Still A Place For The Play-Action Pass Game

By FirstDown PlayBook on Apr 30, 2019

In the football world of 2019 where there is such a heavy emphasis on Run-Pass Option plays sometimes you would think that lining up and running the football as a dialed up run is a silly thing to do. FirstDown PlayBook still thinks there is a place for that and the Play-Action pass that comes off of the run game.

Any time you can find a way to tie your run game in with your passing game it is a good thing. The Play-Action pass game may be one of the more underrated weapons that exists in your offensive tool bag.  This part of the pass game is an easy sell with your Offensive Line Coach too as he will be quick to see that this pass is going to make his life easier the next time you call the run play.

Sometimes your Play-Action pass attack can be as simple as picking on one defender. Below is an example of  an inside zone run play in which the offense has good numbers because the defense his playing two deep coverage. The one offensive player who has a challenging block is the F in the slot. This play will often get down to whether or not the F can make the block on the Will LB or Nickel Will.

As an Offensive Coordinator it is your job to help him out some. Yes, you can always bubble the F but when you do that you often eliminate an opportunity to go down the field with a Play-Action pass and get chunks of yardage. There is merit in making that F block the Nickel.

If they continue to play two high to stop your passing attack then the focus can be on this one defender. If you run the football at the Will LB enough he is going to eventually begin to cheat his alignment towards the line of scrimmage and inside to his B gap responsibility. The more he does this the harder that block will become for the Slot.

Remember that the WLB is more than likely getting his run/pass read from the Tackle through to the Back. That is why it is critical that the Offensive Line, Quarterback and Running back all sell the run fake with low pad level. Most Offensive Coordinators and Offensive Line Coaches will go stand on the defensive side of the ball as they coach this to make sure it looks exactly like the run.

The route combination that you throw behind the WLB can vary. You will notice that this pass involves using a switch release double Dig concept. The outside release of the F should not be an issue because as we mentioned earlier the WLB is getting his run/pass key in the box. The WLB is getting coached too so he will rally late to the curl as he eventually identifies the play as a pass.

His “conflict of assignment” is not just run/pass though. As he diagnoses the pass he has three eligibles running through his zone as the H pushes up and out to the flat and the double Digs come in behind him. Often times the Quarterback will throw this ball right off of the Linebacker’s ear as he rallies late for his curl responsibility.

So sure, keep running those RPO’s because the are great football concepts but just don’e forget they haven’t made the dialed up run and the Play-Action pass off of it illegal yet.

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..

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