Ack's Virtual Playbook

It's time to get back to the drawing board! This week's play is a combination route that helps alleviate the quarterback's anxiety with reading coverages. It is our five step drop with 90 protection for the offensive line. A combination route means that two receivers will run a route that is good against cover three and the opposite two receivers will run a route that is good against cover two.

Click here for an explanation of key terms and principles and here for diagrams of different defensive coverages.

The name of the route will tell which side to run the cover three route. For example Combo Raider is telling the right side receiver to run the cover three route. Combo Lion is telling the left side receivers to run the cover three route. We can motion and move guys around to give different looks yet still have the same play out of five to six different formations.

The cover three route will be the curl-flat. The outside receiver will inside release pushing up the stem to fifteen yards and then work back to the quarterback. It is important for the receiver to stay low in the break. The inside receiver will run directly to the flat and settle on the numbers at four yards deep. It is important that the inside receiver release to the flat with his outside foot as to keep the space between him and the covering defender. One big problem I see with the teaching of this route is guys getting up the field first and letting the linebacker close the window between him and the flat. 
**Key reminder: If it is cover three, then the linebacker is running straight to the flat on his pass key. So why make it easy for him?

The cover two route will be the hitch corner. The outside receiver will push to six yards and show his numbers to the quarterback. If the corner is pressing or sitting tight on him, he may move into a "smash" route and turn it into a quick slant .The inside receiver will release at the outside shoulder of the linebacker and try to get head up on a cover two safety. Then the receiver will break out of his cut at fifteen yards with an aiming point of 18-22 yds on the sideline for the quarterback. 
** Key reminder: The ball should be thrown out of the break if you are going to hit the corner route. The receiver only has a small portion of real estate with the sideline marking the end of it. The key is the outside receiver holding the corner.

Diagram 1A.

This is our four wide formation with one back. Ace Right is the formation, 90 combo is the play and protection and we chose" raider" which means z and y will run curl flat. This play is vs cover two and the quarterback will read first to the left. As the QB drops he checks to see if the corner sinks. If so he quickly throws the hitch on his fifth step. If the corner sits then he hits the receiver out of the break vs Cover two. If protection breaks down or the receiver gets knocked off his route then the QB finds the back for a check down underneath.

Diagram 1B.

For this play we get in our trips formation which forces a different defensive alignment. We also call "lion" this time because we want the curl-flat to the left side. The QB will put the H in motion before the snap which will help him recognize whether it's zone or man coverage. If he sees that it is still cover two with both safeties on the hash marks then he goes through his read right to left just like before. Later we can come back to this route if they are playing man or cover man free and run h on a wheel route for a touchdown.

Diagram 2A.

This time we are going to run the play out of the "I" formation. The quarterback will get a pre-snap read on the coverage then take his five steps and throw. With the tailback going in motion to the left and "lion" called he will run a flat. Very rarely will we put him in motion to run a corner route because his momentum carries him too far a lot of times and the spacing would be off on the route. Should be an easy read for the quarterback as he is keying the linebacker. If the backer widens he throws the curl in the window. If he hesitates or blitzes then throw the back in the flat.

Diagram 2B.

**Correction: This play is Tiger Right T-Return 90 Combo Lion.

This is our empty set. Tiger formation spreads out the defense and puts them in some type of man coverage mostly. We can still run combo, but it is paramount that the receivers get off the ball and keep good spacing. If your playing the New England Patriots they are going to grab you, so you must get away from them. We used a "return" motion to get an idea of what type of coverage the defense is in and then the "tiger" receiver will run the under that the back normally runs. Sometimes if we see cover zero with no safety we will tag the route with T-9 or T-Go and send him down the middle of the field. Against Cover one we would like the QB to go to the curl flat side which is left on this play. We called "lion" so the X and H will run curl flat and the QB should be able to find a window. The Z receiver automatically runs a smash route vs press man coverage.

Teams that run this play:

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