Play Action Pass Weak: X Over Z Post
Much of the work involved with executing a play action pass takes place before the ball leaves the quarterback’s hand. This weak side play action pass is a good example. We call it X Over Z Post but there are several names for it. This play comes from the FirstDown PlayBook archives. Aaron Rodgers executes the play action fake beautifully before going over the top for 6.
Aaron Rodgers has certainly had his fair share of good coaches come through Green Bay over his 17 season career. Some of his coaches have come from the same school or coaching tree, if you will. Both Nate Hackett who recently left to become the Broncos head coach and Alex Van Pelt, offensive coordinator in Cleveland learned a lot of what they teach from Nate’s father, Paul Hackett. There have been other stellar coaches work with Roders as well.
One of the things that all three of these coaches preach is the deliberate play action fake. It is one of the under appreciated things about playing quarterback. So much is made of the mechanics and reading the defense that many young quarterbacks rush through any play fake to get to their route progressions and to see the defense.
A Lot Of The Work On A Play Action Pass Is Done Before The Ball Is Thrown
The play below is a good example of Rodgers coaching. They complete this play action pass out of 12 personnel for a 66 yard touchdown several years back. They shifted a Tight End in the backfield (#81) and faked the open end run to #44. As you can see from the picture #81 is heading back away from the fake to give the other Tight End (#89) help on the Defensive End. This is smart on Green Bay’s part because the hardest part about this play is making sure that you can get a run fake and still hold up with the Tight End block.
Here is a diagram of the play after the second Tight End is already over helping with protection. As high school coach you may want to consider this formation because it is easier for the two tight ends to hold up in protection when they are side by side.
Many of you run your offense from the pistol or gun. Granted, you do give up something with the fake when you do this. However, your quarterback can stay facing the defense for the entire play. This is a luxury that Rodgers does not have here.
The 8 Man Protection Helps Buy The Time To Push The Ball Down The Field
The offensive line and the tight ends are responsible for a good run fake block. They are assigned to the four down lineman the Mike and Sam LB’s. The H (#44) is responsible for the Will LB before releasing into the flat.
Rodgers got a good pre-snap look at the back end and probably had a pretty good idea of what he was looking for when he came out of the fake. As you can see from the top picture he has to turn his back on the defense in order to execute a great fake so the pre-snap look is critical. In picture #2 as he comes out of the fake he sees that the fake affected the three inside linebackers. The weak safety is also biting hard on the over route.
This Ball Leaves Rodgers’ Hand Before Nelson Even Clears The Safety
This ball is thrown before #87 Jordy Nelson even clears the safety to his side. Rodgers understands that now all he has to do is put the ball out in front for Nelson. Nelson has to go get it as he has inside leverage on the strong side safety. The rest is a catch and a sprint to the end zone. As you can see from the pictures, the blocking was excellent and the fake efficient enough to create conflict of assignment with the backend defenders.
If the Viking’s safety had stayed deep, you can see where Rodgers would have still been able to throw the ball to the over route. Once again, this reinforces the importance of the fake to get the linebackers to step up initially. This also creates the necessary separation between them and the safeties for the over route.