August 22, 2013
This is an old article I recently saw tweeted out by Grantland's Chris Brown -- published back in February -- but it's an interesting one, if you're into the Xs and Os of football (and the Air Raid).
It's from a high school coach who writes that he attended a camp led by Neal Brown on his offense. He provides a few play diagrams that show the reads/progressions/options involved in the multi-tiered, spacing-centric offense. I'm by no means an expert, but figured we could take a quick/basic look at the plays and what they try to accomplish.
Here are two of them that highlight a few principles:
1) Two-sided pass
The basics: in this play, the field is essentially split in two.
What happens: The quarterback first reads the safety (notated with the F in a circle). If he moves toward the middle of the field in a Cover 3 look, the QB reads 1) the X receiver on the skinny post, then 2) the running back going toward the flat. If the safety moves toward the edge of the field, the QB then reads the right side of the field, moving through his three progressions (first the Y receiver on the go, the Z receiver on the outside, and the H receiver on the in-and-out).
Essentially, these routes stretch the field as wide as they can, and the QB chooses to attack one side or the other based on where the advantage is (whichever side of the field the safety chose not to go).
2) The Pass/Run Combo Play
The basics: give your offense the option to either pass or run the ball, depending on the defense's actions.
What happens: First, the quarterback analyzes coverage on the Z receiver. He's running a go -- if he's one-on-one, the play calls for a pass to him (this is where playmakers at WR matter so much. If matched up one-on-one, can they beat their man and make a catch?).
If not, it shifts into a pass/draw run combo. Linemen set in pass protection and then drive into run blocks, and the key receiver is the Y. He runs a quick four-yard hitch route. If the linebacker sees a draw unfolding and moves toward the line of scrimmage, the Y will be one-on-one, and the QB passes to him. If the linebacker moves to cover the passing lane, the QB hands the ball off and the running back hits the hole up the middle (where the LB chose not to go) on a draw play.
Again, I'm by no means an expert, and if you want more reading, check out the post in full and Grantland's recent breakdown of combo plays in action. The Air Raid offense is predicated on stretching out the defense both vertically and horizontally and giving the offense two options, of which the defense must choose to defend one -- then attacking the one they don't.
Hope all of that made sense. Feel free to ask questions/discuss on The House of Blue.