Tight End Hot Route Fundamentals

By FirstDown PlayBook on Jan 4, 2020

We have all watched a lot of football at this point in the bowl season. One common problem that you have seen time and time again is the inability to protect the quarterback with a hot throw.

Sometimes it is a case that the quarterback, tight end or receiver do not understand that they are hot. It is sometimes the case that the tight end knows he’s hot but the technique is poorly executed. Today we want to talk about some fundamentals things that should be considered as you install your passing game.

As you are designing your pass game do you spend enough time looking at the value of the play vs pressure? Is your offensive line coach even in the room?

The stakes are high every time your quarterback drops back. A lot of bad things can happen. Sack, fumble and quarterback injury are some that come to mind.

Any time you put a pass play in your game plan you should think about these things:

1. Can the offensive line, tight ends and backs pick up any and all pressure that can be called up by the defense?

2. Is there another play that the quarterback can check to getting him out of a bad situation?

3. Is there another protection that the quarterback can check to that picks up the pressure if he sees it pre-snap?

4. Do you have built in hots and sights that will give the quarterback a place to go with the ball if he is unprotected?


In this video above the offensive line does a great job of switching the protection on the snap to pick up the pressure to the strong side. The tight end has no way of knowing this so he runs a “friendly” hot route and the quarterback takes advantage of this.

There is technique involved with throwing and running a hot route. Often times panic sets in on the part of the quarterback or receiver and a relatively easy throw is not completed.

The “friendly hot is not the only type of hot route that needs to be mastered. Often times on an outbreaking route the tight end may just expedite his route for the quarterback. However if the tight end is running a vertical or in breaking route the “friendly’ route is an excellent way to make himself available to the quarterback.

Here are a couple of tips for teaching a tight end how to run a “friendly” hot route for his quarterback.

1. Teach your tight end to communicate what he sees. The tight end should tell the tackle and even the quarterback if he can. . The more people on the same page the better.

2. Relax. If the tight end tenses up he is likely to spaz out when the throw is going to be a nice short five yard toss that saves the quarterback.

3. The tight end should look as quickly as possible. The tight end not only has to be available but the quarterback must also see that he is available.

4. Coach your tight end to give the quarterback his numbers when running a “friendly” hot route as in the video above. Give the quarterback a nice easy target as he will likely be retreating with pressure in his face.

5. Finally, don’t get depth with the route. All depth will normally do is get the tight end covered. You can see in the video above how the tight end has room to work after the catch.

The last point to make is that hot routes are just like everything else in football. They must be practiced. Working on this pre-practice as the quarterbacks are getting their arms loose is a good time to do this.

Also you can steal five minutes during a special teams period. Finding time to practice this will do wonders when the game is on the line and you need that one completion to win the game.


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