Integral Bunch Pass Route Packages

This article was originally posted on Direct Snap Football.

The following materials are intended to supplement the presentation I gave at the 2007 Single Wing Conclave in Wilkes-Barre, PA, although I believe they also stand on their own in discussing the Y Stick/Turn and Bunch Mesh/Under route packages. While I diagram them from unbalanced line single wing formation, these packages are applicable to any Bunched formation where three receivers are in close proximity to each other at the snap (i.e., within 5 yards of each other).

The first pass route package, which is known as Y Stick or Turn, is essentially a ball-control package, albeit with a deep shot built in. It is among the highest-percentage route packages I know of, and will deliver 7-9 yard gains with low risk on a very regular basis…and that is if your opponents are playing good pass defense. While it is designed to attack the underneath coverage in zone defenses, it can also be useful against man coverage.

The other package, Bunch Mesh/Under, is the latest version of the Bunch Mesh route package from the fertile mind of Coach Andrew Coverdale. He now prefers it to the original Mesh package he has been teaching since the mid-90’s. It is easier to install and to read, and provides good answers to both man and zone coverage.

I have had success with both of these pass route packages down to the age of 8, and they are both staples in modern passing attacks at every level up to and including the NFL. I’ll be happy to answer questions about either or both, and about the pass protection schemes I discuss — e-mail me at seayee at hotmail dot com.

Y Stick/Turn

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This route package can either be run from a tight Bunch, as shown, or with the #1 receiver out wide and running a Go route (i.e., getting vertical in a big hurry). From unbalanced single wing formation, the BB runs a quick Shoot route one yard deep, looking for the ball as soon as he breaks outside; the Strong End runs a Turn or Stick route, breaking outside at +6, while the WB runs a landmark Fade (or 45-degree angle Slant Out) route, looking for the ball over the shoulder furthest from the nearest defender (against Cover 3, he looks over his outside/upfield shoulder; against Cover 2, over his inside/downfield shoulder).

The Bunch-side flat defender is the TB’s read. If he hangs and takes away SE’s Turn/Stick, throw the Shoot immediately to give the BB space to run to. If he jumps the Shoot, the SE will have lots of space to make the catch. Hit his downfield number with the ball to let him spin and head straight downfield in the same motion. Of course, if no one keeps up with the WB, throw him the ball and decide on your XP options…

Bunch Mesh/Under

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This is a much easier route package to install than the original Bunch Mesh package. Rather than running a Whip Read route, the WB continues across the formation as the high Shallow Crosser over the Quick End, who as the low Crosser wants to be no more than 5-6 yards deep when he passes by the Strong End’s original position. The SE runs the same Smash/Corner route he does in the base Mesh package, and the BB runs an identical Flat route at about +3 yards deep. (Deeper than the +1 yard Shoot route he runs in Y Stick/Turn).

The TB has a very easy set of reads, and some handy (and simple) adjustments available to him. His basic read is SE/QE/BB, deep to shallow, with the BB acting as the “Q” or quick receiver in case of early pressure — the TB gets the ball out to the BB right away if he feels heat. The WB’s high Cross is basically a decoy, although he can get the ball at any time if the coverage starts to ignore him. Against man coverage, you can modify the package further by tagging the SE with a Post (Under SE Post), then reading the play as follows — the QB takes a quick peek at the Post as he sets, then comes down to the two Shallow Crossers and hits the first of them to come open off the mesh — against man coverage, this will usually be the QE.

Pass Protection

I’m offering coaches two ways to get these passes protected. Both work very well, and the Sprint pro scheme is particularly good when you want to move the passer outside.

1. Half-Slide Protection

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Half-slide pass protection starts on that front side with linemen blocking the man over them (from outside shoulder to inside gap) until you reach the first bubble — the first lineman with no DL over him. From that point, the line slides to the backside to block the first DL back from them. The FB, meanwhile, will read from the LB in the bubble to the first LB outside the playside tackle, if any. This may mean he has a double read, and must pick up the most dangerous and immediate threat; if so, he yells “Fire! Fire!”, making the TB responsible for the unblocked defender.

I got this protection from Chris Brown, who has this to say about it:
“When sliding, the #1 rule is ‘don’t block air.’ What this means is don’t be in such a hurry to slide to your point that you expose a new gap or put your teammate in a bad position. We look at the slide as a flow, but the bottom line is we are still picking up defenders, not just flying to our respective A or B gaps. Again, the parallel shoulders are huge in sliding. And finally, don’t be afraid to be aggressive. In pass blocking you can’t be too aggressive or you will get beat, but it does not mean you have to receive all the punishment. This is one reason we like the slide, is it seems like our line can do more punching and aggressive maneuvers and not be afraid of their man beating them. Particularly on 3-step, the OL should get their fists in the defender’s chests/stomachs. For us the biggest weakness of the protection is the bane of most one-back protections: 4-weak. Also, second, are inside dog blitzes. You will also need to identify hot. The hot more than likely needs to come from the slide side, but obviously the man side can be overloaded as well. We always build the hot routes in.”

2. Sprint Protection

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This is the mechanism for (deliberately) shifting the launch point for the football by rolling the TB.

Left Tackle: Hinge backside, protecting inside gap first
Left Guard: Same as Left Tackle
Center: Even: Same as Left Tackle; Odd: Same as Right Guard
Right Guard: Reach play side gap
Right Tackle: Same as Right Guard*

Two important points: First, “Hinge” means the lineman takes an immediate step to protect his inside gap — not flat to the LOS, but back at a slight angle to give him a faster jump on gaining depth when he pivots and drop-steps on his second step, looking for the first rusher to his outside. The backside Tackle will drop further and faster than the backside Guard (and Center, against Even fronts).

Second point: “Reach” means that, if you cannot gain outside leverage on the DL you are trying to reach-block, you should lock him out and push him to the sideline. If you have a Reach assignment and are uncovered, step playside looking for stunting DL’s or blitzing LB’s; if none show, gain depth and help out backside. Protect your passer’s back at all costs.

In Sprint protection, the FB takes two steps toward the front side sideline while reading the outside rush. If the EMLOS rusher takes an inside charge, the FB seals him inside and rides him past the TB. If he runs deep to contain, the FB locks out and takes him deep. If he attacks the FB hard and head on, the FB attacks the outside hip with his inside shoulder. If no one rushes, the FB checks middle and backside, then may release into the route package.

* For unbalanced line single wing formation, change these to “Left Guard, Center, Right Guard, Inside Tackle, and Outside Tackle” — the rules remain the same.

It’s the Spin That Wins!
Submitted by Ted Seay
seayee at hotmail dot com

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