of football. No matter what side of the ball you are on, you will find a TON of common sense, usable information in each. Great knowledge, great writing, and great coaches!
As the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, cornerback Denzel Ward enters the NFL with sky-high expectations.
At this point we all know that the Raider’s offense ran a fairly WCO-ish scheme, with LOTS of ball going to the RB/FB out of the backfield. We’ll look at some common short/intermediate route concepts the offense utilized last year, as well as their base running game (IZ/OZ, power, and the counter), but today I want to breakdown my favorite vertical concepts the switch combo. I choose this particular play for two reasons: I’m a switch route fan boi and the play design is very clever as all 4 routes work together to achieve multiple goals against multiple defensive shells. Not a single route is “wasted”.
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The single greatest question about Cal (and possible Browns’ target) quarterback Jared Goff revolves around his college offense, Sonny Dyke’s “Bear Raid” system. With few success stories to point to over the previous two decades, the ability of an Airraid college quarterback to effectively run an ‘NFL’ progression-based offense should certainly be a major consideration when Cleveland’s new front office evaluates potential quarterback fits.
What’s the difference between a read and progression? Is there a single accepted definition or will we find shades of gray? Let’s start by examining two plays from the 2014 season to differentiate between “progression” reads and “coverage” reads.
Before going any further you should read this outstanding article by Chris Brown of SmartFootball.com explaining the key differences, as well as strengths and weaknesses, of progression and coverage reads. He does a great job of explaining the concepts. Keep in mind that progression reads are often associated with “pro” style offenses and coverage reads are often generally associated with “college” offenses such as the Spread/Airraid.
If you don’t want to read the article (really you SHOULD read it; Chris does phenomenal film work) I’ll quickly rehash what is said. Progression reads are sequential (1st option, 2nd option, 3rd option……) while coverage reads generally focus on the action of a single defender (the action of a Cover 2 squat corner determines where the ball goes when running the popular “Smash” concept).
Progression reads generally require more intensive verbiage and emphasis on the timing of the routes with the QB’s drop. In addition progression reads generally have MANY more site adjustments then coverage reads.
Progression reads do not often utilize “mirrored” route concepts, or two-man route concepts to both sides of the field (slant/flat for example). When you hear about “half-field reads”, the offense is generally running a mirrored concept to each side of the field. Pre-snap the QB will choose which side of the field to target based on a variety of factors including coverage shell, defender’s leverage and depth, spacing (field/boundary), personnel match-ups, etc.
Often times the coaches’ box will determine where the ball is going after scanning the defense at the LOS. This is one of the primary reasons many offenses hurry to the LOS. The offensive coaches want to scan the defense, looking for play opportunities based on coverage, alignment, depth, and match-ups.