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Dropback passing: patterns, routes, protection.

Santa Monica College has been getting outstanding results with a simple, yet potent passing attack. Though our skill-position players come to us with very little experience, they all wind up topping our conference in total yards.

Our system is extremely flexible. We operate predominantly from a 5-to-7 step drop that varies slightly, depending on the type of pattern called. "Hot" routes are built into the system on every play, giving us a lot of "hot" 3-step drops that enhance our QB's confidence.

Our pass patterns are made up of 3-digit combinations that designate the route and the receiver. The call starts with the single-side receiver and follows across, indicating the route each receiver should ran.

As shown in Diag. 1, "Numbered Pass Routes," each route is numbered - odd to the outside and even to the inside. Note: The larger the number, the deeper the route.

The "Routes for Running Backs" [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 2 OMITTED] indicates the name of the routes and what we want our backs (H and F) to do. In our play calls, the first-named route applies to the H back and the second-named route to our F back (unless designated otherwise).

Let us break down a typical play call, "Pro Right Split, 628 Flat" [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 3 OMITTED]:

Pro - wide receivers go to opposite sides of the formation.

Right - tight end (Y) and flanker (Z) line up on right side of the formation and split end (X) goes to the left side.

628 - tells the single-side receiver (split-end X) to run a "6" route; the next receiver across (tight end Y) to run a "2" route; and the last receiver across (flanker Z) to run the "8" route.

Flat - backs run "Flat" zones.

If we lined up in "Slot Left Split 628 Flat" [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 4 OMITTED], the tight end Y would be the single-side receiver and would run the inside-receiver "6" route. ([ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 5 OMITTED] for Inside Receivers/Tight End Numbered Pass Routes.)

Flanker Z, the next receiver across, would run the "2" route, while split-end X, the last receiver across, would run the "8" route.

Pass protection is paramount in any passing system to protect the quarterback and get the receivers you want into the pattern instead of in blocking combinations with the linemen. That is why we zone-block the side into which we want to release a back, and man-block the back side with the back on that side checking before he releases.

OUR BASIC PASS PROTECTION IS CALLED "RIP" OR "LIZ"

"Rip" tells our lineman to zone-block the right side, and gives the back on that side a free release to get into the pattern. We will man-block the left side with a back checking the left side and then releasing if he is not needed. ([ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 6 OMITTED], "Rip Pass Protection.")

On "Liz" protection, we will zone-block the left side and man-block the right side, giving the backs a free release on the left side and blitz protection on the right side. ([ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 7 OMITTED], "Liz Pass Protection.")

We recently changed the practice of "reading a defender dropping into coverage" to "reading passing lanes." We did this when we found our QBs paying more attention to what the defense was doing than on his own tasks. We found them only guessing on the opposing coverage.

By reading passing lanes, the QB could focus entirely on attacking the defense, and this dramatically improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio.

We also worked extensively on developing the QB's drops and footwork. We wanted to be in position to get rid of the football the instant the receiver broke. Due to the different depths of the receiver's routes, we had to calibrate the QB's drops to the timing and progression of the patterns.

BACK PASS PLAYS

The diagrams show four of our basic pass plays. These give us the flexibility to confuse the defense by calling the same pattern out of different formations, but by keeping the QB's progressions consistent, we make the plays easy for him to understand and execute.

PRO RIGHT SPLIT, RIP, 363 STOP [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 8 OMITTED]:

Strictly a timing pattern, with the QB knowing he is going to throw to the outside receiver. He drops about six yards ("Roll Drop") and on his last step (taken with his back, or plant, foot) he steps to the side he has chosen to throw to.

If a different color jersey comes into his passing lane, he will check off to his No. 2 receiver, then to "throw away." Weak progression, X to Y to H; strong progression, Z to Y to F.

H - check LB blitz; inside to outside, run Stop route at 6 yards. F - free release to run Stop route at 6 yards. X - run 3 route (12-yard speed-out). Y - Hot; run 6 route (10-yard square-in). Z - run 3 route (12-yard speed-out).

PRO RIGHT SPLIT, LIZ, 444 FLAT [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 9 OMITTED]:

Our 5 Big With a Hitch Step Drop is used on our 14-yard routes run by our wide receivers. The QB takes a pre-snap look at the secondary to determine which side to throw to. He then drops seven yards deep and hitch-steps to re-set his back foot in order to make a better throw.

We sometimes find that these routes need a little more time to develop, depending upon the coverage. Weak progression, X to Y to H; strong progression, Z to Y to F.

H - free release to run Flat route at 5 yards. F - check LB blitz; inside to outside, run Flat route at 5 yards. X - run 4 route (14-yard curl). Y - Hot; run 4 route (10-yard curl). Z - run 4 route (14-yard curl).

PRO RIGHT SPLIT, LIZ, 628 FLAT [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 10 OMITTED]:

QB drops eight yards (7 Quick With a Hitch Step), after a pre-snap look at secondary to determine if Z can be a possibility on a pass route. Used for our 16-plus yard routes. Gives our QB enough time to find which receiver to throw to. Weak progression, X to Y to H; strong progression, Z to F.

H - free release to run Flat route at 5 yards. F - check LB blitzj inside to outside, run Flat route at 5 yards. X - run 6 route (16-yard square-in). Y - Hot; run 2 route (6-yard drag route gaining ground slightly). Z - run 8 route (12-yard post).

PRO RIGHT SPLIT, RIP, 787 FLAT [ILLUSTRATION FOR DIAGRAM 11 OMITTED]:

Our 7 Big With a Hitch Step drop is used on our counter-routes which take longer to develop. QB drops nine yards after pre-snap look to determine which side to throw to. Weak progression, X to Y to H; strong progression, Z to Y to F.

H - check LB blitz; inside to outside, run Flat route at 5 yards. F - free release to run Flat route at 5 yards. X - run 7 route (14-yard post-corner). Y - Hot; run 8 route (12-yard post). Z - run 7 route (14-yard post-corner).

CALLED ROUTES FOR RUNNING BACKS

Swing: Check LB, then give ground immediately (2 yards) running a slightly bowed course - use speed on first 5 steps, then come under control, turning your numbers to the QB - be ready to adjust to the ball.

Flat: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - as you hit the line of scrimmage, roll into the flat to receiver the ball 3-4 yards beyond the line - when you get 5 yards from the sideline, turn and face QB.

Corner: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - head directly up field for 10 yards, then break out behind the LB and away from the safety.

Up: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - head directly up field and continue deep - receive the pass over your outside shoulder.

Post: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - head directly up field for 6-7 yards and then break to post.

Comeback: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - head up field for 10-12 yards and then break to your outside and settle down in hole. Come back to the football!

Cross: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - head directly up field for 5-6 yards, then after making an outside fake, break sharply inside across field.

Center: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - head directly up field 7 yards and hook in - catch the ball between the backers.

Stop: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - aim at a point just inside the numbers - stop at 7 yards to receive the ball over your outside shoulder.

Sideline: Check your LB, take a course with speed about 8 yards past the LOS and use a speed cut as you accelerate out of your break.

Wheel: Check your LB, run a course with speed on or slightly outside the wide receiver's original alignment, bending up field looking over your inside shoulder.

Angle In: Check your LB, release outside your offensive tackle - break across the middle at a slight up-hill angle no deeper than seven yards.
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Title Annotation:football
Author:Jenkins, Ron
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Date:Jan 1, 1997
Words:1514
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