In the article we posted on X’s O’s Football called "Passing Routes 101" we broke down several passing routes for runningback, receivers, and tight ends. For this article we show several common pass routes and route combos that you will find in real football and video game football. We break the sections down with quick pass, medium pass, and deep pass.
A look at common quick pass routes, passing concepts, and route combos.
The Spacing is quick passing concept that has three receiver’s running a three route combo. The inner most receiver runs a flat route. The middle receiver, runs a spot route, while the outer most receivers runs some type of hook route. The spacing concept can always be found in bunch formations.
The Stick is a passing concept that features the inside receiver running a stick route, often he has option to run a quick out route as well depending on the type of pass coverage. The next receiver to him, runs a flat or a quick out. In many cases, you will find the Stick concept run from some type of bunch, cluster, or tight formation.
A look at common medium pass routes, passing concepts, and route combos.
The Drive concept has an outside receiver running a shallow cross, while the inside receiver next to him runs a a dig route. With both passing routes going in the same direction, it creates a high/low read for the quarterback.
The Levels concept has the receiver furthest inside running a dig route. The two outside receivers next him both run short in routes. The Levels concept does an excellent job at attacking zone coverage.
The Mesh passing concept has two receivers running shallow crossing route but from opposite directions. Against man coverage, their pass routes create a rub or natural pick on defenders covering. Generally one of them gets open once they cross each other.
The Pivot passing concept has an outside receiver running a dig route over the top of the inside receiver next to him, who is running a pivot (zig zag) route. Against man coverage, the receiver running the pivot route will generally be open once he breaks towards the sideline.
Has the outside receiver running a deep in route over the top of the inside receiver running short hitch. Against zone coverage this creates a 2 on 1 situation. If the defender covers the deep in route, the hitch route underneath will be open. If the defender covers the hitch, the deep in route will be open.
The Shake has a receiver making a quick fake before running a shallow crossing route. This pass route is highly effective against man coverage providing the receiver has move speed than the defender covering him.
The Shallow Cross passing concept that teams that like to run the Air Raid offense. use. It has one receiver running a shallow crossing route from one direction, while another receiver runs a dig route from the opposite direction. Often this creates a high/low read for the quarterback to make. Ideally he quarterback will look to throw the receiver running the shallow cross.
The Slot Cross has an inside receiver running a intermediate crossing route underneath the outside receiver who is running a deep dig route. By having the inside receiver running the crossing route he will open room for the dig route coming behind him. If man coverage is called, the quarterback looks to see if the slot receiver is able to get seperation from the defender in coverage, especially if no safety is playing the deep middle of the field.
The Smash concept creates a high-low read that attacks Cover 2’s biggest weakness, the deep outside halves of the field near both sidelines. The Smash concept has a two route combination, which are a corner (high) and the other runs a hitch (low). If the cornerback (flat defender) sits on the receiver running the low read, then the receiver running the high read will be open. Conversely if the cornerback sinks back on the receiver running the high read, then the low read receiver will be open. This concept is effective against Cover 2 zone coverage, as well as Cover 3 and Cover 4 coverages. Watch for defenders dropping back in buzz zones as they do a good job at defending corner routes.
The Spot passing concept is design to attack zone coverage. Some team’s may refer to it as the triangle. What we like about it is it’s a simple high/low read for the quarterback to make. The idea of the Snag passing concept is to horizontal stretch the defense by creating three on two isolation.
A West Coast staple passing concept is called Texas. This real football play passing concept features a high-low read between a receiver, who runs a post , and a running back, who runs an angle route. The two pass routes are designed create a two-on-one isolation on a defender dropping back in a hook zone.
A look at common deep pass routes, passing concepts, and route combos.
The comeback has the receiver taking an outside release and running about 18-20 yards up the field. He then break outside towards the sideline at a 45 degree angle.
The Dagger is a two receiver route combo that has the outside receiver running a dig route, while the inside receiver next to him runs a streak down the seam.
The Divide is a passing route that that has a receiver running towards the middle of the field. The route involves a MOFO or MOFC read by the quarterback. For those that don’t know MOFO simply means "middle of the field open," or no deep middle safety. MOFC means "middle of the field closed," or is there a deep middle guy. Another route is used to compliment the Divide pass route is a receiver on the outside running a go or streak route.
The Double Dig has two receivers running dig routes to the same side of the field. One receiver runs a shorter dig, while other receiver runs a deeper dig.
A popular way offenses like to attack zone coverage is flood one side of the field with mutiple receivers. The Flood concept does this by having three receiver running pass routes towards the same of the field. A common Flood concept would be to have one receiver run a flat, second receiver runs a deep out, and the third runs a go route such as shown in the diagram above.
The Mills (Anchor) passing concept is designed to get a to bite on the dig route, allowing for the receiver running the post to get behind him for big play. If the safety does not bite on the dig route, then quarterback would look to throw to that receiver underneath.
The Portland passing concept is similar to the Mills concept as the design is to provide an opportunity for the quarterback to look throw deep down the field to a receiver running a deep post if the safety comes up defend the dig route that is being run from the opposite side.
The Switch concept is a popular Run-&-Shoot passing concept that has outside receiver running a post route with an inside receiver. The inside receiver, runs a wheel route down the sideline. By them switching, it creates an opportunity for a big play deep down the field.
The Verticals passing concept sends 3 or 4 receivers on vertical passing routes. The idea behind this passing concept is to create either 3 on 2 or 4 on 3 against zone coverage, allowing for one of the receivers to be open deep down the field.
The Y Cross has the tight end (Y) running an intermediate crossing route. The concept is good versus both man coverage and zone coverage. If man coverage is called, the tight end will generally matched up against slower linebacker or a smaller defensive back. Once gains separation or leverage he is will be open. Against zone coverage, look for the tight end to be open as he crossing the field, especially if another receiver is running pass route underneath or over the top of him.
Hopefully this will give you better idea of common pass routes and route combos found in real football and football video games. Feel free to use this page as quick reference if you are confused about these type pass combos, pass concept, and pass routes are designed for.