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The “Spot” route (7-Curl-Flat) might be the most common concept we see in 3rd down and red zone situations in the NFL. A route that can be run from multiple personnel groupings and alignments in order to “window dress’’ a basic scheme.
Today, let’s breakdown the Giants’ version of the “Spot” from the NFC Championship game. Plus, we will also check out the route in two different offenses—Green Bay and Chicago—to give you some different looks at the concept.
Giants vs. 49ers
Route: “U” Spot
Personnel: Ace (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB)
– The “U” Spot identifies the second TE in the game (U) replacing the WR in the curl. At first glance, this might look like Hi-Lo Crossers with Victor Cruz coming back across the formation on the crossing route, but all we are seeing here is the “U” TE, Bear Pascoe, running to the “spot” (curl). And it leads to a TD.
– The same 7 (corner) and flat combination to complete the route with Hakeem Nicks on the 7 cut and the “Y” TE breaking to the flat. RB Brandon Jacobs releases on the angle route to give Eli Manning five receivers in the scheme, but the Spot concept is the primary read.
– It’s not uncommon to see offenses use the “X” Spot with a backside receiver in a “nasty” (reduced) split to the formation. Bring the WR back across the formation to replace the curl route. Again, this is all window dressing. No different than what the Giants ran vs. the 49ers. Use a slot formation, pre-snap motion (Cruz) to create a bunch set and target the TE in the curl.
Now let’s look at the “Spot” with two different personnel groupings on the field.
Raiders vs. Packers
Personnel: 4 TE, 1 WR
– The Packers have four TEs in the game, but the idea is the same. Run the 7, curl and flat combo from an empty alignment and target the underneath curl.
– Four TEs on the field, so again we are talking about dressing up the formation (and adding in an empty look) to run a basic scheme.
Bears vs. Eagles
Personnel: Tank (1 WR, 2 TE, 2 RB)
– The Bears align in a bunch set to the closed (strong) side of the formation with RB Matt Forte removed as the backside X receiver. Bring your Tank personnel into the huddle, spread the field and run the Spot route.– The Bears send Forte on the 9 (fade) route to the open (weak) side of the formation, but for a coaching tip, always expect a backside slant away from a bunch set.
Why do offenses dress up basic schemes?
In all three routes, personnel and alignments are the keys to breaking offensive tendencies. Disguise the playbook and give the defense a new look before the snap of the ball. All done to run a route concept you will see in high school ball on Friday nights. This isn't complex football. Instead, create confusion and put points on the board.
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