Stick Route Technique Critical To Many RPO’s
By FirstDown PlayBook on Aug 8, 2019

The stick route is at the heart of what a Tight End does in the pass game. Tight Ends have to understand the importance of leverage and route running. If the player understands this then it is very hard to cover him even if the defender understands what is coming. It’s not the most flashy of routes but if you watch football on Sundays you will see great players like Jason Witten perfect it to an art form nearly every week.

When we watch video these days and see a ton of RPO’s being executed each weekend.  We also notice that many of these run pass options are created with a stick route as the pass option. The scheme is undeniably hard to defend but the stick route itself must be run correctly to get the full value from the play.

The Tight End releases and attempts to get a vertical stem at 6 yards. Vs zone coverage he will turn or pivot away from the defender and the QB will place the ball on the shoulder away from this defender. The Tight end may turn inside or out.  If the Tight End feels and sees that it is man coverage he will turn this into an out route and stay on the move.

I have included a video of this very simple but yet effective play out of the Flank formation that allows the QB to pick a side to work. If he confirms that it is cover 3 or if the middle of the field is closed then the QB can work the Slant Flat . However, sometimes it’s just as well to let your QB work the Stick route vs cover 3 also. This is particularly true if the QB and the Tight End have a lot of experience throwing and catching this route. I have included coaching tips below.

MOF Open (Cover 2)

Read: Work the Stick-Flat side. F-Y-H

– If the ball can go to the F then get it to him immediately but the corner should be there.

-The Y should work off of the leverage of the SLB. This is the primary target on this play vs cover 2. You may set on the third step of your drop to let the TE work to get open.

-The H should be stationary but should be ready to take the throw on the shoulder away from the MLB.

MOF Closed (Cover 3)

Read: Work the Slant-Flat side Z to X to H.

-If the Z gets leverage on the WLB throw him the ball. If the WLB expands throw the ball to the X.

– If the MLB takes away the slant give the ball to the H on his shoulder away from the MLB.

FirstDown PlayBook is the only Digital Football PlayBook that gives you access to over thirty five thousand football plays, schemes and technique help all designed by coaches and players with NFL experience. FirstDown Playbook is also the official PlayBook resource of USA Football and Football Canada..