The Chiefs’ frisco concept
The Chiefs ran regular shallow cross a couple of times over the course of the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Because of this, and also that regular shallow cross is a well known concept, I’ll be looking at the ‘frisco’ variation of shallow cross. I’ve also seen this being called shark.
Regular shallow cross
As shallow cross itself isn’t a great concept, it’s usually paired with a post in order to create a ‘mills’ concept- post-dig
Before watching the Chiefs run it I barely knew the concept existed. But I’ve realised that it’s a common play among NFL offenses.
Frisco is essentially a mix between shallow cross and mesh. The main purpose of the sit route is to create a rub for the shallow cross, like how the ‘over’ shallow cross is designed to create a rub for the ‘under’ shallow cross in mesh.
The Chiefs, like all of the teams above, always pair it with a curl-flat combination. I, and some other coaches, refer to this as ‘Cali’. Cali is a well known beater of cover 3 as it usually isolates the #1 receiver with the cornerback, who is usually bailing with outside leverage. It also works similarly well against quarters but the cornerback will usually be slightly more inside leveraged as he has less help inside. Cali only really works well from spread formations as the CB will usually sit on the curl when the receiver comes from a tight alignment.
They almost always ran it against single high coverages. This essentially turns it into a man-zone concept: frisco if man; Cali if zone.
It’s also a nice play vs Tampa 2 as it isolates the sit receiver on the Mike, who is usually in no position to cover anything underneath him.
The Chiefs had great success when throwing the shallow cross against man as it usually had lots of separation. Against zone, the shallow cross sits down on the opposite hash if there’s not space further towards the sideline. I didn’t see them once throw the Cali, but like with mesh, I think they were calling it for the rub when they were expecting man coverage.
I did see them once throw the post, so it must have been an alert like it is for the rest of the teams above.
Another way they ran it was with a post-wheel combination. When ran like this, the entire play is essentially designed to create space for the shallow cross. Again, they had lots of success throwing the shallow cross.
Like with their mesh-sit/mesh-rail play, it’s likely that Andy Reid got this play from Chip Kelly as his Eagles teams used it frequently.
One interesting thing to note is that the Eagles mostly ran it as an all-purpose play, so the sit route was more like a normal sit route, rather than the pick/run sit route that the Chiefs run. This resulted in them targeting the sit more.
Whether as a man beating play or an all-purpose play, frisco is definitely a concept that is worthy carrying into any matchup against pre-dominantly single high defenses and is a nice adjustment to mesh. Like mesh, it gives the quarterback an easy read and throw as he will almost always throw the shallow cross or the sit route.