The Quarterback’s Manual 2009

Ron Jenkins, M.S., M.A.

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The Quarterback
Quarterback is the most mentally challenging position on the football field; it also requires the most diversified array of skills when compared to any other position in football. Playing quarterback is easily the most demanding of all the sports today. There is so much that goes into playing quarterback well that an athlete must do most of the training on his own time; studying film, learning from quarterbacks that have already mastered certain mechanics and many, many hours throwing passes on your own. I have never met a successful quarterback that only worked on football during his team’s organized practice sessions. If as a quarterback you are not willing to spend a lot of quality time learning the position and all its nuances, your success will be streaky at best. The QB needs to be well versed in every aspect of the running game, the screen game, the quick-passing game, 5 & 7-step passing, and movement passes to mention only a few. Today’s quarterback needs special attention if he is ever going to be able to play to his potential. It would be impossible for a high school coach to teach his quarterback most everything he needs to know and still have time to instruct all the other players on the team; there just isn’t enough time. Today, a quarterback needs to have a very good personal quarterback coach to help him attain all the skills necessary to play effectively in a competitive game. There are some out there, but you have to do research to make sure you are getting the best instructor. If you are paying money to be put in a group and compete instead of having someone breakdown your mechanics, you are wasting your time unless you are being seen by people who can help you earn a scholarship. In order to get better you need someone who can look at your mechanics and help you correct them. If your throwing motion is hurting you, you need to change it. You will hear some coaches tell you to never mess with your throwing motion, but if you are having accuracy and velocity problems what else can you do? It’s takes a great deal of mental and physical work to change body mechanics but it can be done and it will pay great dividends down the road. If what you are doing isn’t bringing you the success you know you should be having, CHANGE IT!

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There are also many different types of offense; West Coast, Spread, Spread-option, Wing-T, Veer, and Shot-gun, just to name a few. A player that has played in a shot-gun type offense many times can’t even take a 5-step drop in a more traditional offense because he has never been taught the mechanics of dropping back the correct manner. If you have to teach yourself how to drop back smoothly and stay balanced, it could take you until your junior or senior year in college. Here is a little test you can give yourself; have you ever used a 7-step drop in your passing game? If the answer is no you are way behind as far as mechanics are concerned. Watch any NFL or division I football game. You will see everyone (who takes snaps from under center) using the 7-step drop. It’s primarily used for routes that break deeper than 12-yards downfield so the QB doesn’t have to sit at 5-steps and wait for his receiver to break open. It’s used for timing and you will not get deeper than 8-yards with this drop. This manual can help you a great deal because it will show you much of what you need to know – the rest can be filled in as you progress in your football career. However, the manual has got everything from mentally preparation, to mechanics, to reading and understanding defenses. It also has information on how quarterbacks are recruited. This is a list of some areas we will cover in this manual: • • • • • • • • • • • Mental Process Section Mechanics Section Different Drops Sections (Very important for timing) Defensive Analysis Section Leverage Reads (Match-ups) Section Basic Key Reads (Zone) Section Progression Reads Section Different Throws Sections Play-action Mechanics Roll-out Mechanics How colleges recruit quarterbacks

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I have also learned that many of today’s elite major college football programs believe that a quarterback needs to have a private quarterback coach helping them with their mechanics during the off-season. This is because at the Division One level, coaching staffs can only spend 20-hours a week working with their athletes. Since most offenses today are complex, and the defenses are more complicated, there really isn’t enough time in the work day for a college Quarterback Coach to take the athlete through all the mechanics and techniques that are necessary to compete at a high level. Make phone calls to those schools and ask their quarterback coach if they can recommend someone to you. I once worked at a quarterback camp (not Top Gun) and I asked a very well-known Division One Offensive Coordinator (now in the NFL) how he would correct one of our camp’s quarterback’s flawed throwing motion. The coach told me “I wouldn’t recruit him!” What that means is that if a quarterback isn’t fundamentally sound when he is seeking a scholarship, he probably won’t get a scholarship to play quarterback. That makes sense when you consider coaches don’t have the time to teach you everything a personal coach can. In my opinion, if you are serious about playing the position of quarterback at the high school level and hope to continue your career after high school, you need two things; First, you need a private quarterback coach to teach you how to dropback and throw a football along with all the other things you are required to do like play-action passing or throwing screens or even handing the ball off to the running back. The second thing you need is an excellent sports psychologist. The way you prepare your mind becomes more important as you move up through the different levels in football. This area of discussion is also covered in this manual.

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INTRODUCTION The quarterback position is the cornerstone of any modern offense. There are not enough naturally gifted athletes around to supply enough quarterbacks to each football team to play the position effectively enough to win on a consistent basis. Therefore, coaching fundamentally sound mechanics (along with teaching the quarterback how to see and think on the field) to those who play the position of quarterback is essential to the increased success of any offense. Although this book predominantly focuses on quarterbacks using the traditional “under-center dropback passing game” these same skills translate perfectly to the new “Spread Offense” passing game. Throwing the football is still all about footwork. Once someone has mastered the footwork taking drops from center, he will intuitively translate all he has learned to the Spread Offense. This book is about playing quarterback in any offense where passing is involved although there are specific sections devoted to Shotgun passing as well as Spread-Offense passing. Brad Oates of ESPN writes, “The secret to (Mike) Holmgren's successful system for coaching quarterbacks is preparation. Nothing is left to chance. Mechanics such as footwork and throwing motion are heavily scrutinized on every play in practice and in games. The coaches demand precision at all times. Game preparation is exhaustive and the quarterbacks are heavily involved.” In addition, (and I think this is extremely important) coaches can teach their quarterback to think about how they are thinking (metacognition). In other words, most quarterbacks need to be taught a strategy, or a process of thinking, that will greatly enhance their success on the football field. In my opinion employing a Sports Psychologist well versed in quarterback play, like USC’s Dr. Michael Voight, is a better investment than a private quarterback coach who teaches only mechanics. Quarterbacks need to learn how to think clearly on the field and still allow themselves to react to the defense within the framework of an attacking mentality. They need to teach themselves a thought process that will allow them to get the most out of their athletic ability. A great Sports Psychologist can be an asset in this regard.
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As far as the mechanics on the field are concerned, the most basic, yet complex strategy a quarterback can learn is the pre-snap read, in which the quarterback will eliminate some of his passing options (due to the defender’s leverage or the specific coverage) before the ball is snapped. This will help the quarterback make quick, decisive decisions, with greater success. This book will give the reader a more thorough understanding of the techniques, mechanics, and thought processes required to play the position of quarterback at the high school or college level. This book was written for coaches, players, as well as for those parents who are interested in providing the athlete with the fundamental skills necessary to play the position of quarterback to the best of their individual abilities. The purpose of this book is to provide most of the information necessary to teach the athlete how to play the position of quarterback efficiently and effectively. Every subject covered and every drill discussed is important in the development of the quarterback at every level of play. Hard work on the mechanics and techniques can measurably develop a quarterback’s consistency. It is especially important that the quarterback utilize sound technique and mechanics in the passing phase of the offense. This is because poor technique causes injuries to quarterbacks consistently. Quarterbacks often experience problems with shoulders, elbows, arms and forearms most often because they are using poor mechanics when passing the football. One acute flaw will force the quarterback to counter balance the throwing motion with another flaw. For example, a quarterback cannot throw the ball using a sidearm motion without some kind of counter motion somewhere else in his mechanics. Although teaching sound mechanics takes time and effort, it well worth it. When a quarterback uses good technique and mechanics, he can throw more passes and experience much less fatigue, thus greatly reducing his chance of injury. In addition, the quarterback will increase his accuracy. Accuracy in passing comes from balance; and the quarterback’s feet produce balance.

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This book also presents a simple and descriptive way to teach and / or learn the skills that will enable an athlete to be as effective and efficient as possible, playing the position of quarterback. While I attempt to explain each particular technique, I will give specific drills that can be used to learn and refine the particular skill. A few of the drills explained in this book are designed to “over-emphasize” a certain skill in order to retrain the quarterback’s muscle memory. An example might be “shoulder-spin” drills that will have the quarterback over-rotate his torso so that the back of his throwing shoulder ends up facing the target. Even though a quarterback would rarely, if ever follow-through to such an extent, this drill would illustrate to the quarterback how it feels to follow-through in such a way that it would improve his mechanics from a technical standpoint, which would allow him to throw a better pass. This book is broken down into chapters that will cover specific topics or skills. The reader can go through the book from start to finish learning what is necessary in playing the position well, or use the book as a reference guide to trouble-shoot areas of concern. The bulk of the book will discuss the quarterback mechanics and techniques that are necessary from the moment he approaches the line of scrimmage to the end of the football play. I go through each technique in the order it usually comes up in any specific play. As I discuss the various techniques and mechanics, I will usually provide a drill to teach the technique to the player. Hopefully, the written description, along with the picture and or diagram, will provide the clarity necessary to teach and learn the skill effectively. It is my hope that this book will assist coaches and quarterbacks make their offenses more efficient and productive. I think the best way to teach these techniques and skills would be to utilize the four laws of learning; explanation (by the coach), demonstration (by the coach or by the use of film), imitation (by the player), and many, many repetitions by the player himself.

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My suggestion is that as you learn these techniques and drills, you should start out slowly and build up the speed as you master the skills. Start off walking through the techniques, then work at half speed, then full speed. Once you have truly learned the techniques, you will be able to carry them out full speed during a game with no problem; they will become second nature to you.

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The Thinking Process of the Quarterback
There are a lot of physically gifted athletes playing the position of quarterback. In the NFL or example, there was Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, and even Alex Smith (currently) were all high first round draft picks that obviously had all the physical tools but somehow lacked the mental ability to allow them to flourish consistently when they got to the professional level. Then you have quarterbacks like Tom Brady (drafted in the 6th round) or Kurt Warner (not drafted at all) who go on to MVP status in the NFL. The main difference between quarterbacks who make it in the NFL and those that don’t is what they do mentally during the game. To some degree this is genetic; there are “Brain-types” that do extremely well at the highest level of play. There are 16 different brain-types. Three of those 16 brain-types have the mental processes to play quarterback at the highest level, although there is one brain-type that considered the best. For example, Phillip Rivers is an ESTP; the same as Unitas, Namath, Montana, Elway, Marino and Peyton Manning. However at the high school and college levels, quarterbacks can compete at a relatively high level by making the best out of whatever brain-type they possess. The pioneer behind brain-typing is Jonathan Niednagel (JN) Special Note: Go to www.BRAINTYPES.com to get much more detailed information regarding Braintyping for athletic performance. You’ll read several articles on the science of brain-typing and how profession teams use that information. I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail regarding the mental aspect of quarterback play, but there are some things that are needed at any level of play, but you do need to know about thought process and how that process needs to work on the practice field and in the heat of the battle because they are totally different thought processes. When you are being taught a skill such as throwing a 12-yard speed-out for the first time, you need to be thinking in a manner that will allow you to control your gross motor skills. This is a difficult task for some of my quarterbacks. Many times, my first few practices will be devoted to learning how to control muscle movements so we can correct any mechanical problems that an athlete may have. You are
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going to mentally force yourself to alter or change the way you move your feet or throw a football. There is a lot of conscious thinking going on at this time. To think in this manner during a game would be a disaster for the quarterback and his team. During a game situation, the quarterback needs to think several different ways in a very short, defined period of time. For example, he has to get the play from the sideline. Then he has to repeat the play to the team, and break the huddle. This is all done somewhat consciously in that he is thinking about speaking and deciding the snap count and making sure his team is lined up properly. The QB also has to look at the defense and consciously decide what the progression of the read is or if he needs to change the run play. He needs to look for the blitz or the overload to one side of the center. All these things are happening in a very short period of time. Once the ball is snapped, the thought process has got to drastically change; he has to react more than consciously think about what is going on. He basically has to let his training and preparation take over and let his body and mind run on automatic pilot. A conscious thought at this time might throw all the timing off and ruin the play.

A quarterback will need to decide how to think even before he goes onto the field to practice. When a QB is learning a new technique or a new passing game read he needs to consciously think about what he is doing and he needs to be focused. When he is receiving and calling the play, he needs to consciously think about and make decisions. Once the ball is snapped, he has to let his unconscious mind take over and react to what is happening on the field; he needs to get into the zone.
The following is a very simple procedure for thinking during a typical offensive play.

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The Mental Process of the Football Play
Step 1: Immediately after the previous play has ended, focus on assessing the situation objectively – what went right, what needs work. You will also focus on the specific situation; down and distance, time on the clock, field position and then quickly turn your attention to getting the next play from the sideline Step 2: Get the play from the sideline away from the huddle – the center is responsible huddle. Focus on the call itself, and how your offense will execute the play (pass, play-fake, run). Give the play to the offense speaking clearly and efficiently, along with the snap count and any specific instructions. Make eye-contact and speak with confidence. Get a good, sharp break. Step 3: Get to the line of scrimmage quickly. You will now focus and give special attention to a narrow range of cues. For example, during a pass play, you will be assessing the defensive alignment in relation to your linemen and your receivers. You may evaluate the potential for a blitz or eliminate some of your receivers as throwing options based on the coverage and / or leverage of the defender(s). You will go through your Progression / Read in the play telling yourself something like: “Corner, Hitch, Middle.” You will also need to make sure your team mates are in their correct positions before the snap of the ball, or before you put someone in motion. Step 4: The final and most important mental task you will perform in this sequence is to put your mind into automatic processing, and letting all of your practice, preparation, talent, and skill take over. This

is what all the most successful quarterbacks can do on a regular basis, and what holds most quarterbacks from playing to their potential. Thinking is replaced by automatically reacting to what
you see and what the situation dictates – allowing you to be in the zone.

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QUARTERBACK PERFORMANCE ENHANCING QUESTIONNAIRE Please respond to the following questions by filling in the appropriate word in the space via circling its corresponding number KEY: Never: 0

Very Rarely: 1

Rarely: 2

Sometimes: 3 never

Often: 4

Very Often: 5 always

1.) I _____worry about making mistakes 2.) I _____ have a very difficult time letting go of mistakes (3.) I _____ bounce back quickly from setbacks

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

4.) I _____ dwell on mistakes & "carry them" with me to the next play 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 (5.) I _____ consider myself to be a confident player 6.) When I'm not playing well, I _____ get negative & get down on myself (7.) On the field I _____ project a confident image regardless of score 8.) In critical times in games I _____ find myself thinking negatively 9.) I _____find myself getting too nervous/anxious for games (10.) I _____ do my best when the pressure is on 11.) I _____find it difficult to get energized to play a lesser team 12.) I _____ have poor focus when I have to make a critical play 13.) I _____ get distracted during a game 14.) I_____ think too much while I play, instead of just playing 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

15.) Poor officiating (calls), rowdy spectators, or opponent's behaviors _____ take me off my game 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 16.) I _____ get anxious (hope I don't choke) the crazier it gets in competition (weather, score, opponent behavior) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

17.) I am _____ a "slow starter", meaning that it takes me a while to get "into the rhythm" of the game (18.) I _____ use a set pre-game routine to improve readiness

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

19.) My mind _____ wanders to end results & I have trouble focusing on the process of playing well 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 20.) I _____ play better in practice than I do when it really counts (21.) I _____train at a high level of intensity 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 please continue Sometimes: 3 on the next page Often: 4 Very Often: 5

Never: 0

Very Rarely: 1

Rarely: 2

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22.) I _____ find myself 'going through the motions' in practice (23.) I _____ focus well in practice/games when I have problems in my life outside of football (24.) When I practice, I _____ have a specific purpose or goals to accomplish (25.) I _____ have a high energy walk off the field between plays when I am not playing well 26.) Observers/fans/coaches can _____ tell from my body language that I made a mistake or am playing poorly 27.) My coaches/teammates can _____ tell by my body language and behaviors that I am frustrated & upset

0 1 2 3 4 5 6

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

28.) If I am having difficulty with my play, I take it out on my teammates or coaches 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 _______________________________________________________________________ SCORING: to determine your mental skill strengths & weaknesses, add up the numbers in each section, then use the scoring ratings method by section. **There are 9 underlined/circled items that must be reversed scored (6=0; 5=1; 4=2; 3=3; 2=4; 1=5; 0=6) before tallying. These items = 3, 5, 7, 10, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25

If score 8 or fewer points, this area is a mental strength - keep working to maximize its efficiency If score between 9 - 12 points , you appear to have some difficulty w/ the particular mental skills;
Section 1 = questions 1-4 deal w/ your ability to refocus upon adversity (mistakes, setbacks). Section 2 = questions 5-8 refer to your confidence level. Section 3 = questions 9-12 has to do w/ your ability to control your "intensity" (level of anxiety/muscle tension). Section 4 = questions 13-16 inquires about your ability to stay focused w/ distractions present. Section 5 = questions 17-20 deal w/ your ability to prepare physically/mentally for practice and matches Section 6 = questions 21-24 refer to the quality of your training. Section 7 = questions 25-28 have to do w/ your physical presentation when faced w/ adversity.

Section 1=___; Section 2=___; Section 3=___; Section 4=___; Section 5=___; Section 6=___; Section 7=___.

Special Thanks to: Mike Voight, Ph.D. Sport Psychology Consultant, Lecturer University of Southern California, Private Practice …who created this instrument

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Note: This is the Psychologist I would send my son to in order to better compete in any sport. I have seen him change a quarterback from an average player to a truly great player. Call Dr. Michael Voight, PhD at 860 832-2153

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MECHANICS OF THE DROPBACK PASSING GAME

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Introduction
One of the most basic teaching principles in the drop-back passing game is the creation of a rhythm between the quarterbacks’ drop and the receiver’s break. The quarterback needs to be able to get the ball in the air before the receiver breaks open – and not wait until the receiver is open. This ability will help the linemen execute their blocks, and will help put the ball into the receiver’s hands the instant he separates from the defender.

One of the cornerstones of efficient quarterback play is the ability to control your drop so that you reach the end of it just as the receiver is about to break open. Usually, this means that the quarterback should employ a controlled drop and glide back rather than rush or hurry back in a violent manner.

When a quarterback sprints back too fast, he has to be just as violent in trying to stop himself. When this occurs, it’s very hard to be balanced and have his shoulders level for the throw, or have any rhythm with the receiver. When a quarterback glides back, creates a rhythm in his drop and in his throw, he is able to see things down field more clearly and throw the ball more effectively in an efficient, smooth manner. It is imperative that the quarterback be in a position to see the entire field during his drop.

Moreover, by throwing the football precisely at the end of the drop, the offensive line is better able to control the rush of the defenders. When quarterbacks hurry their drops, they end up having trouble with their mechanics because they are usually off-balance when the try to throw the pass. Many times when they do get to the end of their drops, they have to wait for the receivers to break open. Often
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they will be just standing back there getting tense while the rushers now have an aiming point. Once the quarterback hits the end of the drop, the rushers can really push up field toward them.

When a quarterback glides back, hits the end of his drop, and releases the pass, the defenders eventually let up right away. In fact, later on in the game, you will notice that when this type of quarterback hits the end of his drop, the rushers usually let up, even when the quarterback is hitching up in the pocket to throw. The quarterback has trained the defense to realize that the ball is gone as soon as the he hits the last step in the drop. Creating this rhythm can really have an effect on the pass rush, and also increase the accuracy of the throw.

One of the other things this type of drop does is allow the quarterback to begin reading the coverage right away as he is dropping back to pass. Some quarterbacks don’t really begin to make their decisions until they are at the end of the drop. Frequently, the quarterback will run out of time because he can’t take in all the information in a short period of time. By reading the defense as he is dropping back, the quarterback can now anticipate what the coverage is going to do. It’s much easier when the quarterback gets a good pre-snap read based on the leverage of defenders, and then read the defense during the drop, so he can anticipate when the receiver will break open. In order to accomplish all of this, the quarterback must have sound mechanics from the start.

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BODY & FOOT-ACTION TERMS Certain terms are normally used with respect to the body and foot action of the quarterback when he is passing the football. These terms are important in that they explain how the quarterback should position his feet and body when throwing a pass. The proper positioning of the quarterback’s feet and body are extremely critical if he wants to throw an accurate pass with good rotation and the proper velocity. These terms are as follows:

“Compact”: As in “staying compact.” This means the quarterback has a good bend at the knees in his drop, and as he his hitching up (if he has to) and passing the football. While in his drop, his shoulders should be slightly open to the line of scrimmage, which will allow him to see the entire field. His back should be fairly erect and he is “sitting down” more than he is leaning over at the waist. In addition, he will have his elbows in and close to the body but not touching. The top end of the ball should be just about level with the top of the sternum, and held closely to his chest. The ball should be carried smoothly, with very little motion away from the center of his body. He should keep his chin close to his forward (left) shoulder in order to read his backside.

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• •

Ball carriage is good. Elbows are in close to the body and relaxed.

Knees are flexed.

Feet are parallel to the LOS.

Here are examples of a quarterback being “compact”
• The quarterback is ready to throw the football from a compact position. His front shoulder is pointed in the direction he wants the ball to go to. The ball is in a good “carriage” position. His elbows are in a comfortable, relaxed position, close to his body. His knees are slightly bent, allowing him better leverage as he steps into the throw. His feet aren’t too far apart, allowing him to step into the throw, and get good velocity and greater control on the football.

• •

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Three/five/seven “quick”: “Quick” refers to the length of the quarterback’s strides when dropping back to throw a pass. The quarterback should shorten his strides slightly and move his feet a little quicker in order to get the route to time out properly. When the quarterback uses these “quick” drops, he needs to realize timing is more important than depth.

Three/five/seven “big”: “Big” tells the quarterback to lengthen his strides slightly when dropping back to throw a pass. The quarterback should not turn his shoulders away from the backside when lengthening his strides. He will slightly slow down the movement of his feet when he lengthens is strides which will allow him to throw the pass on time.

“Firm”: Firm tells the quarterback that he will NOT be using a hitch-step. This means his last crossover step needs to be shortened so that his feet are not too far apart, allowing him to throw the football balanced, with velocity.

“Hold”: “Hold” tells the quarterback to hold the ball a fraction of a second when he hits the end of his drop. This action is designed to allow the receiver to finish his route and enable the quarterback to deliver the ball on time.

“Hitch”: “Hitch” involves the action that occurs when the quarterback resets his back foot to throw. He should always hitch with his back foot to prevent over-striding.

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“Hitching-up”: “Hitching-up” refers to when the quarterback resets his back foot and then hitches forward in six-inch increments to allow the routes to develop, or to go through his check downs.

“Roll-step”: A “roll-step” occurs when the quarterback positions his plant-foot perpendicular to the target area, then steps toward the target with his lead step. He does this to get his hips open to the target area and to get the ball to “tail-off” in the same direction as the receiver is headed.

This is a good example of a roll-step to the left side in order to throw an out route to the outside receiver

Here are two examples of roll-steps. The picture on top left shows the quarterback preparing to throw to an outside receiver on his backside, to the left. The picture on the bottom shows him throwing to his front-side. From this position, he will now pick up his front foot (target-step) and step towards the point where the ball and receiver will meet.

This is a good example of a roll-step to the right side in order to throw an out route to the outside receiver
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The Quarterback Stance
The quarterbacks’ stance is a critical element in playing the position. As such, it is important that the quarterback develop a comfortable and efficient stance in order to be able to execute all the movement necessary to do his job in an effective manner once the ball is snapped.

The proper stance allows the quarterback to move in any direction necessary due to the different types of action in any offense. For example, the footwork on an outside stretch play is very different from the footwork on a dive play or dropback pass. Moreover, the quarterback has to be able to mesh with the running back at several different places in the backfield, which include points to the left and right of the quarterback.

Upon exiting the huddle, the QB should get under center as quickly as possible, before he starts his presnap read. This will force the defense to do any shifting or stemming at this point. Be sure to have both hands under center. Usually, the defense won’t do anything until the QB is under center because they know nothing can happen until the QB is ready to receive the ball.

It is also important that the entire offense get to the line quickly to give the QB time to see how the defense is setting up. The wide receivers should sprint to the LOS so the QB can get an idea of how the secondary is going to line up. Remember, unless you are at the NFL or elite college level, it’s hard for the secondary to hide their coverage because in doing so, they are usually out of position, an unable to be able to cover their area or man very well. This is especially true with regard to defending the quick passing game. It should also be noted that many times offenses get delay of game penalties when a
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QB has to audible. This is usually due to the fact that he has no time once he gets set under center, because he has wasted time getting to the line of scrimmage, instead of using his time wisely at the line of scrimmage.

Here is a good quarterback stance behind center
The legs should be flexed comfortably with the shoulders square to the LOS. The QB should remain as tall as the center will permit keeping his back straight and his head up checking the defenders. He should bend at the knees rather than the torso. This allows the QB a better line of vision when scanning the defense while under center. Many QB’s crouch behind the center and are so low to the ground; they can’t see the defense very well. This type of positioning doesn’t allow the quarterback to be very efficient mechanically dropping back, or finding a good mesh with the running back.

Once the QB is at the LOS, his hands should be under the center's crotch, "knuckle deep", spread apart to an angle of ninety degrees, with the thumbs together -- letting the snapper know exactly where to

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place the ball. A key point here is that often when the QB receives the ball from center, he will automatically pull his wrists apart during the exchange. Even alerting the QB to this critical mistake will not take care of the problem. Instead, you will see the ball rolling up the forearm of the quarterback. • Elbows are slightly bent.

• •

Thumbs are together. Hands are spread apart to 90-degrees.

A quarterback with the correct hand positioning behind center

By having the QB keep his thumbs together, the hands usually will not come apart during the exchange. Instead, the left hand (in a right handed QB) will automatically wrap around the ball at the exchange. Remember, if you don’t catch the problem right away and correct it, you are just getting repetitions doing something incorrect. If the QB is dropping or bobbling the snap, you must change what the QB is doing with his hands right away and then rep it so that his muscle memory is retrained.

Now that the QB is set behind the center in a comfortable, efficient position, he must scan the defensive front, checking the alignment of the backers and getting a read on the secondary coverage. This will give him an idea of what the defense might be trying to do. He can then make any necessary adjustments.
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Quarterbacks can somewhat control what the defense does before the snap by learning to vary the snap count on every play. The defense would have problems timing their shifts due to the fact that they really cannot anticipate when the quarterback is going to start the play. This is something that should be worked on every day. Just before the snap, the quarterback should have his head up and looking down field every time.

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THE PUNCH-STEP
In separating from the center at the snap, the QB should ride the center forward with his hands and arms only. As the exchange is affected, he should take a short (six inches maximum) backward step with his left (Punch-step) foot and pivot the foot slightly inward. This "Punch-step" should be taken

very quickly, and at the same time the QB is receiving the ball from center. This takes no more time than it would if the quarterback had his feet staggered, because he is taking the step as he is receiving the ball from center.

The ‘punch-step’ is taken no more than six-inches and slightly pigeon-toed.

An example of a quarterback utilizing the punch-step
The Punch-step will help the passer disengage from the center and obtain the proper depth in his drop, while keeping his shoulders square to the LOS during the initial phase of the dropback. It will also prevent the QB from false stepping into the center during the exchange. Many NFL quarterbacks use this “separation step”, and you have probably never even noticed. It happens so quickly you might miss it all together if you were not looking for it.

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Another safety component of the punch-step is that is forces the QB’s right hand to ride forward with the center during the exchange, which will guard against fumbled snaps. So often if the QB pulls out, or backs out too early in the exchange, the QB is not able to secure the ball initially. You will see the QB adjusting the ball or bobbling the ball as he separates from the center, or dropping the ball all together. The sooner the quarterback can grip the ball in the proper manner, the better opportunity he now has to hand the ball off, or drop-back and throw an accurate pass.

Usually, because the QB is primarily focused on his read or finding the mesh with the running back, he has no idea what is going awry with the center exchange. This is why the punch-step is so important to the quarterback’s basic mechanics, and why a balanced stance in conjunction with the use of the punch-step is preferred over a staggered stance.

The quarterback kneeling represents the center. His left hand represents the center’s crotch. The hand should stay firm throughout the entire snap process. The snap should also be very firm and quick.

One quarterback snapping the ball to the other quarterback

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THE DROP-BACK
The first full step away from center should be a long stride with the right foot and should be very clean. This should be followed up with progressively shorter steps. As a general rule, the first two-thirds of the drop should be made up of fairly long strides, with the last third of the drop being composed of shorter, control-type steps. The feet should not come up off the ground much at all. They should almost skim the surface during the dropback.

The QB should have his shoulders slightly open to the Line of Scrimmage during his drop, which will put him in a position to see the entire field. Ideally, his drop will look the same to the defense, regardless of which side of the field he is reading. This is extremely important and cannot be stressed enough. This shoulder positioning during the quarterback’s drop allows him to be cognizant of what is going on as far as blitzes and receiver play are concerned on the backside. In addition, the QB will have his feet in a better position to throw to the backside at anytime during his drop, which will measurably add to the accuracy of the pass thrown to that side.

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• • • •

Eyes are focused downfield. Ball carriage is good here. Shoulders are slightly open to LOS. Back is fairly erect.

Good, flexed knees.

Feet should almost be parallel to LOS.

A quarterback dropping back with his shoulders slightly open to the line of scrimmage

As far as drops are concerned, a 3-step drop will take the QB about 4 to 4 1/2 yards from the LOS. The 5-step drop will take him from 7 to 7 1/2 yards back, and the 7-step drop will take him about 9 yards back.

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Ideally, the top of the ball should be here. Young quarterbacks sometimes let the football get low on them as they hitch-up in their drop. We need to guard against this. A near perfect drop. The quarterback takes a 7-quick, with a hitch drop and

Lines with depth markers; the quarterback might be carrying the ball a bit too low for some coaches, but it’s perfect at the NFL level. He is staying compact and has excellent body position

During the drop-back, the QB must go through his progressions so that when he hits the last step in his drop, he is knows where he will be throwing the football. We want very little or no hesitation by the QB.

It is important to remember that adjustments may be needed to maximize the QB's and receiver's efficiency. For example, in one offense, the QB may use a "7 big with a Hitch step" on an 18-yard comeback route run by the wide receiver. If, however, the QB is late in his delivery, it may become necessary to change his drop to a "7 quick with a Hitch step" in order to time out the pattern.

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As the QB comes to the end of his drop, he must execute the most critical elements of the pass: the front shoulder drop, the back plant step, the Hitch step, the target step, and the concluding follow-through.

Here is an example of how I set up the “drop-at-depth” lines. We get a lot of use out of this drill. It is an excellent way to teach the quarterback the precise depth he needs to be at during each throw.

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QUARTERBACK DROPS & DISTANCES

(Measured from Line of Scrimmage)
One-step: The QB drops back about 3 yards. Bubble screens (Flair routes), and quick swing routes, and play action quick routes. Also, fade routes from the five-yard line. Three-quick: The QB drops back about 4 yards. HOT routes, hitch routes, slant routes, and Red Zone fade routes. Three-roll: The QB drops back about 4 yards. Quick-out routes run by the outside receiver. Three-big: The QB drops back about 4 1/2 yards. Slant routes. Three-big, hold: The QB drops back about 4 1/2 yards. Stick routes, middle routes, some slant routes and open-field fade routes. Five-quick: The QB drops about 6 yards. Skinny posts, drags, and flat routes. Five-roll: The QB drops about 6 yards. Twelve-yard speed-outs run by the outside receiver.

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Five-big: The QB drops about 7 yards. Swing routes, inside corner routes, and drag routes. Five-big with a hitch-step: The QB drops about 7 – 7 1/2 yards. Curl, square in, and go routes. Seven-quick with a hitch-step: The QB drops about 8 yards. Dig routes, smash routes, and corner routes inside the Red Zone. Seven-big with a hitch-step: The QB drops 9 yards. Counter routes, post-corners and comeback routes run by the outside receiver.
Important Note: The quarterback must intuitively remember the depth and mechanics of each drop. He does this by working on each specific route run by each individual receiver. The drop he

uses in any individual pass pattern is based on his primary receiver’s individual route. For
example, when the quarterback’s primary receiver is running a 12-yard curl route, he will use a “5hitch drop” even though he may have to throw the pass to another receiver running a flat route; the drop itself is determined by the primary route in the pattern as a general rule. Remember, the reason you need the various drops is because of timing; you need to get the ball to the receiver just as he makes his break so the defender doesn’t have time to stop the play. Perfect drops mean that you will have a much higher completion percentage and you will rarely have to take quarterback sacks.

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When to Use Each Drop
Each specific drop is based on which man in the pattern is the primary receiver. For example, if the primary receiver is a 15-yard Dig route, the quarterback’s drop is 7-quick with a hitch. However, if there is a blitz coming up the middle the QB may decide to go to the built-in hot out which might be the Tight-end running a Drag route. Although the initial drop is 7-quick, the QB will now use a quick 3-step or even a quick 5-step drop in order to get the ball off before the rush gets to him. We’ll now look at several patterns and individual routes and learn how the drops tie into them. It’s important to note that the QB will not really be thinking about his drop; it will become instinct because of the thousands of repetitions he will go through.

The quick passing game is strictly a timed-passing game. The quarterback’s footwork needs to be flawless in order to get the ball out on time and insure an accurate throw. A perfect throw can be the difference between a three-yard gain and a touchdown.

The quarterback needs to have his feet within 18-inches of each other just before he steps into the throw. There isn’t time for a gather or hitch-step and the so footwork is critical.

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The precise footwork needed to throw the 1-step bubble-screen or quick WR screens

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THE BALL CARRIAGE
As the QB drops back, he will have the ball chest high with the points of the ball vertical. He will have his elbows in and close to the body but not touching. The top end of the ball should be just about level with the top of the sternum. The ball should be carried smoothly, with very little motion away from the center of his body. He should keep his chin close to his forward (left) shoulder in order to read his backside. The grip of the throwing hand should be on the laces as it would be if the QB were throwing a pass. The “off” hand will cover the other side of the football and there should be some pressure applied from this off side. The grip should be firm but not to the point where the QB is squeezing the ball tightly. It should be done in a comfortable, secure manner. Remember, there should be very little movement of the ball during the drop.

Here are several examples of quarterbacks with good ball carriage.
It’s interesting to note that many coaches at the high school and college levels teach their quarterbacks to keep the ball high on their bodies. However at the NFL level, coaches are having their QBs carry the football lower. The bottom tip of the football will be just above the navel. This is because the quarterback’s natural throwing motion has him drop the ball to that level. By holding the ball at that level, the throwing motion is more compact and in turn, the ball comes out a little faster.

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GET TTING DE EPTH IN T THE DRO OP
As the quarterback drops back, he can lean back to forc his strides to be longe in order to d ce s er o create se eparation in his drop.

In this pictur you can s the n re, see quarterback leaning back a bit q k to t get his strides longer so he can c get deeper in his drop.

A quarte erback who is getting deep enough in his drops needs to le back at a steeper an sn’t h s ean ngle during his drop in ord to make his strides llonger. Remember that the quarter s der rback’s drop is mainly fo timing purposes but it is also to g the corr or t gain rect amount of separation from the line t of scrimm mage and the linemen.

Ideally, th angle of the shoulders should be as level as p he t possible. A g great defend would be able der to see a quarterback leaning way back and know he is taking a deep d k y drop. That s same QB wo ould have fairly level shoul lders on a qu drop and the defend would kno not to ge too deep iin his uick d der ow et q ks early training to get the to feel the em coverage. I have my quarterback lean back a lot in our e Once we get them used t the depths and they g comforta with str t to get able ride-length, I depth. O have them level out their shoulde in all of t m t ers their drops. Now the dro is done with the strides op alone and the should d ders don’t really come int play that much. The quarterback will keep his to k s shoulders fairly level and slightly open to the line of scrim s e mmage so no othing about the drop tips t off the de efense about where the ball is going. t

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THE FRONT SHOULDER DROP
As the quarterback nears the end of his drop, he must take shorter steps and initiate either a “no hitch throw” or use a “hitch-step’ to reset his feet before he throws the football. We want him to drop is front shoulder slightly to stabilize himself and then take a little bounce forward, as he transfers his weight from back to front.

If the QB throws off his back foot without using a front shoulder drop to stabilize his shoulders, the ball will sail over the receiver's head. If he locks his knees because his feet are too far apart before he throws, he'll usually throw the ball into the ground.

The goal of the front shoulder drop is to have the quarterback’s shoulders level in relation to the horizon so that he can throw an accurate pass with the proper velocity or touch.

• •

Excellent front shoulder drop to level the shoulders just before and during the throw. The top of the football should be here – he is carrying it a little low.

Good depth in his five-step drop. Before he hitches up, his plant foot should be between 7 and 7 ½ yards from the line of scrimmage.

Here is an example of a quarterback utilizing a good front shoulder drop at the end of his dropback to stabilize and level his shoulders before throwing the pass. The ball is a little low but acceptable.
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THE PLANT STEP
One of the most critical components of the drop is the establishment of a solid, comfortable plant foot and the possible resetting (“hitch”) of that foot into the best throwing position. The quarterback’s back foot must always be planted (with most of the weight on the ball of the foot so the heal is slightly off the ground) perpendicular to the target, putting him in the best position to make the throw. Quarterbacks often have difficulty throwing to their backside because they have placed their back foot perpendicular to the middle of the field rather than to their backside target, thereby forcing them to throw across their body.

Here is an example of the quarterback repositioning his plant-foot in order to get it perpendicular to his target.

The quarterback must always get his plant foot perpendicular to his target area on all throws. This means there at times where the quarterback will move his plant-foot first once he reacts to where the football will be thrown. The movement itself should be done quickly and won’t be noticed by the untrained eye. However, when we breakdown his mechanics on film, it will be easy to see if the quarterback took the correct step in order to throw an accurate pass.

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THE TARGET STEP
With his body compact, a bend in his knees, and his feet about 12 inches apart, the quarterback is now in the best position to throw the football quickly with velocity and accuracy, much like a baseball pitcher from a stretch position. It is important for the quarterback to point the inside portion of his lead foot toward the target, or where the target will be when he catches the pass. He does not have to take an extremely long stride, since this might cause him to lock out his knee and throw the ball short into the ground. Furthermore, if done over a period of time, this may cause him pain and create arm trouble. As the QB steps toward the target area, his front shoulder should also be pointed in the same direction.

As the quarterback lands on his stride foot (heel to toe), his front knee should be slightly flexed with his foot pointed toward where the target and the ball will meet. If he lands toe first, his knee will most likely lock out, and he could wind up throwing the ball into the ground.

Anytime the QB has to move up into the pocket to find an outlet receiver, he should hitch-step forward – keeping his feet no more than 18 inches apart. When hitching up in the pocket, he should always bring his back foot forward first – preventing over-striding. The thing a quarterback wants to prevent himself from doing is over-striding. Many times when a quarterback wants to put some velocity on the pass, he will take a big stride into the throw. The longer the stride, the longer the throwing motion is going to be. This means the ball is going to come out slower, and the defense will have more time to jump throw or get into the passing

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lane. The quarterback needs to take a short target-step, spin his shoulders and extend his arm so he gets the most velocity, better accuracy, and more importantly, a quicker release. • Hips are squared to target.

He has an excellent bend in his front knee.

His target foot is pointed to where the ball and target will meet. His plant step is perpendicular to his target.

Here is an example of both the plant step (back foot) and the target step. The plant step is perpendicular to the target, while the target step is pointed towards where the ball and target will meet.

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It’s extremely important that the quarterback both step and look to towards the area he is throwing to and not the target unless the target is coming back to the quarterback such as on a curl route or hitch route. This means that if the receiver is running a crossing pattern in front of the quarterback, the quarterback will step to a spot in front of the receiver and his eyes will move to that area at the same time. This will make the pass more accurate and help prevent interceptions because the QB will always be looking to the area where the football is going. If defender is in the area, the QB can choose to “save the throw.”

The best thing a quarterback can do is look to the target area (the specific area the ball is going to be thrown to) just as he steps into the throw. If the quarterback sees a defender in the area, he can “save the throw” reset his feet, and look to the next receiver in his progression.

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THE NO-HITCH (FIRM) THROW
In every passing offense there are times when the quarterback will not use a hitch (re-set) step before he throws the pass; we will call this technique “firm”. For example, in every quick pass, there is no hitch-step used because it will adversely affect the timing of the throw, and the route will break open before the quarterback is able to throw the football. There are also some five-step pass routes that necessitate (because of timing requirements) the ball be thrown without using a hitch-step. Most often, I teach the quarterbacks the proper mechanics to throw without using a hitch first, because it works out better down the road in the teaching progression.

As the quarterback takes his last crossover step (the second step in a three-step drop) his third step (plant step) will hit the ground at approximately six to eight inches past his second step. That is to say his feet will only be six to eight inches apart as the quarterback steps forward with his target step to throw the ball. At the same time, the QB will drop his front shoulder to stabilize his shoulders to a level position for the throw. It is imperative that the quarterback dropback in a controlled manner in the quick passing game in order to throw an accurate and consistent pass with the proper velocity.

In a three-step drop, the QB will gain depth with his first step, and then use a controlled crossover step, then a short plant-step. This should put him four, to four and one-half yards from the line of scrimmage just before the throw.

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In a five-step, no-hitch (firm) drop, the QB will gain depth with his first step, then take short, quick steps for the remainder of his drop. In this case, timing is more important than depth. The quarterback should be at a depth of six-yards from the line of scrimmage just before the throw. This type of throw requires the ball be about half way to the target before the receiver looks back for the ball.

This would be the footwork of a 5-Firm throw. Notice there is no Hitch-step so steps 4 and 5 are close together (this is extremely important). The 5th-step becomes the plant-step. If the QB was going to throw to his left or right, he would plant the 5th step perpendicular to the target area. In the illustration above, the quarterback is throwing right down the middle of the field.

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This is where the plant-step should go when the QB is using a “No-hitch” (firm) type drop. At the same time, he should drop his front shoulder to stabilize his shoulders to a level throwing position.

• •

The feet are close together and the quarterback begins to step toward the receiver. The center of gravity is in front of the quarterback’s plant step. His depth is at 4 ½ yards.

Here is an example of the footwork in a No-hitch or “firm” throw. The quarterback drops back to 4 ½ yards. His plant step is shorter now that he won’t be using a hitch-step. He needs to do this so he can step into the throw without his feet being too far apart, which would cause his front knee to lock out, and the ball to go into the ground, short of the target.

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THE HITCH-STEP THROW
The most common five, seven, and shotgun type throws are the “hitch-step’ throws. The hitchstep involves the action that occurs when the quarterback resets his back foot to throw. He will hit his last step (his feet will be about three feet apart at this time) and then hitch up with the back foot so that his feet come within inches of each other. Then he will push off this back foot as he steps towards his target with his front foot, and transfer his weight forward, smoothly and effectively.

This hitch-step does two things; first, it allows the throw time out better with the receiver, and two, this extra step towards the target will allow the quarterback to drive himself forward in order to get all of his weight (the hips and shoulders) over the front foot as he throws the football. This will help him to throw a more accurate pass, with the potential for maximum velocity and the greatest control.

Most of the quarterback’s power and inertia will come from his legs, hips, torso and shoulders, which will transfer to the ball as it is released. All these body movements need to be synchronized in order to get the maximum control and velocity out of the throw. The quarterback needs to learn how to put his body in the best position to throw the ball further with superior accuracy and control.

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This is approximately where the QB will land on his next step before he hitches up to throw the pass.

The QB’s feet are too far apart at this point to throw an accurate pass. He will hitch-up to re-set his feet so they are closer together before he steps into the throw.

In this example, the QB has just hit the last step in his drop. He now has to hitch up before he throws the pass.
Learning the Hitch-step can help the quarterback get rid of the ball quickly with accuracy. Many quarterbacks don’t have a smooth hitch-step and it throws off their balance, which in turn throws off their accuracy. I use drills that isolate the movements so the quarterback can get in and out of the hitch quickly with balance. A smooth pragmatic hitch-step can really help a quarterback throw accurately with more velocity.

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THE GRIP
The quarterback’s grip on the football is very important and can often mean the difference between throwing a spiral or a wobbly pass. One of the most important things a quarterback should not do is to grip the football too tightly. When this happens, the pass thrown is usually not a spiral. So the grip should be firm, but certainly not tight. There should also be a space, between the ball and the palm of the hand.

Here is an example of where the space should be seen.

A good example of the space between the palm of the hand and the football

Obviously, the smaller the quarterback’s hand is, the higher he will probably have to grip the ball. The fingers should be spread apart evenly across the ball and always on the laces. I believe one of the first things that were changed about Tim Couch’s grip on the football was that his coach

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had him grip the laces of the football, which he had not done in the past. This gave him much more control of the rotation of the ball.

I think the quarterback should experiment with different fundamentally sound grips until he finds one the works very well for him. But he should remember that there should always be a space between the ball and his palm, he should grip the laces, and finally, his index finger will always be the last to leave the football. This causes a callous on the inside portion of his index finger after several weeks of throwing the football.

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THE SHOULDER-SPIN
If I could only teach one new technique to a quarterback (or anyone who throws a ball in sports) I would teach them how to spin their shoulders to increase their accuracy and velocity. It would also give them probably up to 5 or 6-yards more distance on their long balls. When I watch NFL quarterbacks warm up before games, they are all spinning their shoulders close to 180-degrees. That means that just before the throw, their non-throwing shoulder will be pointing directly at the target area, and after the throw the throwing shoulder will end up pointing at the target area.

The shoulder-spin is a technique that is used to increase the rotation-velocity of the football. This will make the pass much easier for the receiver to catch and the ball will cut through the air much easier. A pass with a great deal of rotation-velocity will create a tight spiral that will be much more accurate in windy or rainy weather.

The quarterback will step into the throw with his front shoulder pointed in the direction he throwing the pass. As he releases the football, he will spin his shoulders so that his back shoulder will be facing that same area, once the ball is released. The quarterback must keep his shoulders level throughout the shoulder-spin (except when throwing the deep ball).

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As the quarterback steps into the throw, his front shoulder is pointed in the direction he is throwing the pass. His shoulders are level and his front elbow is coming down through to his side.

His front knee has a good bend in it, and he does not over-stride.

Once the quarterback begins the throwing motion, his eyes stay locked on his target (never watch the football). The back shoulder is now pointing to where the pass and the target met. The throwing hand is now on his opposite hip. The plant foot comes to a point almost even with the target-step.

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THE RELEASE
In his ready position, the quarterback should have his body under control, his feet about shoulder width apart under his hips, his knees bent, and the ball held in both hands at chest level. As his lead foot is brought forward, the quarterback’s support hand should gently push the ball back just before it comes off the ball completely. The quarterback will also have his front shoulder pointed in the direction he wants the ball to go – this is extremely important! At this time, as the body moves forward, the hips and shoulders are level in relation to the ground. Then as the ball in the throwing hand comes back to a point behind the head, the non-passing elbow comes down and back across the left side of the body. The hips and shoulders start to open and the ball is released just after the hips and shoulders are parallel to the line of scrimmage.

The release is done with a smooth, synchronized action of the quarterback’s feet, legs, trunk, hips, and throwing arm. It should be noted that the quarterback’s index finger on his throwing hand is the dominant digit. It leaves the ball last as the quarterback’s arm follows through toward the center of his body. The quarterback’s throwing hand winds up with his palm facing the ground and his fingers pointing toward where the target and ball will meet, half way through the follow-through. The quarterback’s throwing hand will end up on his opposite hip at the end of the throwing motion. Quarterbacks who throw the ball a lot will get a callas on the inside edge of the tip of their index finger. It is produced by the friction of the ball against the last point of contact.

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One of the most impor e rtant things to guard against is over-striding. When quarterbacks want to throw o the footba deep, they all y intuitively take a long stride which prev vents them f from getting th hips open and heir n their shou ulders spun 180degrees. T QB in th picture The his is taking t maximum stride the m which will a allow him to keep his knees bent and allow h to t him open his hips quickly.

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The eyes are focused on d the targe area (not et t the footb ball) The index finger is the x last one to come off the football The palm is facing the ground The off-a and elbow arm are tucke close to t ed the body The throw arm is f wing fully extended d The shoulders are spinning 180-degrees s The hips are square t to the targe et

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The Follow-through While the follow-through is an essential part of the quarterback’s throwing action, this function has often been misinterpreted. As a point of fact, once the ball leaves the quarterback’s hand, there is nothing more he can do for the throw – the ball is gone.

However the helpful feature of the follow-through is to give the quarterback and his coach a relatively good idea of what was done right and wrong in the throw. The coach can check all of the quarterback’s key body areas (i.e., hand, wrist, elbow, arm, head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet, etc.) to make sure everything is where it ought to be. One other thing the coach or quarterback can look at is the flight of the ball. Any flaw in technique can show up in the flight of the ball. One very important thing the quarterback should always do is to watch the receiver (not the flight of the ball) until the football is caught. This will improve his accuracy in a very dramatic way, in a short period of time. As a general rule, the quarterback’s passing hand should flow toward the center of his body and wind up with his palm facing the ground and his fingers pointing toward where the target and the ball will meet. When all his mechanics are executed correctly, the quarterback will deliver the ball with a tight spiral that achieves distance and accuracy without wasted motion or effort. It is much, much easier throwing the football with proper mechanics.

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Eyes are focused on the target. His back shoulder is now pointing at the target.

Good hand position on followthrough.

He still has some bend in his front knee. His plant-step comes almost even with his target-step after the throw.

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THROWING THE DEEP BALL
Throwing the deep ball is a little different than throwing most passes in that, the quarterback should now tilt his shoulders upward as he steps into the throw. He also needs to concentrate on his follow-through on the throw.

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The forward shoulder is tilted upward. The quarterback has good ball carriage.

throw once he has tilted his shoulders upward
By tilting his shoulders upward as he hits his last step, the nose of the ball will now point upward naturally as the ball is released. When the quarterback exercises good mechanics, which will lead to a good follow-throw on the throw, the ball will “turn over” as it approaches the target.

The quarterback is ready to step into the

The timing on the streak / go / take-off is critical. Too often the ball comes out of the quarterback’s hand late because the quarterback is waiting for the receiver to get past the defender. The well timed throw will be out of the quarterback’s hand before the receiver is 20yards downfield – yes, 20-yards. The QB will put good arch on the throw and the receiver will catch the pass just past 40-yards downfield (closer to 45-yards downfield). A lot of times when the defender is playing off the defender might still be in his back-peddle as the QB steps

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into the throw. As long as the DB isn’t deeper than the receiver with his shoulders turned, the play is in good shape. It is very important to realize that deep throws are timing passes. Many times, when a quarterback hesitates on this type of throw, the receiver outruns the pass. Similarly, the quarterback attempts to get too much on the throw (unconsciously realizing the target is now out of his range) and the pass flutters as it travels though the air and ultimately, falls short of the target.

One other important point to make here is that the quarterback should always keep his eyes on the target (target area) once he has released the ball. The brain will tell the hand what it has to do to get the ball to the target, so that if he misses that first throw, he will improve his accuracy on the next throw.

This is the same principal a baseball players uses as he runs around the bases. He will stagger or lengthen his strides as he is coming around the bases so that the appropriate foot hits the bag at the appropriate spot. It is not something he does consciously, the brain does it automatically. As the quarterback focuses on the target (instead of the flight of the ball) while the ball is in the air, a similar adjustment takes place so that the quarterback becomes more accurate with his throws almost immediately.

As far as drops on fade / streak / go routes are concerned, usually, the standard drop on a deep pass is five-big with a hitch. However, I have had many quarterbacks that were more comfortable with a five-quick and a hitch drop. The quarterback (as well as the coach) can

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usually tell by the quarterback’s third step in his drop if his intended target will be open. If this approach doesn’t provide enough insight, another good rule is that if the receiver isn’t on top of the defender on the quarterback’s fifth step in his drop, he won’t be open when the ball gets there. He should then check-off to an underneath receiver by hitching up one more time and getting rid of the ball or taking off on his own to get at least to the original line of scrimmage.

On fade routes (routes thrown in the red-zone) the drops are as follows; from the 15 – 20 yard line we use a three-big throw drop. From six to 15 yards, we use a three-quick and throw drop, and from the five-yard line, we use a one-step and throw drop. These three-step drops also require that the quarterback pitch his shoulders upward as he is throwing the pass and use good mechanics for a good follow-through. In addition, the quarterback should pick a receiver on his pre-snap read and stick with it!

Things to remember; The QB will throw the football before the receiver is 20-yards downfield. The receiver should not look back for the football until he is at least 25-yards downfield. Looking back slows the receiver down. The QB should throw the football over the top of the receiver and not lead him to the outside unless it is necessary. Finally, the receiver should never get closer than 3-yards to the sideline at anytime while running his route; if the QB has to fade him, he could catch the pass out of bounds.

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The Five Different Types of Passes Thrown by An Efficient Quarterback
One of the very important things a quarterback can do to increase his completion percentage is control the velocity as well as the arc on his passes. One of the first things I notice with young quarterbacks is that they throw most of their passes too hard. One of the reasons for this, I think, is that they wait for their receiver to break open (instead of anticipating when he will break open) and then have to force the ball because the defense is collapsing around the due to the fact that they too see the receiver open.

Often, receivers drop passes because they are thrown too hard, poorly placed, or not thrown at the appropriate time. Receivers usually get the blame from the coaches, but it ends up on the quarterback’s statistics, and hurts the efficiency of the offense, which could affect the outcome of the game. It would be in the quarterback’s best interest to do what he can to increase the probability his passes will be caught.

Most quarterback coaches use a number system to describe to their quarterbacks what type of throws they should make. I think there are five basic types of passes that the quarterback will throw at any given time. I rate these passes based on the velocity and arc of the ball. A type 1 throw has the most velocity on it, and has little arc to it. A type 5 throw has the most touch on it as well as the most arc to it. It’s important to remember that the longer the ball is in the air, the more of an opportunity the defense has to converge on it. The following are the five types of passes that are thrown:
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Type 1 Throw: This is the type of throw that has the most velocity on it. We sometimes say the quarterback has thrown a “rope” when he throws this pass. This type of pass is usually used when the receiver is running away from the quarterback, such as a deep out route, or when the quarterback has to put the ball between defenders. Many times, this throw will be used on comeback routes, 15 to 20-yards square-in routes, curl routes, and skinny post routes.

Type 1 throws – Examples of specific routes; Out routes, comeback routes, some dig and square in routes, as well curl routes, and skinny post routes.

The trajectory of a Type One throw might look something like this from the side view. There is not much of an arch to it at all. It has a lot of velocity on it and good rotation and we are usually throwing between defenders or to a receiver running away from us like a deep out or comeback route.

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Type 2 Throw: This type of throw is used when the QB needs to get the ball to the receiver right away, but still needs to put enough air under it to get it over linebackers or second level defenders. An example would be a pass that has to travel over the linebacker, but still be able to get to the receiver before the safety coverage can converge on the throw. This is still a pass that has velocity on it but now there is a little air under it. Type 2 throws – Examples of specific routes; Cover two fade routes, some dig routes, and corner routes when you’re throwing in front of the safeties..

The trajectory of a Type Two throw might look something like this from the side view. There is now more of an arch to it as it most likely has to travel over defenders but still needs good velocity and good ball rotation.

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Type 3 Throw: (See the section on “The Deep Throw” to utilize the specific technique of this throw.) This type of pass is used primarily on “go” routes, fades and some post and corner routes. On this type of pass, the quarterback will put the ball up and in front of the receiver. The receiver will now accelerate to the ball and catch the football over the shoulder. This now has a more pronounce trajectory on the throw.

Type 3 throws – Examples of specific routes; Go routes, and some deep play-action post routes.

The trajectory of a Type Three throw might look something like this from the side view. There is now even more of an arch to it, and is now thrown out in front of the receiver, as he runs away from coverage. As the receiver looks back for the pass, he will accelerate to the football.

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Type 4 Throw: This is a throw that many quarterbacks don’t make, even though it is used when the intended receiver is close to the quarterback at the time of the throw. Most often, the receiver is catching the ball just past the line of scrimmage, underneath the linebacker coverage, such as on a drag route, or even a dump-off pass to the running back as he is just yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Frequently, the quarterback throws this pass too hard and the receiver can’t make the fine adjustments necessary for catching a pass at that speed. This type of pass needs to be thrown with less velocity on it, so the receiver, running at a good rate of speed, can make the adjustments needed to catch the pass, secure the ball, then find the seam to run through. There is not much of an arch on the trajectory of the ball, primarily because the throw is so short. Often times the quarterback doesn’t have to really step into the throw to get it to the receiver.

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Type 4 throws – Examples of specific routes; Drag routes, routes to running backs as they release over the middle.

The trajectory of a Type Four throw might look something like this from the side view. There is not much of an arch to it, as it is a shorter pass, but the pass has a lot of touch. We want good rotation on the ball and we want to place it just in front of the receiver about chest high, so the receiver easily catches it.

Type 5 Throw: This is the type of throw is used on screen passes. Often, the ball must be thrown over a rusher to the intended receiver. I try to get the quarterback to throw a tight spiral that can be caught with one hand by the receiver (even thought I don’t ever teach the receiver to catch passes with one hand). This type of throw needs to be practiced by the quarterback so that he can get an accurate pass off, with a good spiral, even thought he is throwing off balance. There is a technique involved to be able to complete this pass effectively. There is now a pronounce arc on the trajectory of the throw, because the quarterback is usually throwing over an oncoming rusher as well as for timing purposes. The quarterback will almost jump vertically up and slightly backwards as he throws this pass. Moreover, he as to attempt to exaggerate the overhand throws, with an excellent follow-throw to get a spiral with good rotation. We really don’t want a pass that wobbles because it can be difficult to catch. It is

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also important to note that there are times when the quarterback will throw this pass with some velocity between defenders (something like a four throw) when it is necessary.

X Q

Y Z

H

F

Type 5 throws – Examples of specific routes; Some of the screen passes when you have to throw over someone (defender)

The trajectory of a Type Five throw might look something like this from the side view. We now want the highest arch on the pass, as it may have to be thrown over on-coming rushers. We also want a lot of touch and good rotation on the ball, so that the receiver could almost catch the ball with one hand if he had to.

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BASIC DEFENSIVE COVERAGES & FRONTS

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BASIC DEFENSIVE FRONTS & TERMINOLOGY
The following are the most basic terms used when describing defensive fronts. Although there are different ways to name these fronts, I have tried to use the most generic terms possible in order to give some insight into how offenses see and label defensives.

For example, although the weak-side outside linebacker is called “Will” in our terminology, that same linebacker might be called “Whip or perhaps “Wanda” in someone else’s terminology. The important thing to remember is “who is the weak-side linebacker?”, and what probable responsibilities he might have.

It is important to know that both the linemen as well as the linebackers usually have some type of “gap” responsibility. That means that the defenders “in the box” are responsible for specific areas between the offensive linemen. In order to cover those areas, the defenders have to line up within the same general area as their responsibilities dictate.

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The dashed lined area is generally what is considered the “box”. This is an area covering roughly just outside where the tight end would line in width, and about four to six yards from the line of scrimmage in depth.

Below we have a graphic representation of the different “gaps” that are designated by letters. This is important for offense because we can now speak in a language that we all understand. We can say that the guard is responsible for the “B” gap in pass protection, or that the defender lined up in the “A” gap.

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This is a graphic representation of the techniques (position relative to a specific lineman or area) that the defenders can line up in. For example; when it is said that the defender lined up in a “7” technique, that means he lined up on the inside shade of the tight end.

Some may call our “4-technique” a “4I=technique” but I think it’s much easier to just call it by the numbers. Again, it is the preference of the specific coach on how he calls these techniques, but the way we do it is probably the most common way to call it to my knowledge.

This is important, because a defender usually lines up relative to his area of responsibility. For example, if the defender lined up in a “3” technique, he is most likely responsible for the “B” gap.

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The 46 Defense

Bear Front: Both guards and the center are covered by down-linemen, and the Strong Safety is now “in the box” giving us a total of 8 men “in the box.” Different coaches will have various symbols to show who plays where in this scheme. Some 46 teams may have the SS in the W position; it just depends upon how they set up their system. Having watched many presentations on this defense, I can give you an idea as to what types of players are needed to fill those positions, as well as the basic alignments of the defenders.
SS

W M S T N T E

= Down-lineman type player – head up on tight-end = Linebacker type player – head up on tackle = Linebacker type player – head up on tackle = Strong outside rush type player – outside edge = Down-lineman type player – tight to wide “3-tech” = Down-lineman type player – head up on center = Down-lineman type player – tight to wide “3-tech” = Strong outside rush type player – outside edge

Bear Front Defense
W E T N T M
SS

S

Y Q

This defense is characterized as a pressure defense and they are going to crowd the football. The defense ends up with good match-ups, and they can force many pass protection schemes into man-to-man protections schemes. The coordinator will attempt to blitz the offense’s “protection rules” and get one man free to the QB on passing plays. The outside pass rushers have very good angles on pass rush, and it can be difficult to run the football strong without pulling a weak-side lineman. The pass coverage is usually some type of man or man – free scheme. They can come up and play bump and run, or play off and aggressive because they figure they will be able to get to the quarterback quickly. A defense must have the personnel in order to execute this defense well. You need extra defensive linemen, and you need corners that can cover man-to-man consistently. You also need a minimum of two very good second-level defenders that can cover and play the run very well. If the players are not going full-speed every play, there are many big plays that will be given up. 46 versus 4-WR set
FS

C
SS

M E T N T S

W

C

NOTE: This information was obtained from video presentations done by Gregg Williams and Rex Ryan.

X

H

Q F

Y

Z

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Over and Under 40 Fronts

An over defense refers to a 4-3 defense that shifts its strength to the strong-side of the offense. An under defense means the 4-3 defense shifted its strength to the weak-side of the offense.

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How the Defensive Front ties into the Coverage

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The NFL teaches quarterbacks how the defensive front ties into the number of defensive backs on the field. This is important because there are a lot of personnel changes that occur between downs at the highest level of play. Third and short might dictate that the offense run the football so the defense will put extra linemen / linebacker type players on the field and take the defensive back off the field. They do this so they have more strength and weight at the point of attack.

A passing situation will probably have the offense insert an extra wide receiver or two on the field. The defense will counter that by taking a linebacker or lineman out of the game and will insert an extra defensive back (nickel back) or two (dime back). The NFL and college levels often play “match-up” football. The offense will try to put the defense in a situation where a linebacker will have to cover a speedy wide receiver. Conversely, the defense will try to get an offense to block their better pass rushers with a running back.

Many NFL teams now send the offense to the line of scrimmage with two plays; a pass and a run play. The QB will take a look at the defense and if they don’t have enough pass defenders on the field, he will run the pass play. If the defense has too many pass defenders on the field, the QB will run the run play. They do this by calling both plays in the huddle. An example of the quarterback’s play call in the huddle would be, “Far right, 628 Flat Queen, kill (alert) 23 zone, on White, on white.” At the line of scrimmage if the QB likes the pass play versus the defense he will go through his normal cadence and run the play. If the thinks the run is the better play he

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will yell “kill” (some teams use the word alert instead of kill), and that will tell the team they are running 23 zone now.

The quarterback can quickly see the defensive front and have a pretty good idea of what type of defensive coverage will be run. The diagrams will give you an idea of how many defensive backs the defense can have on the field when they run certain fronts.

The typical high school quarterback might find this information interesting but not very useful because many times there is not a big difference between a linebacker and a defensive lineman in terms of size and ability. However, if a young quarterback plans on playing beyond high school, he will eventually need to know this information.

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Nickel and Dime Defenders
A “Nickel Back” is a fifth defensive back and a “Dime Back” is a sixth defensive back. When you hear the phrase “nickel is on the field” what that means is the defense has taken out a linebacker and put in a defensive back. They do this when they expect a pass. When they put a “Dime” back in, that means that they now have six defensive backs on the field so you can see how the front now ties in with the secondary.

Base Offense and Base Defense 4 – 3 Defense with 4 Defensive Backs

This would be an example of a Base 40-front defense with 7 men in the box and 4 defensive backs. They are in this front because there are 2 wide receivers, 1 tight-end and two running backs.

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3- Wide Receiver Offense versus a “Nickel” Defense 4 – 2 Defense with 5 Defensive Backs

Now there is a 3rd WR on the field so the defense will put the “Nickel Back” on the field. The odds go up that a pass play will be run and the defense wants to make sure that they don’t have a bigger, slower linebacker trying to cover a fast wide receiver. Most teams will put their 3rd receiver in the slot. When we go 4-wide receivers our two starting receivers will go to the slots, and our #3 and #4 receivers will go outside. We do this so our best receivers are running routes against the defense’s 3rd and 4th best defensive backs and their best defensive backs are covering our covering out 3rd and 4th best receivers (we probably want to throw to the inside receivers). We now have an advantage as far as match-ups are concerned with our best wide receivers. Many teams find it hard to do this because their terminology is difficult to learn. Since our offense is so easy, it’s not to move people in the offense.

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4- Wide Receiver Offense versus a “Dime” Defense 4 – 1 Defense with 6 Defensive Backs

The picture above shows and offense with a 4-wide receiver set. Now the defense has both a “Nickel Back” and a “Dime Back” in the line up to cover the extra receivers. They are banking on the fact that the offense will pass the football. Linebackers are much better tacklers and runstoppers than defensive backs are so they will only put their “nickel” and “dime” packages on the field when they think the offense will throw the football.

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Cheat Sheet for Recognizing Coverages
Get to the line of scrimmage with 18-seconds left on the clock; with less than 10-seconds, all called shifts and motions are off The Center will make the following calls Odd – Center covered or shaded Even – linebacker covering center Clear – There is no one over the center Solid (some call Bear) – Center and both guards are covered THERE ARE FOUR BASIC TYPES OF ZONE COVERAGE 1. Three-deep coverage 2. Two-deep coverage 3. Quarters coverage 4. Rotation coverage

COVER THREE ZONE
THREE-DEEP – FOUR-UNDERNEATH COVERAGE GREAT FOR COMPLETING BALL-CONTROL PASSES Free safety: 12-yards deep he can get as far as 2-yards outside the hash mark for disguise – any further than that and he won’t be able to get back – at the snap of the ball, he will fly back to the middle of the coverage (triangle with the two widest receivers). Strong safety: Lined up outside the tight end at 5 x 5 (or outside the TE) looking into the backfield. He has the flat coverage on the strongside, and the Will Backer has the flat coverage to the weakside.

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COVER TWO ZONE

Two-deep – five-underneath coverage Reading Free-safeties Check their Depth Check their Hash mark relation Look strong safety alignment and position – this determines man or zone Free safety depth – if he’s at 12-plus he is a deep back. If he’s at 10-minus, be alert for blitz “Open” – there is NO defender in the deep middle of the field “Closed” – there is a defender in the deep middle of the field Free safety: 12-yards deep and on the hash mark (or within three yards outside of the hash mark). Strong safety: 12-yards deep and on the hash mark (or within three yards outside of the hash mark). • Four defenders in the secondary means you DON’T have eight in the box • Two safeties will be deep and usually more than 11-plus yards from the line of scrimmage • At the snap of the ball, they will immediately move backward • The corners will usually be outside the #1 receiver at about 4 to 6-yards deep looking into the backfield • Rotation means a secondary man lines up deep but ends up playing an underneath coverage • When a safety gains width, the corner on that side now takes the flat NOTE: COVER TWO READ ZONE • Two safeties will be deep and usually more than 11-plus yards from the line of scrimmage • At the snap of the ball, they will immediately move backward • The corners will read the #2 receiver; if he goes to the flat area, the corner will stay in the flat area. • If the corner’s flat area is not threatened, the corner will drop deep – they will not cover space without a receiver threatening that space o This may look like cover 4 (each defensive back covering 25% of the field deep) o NOTE: Hard Cover Two Zone (not run much at all today) • Two safeties will be deep and usually more than 11-plus yards from the line of scrimmage • At the snap of the ball, they will immediately move backward • As the receivers pass the cornerbacks, the corner backs will either try to funnel them into the middle of the field, or force them out of into the sideline o The corners will then sit at about 9 to 12 yards off the line of scrimmage to the outside

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QUARTERS COVERAGE
• • Two safeties will be deep and usually less than 11 yards from the line of scrimmage At the snap of the ball they will be hang almost flat-footed (they will not drop back deep) • The safeties will read the number two receiver – if he goes vertical, the safety is responsible for covering him – if #2 goes flat or drags, the safety will double the # 1 receiver along with the corner The safeties are responsible for the run first – that is to say that they will come up hard on all runs and / or play action passes

THERE ARE TWO BASIC TYPES OF MAN COVERAGE 1. Cover One-free 2. Cover Zero

Free Safety: 12-yards depth Strong Safety: Inside the number 2 receiver looking at him rather than looking in the backfield Confirm coverage by looking at the corners – they should be looking at the receivers and not looking in the backfield. Blitz: Look for a 5-6 man rush. Someone is coming on a blitz.

COVER ONE-FREE (THIS CAN SOMETIMES LOOK LIKE COVER THREE-ZONE)

COVER ZERO

No safeties in the middle of the field! The safeties will be within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage The safeties will either come on a blitz, or will be covering a receiver because the linebacker(s) or a corner is coming on the blitz. Blitz: Expect a minimum of a seven-man rush.

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It is very beneficial for a quarterback to know what various defensive coverages and front are designed to do. Every defensive coverage has own its strengths and weaknesses, which can be exploited by the offense. Although defensive coordinators have devised a number of relatively exotic defense in recent years, most defenses involve the following base coverages: Cover 3 zone, cover 2 zone or cover 2 man; quarters – a coverage that is has either a man concept or a bracket concept depending on the release of the number two receiver, and finally man-to-man.

Coverages are designed to limit the productivity of certain offensive concepts. A well-rounded and diverse offense can take immediate advantage of the defense by knowing how to attack it in a sound and productive way. For example, cover 2 zone can hurt the productivity of an offense’s quick passing game. However, this defense can be vulnerable to routes that break open further downfield as long as the corners are anchored to their respective zones by putting a receiver in the flat area.

A quarterback who is cognizant of this fact can immediately audible to the appropriate pass play that will take advantage of this concept and create a big play for his offense. The quarterback who knows the concepts of defense can watch tape of an upcoming opponent and increase the probability of this kind of outcome.

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COVER THREE ZONE

Cover three zone is a fundamentally sound defense. However, as long as the offense is patient, it should be able to “nickel and dime” it’s way down the field. There are a lot of areas on the field that can be attacked provided the receivers run disciplined routes and the quarterback knows where to go with the football. The second-level coverage (the linebackers) has only four defenders available to cover the field horizontally. This means that there areas on the field that an offense can take advantage of. Curl routes, dig routes, sideline routes, and double square-in patterns are all appropriate to call Vs this type of coverage. Although it is unlikely that an

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offense can throw deep attacking from a standard offensive set, a four receiver set with all four receivers running go routes with good spacing can create an immediate big play.

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COVER TWO ZONE

Cover two is another basic defense that has the capability to disrupt the timing of the quick passing game because there are not five-defenders at the second level defending the field horizontally to a depth of approximately twelve-yards from the line of scrimmage.

Additionally, the outside receivers can have the route disrupted due to the fact that the cornerbacks are taught to jam the outside receiver as he passing by his zone. However, the deep coverage can now be compromised down the sideline and deep down the middle of the field by an astute offense.

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By sending one receiver deep to the outside, another receiver deep down the middle, and a third receiver in the flat, the defense has only two defenders two cover the three different areas that the receivers now occupy. This can be damaging to the defense in that these types of completions are usually big plays that gain substantial yards.

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QUARTERS COVERAGE

Quarters coverage is one of the more recent innovations in defenses today. Generally speaking, this type of defense has the ability to double cover an offense’s outside receivers on medium to deep pass routes. This type of coverage also allows the two safeties to become more a factor on run support. This defense is susceptible in the flat areas of the field. This is because the outside linebackers are responsible for covering that area of the field. In addition, there is a way to nullify the safety help in covering the outside receivers by running inside receivers at the safeties. This usually converts the coverage to a man-to-man type of defense as far as the

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defensive backfield is concerned. Furthermore, play-action fakes directed at one of the safeties can make this coverage vulnerable to a throw over the top of that safety.

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COVER 4 ZONE

Many people call Quarters coverage cover 4 which is a mistake. Quarters coverage has good run support from the safeties; they come up hard on the run. The safeties also have to read the number-two receivers for their individual assignments and there is a lot of technique involved. Cover 4 Zone is very similar to Cover 3 Zone except you have 4 deep defenders now and three underneath defenders. This is primarily a third and long coverage where the offense has to throw the football and the defense wants to keep everything in front of them. Defenses will rush 3 defenders, have 4-linebackers at about 12-yards depth, and 4-defensive backs coving deep.

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COVER ONE-FREE MAN

Whenever a defense goes into any kind of man coverage, you can expect some type of blitz. Versus Cover 1 Free, crossing routes can be very productive provided you have the extra rusher(s) blocked. In addition, fade routes run by the outside receivers or even four-vertical patterns run by the receivers can be big plays as long as you throw away from the free-safety.

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COVER 2 MAN

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COVER ZERO MAN

Versus cover zero-man, expect more rushers than you can block with conventional pass protection. I have seen some teams bring seven and even eight defenders once in a while. Although this is fundamentally unsound because they can’t have all your possible receivers accounted for, it can cause a big play defensively if you think you can drop back and wait for one of your receivers to break open down field. You have to have a play before the ball is even snapped. You can audible to a quick “slide” protection to wash the extra defenders down, or change the protection to a maximum protection scheme. Some offenses have built-in hot routes that should break open immediately and be very effective against this defense.

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Again, crossing routes are effective as well as routes that are run vertically down the field as long as you can get the pass off before the rush gets to you.

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QUARTERBACK LEVERAGE (MATCH-UP) READS, KEY READS, & PROGRESSIONS

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A progression simply tells the quarterback who to look for 1st in the pass pattern. If that man isn’t open or isn’t going to be open very soon, the QB will look at the number 2 receiver in the progression, and then the third. The trick is to know when to come off one receiver and then go to the other.

A quarterback’s feet will tell him when to go to the next receiver. For example in the picture below, the 1st receiver in the progression is the Curl route. The QB will stay with this receiver until he takes one hitch; if the Curl is not open at that time, the QB will now look to the Flat as he hitches or repositions his feet a second time. If that man is not open, the QB will reset his feet, look to the V route over the middle or run to the LOS as he moves forward in the pocket. It doesn’t really matter to the quarterback what the coverage is because he is just looking to the receivers in a “progression”.

Pure Progression

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In a Read or Key Progression the Quarterback has to know what the defense is doing. He will decide which side of the field to read usually based on where the safeties are on the field. Then, once he has picked the side to read, he will drop back and watch one (or two) defenders and throw away from them. In the diagram below, the quarterback still wants to throw to the Curl route because he will get the most yards out of the throw. However, if the man he is keying (SS in this case) drops immediately to cover the Curl, the QB will pull up in his drop and throw to the Flat route. If the SS jumps the Flat route, the QB will throw to the Curl route. The QB throws to the area the defense isn’t defending.

Key Read Progression

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Most offenses use a combination of Progressions, Key Reads, as well as Match-up reads where the QB comes to the line of scrimmage and looks for a mismatch which could be a speedy wide receiver being covered by a slow linebacker.

In order for the quarterback to be as productive as possible, he must learn a number of basic reads – both against zone coverage and man coverage. These basic reads allow the quarterback to throw just about any route combination in today’s modern passing game. The NFL is matchup football a lot of the time. That means that the QB will quickly look at the defense and see who is covering his best receiver. If there is a defender that can’t cover a receiver based on athletic ability, the QB just drops back and throws to his guy. However at the high school and college levels, mastering the material in this section should make it easier for the quarterback to come to the line of scrimmage, picture the pass pattern in his mind, and make the appropriate choice in receivers based on the defense, in theory.

The reality is much different. Quarterbacks need to know their own offense, must study many, many hours of tape, and get a great deal of repetitions in practice and in games, to be able to read a defense correctly, and then throw to the appropriate receiver “when the bullets are flying.”

Usually when quarterbacks first start trying to read defenses, everything happens so quickly, the quarterback is just trying to get the pass off to someone who might be open. Then, after hundreds of repetitions, both mentally and especially physically, things start to slow down in the

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quarterback’s mind. He begins to be able to see things happen in what some have termed, “slowmotion.” It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a great deal of work beyond the practice field. One day the “light will go on” and the quarterback will “get it”.

I think several teaching methods can help accelerate this process. Of course, the quarterback should know his offense and what the offense is trying to do schematically. Drawing defenses on the board and knowing what the individual defender’s responsibilities are, and then watching that defense on film is also extremely helpful.

Once he does take the field, the use of seven-on-seven pass skeleton drills are very helpful in seeing what is going on downfield. I also think four-on-four pass skeleton drills (involving the only the backs and tight end going against the linebackers) are beneficial as well. I believe one on one drills are good for teaching good ball placement, as long as the quarterback doesn’t stand in the pocket waiting for the receiver to finally break open.

Finally, it has been my experience that young quarterbacks learn reading defenses by breaking this process down to smaller components. I first teach them to read areas of the field – and only two receivers at a time. For example, I will install a pattern that will have one receiver breaking across the middle at a depth of 16-yards while another receiver runs a drag route across the middle of the field at four-yards (a Drag – Dig read). He basically just reads the drop of the inside linebackers and has a “one” to “two” progression. Once he has mastered this, I will incorporate a receiver running a deep (or “alert”) route into the same the play. The

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quarterback will now take a peek at the receiver running the deep route before he shifts his eyes to the “Drag – Dig” read. This now turns into a “one” to “two” to “three” progression for the quarterback. Then I will put a back delaying to a position over the middle at four-yards so the quarterback has a “dump-off” at the end of his progression, if it is appropriate.

Of course, there are not that many pass patterns that will have a “one, two, three, dump-off “ progression, and many pass patterns will only be a simple “one, two” progression; but this teaching sequence helps to keep the quarterbacks comfortable within the passing system.

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WHAT TO DO AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE
Once the play is called in the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage with around 18-seconds on the play-clock. Get your hand under center, or if you are in the gun, have your hands up ready to receive the football. Do this so the defense has to show their alignment. (Note: go on 1st sound early in the ball game to make the defense show their alignment right away) Take a quick look at the front; how many down-linemen are there and where are the linebackers? If the linebackers are near or on the line of scrimmage, it might be an indication that they are blitzing. If they are going to blitz, that’s a good thing because that means that a receiver will be open or, if it’s a run play, that the play might break for a big gain once the back gets through the line.

The important thing is that you look at the front 7 (or eight) because it tells you how your protection is going to hold up, and if it’s a run, it tells you if you have to change the play or not. It also gives you a clue as to what is going on the in the secondary. Generally speaking, you want to run to the “bubbles” in the run game. Many times, all you have to do to change the run play is call “opposite” and your offense will just run the ball to the other side of the center. It’s very simple as long as you get to the line of scrimmage with close to 18-seconds on the playclock. Once you have quickly scanned the front, take a look at the middle of the field. Is it open (two safeties back there) or closed (one safety back). If there are two safeties back there, that means that you should be able to run the football, and if there is only one safety back there, you should be able to throw the football as a general rule. (If there are no safeties back, that means it is an all-out blitz; you have to max protect now or throw hot) How deep are the safeties? If they are at least 12-yards deep and they are standing fairly upright, they are probably in cover
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two or cover four (see defensive coverage section). If they are less than twelve yards deep, they might be in Quarters coverage, bracket coverage, or in some kind of man coverage and someone is blitzing. When the ball is snapped, quickly look at the safeties. This is hard to do for young quarterbacks because you want to look to where you are going to throw the football for as long as you can and this is a BIG mistake. As you look at the safeties, you have to notice if they are going backwards, not moving too much at all (reading the offense) or coming up to the LOS. All of this tells you something and helps you to react the best way. On your third step, look to where you want to throw the ball but try to keep you shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage and your facemask facing right down the middle of the field. Look with your eyes, not with your head. If you are reading a defender or passing lane, look to that area. If you are going through your progression, look to the area of your first read to see if there are defenders going to that area. This is important; you want to see where the defense is going in their drops. There might not be anyone within 5-yards of your target, but if the defender is sprinting to that area he might be there by time you get the ball there. Conversely, there might be someone in your passing lane early in your drop, but his momentum is taking him out of the lane so by the time you step into your throw, he is out of your passing lane. As you make your last cross-overstep, look to the area you are going to throw the football with the intention of throwing the football. This is another important point. Don’t go back there to wait and see if the man is going to be open because that takes too long to process and time is lost between the time you decide to throw the football and when you actually do throw the football. What you want to do is to start to step into every throw; and let your reaction tell you whether to “save the throw” or not. Saving the throw means you start to pull the ball back and may even start to step into the throw; your shoulders start to open up and then at the very last second, you pull back when you see someone flash in the passing lane. This ability will really help your game. You will be able to get the ball out quicker and when you do have to save the throw, the defense reacts and flies to that area thereby vacating another area where you can go with the football.

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To summarize: 1. Get to the LOS with18-seconds left on the play-clock and get your hands under center, 2. Tell yourself your progression / read; e.g. “Curl to Flat to Middle.” 3. Take a look at the front for protection and / or for bubbles to run at, 4. Look to where the safeties are, 5. First step into drop look at the safeties, 6. Middle of the drop look with your eyes only to area of the field for read or progression, 7. Last crossover snap your head to the area and expect to throw the pass, 8. Throw the pass or save the throw, and reset.

Of course all quarterbacks must have an awareness of what is going on around them as they drop back. This comes with practice but a lot of it is genetics (see brain-types). The quarterback needs to feel pressure and avoid it while keeping his eyes downfield at all times. A good quarterback can “feel” pressure and step up in the pocket to avoid it. There are many drills that can help a quarterback react appropriately.

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LEVERAGE READS (MATCH-UP)
The first thing I do is teach the quarterback to look for what to read based on the defensive leverage – which is the defender’s physical position relative to the receiver, and the route the receiver is going to run. For example, if a receiver is going to run a sideline route, and the defender is covering the receiver off and to the inside of the receiver, we say that the defender has poor leverage, relative to the route the receiver is going to run. We would want to throw to this receiver is this situation.

However, if that same receiver was going to run a slant route, and the defender was in the same position of being off the receiver and to the inside, right in the path that our receiver is going to run, we would say that the defender has great leverage on our receiver, relative to the route our receiver is going to run. In this case, we might want to think about going to another receiver in the pattern.

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By reading the pre-snap alignment of the defense, the quarterback can get a pretty good idea of which two or three receivers he has a chance to complete the pass to. Only at the highest level of play can a defense really move quickly enough to disguise where they have to be in coverage.

To teach the leverage concept to the quarterback, I have them learn and throw the quick passing game first in the teaching progression. I do this because the quarterback normally has to look at both sides and then decide which side, based on the defensive leverage, is the best side to attack. Then it is a matter of taking a three-step drop and deciding which of two receivers to throw to based on the movement of the defense, or the individual match-up.

When I teach the basic reads to a quarterback, I usually teach the reads that concern the underneath coverage first because most young quarterbacks have been focused on what happens with the third level defenders (the secondary). The following are several examples of Pre-snap leverage examples.

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LEVERAGE READ OF THE QUICK HITCH

LEVERAGE READ OF THE QUICK OUT

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LEVERAGE READ OF THE QUICK SLANT

LEVERAGE READ OF THE BUBBLE-SCREEN

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LEVERAGE READ OF THE 12-YARD SPEED OUT

LEVERAGE READ OF THE 12-YARD CURL

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LEVERAGE READ OF THE 14-YARD COMEBACK

LEVERAGE READ OF THE POST-CORNER

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LEVERAGE READ OF THE 12-YARD SKINNY POST

LEVERAGE READ OF THE TAKE-OFF OR STREAK

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READING COVERAGE AND GOING THROUGH PROGRESSIONS
Once the quarterback is aware of the fundamentals of leverage, we then break down the different coverage reads. Once this is completed, the basic reads can be incorporated into almost any number of more complex reads.

As an example, a pattern breakdown will go something like this:

This could be a fairly complex play for a new quarterback. He has to decide if he has a chance to throw to the Post or the Up route Vs the defense (Deep Read). He then must decide if he has a chance to throw to either the Dig route or the Drag route (Dig Read) before looking to the back running a swing route out of the backfield. We would break it down this way.

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First we will isolate and teach the Dig Read within the pattern. We won’t focus on the vertical components of the pattern right now. The quarterback must understand what the pattern is designed to do and what the progression is. Basically, the progression of a pattern is based on which receiver should be open first. Then, if that first receiver is not open, which receiver should be open second, then which receiver should the quarterback look to next – many times this third receiver will be called an “outlet” or a “dump-off”.

In some offenses, the receiver who should open up first is really running his route to “bait” the defense to jump that receiver, thereby leaving the number two receiver in the progression wide open. This pattern is illustrated in the diagram above. The receiver running the Drag route is the first progression for the quarterback. If the linebackers come up to cover this Drag route, they are not dropping to their area deeper down the field at approximately 12-yards. The Dig route should make his break over the middle slightly later. Since the linebackers have come up to cover the Drag route, the Dig route will now be open. In other words, the QB will read the second level (linebackers). If they drop, he will give the ball to the Drag route. If they jump the
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Drag route, he will go to the Dig route. Once he has mastered this read, we can incorporate the Deep Read into the progression.

We now assume the quarterback knows where all the routes are going to be in this pattern. When he comes to the line of scrimmage and sees cover three, he now knows that he may have a chance at either the Skinny Post route or the Up route (Deep Read). He will make his decision by his third step in his drop. If the leverage is right, he will give the ball to either the Post or the Up route based on which way the FS moves – he will throw away from the free safety. If for some reason during his drop, the quarterback doesn’t like his chances with either of the vertical routes (Deep Read), he will focus his attention on the Dig Read within the pattern, and then, if time permits, his back running the swing route to the left.

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However, if during the pre-snap read, the quarterback sees four-across, he will forget about the vertical (Deep Read) routes and go immediately to the Dig Read, and then to his running back. In this case, maybe it’s 3rd down and we need 9-yards for a 1st down. Now the QB wants to hit the receiver on the Dig route (12-yards downfield). If the deep routes are covered and there is no way he can fit the ball in there, he will check down to the Drag route, where at the very least, we have improved our field position rather than force the ball into coverage and turn the ball over on an interception. There is a lot for a quarterback to process on some plays.

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In conclusion, the quarterback will eventually learn which of the five possible receivers should get the ball in any given pass play based on a pre-snap read and what is going on during his five-step drop. However, we will be teaching him basic two-receiver reads at the beginning of the teaching progression, and then moving on to incorporate multiple reads within the pass pattern as the quarterback becomes comfortable within the system.

This “teaching progression” assures that the quarterback has every opportunity to be successful within the offense.

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BASIC KEY (ZONE) READS

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When the quarterback breaks the huddle, he has a standard procedure he must follow before, and during each and every play. With regard to the passing game, one aspect of this is the presnap read.

QUARTERBACK PRE-SNAP
• Always get to the line quickly with your hands under center. o If the defense is going to shift, they will do it after you get under center. • Look for the safeties. o Is there anyone in the middle of the field? Is the middle of the field “open” or “closed”? • Look for the best side to read. o Based on the number of defenders vs. the number of receivers. o Based on the defender’s leverage. Leverage refers to the defender’s relationship to the receiver, or the area of the field the defender must cover relative to where the routes are going to be run. • • • Tell yourself the Progression or Read; (e.g. “Corner to Hitch to Middle”) Get a picture in your mind of where all the routes are going to be run. Identify possible blitzes. o Know where your hot routes are.

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Sometimes it’s going to be obvious or built into the play when deciding what side of the field to read. If you have the option to read either side, quickly focus on what side won’t be open. It’s the same decision making process one would use on a multiple choice exam; eliminate options in order to narrow down your choices. Then pick the best two options you have, perhaps the curlswing read you have on the quick side of the formation, and then go from there.

DURING THE DROP BACK
Once you know what side you are reading, a good plan of action is to keep your face mask pointed down the middle of the field and your shoulders should be slightly open to the line of scrimmage. In other words, don’t stare in the area where you want to throw the football.

Realize you are making the decision on where to go with the ball on your way back – not at the end of your drop. Learn to read defender’s drops: With practice, you should be able to know where the defender you are keying is going within the first two-steps of his drop. The general rule is; “if his shoulders stay square (to the LOS) he can’t get depth, and if his shoulders turn he is getting depth.” In a high – low type read if the defender kept his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage, you would throw high and vice-versa. o You should get to the top of your drop and start to step into the throw of choice; if it’s not there, save the throw and look to #2 as you reposition your back foot. If he is not open, take off towards your outlet (usually a back), find the passing / running lane and give him the ball or run for yards but don’t take a hit. It’s better to slide and avoid injury to stay in the game. The Red Zone is a

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particular area of the field where you don’t want to take a sack. If you can’t at least get back to the LOS, throw the football away. With the exception of a quick 3-step drop, take two shuffle-steps up in the pocket (maximum), before going to the contingency plan. • For example; you’ve made a decision on where to go with the ball and you’re waiting for the receiver to break away from the defender. #1 THE QUICK SLANT READ

Key Points: Although you are focused on the area of the throw (the dark area), you need to use your peripheral vision as well (the lighter shaded area) in case a defender comes into the area of the throw. This is the case with all your throws but I’m not going to illustrate it from this point forward in the book.

Make sure you get a good pre-snap read and your drop is flawless so the timing is perfect. When going to the double slant side, take a “3-tap” drop so you can throw underneath the

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linebacker. If you are throwing to the flat to slant side, take a good crossover so you can allow the linebacker to clear the passing lane as you throw over him. If he is giving you the flat right now, take a 3-tap drop and give it to the flat right now. SUMMARY OF THE QUICK SLANT READ • Key flat defender o OLB, SS or CB • Throw away from the flat defender. o If he covers the slant, hit the flat / swing route. o If he goes flat, hit the slant. THE QUICK SLANT PASS DROP • The quarterback’s specific drop is dependent on the flat defender’s leverage. o If the flat defender is close to the LOS (Pro 4-3), the drop will be deeper (threebig) so the QB can throw behind him. o If the flat defender is way off the LOS (College 4 – 3), the drop will be shallower (three-quick) so the QB can throw in front of him.

The “Quick-slant” read is the first read I teach. The drop will be slightly different depending on what the number-two receiver is doing. If the #2 receiver is running a swing route the linebacker covering the flat usually takes more of a horizontal path to the flat area not gaining a lot of depth. That allows the quarterback to take a little deeper in his drop to let the backer clear the passing lane.

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When the number-two receiver runs a flat route, the linebacker usually takes a more aggressive angle to cover the flat area. The quarterback’s drop is now a bit quicker so he can give the ball to the number-two receiver right away only if the backer’s leverage is poor.

This same read concept is also used on other reads such as “Curl Reads” and “Skinny Post Reads”, so it is a good starting point in the teaching progression. The quarterback has to get a leverage read, plus make a decision by the time he hits his third step. This is an excellent teaching tool. The main problem young QBs have is that they take too long to throw the football.

#2 THE STICK READ

Key Points: The drop of the QB is important in that it will allow the read to develop. The QB is throwing the speed-out or the flat route unless the defender jumps the outside route, which is normally the case. During the QB’s pre-snap read, he will make sure the outside routes are clear, meaning that they coverage by another defender doesn’t take them away before the play even starts.

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• • •

Summary of the Stick Read Key the strong safety or the defender who will cover that area. Check pre-snap leverage. Look for the flat, then the stick. o Many times looking at the flat route first will open up the stick route.

Vs. cover 2, look to the strong side fade first.

The “stick read” is a read that is not in all offenses, although it is a very high percentage throw that usually nets a minimum of five or more yards every time it’s used. It is usually thrown with a wing back approximately one yard outside the tight end and one yard off the line of scrimmage running a flat route to draw the coverage away from the stick route.

However, it can also be utilized by having the running back starting in the backfield running a “shoot” route. The tight end will still run the stick route, and now the running back will run directly to where the WR lined up looking over his inside shoulder. The quarterback will look to the flat or shoot route first. If the strong safety has poor leverage or doesn’t cover the flat area, give the ball to him right away and let him run after the catch. If the strong safety takes off to chase the flat or shoot route, give the ball to the tight end right away. This is an easy read to learn and gives the quarterback confidence because it is a rhythm throw.

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#3 THE INSIDE SEAM-AREA READ

SUMMARY OF THE INSIDE SEAM-AREA READ • • • Key the strong safety or the defender who will cover that area. Check pre-snap leverage. Look for the flat (outside receiver), then the inside receiver. o Many times taking a peek at the outside receiver will open up the inside receiver. The “inside sideline read” is very similar to the stick read – the difference is that now the quarterback will take a deeper drop. This is another way to get the tight end (slot receiver) involved in the passing game as both the stick and the inside-sideline and inside curl routes are easy to complete.

This is a nice change up and gets the quarterback to read the patterns that develop over the tackle box. I teach the stick and inside sideline /curl reads with the use of a four-on-four drill. I take the quarterback, both backs and the tight end, and we run a pass skeleton against the

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second-level defenders (the linebackers). This is an excellent way to teach the quarterback how to see and read the defense in order to consistently complete passes around the linebackers.

#4 THE CURL READ

SUMMARY OF THE CURL READ
• Key the flat defender. o OLB, SS, or CB • Throw away from the flat defender. o If he goes flat, hit the curl. o If he drops to curl, hit the flat / swing route.

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The “curl read” is very similar to the quick-slant read in that the quarterback is still reading the flat defender. He is taking a deeper, five-big with a hitch-step drop, and this helps him to see the play develop as the defenders drop to their respective zones. Again, just like the quick-slant read, when the number-two receiver is running a swing or flat route, and the linebacker covering the flat usually takes more of a horizontal path to the flat area so the quarterback will go a little deeper in his drop to let the backer clear the passing lane. When the number two receiver runs a flat route, the linebacker usually takes a more aggressive angle to cover the flat area. Unlike the quick slant read, the quarterback’s drop will remain the same; a five-big with a hitch drop.

#5 THE SIDELINE READ

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SUMMARY OF THE SIDELINE READ
• • • • Vs. cover 2, the sideline will automatically turn into a fade route. Check corner and safety alignment. Check OLB / strong safety alignment. Key the flat Defender. o OLB, SS, or CB If the flat defender can get underneath the route or into the passing lane, throw to the stop or seam route.

The sideline pattern is primarily used when the cornerbacks are playing off of the wide receiver. This is strictly a timing route and needs a good deal of practice repetitions for it to be effective. A pre-snap read of the leverage is critical.

As long as the cornerback is playing off of the receiver, the only defender able to stop the pass is the flat defender (usually the strong safety or outside linebacker). However, by running a receiver on some type of seam route, this defender can usually be taken out of the equation. Another component of the route is that it must be converted if the corner becomes the flat defender. This is sometimes called a “Kick” defender or “Squat” defender. It is imperative that the wide receiver, take an outside release when this happens, and covert the sideline route into a fade route.

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Although this “built-in” conversion makes the pattern sound, it is not advisable to call the sideline route versus situations where the defense would “Kick” the coverage. There are several better patterns to run Vs this scenario. Sometimes, the defense will roll or “Kick” the coverage into the short side of the field, only. When this happens, the quarterback should throw to the side of the field where the cornerback is playing off the receiver. #6 THE DEEP-OUT / CORNER (CHINA) READ

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SUMMARY OF THE DEEP-OUT READ

Great route vs. cover 2 o The flat route will hold the corner. If the corner drops or runs with the corner route, hit the flat route right away. If the corner covers the flat, continue your drop and hit the WR on the Deep Out.

The deep out read can be used a number of ways. Probably the best use of it is against cover two when you have two deep defenders, and five underneath defenders. By sending a receiver to

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the flat area to hold the cornerback, you can now exploit the deep out area by running an inside release sideline route at 18-plus yards, or by running a corner route into the same general area.

In addition, an offense can take advantage of the deep middle by sending the wide receivers vertical down the sideline, and an inside receiver down the middle of the field. As long as one cornerback is occupied in the flat area, the deep defenders are outnumbered three to two.

#7 THE DIG READ

(Hot)

(Hot)

X Q

Y Z

F

H

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There are a lot of things that go into a good Dig – Drag concept. The F is running a flat route to influence the Will backer. The quarterback will scan what the W and M do with regard to their drops. If the QB peeks at the Drag route, that sometimes keeps the Mike backer from getting deep into his drop. The Z on the right side will occupy one of the Safeties and the receiver is responsible for pushing his route up-field fast enough to keep the Corner and the Free Safety off him when he breaks across the middle.

This Dig – Drag concept is a little easier on the QB. His X is the built in hot route as well as the #2 read in the progression. The F is checking and running a Swing to influence Mike. The Y is running the post to clear out the area for the Dig and the Z is the hot route on his inside break, and the outlet when he loops back to the outside. The QB will come to the LOS and scan to see if he has a chance for the Y Post. Since there is a Safety there, he will think primarily about the Dig or the Drag. As he drops back he checks the Safeties then scans what the backers are doing. If he is getting blitzed from the left, he will hit the Drag right now. If not he will continue in his drop, hit his last step and step into the Dig throw. If hits not there he will “save the

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throw” and look for the Drag. If it’s not there he will reposition his feet and look for the Z running the loop and then decide if he will run or throw to complete the play.

SUMMARY OF THE DIG READ
• Key the underneath coverage. o While dropping back, take a look at what the linebackers are doing. o If they drop, hit the drag. o If they jump or wall the drag, go for the dig. The dig read can be a much easier read for a quarterback if he understands what the defensive responsibilities are as well as what a particular defense does to defend it the middle of the field.

Generally speaking, the dig read pass pattern has one receiver crossing the middle of the field at fifteen-plus yards and another receiver crossing the field at less that five yards depth. The second level defenders (the linebackers) are put into a difficult position; if they drop to their zones at approximately twelve yards deep, the drag route will open up in front of them. If the linebackers come up to defend the drag route, the dig route will be open behind them. To enhance the success of this route, a deep post route should be included down the middle of the field to take the third-level defenders out of the play. Also, it is advisable that the defense be stretched horizontally as well, by putting receivers into the flat areas by swinging them or sending them on flat routes.

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#8 THE SQUARE-IN READ

The tight-end (Y) is taking care of the SS by running a skinny-post or a square-in route. Versus quarters coverage, the slot receiver (Y) will engage the SS when the route is run at least 10yards deep. Versus cover two, the skinny post is probably the better route because it will take the SS deep. The S (Sam) backer is taken care of with the flat route being run right in front of him. The window for the throw is usually between the Sam and Mike backers in front of the strong-safety.

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When the offense is faced with a cover 3, man, or cover 1 free, the Slot will run a 6 to 8-yard hitch route in order to hold the SS and then we will throw over the top to the Dig route. In fact, Mike Martz (Detroit Lions) has his receivers run 20-yard square-ins rather than the traditional 15 or 16-yard square-in most systems use.

SUMMARY OF THE SQUARE-IN READ
• Key the outside linebacker to the strong safety. o If LB takes the medium square-in route and the strong safety takes the flat area, hit the deep square in. o If either the LB or the SS take away the deep square in, throw to the area they vacate. The double square-in read is different than the dig read in that the route will normally open up to the outside of the tackle box. The QB will take a pre-snap read at the Free Safety to see it

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there is any possibility that the post could be open. He will then drop back and key the second level defenders.

If the strong safety moves horizontally to cover the back running to the flat, and the outside linebacker jumps or walls the TE running the square-in route, the open receiver will be the wide receiver. The cornerback should not be a big factor in the play. If either the strong safety or the outside linebacker drops to take away wide receiver’s route, throw to the receiver they just left.

This is a good play if you need to gain more than ten yards verses a zone defense, and the read is similar to a combination of the dig and curl reads.

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#9 THE DEEP READ

This is a picture of 4 verticals with a Deep read. The middle of the field is closed which means there is a Free-safety in the middle of the field. The QB is thinking cover 3 or cover 1-free. The place to go is to one of the slot (inside) receivers just as they pass the men directly over the top of them. The ball needs to be there on a line (a “one” or “two” throw) before the Free-safety can get there. Some QBs hit this on their 3rd step, and some take a quick-five before letting it go. If as the QB steps into the throw he sees that FS jumping the route, the QB has to quickly shuffle back and let the ball go deep to the outside receiver. There are times when the FS is up and the QB knows he can get the deep ball to the outside receiver, but that will be more of a zero-man look with no FS deep.

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When the middle of the field is open (there is NOT a FS in the middle of the field) one of the inside receivers has to break his route over the middle. In our offense, the H will be the one breaking towards the middle. We do this because we will put him to the wide side of the field and he will have more room to work the safety. The offensive coordinator will be responsible for influencing the Mike backer to keep him out of the passing lane. He might do this with a pass route or at times, even a well-designed play-action. The problem posed in this defense is you have four receivers going deep, and the defense has for defensive backs dropping deep. The QB will need to take a full 5-step drop and should look both safeties off quickly in order to get the inside receiver to open up about 20-yards downfield.

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This is a very good deep pass play designed that Norm Chow uses. It’s very QB friendly in that it gives the quarterback a process to go through in order to complete the pass. The QB will drop back, look to the safety to keep him in the middle of the field, or if he jumps the Streak route, take the backside Post route. However if the QB is going to throw the backside Post route, he knows it before he gets to the end of his drop. If the Streak isn’t open, the QB will look to the Tight-end running the Sail route and then step up and either throw to the RB in the flat or run to daylight. It all happens very quickly. There are several very important key points that young quarterbacks need to understand. First, this is a timing pass that the QB must learn to trust. The QB throws this pass with a 5quick, hitch drop. The receiver will NOT be more than 15-yards downfield when the ball is released. Too many times quarterbacks hold on to the football waiting for their receiver to get past the defender only to find that they don’t have enough arm strength to throw the ball 65-yards

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downfield. The receiver ends up having to slow down and the cornerback or safety makes a play. The bottom line is the QB has to throw the football on time. Second, if the streak route is covered, the QB must progress to his number 2 receiver which is in his line of sight. The QB steps into the streak route, realizes it’s covered and “saves the throw.” Take another quick hitch-step and look to the tight-end running the Sail route. If the Sail route isn’t there, the QB quickly looks to the RB in the flat and either gives it to him or keeps it and runs to daylight.

Here is a deep, play-action pass to the outside receiver. The biggest mistake offenses make in this particular play is the receiver just take-off full speed and outrun the quarterback’s arm. What should happen is the receiver takes off full-speed toward the defenders outside shoulder and then breaks down five-yards from the defender. This will make the defender slow down his drop and peek into the backfield. The receiver will then break to the deep area of the field and

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catch the football about 40 to 45-yards downfield. The receiver must make this look like a run in order to allow the QB to carry out his play-fake. Too many times quarterbacks rush their play-fakes and the protection breaks down and the receiver outruns the pass; it ends up being a wasted play. The offensive coordinator designs the play so that when the QB comes out of the play-fake he knows where to look at what to look for; in this play, the QB will look for the FS. If the FS covers the pass, the QB will look to the tight-end in the same line of sight or run to daylight if needed.

The keys to the play-action game are set-up and great fakes by the QB, the RB and the WR in order for the play to time out correctly. If the WR just takes off full speed, he will always outrun the quarterback’s arm and the pass will never make it to the target; this happens all the time at the high school level.

Deep passes are very popular pass at most levels of football. However, it is also a very low percentage pass most of the time – unless the receivers are superior to the defensive backs, or the pass is set up well by the play caller.

However, if a quarterback “nickel and dimes” a defense, they generally have a tendency to come up to make the play. They anticipate and react. If an offense completes enough short passes in this fashion, the defense will usually become a bit frustrated and try to make a play on a receiver. They will play closer to the line of scrimmage to make the play. This is an excellent time to go deep on a defense. By being patient by throwing the high percentage passes most of the

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game, the offense has now created more separation between the defense and the deep receivers, which in turn, increased the probability of completing the deep pass for a big gain, and quite possibly, a touchdown. The basic philosophy here is to take what the defense gives you. If they play off, throw underneath them until they come up and can’t defend the deep pass.

A pre-snap read is critical. Young quarterbacks have to have a fairly good idea of which side of the field they are going to throw to. Once that is decided, it is important that the quarterback throw the ball on time. Too often quarterbacks wait for the receiver to get open rather than anticipating which receiver will be open. When they hold to ball too long, they will under-throw the receiver and usually throw a wobbling pass because they are now gripping the ball too tightly in order to throw the ball past their range.

A general rule would be to always throw the ball on time, and make the decision on where to go with the ball by the third step in the drop. If there is no clear decision on where to go with the ball, the quarterback should throw to an underneath, outlet receiver, or pull the ball down and run for as many yards as he can get. However, being patient with the offense will increase the probability that the quarterback will complete the deep passes. SUMMARY OF THE DEEP READ • • • This is a timing pass. Realize that deep passes usually are not high percentage completions. Get a good idea where you have the best chance to go with the ball on your pre-snap read.
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If you are not sure where to go deep with the ball on your third step (of a five-step drop), let the ball go to an underneath receiver.

Four verticals vs. Cover-three o The inside seams are the first read. o Hit the seam route as he passes the linebackers at about 15 yards.

Look the safety off with a good look at the wide receivers as you drop. o Throw away from safety coverage.

The play-action deep pass is very effective if the WR fakes the stalk block and the QB and RB do a great job faking the run play.

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Progressions versus Reads Progressions are different than reads. When a quarterback is reading the defense, he is looking at the defense rather than his receivers as we’ve been focusing on in the previous material. This works very well passing against traditional defenses. For example, when you have the #1 receiver running a curl route, and the #2 receiver running a flat route, the QB will read the Strong Safety (assuming its cover 3). If the Strong Safety runs after the #2 receiver running the flat route, the QB will throw to the #1 receiver running the curl route and vice-versa. If however, the defense runs something exotic where the Strong Safety runs to the flat area and the Sam Backer runs straight to the curl area, the QB may throw an interception by throwing the curl route because the Strong Safety ran with the flat. In other words, the QB did what the defense told him to do and because of that he threw an interception. Many times both coaches and players come off the field and they are not even sure what the defense was running. For that reason, coaches started using “progressions”. When a QB is going through his progressions, he is looking to a specific area of the field to find his #1 receiver. If he sees a “flash” of a defender in that area in a defined time, he then resets his feet and looks to another area of the field to find his #2 receiver. If he sees a defender in that area he will take off running to another area of the field and look to his #3 receiver. If the receiver is open, he will deliver the pass; if he is covered the QB will run with the football.

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With a “READ” the QB will look to the SS to tell him where to go with the football. If he drops to cover the curl, throw to the flat. If he covers the flat, go to the curl. You have to be able to see what the defense is doing.

With a “PROGRESSION” the QB will look downfield until he nears the end of his drop. He will shoot his eyes to the #1 area of the field. If at the top of the drop #1 is covered, he will now reset his feet and look to #2. If he is covered he will take off and look for the “outlet” receiver and / or try to gain yards on his own. You don’t have to know what the defense is doing, just know if your receiver is covered or not.

Gentlemen, you're going to need to learn both progressions as well as reads. And you’ll have to use both in the same game at times when you find you don’t really know what the defense is doing. Believe me when I say this -- I’ve played from junior college on up and I’ve been coaching at the junior college level for over a dozen years and been to hundreds of games scouting players. There are coaches at all those levels that will come screaming at you telling you that you screwed something up and you’re just going to have to learn that sometimes they correct, and once in a while they, like you, have no clue what just happened. Some may even feel they just need someone to blame so they will blame the QB. Shake it off and go on to the next play. Don’t hold a grudge and realize that during a football contest, coaches and players have many emotions and no one is “disrespecting” you because they are yelling at you, even if you know they are wrong. I starting playing organized football in the 1980’s and it was common for a coach to curse at you, grab your facemask and even shove a player on occasion and we (as players) thought nothing of it at all. It never made us cry, it never hurt us physically, and it was just a common way coaches treated players – it was even thought to make us tougher by desensitizing (helping us learn to still function well in chaotic situations) us from stressful situations . I have no idea how we all became so sensitive to being yelled it (today we call it “abuse” which makes it seem far worse than it really is) but it is hurting us for no reason. We
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are misinterpreting or misunderstanding what is going on when a coach is screaming at us. Forget his emotion and hear the message that will help you become better. Focusing on, and interpreting things like being "disrespected" or "abused" are as useless as focusing on what time of day it is during a football game; no one cares, it doesn't help our cause to win the game, learn the game, or deal with authority figures during stressful situations. Most every coach I have seen yell or get mad at a player had absolutely nothing “personal” against that player and does NOT mean to “disrespect” you in any sense of the word. So please, forget about how your coach treats you and focus on what you can do to get better and play up to your capability. This hypersensitivity is making you a weaker person and not helping you focus on becoming the best football player you can be. Think about it; you just threw an interception because you stared at your receiver the whole time and the DB got the best of you. You come to the sideline and your coach is calling you and idiot for not looking off the defender. Which is the more important message to hear, that he thinks you behaved like an idiot because he expects a lot more of you, or that he alerted you that you need to go back to looking the defense off so you can complete more passes and win the game? When I was a player at the four-year level our head coach told us one time that when he stops yelling at us it means he has given up on us and we won’t be playing anymore. That makes a lot of sense. In any modern offense in football today, there are general principles that are germane to all passing systems. For example, if you are going to run a curl route with the outside receiver, there will be another receiver running a flat or swing pattern as well to stretch the defense horizontally in order to open up a passing lane. Generally speaking, when you have a 1 to 2 progression, the outlet receiver will be away from the progression. A quarterback needs a routine (a checklist if you will) that he goes through every time he breaks the huddle regardless of run or pass. Here are my suggestions that all my quarterbacks do. However, I also have a general rule that states “if I teach you one thing and your team coach teaches you something different, do what he says!” A quick way to lose your starting job is to debate with your coach.

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WHAT TO DO AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE
Once the play is called in the huddle, get to the line of scrimmage with around 18-seconds on the play-clock. As you are walking up, say the progression to yourself in your head or under your breath like “Corner to Hitch to Middle” so you know what you are doing. Ninety percent of the time you should know where you are going with the football before the snap. Get your hand under center, or if you are in the gun, have your hands up ready to receive the football. Do this so the defense has to show their alignment. (Note: go on 1st sound early in the ball game to make the defense show their alignment right away) Take a quick look at the front; how many down-linemen are there and where are the linebackers? If the linebackers are near or on the line of scrimmage, it might be an indication that they are blitzing. If they are going to blitz, that’s a good thing because that means that a receiver will be open or, if it’s a run play, that the play might break for a big gain once the back gets through the line.

The important thing is that you look at the front 7 (or eight) because it tells you how your protection is going to hold up, and if it’s a run, it tells you if you have to change the play or not. It also gives you a clue as to what is going on the in the secondary. Generally speaking, you want to run to the “bubbles” in the run game. Many times, all you have to do to change the run play is call “opposite” and your offense will just run the ball to the other side of the center. It’s very simple as long as you get to the line of scrimmage with close to 18-seconds on the playclock. Once you have quickly scanned the front, take a look at the middle of the field. Is it open (two safeties back there) or closed (one safety back). If there are two safeties back there, that means that you should be able to run the football, and if there is only one safety back there, you should be able to throw the football as a general rule. (If there are no safeties back, that means
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it is an all-out blitz; you have to max protect now or throw hot) How deep are the safeties? If they are at least 12-yards deep and they are standing fairly upright, they are probably in cover two or cover four (see defensive coverage section). If they are less than twelve yards deep, they might be in Quarters coverage, bracket coverage, or in some kind of man coverage and someone is blitzing. When the ball is snapped, quickly look at the safeties. This is hard to do for young quarterbacks because you want to look to where you are going to throw the football for as long as you can and this is a BIG mistake. As you look at the safeties, you have to notice if they are going backwards, not moving too much at all (reading the offense) or coming up to the LOS. All of this tells you something and helps you to react the best way. On your third step, look to where you want to throw the ball but try to keep you shoulders perpendicular to the line of scrimmage and your facemask facing right down the middle of the field. Look with your eyes, not with your head. If you are reading a defender or passing lane, look to that area. If you are going through your progression, look to the area of your first read to see if there are defenders going to that area. This is important; you want to see where the defense is going in their drops. There might not be anyone within 5-yards of your target, but if the defender is sprinting to that area he might be there by time you get the ball there. Conversely, there might be someone in your passing lane early in your drop, but his momentum is taking him out of the lane so by the time you step into your throw, he is out of your passing lane. As you make your last cross-overstep, look to the area you are going to throw the football with the intention of throwing the football. This is another important point. Don’t go back there to wait and see if the man is going to be open because that takes too long to process and time is lost between the time you decide to throw the football and when you actually do throw the football. What you want to do is to start to step into every throw; and let your reaction tell you whether to “save the throw” or not. Saving the throw means you start to pull the ball back and may even start to step into the throw; your shoulders start to open up and then at the very last second, you pull back when you see someone flash in the passing lane. This ability will really help your game. You will be able to get

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the ball out quicker and when you do have to save the throw, the defense reacts and flies to that area thereby vacating another area where you can go with the football. To summarize: 1. As you break the huddle, tell yourself the progression under your breath or in your head like “Curl to Flat to Middle” so you know what you are doing. 2. Get to the LOS with18-seconds left on the play-clock and get your hands under center, 3. Take a look at the front for protection and / or for bubbles to run at, 4. Look to where the safeties are, 5. First step into drop look at the safeties, 6. Middle of the drop look with your eyes only to area of the field for read or progression, 7. Last crossover snap your head to the area and expect to throw the pass, 8. Throw the pass or save the throw, and reset.

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Of course all quarterbacks must have an awareness of what is going on around them as they drop back. This comes with practice but a lot of it is genetics (see brain-types). The quarterback needs to feel pressure and avoid it while keeping his eyes downfield at all times. A good quarterback can “feel” pressure and step up in the pocket to avoid it. There are many drills that can help a quarterback react appropriately. There are twelve basic principles of the modern passing game. That is to say that if you knew these principles, you could run any passing offense which include the West Coast, the Spread, and even the Run and Shoot offense. The idea is to spread the field out with receivers so the defense has to account for every possible pass-catcher. Here are the 12 general “Progression Principles” that any quarterback can learn. Once he learns these, all he has to know is where the primary receiver is on the field, and he will automatically be able to look to the second area, then to the third area of any progression or read. There may be slight differences, but they are negligible at best. Quick Passing Game 1) Flat to Slant 2) Outside to inside 3) Flat to Stick

Regular Passing Game (Alert Post could be a Go or even a Post-corner route – just some type of homerun throw where you have a chance for a quick touchdown) Generally speaking when we talk about an “alert” its’ usually NOT going to be there unless the coach sees something from upstairs or you have enough experience (NFL caliber) where you just know it will be there. For QBs with less experience, I won’t even let him think about it unless I say “check the alert”. However, once in a while calling plays from the box, an OC can see that the “alert” has a shot and will “alert” the QB to it. I only have my QBs drop back looking to the alert area just to “look off” the defense before going through his “progressions”. I read an article where they interviewed Rich Gannnon. He said he loved John Gruden because when he called the play through the helmet speaker he would tell him if the alert was going to be there or not. When Gruden left, the guy telling him the plays through the speaker in the helmet didn’t have the acumen for it and Rich was on his own.

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4) (Alert) Mesh, to Flat 5) Sideline to Stop to Middle 6) Curl to Flat to Middle 7) (Alert Post) Comeback to Flat to Middle (Note; with very fast players, a receiver could run a drag route to replace the flat route because the drag would get across the field so fast to the flat area.) 8) (Alert Post) Dig to Drag to Flat 9) (Alert Post) Outside to Inside to Flat 10 (Alert Post) Corner to Flat to Middle 11) Streak to Dead Zone to Flat 12) All Go Inside to Outside to Middle The quarterback needs to step into each throw BEFORE the receiver makes his break. Most high school level QB’s wait to make sure the receiver is open before deciding to throw. This throws off all timing. When dropping back, assume your receiver is going to be open. Step into the throw; if he is not open, save the throw, reset your feet, and move on. This works much better than the “wait to make sure” method that young quarterbacks use.

• When you go to the line of scrimmage, you have to go through your progressions in your mind
before you go through them “live”. Once you break the huddle, say to yourself your progression. Example; “Curl to Flat to Middle.”

• As you drop back, assume your primary receiver (#1) is going to be open when you get to the
top of your drop.

• As you get to the top of your drop, your eyes should shoot the area where your #1 should be
just before you step into the throw. If he is NOT open, “save the throw”, then immediately look to the area of your #2, while at the same time resetting your back foot perpendicular to your #2. You’ll have enough time to see if he is open before stepping into the throw. It’s really important that you train yourself to look to areas instead of receivers. Once your eyes get pointed to the area, your brain will find the receiver. If you actually “look” for the receiver, it takes your brain more time to find him because it is more specific – you are trying to control your brain instead of letting it react quickly which is always better.

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• If your #2 is not there, always start running towards your “outlet” receiver area and throw
him the ball if he is open; if not, run to the open area and slide instead of taking any kind of hit. If you’re out of the game, your team loses.

• When you are not wearing a helmet, wear a brimmed baseball cap when you are throwing to
receivers. That way you can practice manipulating the defenders by looking them off. That means that you will look somewhere other than where you want to go with the ball before your look at your primary receiver to throw to him.

• Once this happens a few times, you’ll find how useful it is to look off defenders. They can’t
see your eyes, so they will swarm to the area where you are pointing the brim of that hat. The slower they are, the longer you have to look them off in order to get them to react to the look-off.

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Basic Drops (Review)
• One-step: Make sure you get your plant foot perpendicular to your target area. Get off the LOS but make sure your weight is moving towards your target throughout the throw-motion. • 3-tap: Used on passes where you need to throw in front of the linebacker such as the double-slant. Make sure you get some depth although timing is more important than depth on this type of throw. • 3-step: You will use a quick crossover step to give yourself time to make the read. For example your WR is running a quick slant route and your TE is running a flat route, you are looking at the flat route first (yes, talk to anyone at the division-one level or higher and the progression is Flat to Slant because if you look slant first, there won’t be enough time to get the ball to the flat route). It sometimes takes a split second longer to see what is going on so your use a crossover step to afford you the time to see the pattern develop. • 3-big, hold: • 3-roll: Used on a Stick route or some kind of quick option / choice route. Used on a 4 step speed-out run by the outside receiver in order to get your hips open to the target area and give you the velocity needed on the throw. • 5-roll: Used on 12-yard speed-outs. The goal is to get your hips open to the target area or you’ll throw it behind the receiver and late. • 5-quick, hitch: Your last step in your drop will be at just over 6-yards depth. • 5-hitch: You will finish your throwing motion and end up just deeper than five-yards from the LOS

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• 7-quick, hitch: Your last step in your drop will be right at 8-yards from the LOS. • 7-big, hitch: Your last step in your drop will be no deeper than 9-yards from the LOS

From the Gun
• Quick Passing: • 10 – 14-yd routes: • 15-plus yd routes: Don’t lose any ground; rather catch, step toward the target and throw. Catch, one-crossover, hitch and throw. Catch, two quick crossovers, hitch and throw. (If you only take one crossover, you are going to have to hitch up in the pocket for the pass to time out correctly giving the advantage to the defense). YouTube “Colt Brennan Senior Bowl Practice” at 2:22 in the video and again at 3:20 in the video to listen to Mike Martz teach and try to ignore the commentator who is very knowledgeable, but he is not Mike Martz. Mike Martz is one of the most brilliant offensive minds in professional football today and he explains this concept extremely well.

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Tricks of the Trade
• Never look at the football when throwing a pass! You’ll never attain a level of great accuracy because of the way your brain works. Most all QBs don’t realize this. • Look to where you want to throw the pass, and trust the throw. Don’t think or aim, just look, trust and throw. • Focus on the smallest area you can when throwing a pass; think small, miss small. • When you are leading a receiver with the pass, never look directly at the receiver. You need to look to the area you are throwing to. This way you will be more accurate, and if a defender is in the area, you’ll be able to see him and react appropriately (save the throw if needed) and then resetting your feet for the second progression. • When great things happen, focus on the feeling of how good it is but keep your poise. • When bad things happen, let it go as quickly as possible. Nothing gets better when you focus on the negative – NOTHING! Learn from it (e.g. never throw late over the middle), let it go and forget it emotionally. You can always watch it on film later and think about it then. Competition is never a time for negativity.

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RUN GAME / PLAY ACTION FOOTWORK MECHANICS

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This clock is a representation to be used in describing to the quarterback where, and at what angle he should place his feet with respect to the run game, the play-action passing game, and the out rollout passing game.

I also use this type of representation when the foot placement of passing is crucial. An example would be when we use a “C” type play action pass and we are throwing a quick screen or some other type of quick passing play when timing is crucial. In this case, we would want the quarterback to know exactly where to place each foot, and at what angle they need to be in for an accurate, efficient throw.

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HAND-OFF MECHANICS
The quarterback’s job in the run game is to survey the defensive front and be able to determine if a change in play is necessary. A common responsibility is for the quarterback to be aware that a certain play run to the right side of the line has a very slim possibility of success due to the alignment of the defense; maybe you don’t have enough blockers on one side to block every defensive player in a particular play. In this case, the quarterback may have to change the call to the other side of the line by calling out “opposite” at the line of scrimmage. He may also have to move the fullback, or lead blocker as well; in this case he will call “over, over” to tell the lead blocker to move to the other side.

As far as handing off the football, the quarterback is responsible for the mesh with the running back, as well as the ball placement when handing the ball to the runner. As the quarterback receives the football from center, he will immediately seat it just above his belt line. At the same time, the quarterback will drive his eyes to the navel area of the back who is receiving the football; this is the target area for the quarterback. The quarterback will reach out with the football to the runner, and place the football exactly on the runner’s navel area. It is important that the quarterback does not slam the ball into the runner’s stomach, but rather place it there firmly, and then ride with the football until the runner secures it. As the runner secures the football, the quarterback removes his had from the football smoothly, and follows through. At this point, the quarterback needs to finish the handoff by either bootlegging away, or by simulating a play-action pass type of setup.

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Many times the quarterback will open up away from the hole that the ball will be run to. We will call this “reversing from the hole” or using a “reverse pivot.” This is usually done in order to clear the lead blocking back without getting in his running lane. However, there are times where will open up to the hole, such as on zone plays (inside or outside zone) and on some of our lead runs. We will open up to the hole on these lead runs because it turns out to be a better ball fake on our play-action passes because we will show the defense the football while faking.

When we reverse to the hole, we will keep our back to the line of scrimmage while handing off the football so that the defense cannot see the football. We end up having two different types of handoffs / play-fakes; one where we will open up to the hole and show the defense the football, and one where we will reverse to the hole and hide the football from the defense.

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PLAY-ACTION MECHANICS
Using play action appropriately is one of the best weapons in your arsenal of offensive football plays. However, since this type of play is a bit more complex, time should be taken to teach it to the entire offense. As such, it must be practiced on a daily basis so its mechanics are fundamentally sound, and the execution is precise.

The linemen must understand that, at least at the point of attack, they must make contact at the line of scrimmage, rather than retreat into a normal pass protection mode. This means that the play action blocking is not as sound, and can break down. The quarterback should be aware that there may be some penetration, and that he may take a hit just after the throw.

The running backs must run the same course they normally would on the run play, and must continue the fake as they pass through the line of scrimmage. The quarterback must take the same path and execute the same motions as he normally would on the run play until the very last second when he needs to look downfield and throw the football. All of these elements must be carried out with precision for the play to be most effective.

There are three types of play action fakes that the quarterback will be expected to know and use. The “A” fake – a fake where the quarterback must do his best to make the play look like exactly like a run play for a sustained period. The “B” fake – a type of fake where the quarterback will show the defense the football for a short time before pulling the ball back in and

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getting set to throw; and the “C” fake – an action that quickly shows the defense the football, but does not affect the rhythm of a timing pattern.

Before a play action pass is designed, it’s important for the quarterback to understand what the play is designed to do. First of all, whom do you want to influence (fake) with the play action: Is it one of the safeties, a cornerback, an outside linebacker, or an inside linebacker? Second, what run play will you be running your play action pass off of? Third, what type of play fake is needed for the type of play you are designing? For example; when watching film of your opponent, which of the defenders is susceptible to the play fake. How does he react to the run play that your play action pass is designed off of?

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The “A” Fake
We will start with the “A” fake. An “A” Fake is one where we want to do the best job fooling the defense. As fakes go, this should be the best, most convincing job we do. The “A” fake is the one where we want to get the back tackled; we want this to be a great fake. We want this action to appear identical to the run in every way until the last tenth of a second.

The “A” Fake: The QB has the ball on his hip hidden from the defender(s) we want to deceive

An example when this type of fake can be used is against a team whose safeties are responsible for run support – a type of “quarters” coverage. An appropriate play action pass would most likely be built around an ISO play (a play where the full back will lead through the hole, and the

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tail back will follow with the ball). This deceptive play should be the type of play that will have an aggressive run support safety coming up hard to the line of scrimmage when he reads “run”. This is a good opportunity to use a play that has your wide receiver running a post route (from the same side the play fake is run to). The safety will come up a bit as he reads run, and will now be out of position to cover the post.

The quarterback should make the play action fake look exactly like the original ISO play for a sustained period of time. As he takes the snap from center, he must pull the ball to his midsection. As he now moves to the faking back, the ball will stay at that level. The quarterback will locate the faking back and should look at the back’s midsection – the area where he must place the football. He will then extend the ball with both hands to the back so that it is directly in front of him, clearly showing that there is going to be an exchange.

Now as the ball is being pulled back to the QB’s body with the off hand, the arm normally used to give the ball to the running back must be allowed to swing away, as it would if the QB had

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actually given the ball to the faking back. At the same time, the QB will take a peak at the back of that hand as his arm swings away in the same direction as the running back; this completes the fake. The ball should now be on the quarterback’s back hip, hidden from the defense. It is important to have a coach watch the ball placement while standing ten-yards in front of the fake during practice time. Make sure the defense won’t be able to see the ball while the QB has it hidden on his back hip.

Once the QB has completed the fake, he should now bring the ball up into good a carriage position, and locate his receiver immediately as he hitches up to throw the pass. In a play action pass, the QB doesn’t have a lot of time to find all of his possible receivers. If the QB does not have his primary receiver he must move up in the pocket and find an outlet receiver, or take off with the football.

The running back is also an important key in this type of play action. He must carry out the fake and, if it is a short yardage play fake, dive to the ground. If this is an open field play fake, his fake should be so convincing that the defense should tackle him. In fact, that should be the goal of the back, to be tackle because of the fake he has performed.

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The “B” Fake
The “B” Fake is a little different in that we want this to be a very good fake that will move one or more defenders on the defense. We still want to deceive the defense, but we are less concerned with hiding the ball for a sustained time period. We want to show the ball to the defense and bait them into flowing to where they think the play is going, then peel off and go the other way. Normally, we want to show the ball with one hand and have the other hand placed firmly on our stomach.

The “B” Fake: The QB is showing the football to the defense before pulling it in and reversing the other way

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A good example of this would be a play where we want the defense to think we are running an outside stretch play to one side of the field, and then reverse out of that, and throw to the other side of the field.

As the QB receives the snap from center, he will immediately place the ball in his midsection, as he normally would during a run play. Then he will extend the football to the back (either with both hands or one hand) and hold the ball out so the whole defense can see it. As the QB meshes with the running back, he should have the ball held directly in front of the back establishing the likelihood of the exchange. The quarterback will then pull the ball back, snap his head around, and boot in the other direction (getting at least nine-yards depth from the LOS) and locate his primary receiver. He should now have both hands on the football. As the quarterback prepares to throw the pass, he should put himself in a position to run directly towards the area where he wants the football to go. His hips should be square to his target and he should relax and exhale just as he is throwing the football.

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It is usually important that the quarterback understand several points when throwing on the run: • Run toward the target. This improves the accuracy of the throw, and keeps your hips square to the target. • If you are throwing the ball at the receiver’s feet, try standing up a little straighter just as you are ready to throw the pass. This helps to keep your shoulders more level during the throw. • If you are consistently throwing the ball high to the receiver, you may have to lean forward slightly as you throw the pass. • Relax and exhale as your throw the football. This helps you keep your upper body and shoulders from tensing up as you throw the football. • Be sure you don’t over grip the football. You should have a firm grip on the football, but gripping it too tightly will cause the ball to wobble, and you will lose some control. • Never throw across your body. You will lose a great deal of control and velocity on the pass, which will make it easier to intercept. • Never, ever, throw late over the middle. Most of the time, when you are lucky, the ball will fall incomplete. Often though, this is when interceptions occur.

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THE “C” FAKE
The “C” fake is used on timing patterns as well as to influence or “freeze” the one defender who we want to take out of the passing lane. This can almost be called a token fake. On this type of fake, we will flash the football to the defender as we drop back to pass, but will quickly bring the ball back into our body so we can hit our last step and get rid of the football on time.

The “C” Fake: We want to “flash” the ball at the defender but not disrupt the timing of our pass
An example of this type of pass might when we want to throw a 12-yard speed-out to our wide receiver on the weak side of the formation, but the outside linebacker has a tendency to fly to the flat and get into our passing lane. In this case, we will play action a back in his direction and flash the football at him. The linebacker will now hesitate (this is all we want) and we will be able to throw the ball before he retreats into our passing lane.

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Y

Q F H

It is important to remember that the “C” fake is designed to make a specific defender hesitate before dropping back so we can throw the ball behind him. The timing of the pass is critical and the fake itself is a “token” fake. We just want to flash the ball to the defender so he reacts to it. The “C” fake can also be used on the quick passing game in order to get the backer out of the passing lane of a slant or hitch route.

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HOW TO INSTALL THE MECHANICS OF THE PLAY ACTION PASSING GAME Although this is predominantly a quarterback book, the play action passing game is so important I think it is appropriate to talk a little bit about the best way I know of to install the mechanics effectively.

I great many coaching staffs do it this the following way, and it really does make a lot of sense to me. Have a video camera taping this drill about 10 to 15-yards from the line of scrimmage, facing the offense. Start with just the center, the quarterback, and the backs. Now execute the run play that you are going to build the play action pass play off of. Do this several times to make sure everyone is running the play with precision.

Now run the play action pass play several times interspersed with the run play. When you watch the tape, you will be able to point out the subtle nuances that need to be polished so that the play action pass play looks exactly like the run play from the defensive standpoint. Any parent with a video camera can help out, and it’s a great way to really hone the quarterback’s ball handling skills, as well as the back’ skills to carry out the deception.

Video Camera

10 Yards

QB

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Summary of Play Action Passing
• • Play action passing can be one of the best weapons in your offensive football arsenal. The plays themselves are more complex than strictly a run or a pass play, so all the members of the offensive team need to know what their roles are on the play. • Linemen (at least at the point of attack) must make contact with the defender at the line of scrimmage, rather than to retreat in a pass protection mode. • The running backs must run the same course they normally would on the run play and must continue the fake as the pass through the line of scrimmage. • The quarterback must take the same path and execute the same motions as he normally would on the run play until the very last second when he needs to look downfield and throw the football. • • The QB must know whom he is trying to bait in the play action pass. Three general types of play fakes. o “A” Fake – The QB does his best to make the play look exactly like the run play it was designed from. o “B” Fake – The QB shows the ball to the defense, then pulls it back in and sets up to pass. o “C” Fake – The QB quickly “flashes” the ball to a specific defender and continues in his drop to throw a timing pass.

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SHOTGUN PASSING
FOR BOTH SPREAD AND MORE TRADITIONAL OFFENSES

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Running the offense from a “shotgun” formation generally makes the quarterback’s job easier, even though it limits the offense in terms of what kind of running plays it can run. When the quarterback is standing 4½-yards from the line of scrimmage, he can have a better vantage point to see the defense. He also has a “head-start” as far as his drop is concerned, since he is already almost five-yards deep from the line of scrimmage. It has been my experience that quarterbacks also have a better vantage point to see what is happening as far as their backside is concerned.

Very often though, the offense is somewhat limited in what types of plays can be run because the quarterback is detached from the center. The defense also takes a different posture when the quarterback is in the “gun”. I have also found that some quarterbacks who are used to running a timing-offense, don’t necessarily like playing in the gun because they don’t have the same timing they do while dropping back from center. It is for that reason that I have developed a means to “time-out” the different throws so the timing is the same in both the shotgun and the under-center offense. Although several colleges use the gun a great deal of the time, the NFL has yet to adopt such an offense that is run predominantly from the shotgun formation.

There can still be an aspect of precision when playing quarterback from the shotgun formation. Although the drops are different, the quarterback will still use excellent technique and playaction fakes, and will always have his shoulders level for the throw (the exception being the deep passes when the quarterback will pitch his shoulders slightly upward when throwing the football).

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The Stance e e The quart terback’s st tance of the shotgun for rmation is ve much like the stance from center ery e e r (feet bein parallel) but now he w line up wit his toes a 4½ yards from the lin of scrimmage. ng b will th at ne We do this so both the mesh of t run game and the tim of the p the e ming passing gam work me efficiently y.

The arms are extended with a slight e ben at the elb to receiv the nd bow ve sna from cent ap ter. ere he The is a slight bend at th waist. The knees are s e slightly flexed. es e Toe at 4½-yards from the LOS, dep pending on the offense. The feet are even just like t e they wou be under center. uld

• • •

The stance for the shotgun s offense

The quart terback will immediately reach out t y towards the LOS with his hands open showing th s he defense t that he is re eady to receive the snap from center A lot of Q r. QB’s wait until just before they want the snap to put their hands out a the defense uses tha as a key s they can get t and at so a jump on the ball. Once the qua n O arterback has taken a go look at t entire de ood the efense, he will lift up his knee signaling to the cente that he is ready for t snap. Re er s the emember tha the cente is at er looking ba between his legs and can’t see t ack d that much of the quarte f erback but he can see if t e the

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QB raises his foot. Another way to alert the center that the QB is ready for the snap is for the QB to lean over and clap his hands low enough that the center can see the action. The University of Florida does this.

The QB is letting the center know he is ready for the snap by lifting his knee up

Here the QB is putting a receiver on his right side in motion by tapping his right foot behind him

If the QB wants to put a receiver in motion, he will tap his foot backwards [using the left or right] foot depending on what side the receiver is motioning from).

The quick passing game requires the QB to catch the snap from center, apply the proper footwork (see illustration), find the laces, and throw with a balanced body. This takes practice but can be done consistently. There is a rhythm and precise footwork that the quarterback must practice over and over again in order to throw the quick passing game out of the shotgun

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with accuracy and velocity. I will emphasize here that I want the QB to throw with the laces all the time. He needs to find the laces and position them in the same manner the holder does on field goals. It is a learned talent that can be improved with practice. Too many QB’s take this movement for granted and almost toss the ball in the air while spinning it to find the laces. If a holder can spin the laces away from the kicker’s foot, a quarterback can spin the laces to his fingertips in the same amount of time and do it efficiently. This helps accuracy, velocity and allows the quarterback to be balanced as he passes.

The typical five or seven step drop from center will require that the quarterback catch the snap before he moves or drops back at all. He will delay almost one count to allow the receivers to get into their routes and allow the defense to drop. He will then proceed into his drop and throw the pass on time.

Remember, there are two problems that come from throwing from the shotgun. The first problem is timing; most of the time the QB is ready to throw the ball well before the receiver is open so the QB is standing back there staring at the target waiting from him to break open (in the quick passing game the opposite is true; the ball comes out way too late, with little accuracy). The second problem is the run game is somewhat restricted; and the backs are not running down hill when they receive the ball from the QB.

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THE SHOTGUN QUICK PASSING GAME The quarterback will be throwing the quick passing game from just about 4½-yards behind the line of scrimmage. We don’t want the timing of the throw to be altered very much at all. For the five-possible receivers, there is no difference in how they run their respective pass routes when throwing from the shotgun formation; they run the same depths. The only differences for the quarterback are: 1. He lines up 4 ½-yards from the line of scrimmage instead of under center. 2. He will take away two steps from the normal drop from center. For example, when the QB’s normal drop is a three-step; he may use a punch-step and then a plant step to get his hips in the proper position. A five-step will now be a three-step in the gun, and a seven-step is now a five-step drop in the gun. 3. His dropback strides will be considerably shorter than the normal drop from center. We don’t want him to drop so far back that his protection is jeopardized.

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Many times defenses will play off the receiver when you are in the shotgun formation because the odds are that you are going to throw the ball downfield. There are not many offenses that can or do throw the quick passing game from the shotgun formation.

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FIVE & SEVEN-STEP DROP PASS PATTERNS RUN FROM THE SHOTGUN When a pass play calls for a five-step, no-hitch drop – the corresponding drop from the shotgun, in that same play, will be a very quick three-step drop. These patterns have pass routes that open up between eight and 12-yards downfield. An example would be when the outside (primary) receivers are running 12-yard speed-outs. One of the most important things a QB has to do when throwing from the shotgun is to CATCH THE FOOTBALL FIRST, AND THEN BEGIN THE DROP. This is important for two reasons. First, it helps with the timing of the throw. The QB doesn’t want to be waiting to throw the football while the receiver is still running downfield. Second, it mimics the tempo of the run game. You don’t want to be leaning back into the drop just before the throw because the defense could time their rush based on that.

When a play calls for a five-big with a hitch-step drop, the corresponding shotgun drop is threequick with a quick hitch step. These plays will have routes where the primary receiver will be breaking his route off at between 12 and 14-yards downfield, such as when the outside receiver on the two-receiver side is running a curl route at 12-yards. The timing of the throws must timeout just as they would in a normal dropback pass.

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In a normal seven-step drop back pattern, the routes are usually designed to open up beyond fifteen yards down the field. The quarterback in the shotgun formation will now take five-big steps in his drop before he hitches up to throw the pass.

It is also important to remember that during this “three or five-step” drop phase in the shotgun formation, the quarterback still needs to have his shoulders slightly open to the line of scrimmage, just as he does in his normal drops. Too often, quarterbacks will lose some of their mechanics in the shotgun formation because they are not used to it.

An excellent way to gage the correct timing of shotgun drop is to line the shotgun QB along side of the QB directly behind center. Have the ball snapped to both QB’s at the same time. Then both QB’s should drop back and end up throwing the ball at the same time. The timing should still be the same on all the routes.

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Silent count: While in the shotgun, you will see the center look between his legs; when he does this, raise your leg. The center will yell “set,” and then the offense will count “one thousand one” and go. If you call it on two, the center will look through his legs once; call “set,” then look through his legs a second time and yell “set” – then the offense counts silently “one thousand one” and goes.

One of the advantages to the shotgun formation is that the quarterbacks usually have more of a sense of security because they are further from the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap from center. Also, it is easier to see the whole field and, since the offensive receivers are spread out more, the read or progression is a bit easier for the quarterback to see. One of the disadvantages to the shotgun formation is that it limits your play calls. You can’t run all of your running plays from this formation. Another disadvantage is that young quarterbacks sometimes get used to this formation, and then their confidence in lining up behind center dissipates at times. Personally, I don’t introduce the shotgun formation to our quarterbacks until they have mastered, and are comfortable with, dropping back in a normal fashion. NOTE: When coaching players in the shotgun, I use different terminology from under center concerning drops. Instead of saying “take a three-step drop”, I’ll say, use one-crossover. I use the term crossover instead of steps to distinguish under-center drops, from shotgun drops. A three-step drop will be one-crossover, and a five-step drop will be two crossovers. I’ve found this helps the QBs picture the drops in their minds before taking the snap from center when they are first learning the techniques.

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Run Game Mechanics from the Gun
The most often run play in the Spread Offense is the Zone Read and Stretch Plays. Basically the QB has to catch the snap from center and then quickly position his feet so he is at a 45degree angle to the LOS.

Quarterback will step back with the foot closest to the ball carrier The angle will be close to 45-degrees and the QB is responsible for the mesh The QB will read the backside end (C – gap player) QB will reach backwards slightly and extend the ball with both hands

2

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ROLL OUT PASSING MECHANICS

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Roll out passing is a great way to disrupt the defensive rush techniques. I think any quarterback can do some type of roll out pass a couple of times a game as a change up from the dropback type pass play, or the play action type pass play.

There is a real need for technique in this type of pass play because the quarterback needs to be in a good position, with his hips as square to his target area as possible, in order to throw an accurate pass with good velocity and rotation. The two types of rollouts we will discuss here are the quick roll type passes and the regular, deeper type rollout pass plays.

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QUICK ROLL PASSING
The first step of the quarterback is one of the keys to an efficient rollout type pass. With regard to the quick roll out pass, it is important to realize that it may be necessary to get the ball up and out to the receiver as quickly as possible. These types of patterns tend to open up right away. One of the problems with this type of pass play (and I see this at the major college level many times) is that the route has opened up, and the quarterback is not able to get the ball to the receiver right away. This is usually because the quarterback is between strides, and doesn’t feel ready to unload the ball. However, when the quarterback coach is cognizant of this, he and the quarterback can make the necessary adjustments, and correct this before it becomes a problem.

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An example of a quick roll out pass might be a flat route run by the primary receiver. The QB’s first step will be at a 45-degree angle (somewhere between four and five o’clock or seven and eight o’clock) in the direction he is rolling to. The step will resemble the same type of initial step a quarterback would take on an outside stretch play.

The Quick Roll: The QB on the left is on his third step and can either throw the pass or level out his path. The QB on the right is on his third step and will now level off.

As he takes this step he should bring the football up to a normal “carriage” position similar to the same position he would normally use on a dropback type pass. His second step can be at the three or nine o’clock position if the play calls for him to get rid of the ball right away. The steps need to be shorter now so the QB doesn’t get caught between strides when he should be getting rid of the ball. He will be throwing the ball between his third and fourth step (going to his right) or his fourth and fifth steps (going to his left), or he will be leveling off and moving parallel to the line of scrimmage.

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The quarterback should be throwing off the same foot he would in a dropback type pass. If he is right handed, his right foot will be on the ground, and his left foot will be in front of him during the throw; he will push off his right foot to throw the pass. The quarterback should get at least four yards behind the line of scrimmage. This type of quick roll pass is designed to get the ball to the receiver quickly. There will not be a lot time to wind up and throw the pass; this is more of a flick than a throw. This pass should be thrown more like a dart than a football.

As the QB throws this short pass, he should do his best to step where he wants the ball to go. This will square his hips to the target area. It is also important for the QB to remember two things as he throws the pass; first, relax as he brings the ball up and throws the pass, and second; breath out. This will allow the quarterback’s shoulders and arm to relax, and avoid a poor pass.

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SUMMARY OF THE QUICK ROLL PASS • • • This type of pass play most often opens up right away. The first step taken is critical. The first step is taken at a 45-degree and is a fairly long stride, followed by shorter control type steps. • The quarterback will throw the pass off the same foot he normally would in a dropback type pass. • The quarterback should do his best to step toward the target area as he releases the ball.

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DEEP ROLL PASSING The normal rollout pass is designed to get the QB out of the pocket to throw the pass. Some teams have an audible where they will run away from an outside blitz with this type of play. Unlike the Quick Roll Pass, the QB is now going to get much deeper (about 9-yards from the line of scrimmage) before he turns up field to throw the pass. His first step is going to be much closer to six o’clock now so he can gain depth, away from the line of scrimmage, before leveling off and then stepping towards the target area.

The quarterback gains depth and separation on his first step in the rollout pass play

As the quarterback gains depth, he will carry the ball much like he does in a dropback pass mode. He must be relaxed and efficient with his movements. As he passes seven yards in depth, he will cut down his speed a little and get himself under control. He is virtually running towards the sideline at this point, and he now starts looking at his progression. After two to four strides he will now move back towards the line of scrimmage and his target area. It’s important to remember that the QB’s hips should be squared to the target area (where he wants the ball
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to end up). At this point, he will now cut his speed so that he is totally under control. Again, much like the quick roll pass, this is the point where he needs to shorten his steps to prevent getting caught between strides when he should be throwing the football. It is also important that he throws off the same foot he would in a dropback pass situation. It is very hard to wind up for the throw – the pass should be thrown with a flick of the wrist.

Several things need to be addressed with regard to the rollout pass game. First, when a right handed quarterback is rolling out to his left side, he needs to get a little deeper so that he can make sure he is able to square his hips to his target area before the throw. Second, the quarterback should be moving in the direction of the target area just before the throw. Third, it is safer to roll the quarterback to his left than his right. The reason being, that when a quarterback rolls to his right, throws, and is hit by a defender, he will be driving his throwing shoulder into the ground. If the quarterback finds himself in this defenseless position, he should do all he can to roll into the tackle and land squarely on his back, to avoid landing on his throwing shoulder.

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Finally, this roll out type movement needs to be practiced every day, even if it’s only a warm up drill, to ensure that the quarterback uses the proper mechanics for efficiency and accuracy. When the “bullets are flying”, all these mechanics tend to break down.

SUMMARY OF THE ROLL OUT PASS • • • • • The quarterback will get about nine-yards depth. The first step taken is at about six-o’clock. The QB should carry the ball in a normal carriage position. The QB should start to level off at about seven-yards depth from the LOS. As the QB gets ready to throw, he should start to move to the target area under control. • • • The QB should now shorten his strides a bit so he doesn’t get caught between strides. The QB should remember to get a little deeper drop when throwing to his off side. If the QB is about to get hit as he is rolling to his right (right handed QB) he should try to land square on his back, rather than his throwing shoulder.

 

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General Comments on Offensive Football
1. Work hard on the field, in the film room, and in the weight room. In order to get to the highest level you are capable of competing, you need great physical conditioning, toughness, practicing under pressure, and executing the proper fundamentals – forms the core of our football team, because that’s how we’re going to play. 2. Do better than anyone else on your team in the classroom. Many quarterback coaches believe that the best quarterbacks are also excellent students. If you are not doing your best in academics, you better start because that is a recruiting guideline; if it’s between you and another guy and all things are equal, if you do better in school, you will get the scholarship. 3. As the quarterback of your team, expect good things to happen while playing, but remember, it’s not always going to go well. There could be some bad times, and if you go through them, just forget them – move on and remain positive. Whatever happens in your mind, your body will respond accordingly. If you think positive, your body will react that way as well GENERAL OFFENSIVE FOOTBALL KEYS OF SUCCESS • Running the ball well on the other team is a huge factor in winning the football game. If an opponent is running the ball well on a defense, the defensive linemen are going to dig in a little harder and brace themselves a little more because they become determined not to get pushed around. It eliminates all the possibilities of the defensive linemen being fast, quick and reckless in getting to the quarterback – so when the QB runs a playaction pass, he has more space, more time, and more separation from the line, because the defenders are dug in trying to stop the run.

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Running the football well also allows the offense to control the football game. You are better able to control the clock and keep the opposing team’s offense off the field. They can’t get into a rhythm and they start to press. This also allows your offense to keep the defense guessing because they don’t know if you’re running, screening, and drawing, using play-action, or throwing the football.

Sometimes, quarterbacks that are known as runners have a tendency to miss wide-open receivers because they don’t have the patience to sit in the pocket and find the open receiver. They begin to rely on running and only getting 4-yards, when they could have thrown downfield and gained 20-yards.

Drop back gracefully in the pocket, be light on your feet, and throw the football with rhythm. The passes should all look pretty and have a nice tight spiral on all the throws.

Stepping up in the pocket is better than moving laterally in the pocket because when you step laterally, you limit your throwing opportunities to only one side of the field. Your linemen will lose their blocks as soon as you step laterally because you are not in the area they are protecting.

Interceptions thrown by a quarterback almost always result from lack of time. Maybe the QB can’t get in a position to throw because he’s going to get hit or he simple doesn’t have enough time to look at the secondary.

Don’t worry about occasional interception; it may mean that you are playing the game fast and you are going to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on. Don’t play the game super-safe or you’ll never make big plays.

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With regard to staring at the receiver: About 50% of the time you will be throwing against man-to-man coverage, which means the defenders are chasing the receivers and not looking at the quarterback. As long as the defensive backs are locked on the receivers, quarterbacks don’t need to worry about staring down a receiver. However, you need to be aware of the free safety; either look him off, or stare him down, which will give you between two and seven more yards of separation between the receiver and the freelancing defender.

There is not a lot of double coverage going on most of the time in football. It is easy to nullify this tactic by motioning the receiver, lining him up close to another receiver, or fake motioning the receiver.

Practice time: In the NFL, a quarterback will typically get between 30 to 40 snaps in practice. At the college level, that number is closer to 100 snaps per practice.

Look at film; it can tell you what to look for at the line of scrimmage that will tip you off to blitzes and where they are coming from. This makes the game so much easier for the quarterback because there will be no surprises and you will know what to do when the blitz is coming. When the other team knows you are well-prepared for blitzes, they will not blitz you near as often.

Always be cognizant of your hand position under center. Keep your hands spread apart the entire time. Many quarterbacks flex their hands just before the center gives them the football – a defender can use this to time his rush or blitz because he knows when you are getting the football.

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THINGS THAT COACHES LOOK FOR IN A QUARTERBACK • • Vision; the ability to see the whole field in a given play. Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy! o The ability to make all the appropriate throws in a given offense is much more important than being able to throw the football a hundred yards. o Accuracy is more important than arm strength. If the offense is comprised of short to intermediate passes, the completion percentage should be at least 60%. The touchdown to interception ratio should be at least 2:1. o A quarterback never has to throw the ball more than 60 yards. • Instinct; o Being able to anticipate when to release the pass before the receiver makes his break. o Having the ability to sense pressure and avoid it while focusing downfield. o Knowing who to throw to, given the defense or match-up. • Quick feet (which is very different from speed), agility and the ability to avoid rushers are very important. • • An innate desire to compete is important. At some point – everyone gets down on a quarterback. So the QB’s belief in himself must be unwavering. The more sensitive he is to criticism - the more this will compound his problems. • Height and speed should be looked at as potential bonuses in a quarterback.

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THINGS TO REMEMBER AS A QUARTERBACK • Always keep your eyes on your target area (not on the flight of the ball) when the ball is in the air. o This increases your accuracy dramatically over time. • Never throw late over the middle. o The pass will likely be intercepted. • Never take a sack in the quick passing game. o Learn how to just throw the ball away. • Always finish a hand off. o It sets up your play-action passes. • Never take a sack on third down when you’re within field goal range. o Just throw the ball away. • Physically learn how to throw each individual pass route. o Every individual pass route is a different type of throw. For example; throwing a 12-yard speed-out to the wide receiver is very different from throwing a delay route to the back four-yards down field from the line of scrimmage, which is very different from throwing streak route down the sideline. • Always get to the line of scrimmage quickly with your hands under center. o Now the defense has to show you what defense they are going to run. o If you are going to throw the ball, start eliminating your options based on the pre-snap alignment of the defense. For example, there are two deep routes built into the pattern, but the defense is playing with a four-deep secondary. You can now eliminate those deep routes from your progression, and make an easier one to twoprogression read underneath the coverage. o If they stem, they have to do it right away. You now have time to change the play without getting a delay of game penalty.

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Always vary your snap count. o This can aid in controlling the rush. This can keep the blitz off you because defenders have to either show you they are blitzing right away, or they will get a late start after you have the football, because they can’t anticipate the snap. This can also give your linemen a jump on their blocks because the defense has to stay in their stances until the ball is moved, rather than anticipating the snap of the ball.

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Quarterback Recruiting
Today you will notice that most of the highly recruited quarterbacks are offered well before their senior football season starts. Currently, 30 of the top 40 quarterbacks in the country including 9 of the top 10 quarterbacks have already been offered scholarships and have verbally committed to a school before summer even ends. This means that your junior year is very important in the evaluation process. You need to be aware that the process of recruiting and offering high school quarterbacks has changed in the last few years. You have to have a plan going into your junior year of what you are going to do to make yourself more marketable. The off-season between your junior and senior years is most important. This is when colleges are really looking for a quarterback. You may not be one of those that have been offered before your senior year starts, but if you performed well in the camps and you have a great ProDay Video for them to see going into your senior year of football, you have greatly increased the chance that you will be signing your Letter of Intent this coming February. Steps you need to take going into your junior year 1) Get every the DVD of your game as soon as you can – preferably well before your next game. You want to start uploading them on your computer so you can pick out the best plays for your highlight video – or find a professional to do it for you. It will cost about $500.00 but it is necessary. Don’t pay more than that. 2) Plan on having completed the following by March at the very latest: a) your highlight tape, b) two full game tapes and c) your ProDay Video. You need to start sending those to both the colleges you are interested in as well as the best QB camps to get invited to for exposure. Personally, both Bob Johnson and Steve Clarkson’s camps are great for getting exposure. They are expensive, but well worth the investment as long as you are at your best as far as your mechanics are concerned. You don’t have to go to all of them, just make sure you perform your best at the one or two you pick. 3) You may also be invited by a college program to attend their camps. You pay your own expenses, but that means they want to see you close-up. If you have five invitations

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(example only), it can get expensive, so do your homework and know what the situation is ahead of time. 4) Make sure you are very mechanically sound by March for spring evaluation. Junior year football game tape, as well as camps and combines are where you get your exposure you need to make sure you are at your best as far as your mechanics and techniques are concerned. YOU NEED TO STAND OUT AT THOSE CAMPS. 5) Look up what camps and combines you are willing and able to attend after your junior football season. 6) Register with the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse – start by calling 1-800-6383731 and order a copy of THE NCAA GUIDE FOR THE COLLEGE BOUND STUDENT ATHLETE. Read this document more than once. 7) Request that ACT / SAT test scores be sent to the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse. 8) Start looking at college programs that are a good fit for your athletic ability and where you can realistically play. (An old rule is to choose schools one level below what you think you are and two levels below what your father thinks you are). 9) Look at their rosters – coaching staffs only give one scholarship to a QB per year, but some schools might only have three quarterbacks on their rosters. Make sure you have the same measurable that those QB’s have. If you are a 6-foot quarterback, and the school you are interested in doesn’t have any QB under 6’3”, you should probably cross that school off your list. Some coaching staffs care a great deal about your height and weight when it comes to their QB recruits. Things to remember • Receiving letters from colleges only means you are on a list – you are NOT being recruited until a coach sits in your living room showing you all the great things about their program, (rarely) they have seen you on tape and at their camps and calls you on the phone to make an official offer to you (we can help this process).

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College programs have 1,000 names per class who they send letters to, and they award 25 scholarships or less per year, and normally only ONE scholarship to a quarterback.

Every year parents call colleges after the signing period and tell the secretary, “We though our child was going to receive a scholarship from your university.

Sadly, coaches will have you come to their office and you are thinking “I’m going to be offered” only to find that he wants you to be a preferred walk on. DON’T DO IT. The last walk-on QB I know that actually started (not until later in his senior year) was Rick Neuheisel of UCLA and that was in the early 1980’s.

You may hear things like “We are bringing in only one QB in this class and we want it to be you, but of the three players we have offered, whoever commits to us first is who we will offer.” Obviously, they are putting pressure on you to verbally commit right away.

There will be times when a player doesn’t make grades and then a scholarship is open – but you will already know that the school was recruiting you.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet – you might see a kid you read about being 6-4, 225 lbs and runs a 4.60 40 and says he has a GPA of 2.9, but in reality he is 6-2, 200 lbs and runs a 4.95 at the camp you attend together. Then you later find out his 2.9 GPA is really a 1.9 GPA. It happens all the time.

Junior College is a great option for a QB – I’ve had many QBs I’ve coached at that level go on to earn scholarships out of junior college – in fact, I would be hard pressed to remember one of my JC guys NOT getting a scholarship to play at some 4-year football program. I had two QBs how split time for me at the school I was coaching at and both ended up earning scholarships.

Finally, read the book Meat Market by Bruce Feldman. There is a section devoted in the book to high school quarterback recruiting and you will read and understand exactly how the process works.

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End of Manual

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