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What the Patriots run on offense: Option routes

Hey guys, I thought that a breakdown about the Patriots' option route concepts would be of help to anyone looking to learn more about the Pats offense for the 2019 playoffs!

Here are three option route concepts the Pats use a lot that you will see this weekend vs The Chargers. :)

P.S. it seems like all the tweets I used for video footage here are coming up as two tweets since I posted them in a thread. Just in case anyone is confused, for every Twitter video you see, the bottom/second tweet is the one that corresponds to the text above it.

Hoss Y Juke: This first concept involves two mirrored hitch seam concepts with a juke route run by the #3 receiver.

Vs Zone coverages, the QB reads the safeties. If there are 2 high safeties, the QB should look to throw the juke route run by the Y above. The Patriots will put their quick, slot receiver at the #3 spot (Y) to get a matchup with the Mike backer (in a 2 high safety defense, the Mike works to #3). This juke option route is very difficult for a linebacker to defend, especially if it’s someone like Welker or Edelman running the route.

If there is one high safety, the juke route will probably be bracketed in some form as there are two hook defenders. Therefore, the QB should look to the hitch seam concept, reading the flat defender. New England makes a living off of punishing soft/bailing corners with a quick hitch. That quick hitch also usually opens up the seam, as the flat defender tries to skate out to the flat to cover the hitch.

New England will often motion out their Running back to get a read on the coverage. If a Corner follows him, it’s zone coverage. If a Linebacker/Safety follows him, it’s man coverage.

If it is man coverage, the QB will look to the juke or seam route depending on the matchup. You’ll usually see Edelman winning 1 on 1 on the juke route or Gronk catching a back shoulder on the seam route.

Stick/Post Wheel Out: Similar to Hoss Y Juke, this concept utilizes the #3 receiver to attack the Mike Linebacker 1 on 1. The #3 receiver will run a stick/out route at 4–7 yards, breaking away from the Mike. New England will use an out and fade concept or a post and wheel concept to keep the strong side defenders from getting in the way of the stick/out route.

The #3 receiver should always be the first read, but if he gets bracketed, the QB will look to the backside slant-flat concept and read the flat defender.

And if it’s man coverage, the slant flat concept should act as a pick play. If the slot defender goes over the slant route, throw the flat. If the slot defender goes under the slant, convert the flat to a wheel route.

(You can also go to the #3 receiver on the stick/out route vs man coverage).

Slot Option: Finally, we have this slot option concept. I’m not sure what this concept is officially called, but I call it slot option because it involves an option route run by the #2 receiver (slot receiver). This #2 receiver has two options based on the slot defenders’ leverage; break out or break in. If the slot defender plays with inside leverage, the #2 receiver will break out and create a high-low on the outside cornerback.

If the slot defender plays with outside leverage, the #2 receiver will break in. New England uses lots of different 3 man route concepts to occupy the strong side defenders (curl flat, hitch seam + juke, stick, etc). These 3 man concepts serve to hopefully keep any defenders from walling off the option route when it breaks in.

If a defender does wall off the in breaking option route though, the receiver will sit it down. The QB will then work a horizontal read on the flat defender with the option route and the out route run by the outside receiver.

If the defense plays man coverage, there will usually be some sort of rub route concept on the strong side that the QB can look to. Here, the RB gets a natural rub from the receivers’ routes.

The QB can also look to the option route vs man coverage, if it’s not bracketed. He’ll read it the same way as he does vs zone coverage; he can either break out or in depending on the slot receivers’ leverage.

The cool thing about these concepts is that they can be carried over to lots of different formations and plays. Sometimes you’ll see the juke route and hitch seam concept on one side and the slot option concept on the other side. Sometimes, you’ll see these option routes come from the backfield. So, no matter what the defense plays, zone or man, each defender has to be prepared to take on a super quick Patriot receiver 1 on 1. And if the defense tries to account for that 1 on 1 matchup with extra bodies, the complimentary routes will open up for Brady to hit.

I hope that this will help you guys notice these plays this coming Sunday!

Here are links to the YouTube video, Twitter thread, and Medium article that I made about this topic :)

https://medium.com/@hpwestfootball/the-new-england-patriots-offensive-scheme-explained-slot-receivers-option-routes-397bc2f82cf8

If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know in the comments!




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