Install Targeted Play-Action Passes

Putting together an offensive game plan can be a complicated thing. You need enough plays to keep the defense honest but certainly not so many that your players can’t execute them. There is also that delicate balance between run and pass that is at the heart of many a debate between the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator.

Any time you can find a way to tie your run game in with your passing game it is a good thing. The Play-Action pass game may be one of the more underrated weapons that exists in your offensive tool bag. It seems that some coordinators want to lean completely on the RPO game.

The play-action pass game is an easy sell with your offensive line coach for a couple of reasons. He will be quick to see that this pass is going to make his life easier the next time you call the run play. It also gives his players a chance to be more aggressive without guessing if the ball is going to be thrown or not.

Sometimes your Play-Action pass attack can be as simple as picking on one defender. Below is an example of  an inside zone run play in which the offense has good numbers because the defense his playing two deep coverage. The one offensive player who has a challenging block is the F in the slot. This play will often get down to whether or not the F can make the block on the Will or Nickel Will.

As an Offensive Coordinator it is your job to help him out. If they continue to play two high to stop your passing attack then the focus can be on this one defender. If you run the football at the Will LB enough he is going to eventually begin to cheat his alignment inside towards his B gap responsibility. The more he does this the harder that block will become for the Slot.

Remember that the WLB is more than likely getting his run/pass read from the tackle through to the back. That is why it is critical that the offensive line, quarterback and running back all sell the run fake with low pad level.

The route combination that you throw behind the WLB can vary. You will notice that this pass involves using a switch release double Dig concept. The outside release of the F should not be an issue because, once again, the WLB is getting his run/pass key in the box.

The Will linebacker’s “conflict of assignment” is not just run/pass though. As he diagnoses the pass he has three eligibles running through his zone. The H pushes up and out to the flat and the double dig routes come in behind him.

So as popular as the RPO game is today there is still a place for the placation pass game. This will take some of the burden off of your quarterback’s shoulders and put it back on you the offensive coordinator.

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk