Using Wide Zone to Set Up the “Look Pass” By: Chad Weeks

In the first article Building an Aerial Attack Around the Wide Zone I talked about the 2 primary passing compliments to Wide Zone, the Keeper and the Solid Pass. These are most certainly the core components of our non-drop back passing offense. In this article, I will discuss another key component of our passing game built around Wide Zone, which is the Look Pass.

THE LOOK PASS

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The Look Pass is our simplest compliment to Wide Zone. It is cheap to install and we only have to work it 5 minutes a day. We attach this to the backside of Wide Zone, though we have attached it to the backside of several different runs.

We only run this under center because we want the ball to come out fast. The receiver will not have any blocking so he has to have the ball fast and accurately to be able to make a move. If we were going to run something like this in shotgun, we would have to add a blocker, which is fine, but that’s not what we are trying to do here.

We predominantly run Look Pass to the backside of 3×1 formations but it can be done to a 2×2 formation. The inside receiver simply push-cracks the safety and is not part of the Look pass equation.

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RULES

The rule for the QB is easy, and the decision is made pre-snap. If you feel the receiver has enough cushion to make the catch, secure the ball, and make a move then throw it. After that its on the receiver to do something with it.

The rules for the receiver are very simple. Our footwork is as simple as loading the weight on the front foot of the stance, pushing off and pivoting back. That’s it. After catching it his rule is to get to a point 5 yards downfield on the sideline, after that the athlete takes over.

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We’ve found that by having the receiver pivot away from the defender we have more success with it rather than foot firing or taking one pop step. First, there is now more separation, which means we can throw it to a tighter corner than most would. Secondly, the defenders typically are slower to trigger when the receiver simply steps off the line of scrimmage. This doesn’t look the same as the quick screens they are used to seeing every week. Finally, it’s a cleaner more consistent picture for the QB which leads to a faster throw. I work with the QB’s to get used to throwing from multiple arm slots. The most important part of this throw is to not sail it. Anything low the receiver can usually salvage it, anything high this is dead in the water and we may as well have handed it off on Wide Zone.

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I only ask for 5 yards, anything extra the athlete creates on his own by beating the man trying to tackle him one on one. It is crucial to coach that point though, they have to attack the sideline. This creates space between them and the other 10 defenders that will be pursuing and it give them the opportunity to cut back on the defender trying to tackle him one on one. The runner reads the leverage of the defender. If the defender keeps inside leverage he will violently try to rip under the tackle and press down the sideline. If the defender keeps outside leverage the runner will break down the cushion between them then get up field underneath the defender, but will get back outside as fast as he can to avoid the other pursuing defenders.

DRILLING IT

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We work Look Pass in a simple “pre-practice” drill. Again 5 minutes a day, if you want to get it done even faster, and you can be really honest with yourself, you could just throw this to the guys who would realistically be running it in games.

EXAMPLES

The following are good examples of Look Pass in action. Notice on all 4 the ball gets out very quickly and hits the WR in the chest. This makes his life so much easier and allows our best offensive player to beat the defender one on one.

These clips show bad examples of Look Pass. Notice on these two clips the WR’s hesitate and even work back inside, which is the worst thing you can do.

This clip shows an example of when the QB should have thrown it and didn’t.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

One of the adjustments we didn’t invest in until late last year was also running Look Pass with a 0-Step Slant or what we called “Strike” to beat the Catch-Man coverage we saw a ton of last year. The QB and WR would communicate this with a simple hand signal. By default it was a normal Look Pass, if the signal was given it was converted to the Strike. We didn’t run it live in a game, but it was something that we had available if we needed it. We will be investing in this heavier this year to make sure we get what we want from it and that the QB is comfortable with the throw.

CLOSING

As simple as Look Pass is it’s the best attachment we have for Wide Zone. Though not as sexy as post-snap RPOs this is cheap and simple way to get the ball into your best receiver’s hands on run downs. I feel just as comfortable with this short throw and catch into space as I am handing it off. One of the biggest regrets I have from last season is not pushing our QB to throw it more often.

Follow Coach weeks on twitter here @weekschad

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