Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flexbone Passing Tidbits

Looks like it's time to throw the ball

Just thought I'd switch over the offensive side here for a moment and drop off some passing tidbits in the flexbone offense.  I know, the flex is mainly a run oriented offense and most coaches want to hear about veer or midline.  However, the flexbone offense can be a very dangerous passing offense as well, when used correctly.  I'm going to build on some concepts I discovered while running this offense, and hopefully you can use these as well.

I constantly here the statement by defensive coaches "The idea that the flexbone can attack with four vertical routes is absurd!".  Well, I'm here to tell you that the four vertical combination is alive and well in the flexbone offense.  Why most coaches who run the flexbone, will tell you that the idea that four verticals is this "magic pill" is somewhat skewed, the threat is always there for this play to be run.  Another one I get is that the defense can be ready for four verticals because the offense can't run motion AND run four verticals.  What I'm going to show you in this post, is how to make four verticals a more deadly weapon, and how you CAN run four verticals with motion, and even run the play off of playaction!

Run and Shoot Concepts
Just because you run for verticals does not mean you have to run the routes straight down the field.  There are many good variations on four verticals you can run that it can be mind boggling.  The Run and Shoot Streak Package is the best way to work on a defense with four verticals.  Heck, you could base your entire passing game off this one concept in the flexbone and not have to burn too much time during the week working on the passing game.  This is jut one way to get more mileage out of your four verticals package in the flexbone offense.

Adding Four Verticals to the Playaction Passing Game
How I stumbled across this concept, was as usual, by accident.  I had a play that I stole from when I worked under a split back veer (SBV) coach, that is shown below.

The A back was usually wide open and a key coaching point was to turn this into a wheel route if the QB didn't throw the ball immediately.  In the flexbone the play looks like this:

Same concept, and I had decent success with it, but the play did not seem to time up as well from the flex as it did from split backs.  I think this was mainly due in part to the motion by the slots not always being as consistent as the alignment of the halfback in the split back system.  Anyhow, one day, I called triple pass with all vertical routes (shown below) and a rookie slot back goes in twirl motion and runs the vertical route away from his normal assignment (blocking outside the B back's block).  Well, needless to say the slot was WIDE OPEN, even though he didn't get the ball thrown to him.  I got in the huddle and told the offense to run the very same play, but this time I told the QB where to throw the ball.  BAM!  It goes for a TD, nobody even touched the backside slot.  It was an easy pitch-and-catch for a touchdown, and the play we simply called "14 Veer Pass Streaks" was born!

All the receivers ran their normal routes, but the backside slot would go in twirl motion (three steps) and on the snap would wheel around and run his vertical route as well.  Now I know what you are thinking "four verticals is supposed to have all four routes on the same level if it is to stress the defense!".  Well, when you add in playaction, this is not the case.  This is an excellent play vs. defenses that like to rotate their coverage and against overaggressive LB's on the backside of plays.  For an interactive look at the play go here, otherwise the play is shown below against a 4-3 defense.


 As you can see, the playaction holds the LB's and allows the backside slot to "slip" out undetected by the defense.  The other reason this technique works so well, is that the corner, seeing the backside vertical by the number one receiver, and having saw the slot go in motion, is now playing off of his divider and cannot play the inside throw.  The rotated middle third safety is also out of position and in a quandary.  If he rotates back he runs the risk of leaving the front side vertical open, however if he doesn't rotate back or doesn't see the backside vertical, then the back side slot is wide open. 

The benefits of this play are two-fold.  First, it can be a serious home run for the offense, especially if you don't overrun it during the course of a season.  Secondly, this play HAS to hold either the backside safety, which will keep the offense from jumping your motion, or it will hold the backside LB, opening up the triple option once again (which is EXACTLY what every play in the flexbone offense is designed to do).  This is a great play, that is "cheap" to add when it comes to time to install and develop this play.  Who knew when one backup slot did the wrong thing, it would lead into a very dangerous weapon for the flexbone offense?!

Playaction Four Verticals and the Trips Formation
Probably one of the most under used concepts in the four vertical scheme is to throw playaction from the Trips formation.  If we remember the Veer "Q" play, this is a deadly double option out of the Trips formation that requires very little time to adapt to your offense.  Playaction off of this look is no different, in that it is a very simple addition to the offense, that requires little to no new teaching time to install.

Playaction Screens
I have always been a big fan of the screen game.  Whether it be quick screens, running back screens, or simply a jailbreak screen, screens have always been a big part of my passing game.  Here are some that I have run off of playaction that are some pretty nasty little compliments to the flexbone running game.

Triple Pass Jailbreak
The jailbreak screen takes a bit of time to implement, but when you run it off of playaciton, you can really gut a defense's backside.  Most defenses are hell bent on getting players across the midline to stop the triple option and this is their downfall, especially those that rotate coverage.

I particularly liked to use this play when I had WR's that could move in space.  The QB sells the triple and drops off on the pass and instead of his normal one and a half steps off the mesh, he takes another one and a half steps and turns and delivers the football to the backside receiver.  The blocks by the front line do not have to be devastating, but the key coaching point here is to force the defender into an outside release (which is why this play is best run to the three and five side of the defense).  Anyhow, again, not a huge time intensive play  to add to your playaction passing game.

Screens off Rocket Toss
Rocket toss is one of the toughest plays in all of football to defend because of how quickly the play attacks the flank of the defense.  In order to stop the play, the defense must pursue, and pursue quickly.  In order to slow this pursuit down, use the rocket screens shown here.

The first screen is a screen to the B back off rocket action.  This is a flow screen that works to counteract the overreaction by the defense to the rocket.

Another good one off of the Waggle play (off Rocket action) is the throwback screen to the slot.  Here the QB will sell Rocket, then roll to set up Waggle.  Once clear of the "box" he then turns and throws back to the slot that went in motion.  Talk about having the defense's head spinning!

These are just a few ways you can "spice" up your passing game in the Flexbone offense.  The book should show more of these and go into greater detail on playaction passing in the Flexbone.  Anyhow, I'd written about defense enough, thought I would get into some of the offensive side of the football for a while.

See, I can be offensive

Take care,