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What is the 'smoke' route?

Quick look at the Cowboys' route concept from last night. Matt Bowen

Print This August 22, 2011, 12:25 PM EST

During last night’s Chargers-Cowboys game down in Dallas, I started talking on Twitter about the “smoke” route. What is it? Here’s a quick breakdown…

Tony RomoICONRomo and the Cowboys used the "smoke" route last night vs. the Chargers.

- The true definition of a “smoke” route is a basic one-step hitch. When the QB sees the CB playing with a soft-cushion (think off-man at a depth of 7-8 yards), take the snap and get the ball to the outside. Doesn’t matter what is called in the huddle—because this is on the QB and the WR. Usually a quick hand signal, grab of the facemask, etc. Something that tells the WR to get ready.

- Why do you run it? To force the CB to tighten down or align in a press-position. If the defense is going to give the WR room to work with, put the CB in a situation where he has to make an open field tackle in space. And when he does close down that cushion in his alignment, go up top with the fade if you see a matchup you like.

- Get it on tape. Going back to my own career, the “smoke” route was an alert in the game plan every week. Something you have to prep for throughout the week in practice in terms of your alignment as a CB. Play too soft and the ball is coming out quickly to the sidelines. QB Tony Romo threw this multiple times last night to give opposing DBs something to think about for the regular season.

How do you stop it? If you are in an off-man position, plant and drive on the ball. Make a hard tackle for no gain and tell the WR that you are going to hit him all night. That should take care of it.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

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