Bucs’ Pass Install
This is a guest post by Hoss Y juke- https://twitter.com/hossyjuke?s=21
Bruce Arians lives for downfield passes. If a play call isn’t pre-designed to attack vertically, there’s a good chance that it has vertical options built-in. Comeback, dig, and out routes often become go routes against press coverage or safety rotations. If the ball can go deep, it probably should go deep - at least according to the tape from Arians’s Buccaneers.
One way Arians likes to gain chunks is with his “Go” concept.
Used as both a drop back and in play action, the design is simple but versatile. The outside go routes get the Buccaneers’ burners, like Mike Evans and Scotty Miller, racing down the field, while the middle read route, known as “delta read” in Arians’s terminology, ensures that the slot’s pattern is effective regardless of the safety alignment. Lastly, the H and F check fan routes provide the quarterback with extra protection if needed before exploiting underneath space against vertically stretched defenses.
A good illustration of how often Arians has called this concept is that Mike Evans leads the league in go route targets and receptions since 2018.
It’s called double go by west coast coaches and it was LSU’s most used pass concept in 2019.
Against Single High (MOFC)
Against middle of the field closed looks, Arians teaches the progression as Best Look - Delta Read - Check Down. Best look is another way of saying “choose the outside go with the most favourable matchup”. That’s exactly what Brady did in Week 15 when the Falcons gave a cover 1 man look with rookie cornerback Tyler Hall lined up against Antonio Brown. After the snap, Brady glanced at the free safety to confirm the coverage, looked right to Evans (possibly just to dissuade the free safety from helping his rookie corner), and then ripped the deep ball to Brown as soon as he finished his drop.
In Week 2 of the 2019 season, the Buccaneers called Go against the Panthers’ cover 3 zone blitz. Although Winston stared down Evans the whole way, the free safety was unable to get from the field all the way to the boundary sideline, and Evans came down with a big catch. Notice how runningback Peyton Barber chipped in with pass protection against the five man rush.
The Go concept was less successful in the Super Bowl 55 preview when the Buccaneers took on the Chiefs. The Chiefs sent a man blitz with a single high safety. Brady saw that Evans’s go route was covered well on the right before noticing Miller getting level against his man on the left. Knowing that Miller had a good chance of creating separation, Brady let the ball go against intense pressure. However, the pass was underthrown and intercepted. Ronald Jones’s poor blitz pickup was detrimental to the success of this play.
Against Two High (MOFO)
Against middle of the field open, the progression changes to Delta Read - Hole Shot - Check Down. The Buccaneers called play action Go against the Vikings’ two high zone look. The play fake created a massive opening over the middle for the delta route to Godwin, but Brady successfully went for the bigger gain by hitting Evans in the hole shot.
The 2019 Buccaneers called Go against the Panthers in Week 6 on 3rd & 12. This play was tagged with “X Cab”, which is Arians-speak for an 18-yard comeback that becomes a corner route against two high defenses or any kind of post-snap safety rotations. The delta route came open over the middle, despite tight coverage. Unfortunately for the Bucs, the edge pressure rushed this play by forcing a quick check down. Winston was hit while throwing and, consequently, the pass was intercepted.
In another 2020 Week 15 example, the Buccaneers called Go off of play action for a medium gain. Godwin recognized that the Falcons rotated from a single high look into Tampa 2. To take advantage of the middle field linebacker who has to gain depth in this coverage, the delta read route becomes a “Buc” route, where the slot receiver finds a soft spot around 10 yards deep.
A few times this season the inside receiver has run a deep post against Tampa 2. This could be based on whether he thinks he can beat the Mike to the deep middle of the field, and thus whether it’s MOFO or MOFC- on the play above the Mike gets depth quickly, essentially closing the middle of the field.
Another way that Arians looks to dial up downfield passes is with four verticals. He usually calls it throw a seam route against single high. Brady has thrown the hole shot vs MOFO twice this season.
Curl is Arians’ favourite ball concept vs single high zone coverages. Against single high the QB reads from the flat/shoot route to the curl route. There should usually either be an easy ~five yard gain if the curl-flat defender doesn’t expand quickly to the flat or an isolation on the CB.
In the diagram in Arians’ install it says the QB should read inside out vs 2 high, however, that usually doesn’t work out too well against Tampa 2 as the Mike will match him from the inside and the curl defender will be outside of him. Because of this, Arians usually pairs curl with a 2 man levels concept he calls snatch, which is solid against 2 high.
Arians also likes calling Hank vs single high when he wants a reliable 5-6 yards. Hank is double curl-flat with a five yard sit inside, so it’s very similar to curl. The read is different though as the QB reads inside-out on Hank- from the sit route to the curl-flat towards where the sit got ‘squeezed’ from.
Arians’ favourite ball control concept vs 2 high is called tier. Tier is a standard levels concept.
It’s called Indy by most teams as Payton Manning used it frequently with the Colts
The first read for the QB against 2 high is the inside under route, which is a 5 yd square in. Against Tampa 2 the Mike will open up the #3 receiver. The under route is designed to attack the space in the underneath middle of the field vacated by the Mike.
Arians, like most other coaches, combines levels with a cover 3 beating concept to the other side, this is because levels will usually not work well against cover 3. Like in the install diagram, Arians uses a curl-flat combination.
Chris Godwin is always the inside under route receiver. He does a good job of getting upfield quickly to pick up a few extra yards. They always run it from trips, so when Godwin is #2 in the slot in a second and long situation (and sometimes third and medium and low red zone), expect Arians to call tier.