The Basics of Creating a Multiple Pass Concept
I’ve had the good fortune of working in several different offensive systems, and it’s led me to have a great interest in the use of terminology, especially in how it is used to communicate information to players. As coaches, we get caught up in what we do and sometimes forget the consumer of our product (our offense) is our players. It doesn’t matter that the language is clear to us as coaches if it is not clear and concise for our players. Ultimately, you can call your plays whatever you want if you have a solid method for teaching that meaning to your players.
With that being said, I’d like to illustrate and explain how I took my understanding of offense as a coach where we used memorized plays and structures and evolved to concept based teaching and learning. In my opinion, being concept based gives players a better understanding of your schemes and plays, and creates much more flexibility for you as a coach as you add wrinkles in a season or evolve and change over the years.
I will illustrate how we took what was a memorized play with very limited scope for us and turned it into a very multiple application concept. The play I will illustrate in this post is the basic waggle/boot/naked route combination. In future posts I will show how we further developed our structure of our concepts for even more flexibility in application.
I think in my first experiences I learned this play as waggle as part of the wing-t offense. Later it was keep, then bootleg, then naked. I was very familiar with the routes and structure of the play, but I needed something to make it apply across all we did. This is when we decided to teach it as a concept rather than a play. For discussion purposes, a concept will refer to giving the players a set of rules to apply across any given situation. A play is something in which players memorize an assignment as it applies to a certain formation. When it was a play for us, we used it in different formations, but found it limited in how we could call it and not cause confusion as we became more multiple in our personnel and formations.
Teaching this as a concept solved many problems for us and we were able to get much more out of our teaching time because we taught our players how to apply rule across different formations and personnel.
In 2004, we used the words, boot, naked, and pass to indicate the type of backfield action and protection we wanted in conjunction with the concept. We named the concept “Ohio.” Ohio to us indicated that we would create a high-low stretch of the defense and it would occur on the hash. Rather than teaching just a route, we had rules for our receivers in which they had to get to a certain point on the field (depth and width). Their alignment would dictate what route they needed to use to get there. This expanded the play so much more that what we had in the original design, and we were able to use the concept rules to add wrinkles and variations week to week without new learning.
After the structure of how the front side and receiver numbering is installed, we now can install the structure of the pass concept. It’s important to note that in initial teaching of a concept based offense, we needed to constantly remind players that we are not memorizing plays but rather rules. We are applying rules, so you must simply know who you are, where you are going and how you are getting there. Obviously, we spend great attention to detail in doing this and our players get the reps necessary to ingrain this in them.
The basic rule structure for an inside high-low concept is illustrated below.
The diagrams below show the application of the “Ohio” concept from different 2×2 and 3×1 sets. The rules for #1 through #4 receivers apply consistently.
Adding a simple tag like “Switch” allowed us even more flexibility with this concept. “Switch” is a tag that applied across all of our passing concept and communicated to our receivers that #2 and #3 would be switching their route assignments. Ohio Switch is illustrated below.
As mentioned in a previous post, “Methods for Teaching and Practicing Your System”, we believe in using still shots in a frame-by-frame type of progression with coaching points to aid in teaching our players. The progression of “Boot Ohio” is shown below.
Ohio definitely became one of our favorite pass concepts because of it’s flexibility and multiplicity. The key to being able to do it out of many personnel groupings and formations was setting up the structure so that we had a consistent way of applying not only our “Ohio” concept but other concepts in our passing system. As I’ve mentioned before, the teaching structures you set up are so important to being able to evolve your offense and being efficient in your use of teaching and coaching time. Please refer back to “Creating an Offensive System” for more details on this. The videos “Flexible Formation System” and “Using Personnel Groupings to Enhance Your Offense” are great resources in helping you to create a solid structure that will allow you to evolve your offense over the coming seasons to have answers to the problems that evolving defenses will present.
Examples of our play action “Ohio” concept are in the video below. You will see a multitude of formations, but the concept were are calling is the same one over and over.
Here are the steps to conceptualizing your pass plays:
1. Have a structure for assigning routes. There are many different methods. The method illustrated was numbering 1-4 from the front side to the back side of the concept.
2. Have a method for determining front side and back side. Some teams do this by designating a certain receiver as always being on the front side like the “Y” for example. In the example shown, we used the action in the backfield and the resulting quarterback movement as our way to designate front side.
3. Find out how your passes overlay. Are there areas that you are attacking over and over again with multiple “plays” that can become concepts by installing some simple rules. In our “Ohio” example we found in overlaying our passing attack we were using a high-low in the area from the offensive tackles to about the numbers over and over again with a player at around 12 yards and a player at around 5 yards. We were able to consolidate those plays into our “Ohio” concept.
4. Create multiplicity and flexibility with simple tags. As illustrated, we used “Switch” as a simple tag to allow #2 and #3 receivers to switch assignments.
Hopefully, this post sparked some thoughts on how you can be more efficient in your teaching and coaching of your system. I know that as we became concept based, our players appreciated the simplicity in the structure that allowed them to execute and play fast because the concepts were clear in their minds.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on passing concepts in the comments section. We are always interested in learning new and different thought processes and concepts.
American Football Monthly and Gridiron Strategies articles that relate to play action passing and teaching defensive concepts:
Play-Action Passing From the Pistol
by: Kevin Krausz
Wide Receivers Coach Knox College
© June 2012
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Three Step Naked Package
© November 2008
UConn\’s Play Action Passing Game
by: Rob Ambrose
Offensive Coordinator, University of Connecticut
© August 2008
Split the Field In Half
by: Mark Reeve
Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator, Texas Lutheran University
© June 2011
Zone Blitz Concepts – defensive balance is the goal with all areas of the field covered when zone blitzing.
by: Jason Bornn
Head Coach, Saugus High School (CA)
© May 2011
Gridiron Strategies Offense
© August, 2010
Play-Action Passing off of Jet Sweep Motion
by Shannon Grimes
Head Coach, Watonga High School (OK)
© August, 2009
Passes to Supplement the Double Wing Running Game
by Marvin D. Freed
Former Head Coach, Perry High School (MI)
Gridiron Strategies Defense
© February, 2012
Using Number Keys to Teach Pass Coverage
by Martin Smith
Retired Coach and Teacher
© October, 2011
Arkansas Tech Defense’s Teaching Progression
by Jeff Byrd
Defensive Coordinator • Arkansas Tech University