The Thursday Three - Week 8

by Shawn Syed|November 2, 2023

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For the first half of the season, I will be bringing you The Thursday Three. This article will cover three schematic points as related to the NFL; the three points may connect to a game plan, specific concepts, or something else interesting across the league.

To this point, I have written about Miami’s motion adjustment, the Crunch run concept, the differences between Cover 6 and Cover 8, the coverage concepts Zeus and Ring, the run concepts Counter Solid and Duo Kick, Cover 2 Invert, Lookie Jaguar, the Wipe tag to Outside Zone, the shot play Hiccup, the play action shot play Heat, Counter Bash, Truck toss, Choice Stucko, Counter Bluff Reverse, a constraint play off Outside Zone, Blazer, Slug, a wrinkle off Flood, and the Eagles gameplan against the Miami Dolphins.

This week I am writing about the Bow (and Go) concept, the Crash concept, and changeups off the Push Sneak.

Bow (and Go)

Bow is a two-player high/low concept (right side of the picture above) that is frequently used on the back side of a full field progression. Bow has two parts: an Arrow route, and a Basic (in route) over the top.

The Arrow route’s stem will change based on the receiver’s alignment to ensure the route ends up inside of and underneath the Basic route’s stem. In the description of the Arrow route above, the receiver is likely starting outside of the Basic route as pictured on the left side of the diagram below:

The Arrow route can sit down in an open void against zone coverage to encourage linebackers to attack the route and open up space for the Basic over the top. The route can also uncover towards the sidelines if the defense is playing tight man coverage.

The Basic route is simply an in route. Some receivers end up rounding the in cut with speed while others commit to breaking at 90 degrees.

Bow was the backside concept on Matthew Stafford’s no look pass on the way to a Super Bowl victory.

Below is an example of the Bow concept where the Arrow route is thrown:

The Houston Texans ran a Bow like high/low concept to a three-receiver side twice against the Falcons in Week 5. The first time resulted in a completion to the Basic while the second time resulted in a well-timed pass break up.

The third time the Texans ran it, Dalton Schultz faked the Basic and ended up running vertical for a go-ahead touchdown.

All three instances, in order, are on the reel below:

In Week 8 against the Falcons, the Titans borrowed a page from the Texans playbook and took advantage of the defense’s aggressive safeties. On one of DeAndre Hopkins’ big touchdowns, the offense sold Bow to the defense, encouraged the safety to attack what looked like a Basic, and then the route broke into space for six points.

Crash

Crash is a two-player passing concept that has two routes: the outside player on a five yard in route and the inside player on a deeper rounded out breaking route (F and Z in the picture above).

The Crash route within the Crash concept is a type of rounded out breaker. The receiver will generally get to around 10 yards before speed cutting to the sidelines. Underneath that is a five yard in route.

The Eagles run a concept that looks like Crash, but the five and in route often settles into an open space against zone coverage. A.J. Brown has run this route as part of the concept many times:

In Week 8, the Eagles completed a pass to the Crash route by having A.J. Brown on the inside instead of the outside. Brown did a great job getting back to favorable leverage after releasing inside of the defender and Jalen Hurts threw a strike:

Push Sneak Changeups

The Push Sneak has become a seemingly unstoppable part of the Eagles offense. The Eagles take advantage of Jason Kelce, the rest of a strong offensive line, Jalen Hurts, and a famous rugby coach to make 4th down conversions near automatic.

The Push Sneak generally involves two players behind the quarterback pushing the player forward to earn the line to gain.

As defenses scratch and claw to try and stop the sneak, there are a few constraints that the Eagles have added to this now core play. First, Hurts can recognize the open C gap when the defense over plays the sneak.

Last season, the Eagles used a quick pitch off the setup to out flank the defense in a surprising manner:

In Week 8, the Eagles added another wrinkle to the Push Sneak. They ran a lead sweep off a Push Sneak setup that hit even quicker than the quick pitch.

In Week 3, the Eagles tried what looked to be a Pop Pass to the tight end. Though it was unsuccessful, the possibilities for changeups off the Push Sneak continue to expand.

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