Breaking down the Bears' 'Spot' route

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Every time you watch an NFL game, there is something to learn from when we talk Xs and Os. Formations, wide receiver splits, route stems, coverages, etc. And that’s why I want to go through a quick breakdown from the Bears-Eagles matchup on Monday night.

Go back to the first drive. Second and goal situation. The Bears bring “Tank” personnel (1 WR, 2 TE, 2 RB) on the field and create a bunch look.

The concept from Martz’s playbook: the “Spot” route.

A 7 (corner)-curl-flat combo designed to create room to work the curl (or the “spot”). Run off the top of the coverage with the 7 route, widen the defense with the flat route and sit the curl down vs. both man and zone schemes.
First, let’s take a look at it on the chalkboard. I drew up the concept in Regular personnel (2 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB).


If I am calling plays, I want to get my receivers into a bunch look to generate a free release and to create some natural “pick’ situations if the defense is playing Cover 1 (man-free). Here, I am bringing the Z receiver in motion with a Strong I set (to create the bunch) in the backfield. Run the TE (Y) on the 7 cut, get the FB to the flat and drop the Z receiver in underneath on the curl.

Now, let’s check out how the Bears ran it for a TD on Monday night, drawn up from their pre-snap alignment.


Even with Tank personnel on the field, Martz creates a 3x1 set with Matt Forte removed from the core of the formation as the open (weak) side X receiver. To the closed side, WR Roy Williams will run the flat with TE Kellen Davis on the 7 route. That leaves the second TE in the game, Matt Spaeth (labeled as the “U” TE in the playbook), on the curl. A quick, short throw for QB Jay Cutler.

Same concept (run out of a bunch set) that I drew up on the chalkboard. However, with Martz you get the added window dressing of personnel and formation alignment. A simple concept now disguised from their pre-snap look.

The “Spot” route is used throughout the league, and as I have said before, it is one of the top three concepts you have to defend in the NFL. Keep an eye on that starting tonight in the Raiders-Chargers matchup and throughout the Week 10 NFL schedule—because you will see it.

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