Why Run the Sprint-Out Pass

12 Jul

You won’t see it on Sundays because no coach in the NFL wants to see his million-dollar QB get blown up.  So why run it on Saturdays with your middle schoolers?

The reason is simple really.   The sprint-out pass can do a lot of good things for an offense while doing a lot of bad things to a defense.

Sprint-Out Pass

For starters, it can protect your QB by varying the launch point (where he releases the ball).  Defenses cannot pin their ears back and rush him since he’s no longer sitting in the pocket, surveying the field.

And then — and this is a biggie! — once he breaks contain, the QB poses an immediate threat to the perimeter defenders.

In a split-second, they must decide to either lay back and cover the receivers or come out of coverage and stop the run.   In this sense, the sprint-out pass is like option football because, like option football, it creates conflict in the defense.

Now one myth about the sprint-out pass is that you need a fast and mobile QB to run it.  Sure it helps — speed always does — but it’s not necessary.  So long as your QB is athletic, it will depend upon how well you coach it and how well you block the edge.

Consider, too, that the sprint-out pass can often neutralize blitzes and stunts and badass pass rushers by sprinting away from them and by its use of area blocking.

And, unlike the risk of interceptions in pocket passing, the sprint-out pass can shorten the QB’s throw, giving defenses less opportunity to make a play on the ball.

At the same time, it will create more natural passing lanes while increasing the QB’s field of vision.

Speaking of vision, another myth about the sprint-out pass is that it cuts the field in half and makes it easier for defenses to defend.  That makes sense on first look, but what we’ve found is that cutting up the field can clean up the QB’s read.  Often times, it’s a one-defender read and by the time he makes a decision, your QB has either blown by him or dumped it off.  It’s like a two-on-one fast break.  The defender loses.

The sprint-out pass can save you time as well.  Practice time.  It takes less of that to teach and practice blocking techniques for the sprint pass than the pocket pass.  Much less.  If you happen to run outside zone, it essentially uses the same blocking technique.

A common complaint about the sprint pass, though, is that route selection is limited to a curl/flat combo or a flood pattern.

A three-layer Flood concept

Like the mobile QB myth, this complaint isn’t true either.  Route selection is limited only by your receiver’s abilities — their speed — and your imagination.

Not only can you run horizontal stretch combos, you can mix in some vertical stretches as well.  Double moves are particularly lethal in the sprint pass game.

A hi-lo vertical stretch commonly called a Smash route

But using some type of flood concept in your sprint-out package makes sense at the youth level because most of the defenses you will see play zone coverage.  Flood concepts are easy to teach and attack  the soft spots in your opponent’s zone coverage.

Last but not least of all, the sprint pass kicks ass.  Not in a power football, in-your-face sort of way, but in a smart football, mind-over-matter sort of way because it creates so many problems for a defense.

All good stuff and all good reasons to include a sprint pass package in your offense; regardless of the system you’re running.

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