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Passing Plays
.Table of Passing Plays
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    Generally speaking, passing plays using numeric values designate which receiver runs which pass route.  For example, in the 971 Pass the outside most receiver runs the #9 pattern, the next receiver in runs the #7 pattern, the next man inside runs the #1 pattern. Several typical pass plays are discussed below:
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The Passing Game
The Pass Route Tree
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The Fan
The Clear Out
Roll Out Option 
 Flood Pass
 971 Pass
 Screen Pass
 Double Fade
 Deep Cross
 52 Hot Pass
Halfback Pass
314 Pass
Reach Pass
Come Backer (CB)
Flex Pass
Renegade
Back Door Pass
Cross Buck
Other Pass Plays
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The Fan
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The Fan is a passing play typically run from the Veer Formation but can be run from any formation featuring at least two receivers to the same side.  The TE's 10 yard pattern is run slowly as in a "drag" and is run after blocking for one count.  If two backs are in the backfield, one can stay in the pocket for pass protection if needed and/or release into his pattern late--as a safety valve.   The Line pass protects in the pocket style.  This of course means the QB must drop straight back and his running lane of escape is straight forward.  The basic concept is to clear out the flat area by sending both wide outs deep, then filling the flat with two short patterns.  The two points of attack are the deep threats and the exposed flat.  Primary receivers can be specified as needed.  The default order of preference is first the Fly, then Post, Float, and finally the Curl.  The Shotgun Formation is also an option.  The play can also be run as a roll out but the line's blocking scheme must be changed from the pocket to the Fence style.



The Clear Out Pass
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The Clear Out Pass is intended as a misdirection type play.  The idea is to set three wide outs to one side, then send them all on quick developing patterns that quickly remove them from their area of origin.  In the meanwhile the tight end from the other side of the formation runs a "Drag" pattern, slowly drifting into the are now hopefully cleared out by the exodus of the three wide outs and their defenders.  The Clear Out Pass can be run from a host of formations, but the more players exiting the area, the more likely it will be evacuated by the defense.  If run from a formation with only two wide outs, a back can be set in motion to the area as the third receiver.  The quarterback should execute a straight drop back pass, and no back should be sent to the exposed flat as either of these actions tend to draw defenders to the area.



The Roll Out Option Pass
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The roll out option pass is designed as a play where the quarterback can decide whether to throw the ball to one of three receivers, or run it himself.  It is a play action pass, faking two hand offs, then rolling around end with a back and a pulling Guard in front of the QB.  The offensive line blocks down to prevent a defender from following the pulling guard, and the TE double teams the OT's man.  The play side DE is left unblocked, and he and the cornerback are the players the QB read.  If either of these defenders  comes to the QB, he passes to one of the receivers.  If the defense retreats into coverage or is blocked, the QB runs behind his two blockers.



Flood Pass
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The Flood Pass is a play that seeks to create a numerical mismatch at the point of attack. Basically, the flat area is flooded with four receivers and a quarterback who has the option of running or passing.  The quarterback keys the cornerback to the play side.  If the cornerback comes up to play the quarterback run, the quarterback passes the ball to one of the receivers.  If the cornerback stays back to cover a receiver, the quarterback has the option to run.  The Flood Pass can be run from a variety of formations, but the more receivers that flood the area the more likely the play will succeed.

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971 Pass
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The 971 Pass is similar to the Clear Out Pass but the directive is not to fill the vacated flat, but rather is intended as a deep threat pass.  The 971 Pass has three potential receivers all coming across the quarterback's line of vision at varying degrees of pattern depth.  This pass can be run from a variety of formations with the third receiver coming to the area via motion.  It is shown here run from the Double Slots Formation with the off side flanker coming in motion to get to the play side, but could easily be run with the flanker not in motion but simply running his crossing pattern from the far side.



The Screen Pass
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The Screen Pass (shown here: Middle Screen) is a misdirection play intended to take advantage of an over zealous pass rush and create a mismatch with the offensive linemen against the linebackers.  The offensive line feints pocket pass protection, positioning themselves to the defenders inside shoulder and allowing the pass rush to the outside shoulder offering only token resistance.  As the defenders pass the offensive linemen, the quarterback tosses the ball to the intended receiver and he follows the linemen to the linebacker positions utilizing his blockers.  The Screen Pass can be run to either side just as effectively and can be run from almost any formation.  Offensive linemen MUST sell their blocking attempts for the screen to be effective.

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Double Fade
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The Double Fade Pass is designed to be run from a formation featuring two tight ends.  Shown here executed from the Power I Formation, the concept involves establishing or emulating the run, then going to the pass.  The intention is to lull the defense into playing only one safety, then sending two receivers into the defensive back field angling with the direction of the quarterback and forcing the safety to choose which receiver to cover, then throwing to the other.  The line blocks in Fence style protection to deter the linebackers from keying on drop back protection and dropping back into coverage themselves.  For best results, the Double Fade should utilize a sound run fake taking on the properties of a play action pass.



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Deep Cross
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The Deep Cross is sometimes referred to as a "pick" play because the design calls for one receiver to pick or screen off another receiver's defender down field.  Contact of course is not allowed.  The screening player must create the pick by the position of his body, keeping himself between the defender and the intended receiver.  The line pocket pass protects as in most deeper patterns.  Different secondary receivers can be specified, but I recommend these alternate receivers run outside patterns so as to not congest defenders in the middle of the field.
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52 Hot Pass
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The 52 Hot Pass is a quick developing pass play designed to be used with two receivers to the same side.  It is a simple play with the tight end (or inside receiver) doing a 10 yard hook to the inside while the wide out does a 5 yard out pattern.  The word hot as well as the omission of a pass pattern numbered seven or higher tells the offensive line to block in the Fence style keeping the defender's hands down.  The 26 Hot Pass is basically the same play, but the wide out runs the 5 yard out, and the tight end runs the 10 yard hook out.  All hot passes use a shorter than normal drop back by the quarterback--about three steps rather than five or seven.



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Halfback Pass
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The Halfback Pass is a deceptive play calling for the running back to pass the football down field after faking a running play.  Shown here from the basic Pro Set, the running back receives the pitch out and sprints to the outside as if running the Quick Pitch.  Once to the outside the running back turns passer and throws to one of the open receivers.  This play can be run from virtually any formation but is run most effective from a one or two back set.  The quarterback can even become a receiver himself back to the far side, but such cross field passes should be run with extreme care as they are susceptible to the interception.  The deeper patterns should not be the primary targets for the throwing back as he is probably not as skilled a passer as the quarterback.  Nevertheless, they remain an option.

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The 314 Pass
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The 314 Pass is a crossing type pass play where three receivers all run in the same direction offering the quarterback an easier viewing window to pick a receiver.  Shown here run from the Twins (right) Formation, the 314 Pass can be run from most any formation with three wide outs.  However, if run from the Tripps or Quads Formations, the third receiver should come from the other side.  Since all receivers are running in the same direction as the quarterback, this play can easily be run as a quarterback roll out pass play.



Reach Pass (right)
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The Reach Pass is as a medium to long range threat designed to keep a defense stretched.  In reality, the Reach Pass is simply a 20 yard crossing (or "In") pattern combined with both a deep pattern and a shorter one--usually a tight end drag across the middle.  The tight end Drag should oppose (come from the opposite direction) the 20 yard cross.  A Flag, Post, Post-Corner, or Fly route can serve as the alternate deep option.  The Line is in pocket pass protection due to the longer pass routes.  The Reach Pass can be run from any formation and with or without the shot gun.  A roll out type pass is not recommended for longer developing pass routes.

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Come Backer (CB)
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The Come Backer Pass (CB) is a misdirection type pass.  It can be run from most all formations. At least three deep routes are run, but the primary receiver sprints for thirty yards then stops and turns very much like a hook or stop pattern.  But the CB takes it one step further.  Here, the receiver runs back to the quarterback at full speed.  The play is designed as a twenty yard reception.  The theory is that by sending three players deep, then having one return so abruptly at full sprint will cause separation between the primary receiver and his defender.  By so specifically outlining the primary receiver's retreat to the ball, the Come Backer Pass can be run as a timing pattern, allowing the quarterback to release the ball before the break by the receiver.  The play is shown run from the Twins Left--Wide (split) Right Formation.

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Flex Pass
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The Flex Pass is another deep threat pass play.  The play features two receivers to the same side both performing 10 yard hook outs.  Two receivers from the other side then run deeper routes to the same side as the hooks.  The inside receiver to the opposite side runs a direct pattern (slant) to get to the area quicker.  The outside receiver runs an angled pattern (post) to arrive a count later.  In the diagram shown here, the back blocks first to check the blitz, then releases in a Curl (Zero) pattern.  Since at least one deep pattern is run, the offensive line pocket pass protects.  Since four receivers are to the same side, the quarterback roll out is an option.  The deeper receivers are the primary receivers.


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Renegade Pass
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The Renegade Pass involves two tight ends both running the fly pattern up the middle of the field.   This play can be run from any formation providing at least one tight end is used.  The role of the second tight end can be played by a wide out coming in motion to the inside.  The Renegade Pass is designed to present and maintain a deep threat by the tight end position by stretching the defense in the middle of the field.  The receivers run directly up field looking over the outside (sideline) shoulder to the quarterback at all times. The run fake should be well executed so as to keep the linebackers honest and freeing up the tight ends to sandwich the safety.

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The Back Door Pass
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The Back Door Pass is a misdirection, play action, roll out pass intended to start the defense one way then reversing direction and passing the ball back to the other side. The Quarterback's primary receiver is the Tight End which has run a slower than normal developing drag pattern 10 to 15 yards deep.  A pass thrown across the field is often susceptible to a damaging interception.  To minimize the risk of an interception the Quarterback throws the pass over the outside shoulder of the Tight End.  The Back Door Pass is vulnerable to the weak side blitz and special care should be taken by the Quarterback to avoid the sack when he reverses his footing to throw back across the field.  If the Quarterback feels too much pressure from the back side, he may opt to continue the roll out and throw to his secondary receiver, the Full Back or back out of the back field that took the run fake and flared out to the strong side flat.

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Cross Buck Pass
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The Cross Buck Pass is a Play Action Pass utilizing two ball fakes to sell the run.  A deviation of Ron Schipper's Cross Boot (Hawkes, p.63).  The quarterback then sets up to throw the ball to one of three receivers, four if the fullback fills the middle zone.  The quarterback should drop back deep enough to square his shoulders to the line of scrimmage particularly if he will be throwing against the flow of his own body, as in to his weak side.  The Tight End blocks for two full counts before filling the flat.  This play can be run from any formation featuring two backs but works best with at least three receivers.



Pass Route Tree
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The Pass Route Tree (below) illustrates the basic pass routes run by eligible receivers.  As a rule odd numbered pass routes are run to the inside portion of the field, even numbered routes to the outside.  Basic patterns are to the left in the diagram, specialty routes to the right.  Pass routes can be called by number or by name.  In a passing play like the 838 Deep Cross, the numbers specify that the outside receiver run a #8 patter, the man next inside him a #3 pattern, the next receiver another #8 pattern.  Of course, patterns can be modified.  For example the Float is merely a soft, dragging slant pattern.  The out and up is a combination of a five yard out pattern and the Fly pattern. The pass routes or patterns depicted here are numbered as follows.  #0=The Zero or Curl Pass.  #1=5 yard Cross or In.  #2=5 yard Out or Sideline.  #3=10 yard Cross.  #4=10 yard Out.  #5=10 yard Hook or Stop (In).  #6=10 yard Hook (Outside).  #7=Post. #8=Post Corner.  #9=Fly or Go.  I personally do not favor pass route numbers higher than one digit as this hampers many play calling techniques.  Other pass routes can be specified by letters of the alphabet or by name, as in the Flag, Fade, Slant, Float, and the Out and Up.  Many coaches use what I call the Banana route where a pattern such as the Post is rounded or bowed in shape.


Other Pass Plays
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    The Out and Up Pass is a dangerous play designed to take advantage of single (Man to Man) coverage.  It requires some "setting up" by having a receiver run the #2 pattern--the five yard out pattern--several times previously.  Then the quarterback simply calls the out and up, the receiver runs the out, the quarterback "pumps" the fake pass, then hits the receiver on the fly.
    The Curl Pass simply calls for a receiver coming out of the back field in the Curl or Zero Pattern.
    The Hitch Pass calls for multiple receivers to one side of the field, then the primary receiver simply steps back a step and catches the quick toss following the blocking of the other receivers around him. One or more linemen can pull around the corner to offer blocking assistance.
    The Hitch and Go calls for a pump fake by the quarterback during the hitch, then hitting the receiver on a fly pattern.  The Hitch and Go is set up by first running a few hitch plays.
    The Hail Mary involves multiple receivers coming together at one deep spot in an effort to outnumber the defenders at the point of reception.