Pass pattern

What is the definition of A Pass Pattern in American Football?

In American Football, a pass pattern, also known as a route, is a path that a wide receiver takes in order to get open for a pass from the quarterback. Pass patterns are an essential aspect of the passing offense and play design because they require speed, agility, and awareness, both from the receiver and the quarterback. The wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs are often the ones who run pass patterns as part of their assignments during a play.

There are various types of pass patterns used throughout the course of a game, designed for short, intermediate, and long passes. These patterns depend on the offensive strategy, defensive coverage, and the skill sets of the players involved. Coaches and players must work together to identify the most effective pass patterns for their team, taking into account the opposing defense, game situation, and individual player strengths.

Key Takeaways

  • Pass patterns are the paths wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs take to get open for a pass from the quarterback.
  • Different pass patterns are designed to target short, intermediate, and long passes, based on the game situation and the players’ skill sets.
  • Offensive success often relies on a strategic use of various pass pattern types, tailored to exploit the weaknesses in the opposing defense.

What is a Pass Pattern

A pass pattern, also known as a route, is a pre-designed path run by a wide receiver in American Football with the objective of getting open to receive a pass from the quarterback. Pass patterns play a crucial role in the team’s offensive strategy and are designed for short, intermediate, and long passes, depending on the team’s goals and the opponents’ defensive strategy.

There are various common pass patterns utilized in football, including the Hook or Hitch Route, the In Route, and the Dig Route. The Hook or Hitch Route requires the receiver to run a specific distance up the field before stopping and turning back towards the quarterback. This pattern is useful in situations where a short, quick pass is needed to gain yardage.

The In Route is another fundamental pass pattern, where the receiver runs straight up the field and then cuts in toward the center of the field at a sharp angle. Known as a Drag when run on the opposite side, this pattern creates space for the wide receiver to separate from the defender and is useful for gaining short-to-medium yardage.

The Dig Route is a variation of the In Route, where the receiver runs hard up the field before cutting back at a 45-degree angle towards the quarterback. This pattern is highly effective for creating separation and getting open for intermediate passes.

In addition to these basic pass patterns, there are more complex routes that incorporate elements from multiple patterns, such as the Corner Route, which combines aspects of both the Out and the Up patterns. Each route serves a specific purpose, and understanding how and when to use them is an essential skill for wide receivers and quarterbacks alike.

Types of Pass Patterns

In American Football, pass patterns are the various routes a wide receiver or another eligible pass catcher runs to get open for a pass from the quarterback. These patterns help create separation from the defenders and generate successful passing plays. There are three main categories of pass patterns: Vertical Routes, Horizontal Routes, and Breaking Routes.

Vertical Routes

Vertical routes focus on gaining yardage along the field, challenging the defense with deep passes. These are high-risk, high-reward plays that can result in significant gains or big plays. Some common vertical routes include:

  • Go Route: The receiver sprints straight downfield, attempting to outrun the defensive back.
  • Post Route: The receiver runs downfield and breaks towards the center of the field at a 45-degree angle.
  • Corner Route: The receiver runs downfield and breaks towards the sideline at a 45-degree angle.

Horizontal Routes

Horizontal routes focus on quick, short passes that aim to maintain possession and gain crucial yards. These routes are particularly useful in situations where a team needs to convert a third down or in a short-yardage scenario. Some common horizontal routes include:

  • Slant Route: The receiver takes a few steps forward, then cuts diagonally across the field, creating separation from the defender.
  • Drag Route: The receiver runs a shallow crossing pattern, moving parallel to the line of scrimmage.
  • Out Route: The receiver runs straight downfield and then cuts towards the sideline at a 90-degree angle.

Breaking Routes

Breaking routes involve sudden changes in direction or speed to generate separation from a defender. These routes capitalize on the receiver’s athleticism, agility, and route-running ability. Some common breaking routes include:

  • Curl Route: The receiver runs forward for 8-10 yards before turning around and heading back towards the quarterback.
  • Comeback Route: The receiver runs downfield, then breaks back towards the sideline at a sharp angle, momentarily losing the defender.
  • Double Move: The receiver executes a fake route (such as a curl or slant) before breaking into a different route, aiming to deceive the defender and create open space.

The ideal pass patterns depend on the offensive scheme, the strengths of the quarterback and receivers, and the opposing defense’s vulnerabilities. By mastering these patterns, offenses can create efficient and potent passing attacks.

Factors Influencing Pass Patterns

Receiver Skills

In American Football, the abilities and strengths of a team’s wide receivers can heavily influence the types of pass patterns used. Wide receivers with strong route running skills, speed, and agility can perform a variety of pass patterns including deep-seated routes like Streaks (also known as Fly or Go) and Post routes. Conversely, receivers with less speed may focus on shorter, quick-hitting patterns like Quick Out routes or Slants.

Defensive Strategies

The alignment and schemes of a team’s defense play a significant role in determining the pass patterns utilized by the offense. For instance, the presence of two high safeties versus one high safety can affect which type of pass patterns are more effective. Defensive matchups, such as a skilled cornerback covering a top receiver, might also prompt an offense to adjust their pass patterns to create more favorable opportunities for other players.

Offensive Strategies

Coaching and play-calling decisions shape the choice of pass patterns used during a game. The offensive coordinator tailors the passing game to exploit defensive weaknesses or capitalize on the strengths of their quarterback and receivers. Some teams may emphasize quick, short passes to move the ball methodically down the field, while others might prefer taking deep shots to stretch the defense vertically. Offensive strategies can change from game to game or even within a single contest, depending on the opponent and game situation.

Game Situations

The score, time remaining, and down-and-distance situations can have a significant impact on the pass patterns employed by a team. When a team is trailing late in the game, they may be forced to use longer, more aggressive pass patterns to cover more ground and score quickly. Conversely, if a team holds a lead, they might focus on shorter, more conservative pass patterns to keep the clock running and limit the risk of turnovers. In high-pressure situations like third-and-long, an offense may opt for pass patterns that can achieve the necessary yardage to convert the first down.

Common Pass Pattern Combinations

In American Football, pass patterns, also known as route combinations, play a crucial role in the success of the passing game. These patterns are designed to create separation between wide receivers and defenders and exploit coverage weaknesses. Here are several common pass pattern combinations employed by teams at various levels of the sport.

Slant-Flat: This combination includes a slant route by an inside receiver and a flat route by an outside receiver. The quarterback reads the outside defender. If the defender stays wide, the slant is thrown; if the defender moves inside, the flat is thrown.

Curl-Flat: Consisting of a curl route by the outside receiver and a flat route by the inside receiver, this combination targets zone coverages or off-man coverages. The quarterback reads the outside defender, typically the cornerback, and throws to the open receiver based on the cornerback’s movement.

Smash: A smash combination sees the outside receiver run a hitch or quick out route while the inside receiver runs a corner route. This high-low concept targets the cornerback, forcing him to choose between the two receivers. If the cornerback stays up, the quarterback throws the corner route; if the cornerback drops, the hitch or quick out is thrown.

Levels: Designed to exploit zone defenses, the levels concept involves one receiver running a shallow drag route while another receiver runs an intermediate in route or dig route. This pairing of routes creates a natural pick for the defenders, potentially leaving one of the receivers open.

Drive: This concept is used to attack man coverage. One receiver runs a shallow crossing route, while another receiver runs a dig route from the opposite side. This combination works to create natural rubs and picks, making it challenging for defenders to maintain tight coverage.

Four Verticals: A well-known combination, four verticals sees all four receivers running straight down the field, stretching the defense vertically. This concept creates one-on-one matchups and attempts to exploit seams in zone coverages.

These common pass pattern combinations form an essential part of the strategic foundation for American Football offenses. Successful execution of these patterns requires precise route-running, proper timing, and accurate passes from the quarterback.

Pass patterns in American Football are designed routes that receivers run to create separation from defenders and catch the ball. There are several popular pass patterns, such as the streak (also called fly or go), post, out route, and in or dig route. While executing these patterns, both the offense and defense must abide by specific rules to avoid incurring penalties.

A fundamental rule related to pass patterns is offensive pass interference. This occurs when a receiver hinders a defender’s fair attempt at catching the ball more than one yard past the line of scrimmage. The penalty for offensive pass interference is the loss of 10 yards and repetition of the down.

Defensive pass interference, on the other hand, is called when a defender hinders a receiver’s fair attempt to catch the ball. This penalty is enforced from the spot of the foul and results in an automatic first down for the offense.

Another relevant concept is the pick play, which is illegal in the NFL as it constitutes pass interference. During a pick play, a receiver sets a pick or screen on a defender to free up another receiver for a catch. If the referee deems that the pick was intentional, the offense is penalized 10 yards and required to replay the down. Similarly, if a defender runs an illegal pick play, they receive a yardage penalty at the spot of the foul.

It’s imperative for both offensive and defensive players to avoid illegal contact and adhere to the established rules while executing pass patterns during a game. By understanding these key rules and associated penalties, teams can minimize mistakes and execute their pass patterns more effectively.

Improving Pass Pattern Execution

To improve pass pattern execution in American football, it’s essential to focus on three key aspects: precision, timing, and communication. By prioritizing these fundamentals, the connection between the quarterback and receivers will be enhanced, leading to a more effective passing game.

Precision: Precision is crucial for both the wide receiver and the quarterback. The wide receiver must run crisp, clearly-defined routes, ensuring that they are in the correct position to receive the pass. This includes proper route depth, sharp cuts, and maintaining separation from defenders. Quarterbacks, on the other hand, must focus on delivering accurate passes by honing their throwing mechanics and adjusting their reads based on the receiver’s position and the defender’s coverage.

Timing: The timing between the quarterback and the receiver must be impeccable. In order to achieve this, both the quarterback and the receiver need to be on the same page about the intended route and the desired timing for when the pass should be released. Repetition through practice will help to develop a natural sense of timing, ultimately leading to greater synchronization during games.

Communication: Effective communication between the quarterback and the receivers is essential for a successful pass pattern execution. This includes verbal and non-verbal cues, such as hand signals and eye contact. Continuously developing a strong rapport and understanding between teammates will help to improve chemistry on the field, enabling more efficient and fluid execution of pass patterns.

By focusing on these areas during practices and team drills, players can work towards improving their pass pattern execution. This improvement will ultimately contribute to a more effective and coordinated offensive effort during games.