Playbook: Defending the goal line fade route

Click here for the entire Inside the Playbook series.

Click here for my breakdown of Calvin Johnson on the goal line fade.

Let’s go back to the 2011 season and take a look at Dwayne Bowe’s TD vs. the Colts on the goal line fade route. A good opportunity to focus on CB technique (in a press-alignment) and to talk about finishing the play from the perspective of the Chiefs’ WR.

Chiefs vs. Colts
Offensive Personnel: Ace (2WR-2TE-1RB)
Formation: Unit “Spread” (U off the ball)
Route: Fade
Defensive Scheme: Cover 1 (man-free)

-Forget about the FS on the fade. You might get help on the 3-step slant (if the FS takes a downhill angle on the throw), however, playing the goal line fade in this situation is no different than aligning in Cover 0. The CB is on an island here.

- Quick point about Bowe’s split. With the ball on the far hash, the Chiefs’ WR is aligned on top of the numbers. Plenty of room to run the slant and to work to the corner of the end zone on the fade. Remember, always check the pre-snap splits of the WRs when you break the huddle.

- I like the alignment from Colts CB Jacob Lacey. Head up with almost a slight inside shade. You must take away the slant (force the WR to release through your leverage) and react to the fade. A drill the majority of NFL secondaries practice every Friday during the regular season.

- Lacey is using what I call a “Taxi” technique at the snap (inch off on the release). That is an option in a press-alignment, but look at his hand placement here. If you keep your hands low as a DB in press, you can’t impact the release of the WR. As one coach always told us: “Your hands are your weapons…use them.”

-Solid angle from Lacey on the stem (target the inside hip). This puts the CB “in-phase” with the WR. Now, you have to find the ball. Get your head back, play up through the hands of the WR (or the “pocket”) and make an attempt to knock it down. The issue here (and the reason for the flag) is simple: Lacey never gets his head around. Yes, the ball is underthrown, but the ref is always going to side with the offense in this case and pull that flag out.

-Love the catch from Bowe. As I said above, this is an underthrown pass (not a back shoulder throw) from QB Matt Cassel. However, he plays through the pass interference call and keeps the ball alive. This is how you finish the play as a pro.

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