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Friday, January 24, 2014

Running Shallow Cross Route Concepts in Your Pass Game

I like running shallow cross routes in the passing game.  Let me rephrase that, I love them.  It probably has to do with the fact I am a big fan of Air Raid pass concepts.   Nevertheless the more I study it has become clear that no matter your offensive system, you need to include some form of the shallow concept in your pass game.

This is a topic which has been covered extensively on the internet by various websites, most notably by Chris Brown on his website.  There are different variations of these concepts coaches run with the shallow at four yards, the dig at twelve yards; with complimentary routes of streaks, posts, or comebacks. My contribution will show how I will run these plays as an offensive coordinator.

Here are a list of reasons of why you should consider adding the shallow cross pass concept to your pass game.
  • Can be run from multiple formations.
  • Easy throw and catch.
  • Can result in explosive plays
  • Attacks multiple coverage's.
  • Defense can never key which receiver is running the shallow route.
The first play shown here is the infamous Y-Shallow Cross made popular in the Air Raid.  This is probably the most popular of shallow cross plays and is simple to read and install.

Ace Right Flex 60 Y-Shallow Cross
OL60 protection is the half slide protection to the left.  Against a four down front as shown, the right guard and tackle will block the man over them.  Center, left guard, and tackle will slide left.  If it is a three down front, then the right guard slides left as well while the right tackle stays on the end.
Yis aligned four yards from the right tackle in a flex position.  At the snap he inside releases at a 45 degree angle left to two yards depth and then flattens across going no deeper than two yards.  It is important he gets an inside release, or else this messes up the timing of  the route.
His aligned 4 yards from the left tackle off the ball.  At the snap outside releases and gets to 10 yards depth then stays flat across at that depth.  Needs to outside release to help read of either man or zone for the QB.  If it is man get across the formation.  Against zone he finds the hole in the coverage and sits.
Xis aligned middle to bottom of numbers and runs a 12 yard post.  This is the alert route, thrown either in zero high or if the safety keeps jumping the dig to then take a shot down field.  MOFO split the safeties, MOFC keep it a skinny high post between numbers and left hash.
Zis a -3 to top of number split and runs a 16 yard comeback.  This is the last route in the read, usually will be thrown if getting soft coverage on the outside.
Fcheck releases checking the called Mike to SS.  After releasing aims for a four yard route.  This is the check down during the read for the QB.
QBthis is a three step drop from the gun.  Read is low to high, with primary key being man over the H. Shoulders turn to run with H, it is man and look to throw shallow. Square shoulders is zone, area read linebacker drop on whether to throw Y or H.  Third read is Z on the comeback and finally check down to the F or run.  Footwork progression is drop steps reading to throw Y; first hitch step looks H; second hitch look Z; third hitch is run or throw check down.

I run the shallow route at two yards because of the pressure it puts on linebackers.  They want to re-route receivers coming across the middle while in zone coverage; running the shallow at a four yard depth makes this easier for them to do.  Receivers are affected in that either they get stopped coming across or to avoid contact will run the routes at the wrong depth.  Running the shallow at two yards makes linebackers commit in their zone drop to either step up or not, which cleans up the read to throw the shallow or dig.  By running at two yards, my shallow receiver doesn't sit vs zone, putting pressure on the linebackers even more against a receiver going full speed

I like the comeback as part of the read because I feel it helps attack a team that is playing zone coverage.  It helps attack the flat defender.  If a backer or safety doesn't widen enough and cheats on the dig, this allows the window to open and throw this route.  It also fits with the fact that I don't like to just have a clear out route and make sure the defense has to cover all five potential receivers.

Here are some of the shallow cross plays I will run as OC.

Ace Right Flex 60 H-Shallow Cross

Ace Right Flex 60 Z-Shallow Cross

Ace Right Flex 60 X-Shallow Cross

Now one of the first things you may notice about my plays is I have my back stay on the same side.  If the shallow route is coming towards him he will run a check circle instead of a check arrow.  This is different than other versions that coaches run where the back flips sides and just runs the arrow when in a 2x2 formation.  I personally feel that by flipping the back,  it can give a key to the defense that if a shallow cross is being run it will come from the same side as the back.  I could be totally wrong about that being a key, any feedback would be appreciated in the comments.

You also may have noticed that with the shallow routes being run from the outside receivers I have the slot player to their side running a corner route.  A comeback isn't practical and a corner still attacks zone coverage while providing a read on the flat defender.  A better option may be a choice route of either a corner or deep out based on safety looks, but that is something to look deeper into at a later time.

Here is how I would run the drive pass play from a 3x1 look.

Right Trey 60 H-Shallow Drive.

Pretty much the same that most coaches have.  I have thought about flipping the back to the other side and having the X run a post with a F wheel and Z comeback.  Any coaches had any experience running those route combo's?

And lastly I have already mentioned I like empty.  I can even run the shallow crosser from an empty look.

Empty Right 50 Y-Shallow Cross

Hopefully I have made clear why I like running the crosser route concepts.  As I mentioned at the top, this is how I will run these plays.  There could be better ways to run these pass concepts and I would like to hear what other coaches think or do.  Please leave your thoughts in the comment form below.

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