Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Orleans Saints Passing Game (Part I)

The Super Bowl Champion, New Orleans Saints, and Head Coach Sean Payton have perfected an age old recipe for moving the ball down the field. With just a handful of concepts the offense can generate a solution on any given down to always leave the defense guessing what will hit them next. This versatility is what is required for an offense to adapt and survive in an increasingly competitive age of evolving defenses. It also illustrates the necessary "toolbox" of answers an offense must possess in its arsenal (when your best play and your counter to your best play is shut down, now what?).

The next few posts will explore some basic concepts of their passing attack to horizontally and vertically stretch defenses and provide easy answers to any situation. I don't intend to reinvent the wheel here - most of these concepts have been covered extensively before, either on smartfootball (which we'll borrow heavily from) or this site. We're merely attempting to provide an overview of the concepts (this site is mainly for coaches who already know this stuff) and how they adapt to a defense's response. These methods are actually quite common and are the standard blueprint for the modern offense ( air raid principles ). What makes the application for the Saints so effective obviously is a more-than-competent quarterback, a bevy of consistent receiving threats, and an emphasis on the 3-step game to alleviate pressure on the offensive line to be engaged in pass protection for extended durations.

The crux of the passing game is premised on blowing the top off defensive coverage by sending multiple receivers down field on any given play. It only takes one open deep receiver on one play to threaten a defense. As written about extensively at smartfootball, the 4 vertical package is a 5-step concept that is best run out of 1-back or no-back sets meant to horizontally stretch deep safeties.
The illustration shows the 4 vertical package, and subsequent pictorials will be overlaid with the 4 vert concept to demonstrate how the stems will appear the same.


After threatening the defense with four vertical receivers, the offense uses another 5-step concept, a corner or china concept where the vertical #2 receiver bends his route deep outside away from any deep safety, while the #1 receiver stops his route shallow, thus "high-lowing" a side of the field (if corner retreats deep, throw underneath / if corner stays shallow, throw over the top outside).

As you will see in the clips below, it can be run out of any formation and even out of play-action ( becomes "Rodeo / Lasso" in 'the system ).


After presenting a threat to the horizontal and vertical sides of the field, with the 5-step Dig concept, the offense looks to exploit the width of the safeties created by the previous two concepts. So, if you're attacked deep and outside, the dig will victimize you where you ain't (inside and intermediate).
Variations of the 'dig' concept

With Dig, and its many varations (shallow /levels /drive), the concept is made more effective by running a player into the intermediate hole of a defense while simultaneously running another player at a lower depth to create two (often intersecting) levels on underneath inside defenders.

This opener of 5-step concepts will lead us into 5-step traps (screens) and (my favorite) the 3-step game.



Dubber said...

Saints passing breakdown AND hemlock's run and shoot series.......

So much for whatever else I was going to do.

Joe said...

Where on earth do you get Saints game film from?