Beating the Blitz: Throwing "Hot"

An introduction to protection can be found here.

 

Regardless of what pass protection scheme an offense is using, they can be faced with more rushers than they can block. When that happens, the offense will need to get rid of the ball quickly (before the untouched rusher gets to the QB), and they will want to throw to the void created by the blitz. Cue the "hot route."

In this example, the offense is faced with a potential of a 7 man pressure against their 6 man protection:

Slide09_medium

If the defense brings the Sam backer, the offense has him blocked (they have designated him the "Mike"). If either the (real) Mike or the Will come on a blitz the back has them picked up. But if the defense brings all three, the offense has to throw hot. They can do this in a number of ways.

Some offenses and some plays are "built-in hot," while other types of offenses and other types of plays need to be altered on the fly when the blitz comes. Some offenses (typically at lower levels) won't throw hot at all, but will simply keep checking more and more players into the protection.

 

Built-in hot

Some hot routes are simply built into pass plays, meaning the route doesn't change at all versus a blitz. To illustrate this, I'll highlight a play that Ohio State used frequently under Terrelle Pryor, most notably to beat the Oregon Ducks in the 2010 Rose Bowl. Ohio State packaged Double Slants to the left, with the Snag combo to the right:

Slide12_medium

Obviously I don't know how Tressel set the protection on this play, but if it were me, I'd make the Will backer the "Mike" (and it looks to me like OSU did).

Slide13_medium

 

To the left, you have a very good man route in the slant, which will be very hard for the DB to cover without inside help, and to the right, you have the stick route which is the same way. These quick-hitting routes are perfect for throwing hot, and they allow the protection above to work:

Slide14_medium

If no one blitzes, the play is run the same way, with Pryor probably going to the snag side and reading the coverage unless he can get the ball to one of the slants because of the way the defense has set. As it played out, Oregon had a pretty complex blitz called. Pryor saw the blitzing DB and immediately went to the slants. A safety replaced the blitzer in coverage, so Pryor kept reading wide and hit the second slant for a first down:

Slide16_medium

Note that Pryor's read may have been to that side of the field regardless of blitz because of the DBs' alignment. With the CB bailing and the FS the only one who could have covered either route, Pryor can know one of the slants will be open.

Video here. (first play and replay from endzone angle immediately following)


Altering the route

To illustrate this type of hot route, I'll use Arkansas' version of the shallow cross/dig combo, one that Jon Gruden had QB Ryan Mallett break down in this video (at around 2:25 into the video).

The backside wide receiver runs a comeback, while the frontside is on a post. Also to the frontside, the back runs a wheel route and the TE is on a square-in. The slot receiver runs the shallow to complete the concept:

Slide17_medium

Again with 5 receivers into the route, this is a 5 man protection (Arkansas calls this "scat" protection). The OL has the 4 down linemen and the Mike.

Slide18_medium

And just like Ohio State's play, if one of the outside backers comes, the QB has to throw "hot". But unlike Ohio State's play, the receivers must also recognize the blitz and convert their routes.

Slide19_medium

Some teams will have their receivers run an entirely different route if they see blitz, but Petrino and Arkansas run this in a much simpler way. Basically if you are to be one of the "hot" receivers and you see a blitzer pass you to get to the QB, you stop your route short and gear-down where you are.

For the back, this means that if he sees a blitz from his side, he will convert the wheel into a shoot route into the flat.

Slide20_medium

For the slot receiver, this means that if a blitz comes from his side, he will convert his shallow cross to a sit route or maybe even a pivot.

Slide21_medium

Hot routes are a way for the offense to get the ball out and beat the blitz. But, as you can see some concepts and some offenses require a great deal of coordination for protections and hot routes to function smoothly: the line has to know who to block, the QB needs to adjust the protection and see the blitz coming, and the receivers need to see what the quarterback sees and adjust their routes accordingly. Additionally, the quarterback and receivers need to recognize man blitz or zone blitz and adjust further.

To this point, our offense has been a long way off of mastering the way that our protections are set. When we do set them correctly, executing is a different problem. But there is a lot that we can get fixed without making personnel moves (say, drafting a right tackle). And because at the root of every successful pass play is successful protection, we need to make strides in this area to have success as a team.

Up next, I'll break down a few plays from the Cleveland Browns' game against the Miami Dolphins and the role that protection played in our successes (and failures).
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Dawgs By Nature

You must be a member of Dawgs By Nature to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Dawgs By Nature. You should read them.

Join Dawgs By Nature

You must be a member of Dawgs By Nature to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Dawgs By Nature. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker