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Old 04-04-2015, 10:43 AM   #61
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Stick

Stick is an extremely versatile concept run on all levels of football. It can be run as a 2 or 3 man combination pattern and is formation versatile. 2 Man Stick features a Slide/Out by number 1 and the Stick route the concept is named for by number 2. 3 Man Stick adds an Alert Fade/Go route on the outside. The QB decides pre-snap if heís going to work the Alert. If he decides not to work the Fade/Go, he works the 2 route combination inside. This is an extremely versatile concept adaptable to many formations.

The Patriots love Stick using 5 man protection out of Empty packaged with a 2 man combination, packaged with Scat w/the RB coming out of the back-field and packaged w/singled up routes when they want to use a six man protection.

This first look shows the Pats check to a Stick concept against the Jets. Brady didnít like the first play call and switched it up. In the case the Pats go 6 man pass pro and a Singled up route back-side. This 3 man Stick gives a good idea whatís happening.

The QB decides first which side of the field heís going to work first, the single or the Stick. Once heís settled on the stick, he needs to decide if heís going to throw the Alert Fade or work the Stick inside. He will rarely work the Fade over a good looking Stick presentation as itís a very efficient combination. In this case the Fade decision comes down to CB alignment, leverage and match-up. Edelman is number 1 with the Fade, a poor match-up. Brady decides to work the Stick combo.

Gronk is number 2 and Hooman number 3. Gronk is going to run a Flat route the depth of which varies depending on split and defensive leverage. Here Gronk runs a quick Slide to stretch the field horizontally. Brady will read this ďFlat to Stick.Ē The progression is Gronk to Hooman. If the Flat defender widens with Gronk, Brady will work to Hoomanís Stick route which is a vertical stem to about 6 yards. The Stick reads this area. If there is a void here unthreatened by a defender, he turns and sits for a quick throw. If there is a defender with inside leverage he will break to a square out to fill the void between himself and Gronk.

The second pic shows the pattern. The Jets have a low Safety sitting over Gronk to protect against the Seam threat which makes Stick a nice call. The LB in red aligned inside Gronk is issue for the QB. If he squats and brackets Hooman, Brady is going right to Gronk. If he widens immediately to Gronkís Slide, Brady has to work the Stick read with Hooman. The Pats will move their receivers around within the concept to gain game plan match-ups. Some teams may defend the stick well and allow throws to the Slide so the Pats respond by putting a better receiver running the Slide for instance.

In the case, the Jets bracketed the Stick leaving the soft Safety to defend Gronkís Slide. The Pats prefer to have Gronk run the Stick but when they see an advantage it goes into the game plan. The Patsí receivers simply must be able to handle all that is thrown at them.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:47 AM   #62
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This is a look at a 2 man Stick the Pats ran against the Lions. In a 2 Man combination, thereís no Alert Fade. Number 1 runs the Slide/Out and number 2 runs the Stick as before. Number one will vary his depth based on field alignment. Here Stick is packaged with a Slant-Slide. Brady preferred the Stick because of the soft CB on the short boundary side of the field. The two LBs in red are in position to defend the Stick route. Since the OLB has inside leverage against the compressed formation Brady is seeing room for a quick speed out throw here and takes it.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:49 AM   #63
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This is a look at a package the Pats have liked for a long time. This is a 3 man Stick near and a 2 man Scat far. Brady surveys the defense and decides which concept he wants to work. Heís not always right but more often than not he is. He doesnít like the Lionsí alignment against the Scat so he goes to the Stick. Looking at the Lionsí alignment there itís favorable to the number 3ís Stick route.

The CB is soft off LaFell at number 1 so the Fade is out. The read defender has outside leverage on Wrightís Slide from number 2 which is basically a dead tell to Brady that the read is going to cover number 2. That leaves number 3 running the Stick. Brady sees the ILB is the only person who can defend it aligned inside number 3 giving the Stick leverage off the ball. Furthermore, number 3 is Edelman who is a mismatch for the ILB all day long.

This is yet another example of what the Pats like to do with their skill players. Why does an Edelman get so many throws? Itís because heís damn good. They move him around in groups & formations and within concepts to gain match-ups and then they try to exploit them. They knew going in that the Lions would defend trips this way and moved Edelman to the number 3 spot to gain a match-up advantage. So far weíve looked at three separate plays the Pats have constructed around the Stick concept and have seen Edelman run the Alert Fade, the Speed Out/Slide and the Stick route. This is what they do and one of the reasons some guys get more throws than other guys. A lot more throws. The idea that Brady is regularly passing up other guys to throw to a covered Edelman is a fallacy. It happens of course but the Patriots work hard to create match-ups Brady can exploit and itís then his job to find them. The third pic clearly shows the match-up they created with good game planning here as Edelman is the only open receiver on this play.
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File Type: jpg Stick 3b.jpg (110.2 KB, 83 views)
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:51 AM   #64
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This is another Stick/Scat package the Patriots ran against the Lions. This is the same exact play we saw in the last post. It simply shows whatís happening from a different perspective. The Lions tightened up their Safety to the Stick side in response to the earlier play call but the quick rhythm of the Stick route and throw allows Brady to pick up the first down rather easily. Their ILB is also aligned further inside as theyíve changed up how they are defending the Scat side. This is also a nice look at the Stick route adjustment by Edelman. The Stick is a 6 yard sit down route which is what we see here. Edelman has a nice void between the two second level defenders he is working to. The OLB widened with Wright and the ILB dropped to the low middle so Edelman filled the void. Earlier we saw the ILB had inside leverage so Edelman broke to the outside on a speed cut to fill the outside void. This is how the Stick route works.
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File Type: jpg Stick 4b.jpg (95.8 KB, 82 views)
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:54 AM   #65
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This is another Stick/Scat package that the Patriots ran against Miami. This play illustrates the stretch the Patriots are trying to put on the under coverage with this particular package of concepts. We can see what the Stick is going to look like and the void they are hoping to create for Edelman at the number 3 spot. This first picture shows the Dolphins disguising their intentions and it doesnít look all that promising. They are showing a single high soft zone but actually are going to play man and blitz. If they stick with a four man rush Brady would most likely have gone to Wrightsí Slide/Out as his best option or worked the Scat side. The Fins want to get some heat on Brady however and rush 5 in an overload against the Patsí five man protection.

Just before the snap the OLB/ILB tandem move into a rush position which Brady and Edelman see. Brady knows that his protection is outnumbered to the Stick Side and that he is going to have to deal with a free rusher who ends up in his face on the throw. He also knows that the Defense is also outnumbered as Edelman is uncovered at the snap. Itís imperative that Brady make a quick decision. Once he sees the OLB and ILB looking to overload he knows right then where he is going with the ball. He knows that Edelman is going to sit down rather than convert this to a speed out and he feeds him the ball.

Brady chose not to work the Scat, which also comes open against Miamiís soft man coverage. With the free rusher coming from his left and with Edelman filling the quick void on a fast rhythm throw it was a wise choice. The third pic shows the stretch Gronkís Scat and Edelmanís Stick put on the lone post-snap ILB. This occurs a lot to ILBís playing underneath dual safety coverages as they have a lot of ground to cover. Those teams have to make coverage adjustments or the QB would simply work from Edelman to Gronk going from one concept to the next depending on the reaction of the ILB.
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File Type: jpg Stick 5a.jpg (110.1 KB, 80 views)
File Type: jpg Stick 5b.jpg (96.4 KB, 81 views)
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:56 AM   #66
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This is a mirrored 2 man Stick play with both side of the formation running the same concept. The number 2s take different release angle due to their alignments. The farther from the sideline they are the flatter they can release as they can fast stretch the field. If they release too flat when they are into the boundary they will run out of real estate in a hurry.

This is just a quick look at what Brady is looking at as he decides which side of the field he is going to work. Heís checking out CB alignment. All things being equal he goes with match-up but here the CB into the boundary is aligned with inside leverage on number 1ís speed out. The CB to the wide side is aligned with outside leverage. The shorter throw against the boundary CB is more advantageous due to the route having leverage on the CB so Brady goes in that direction. Itís an easy decision. Post-snap it appears that he could have gone in either direction but this was a completion for quick yards so itís tough to complain. Itís also clear that the 2 man combo has better leverage into the boundary here.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:58 AM   #67
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This is a 2 man Stick packaged with Slant/Slide. Brady decides to work the Stick side of the package. Edelman is #1 and Gronk is #2. The Ravens are pressed on Edelman taking his speed out/slide away. Brady wants to work Gronkís stick route. As we have seen, the initial void they are looking to fill is 6 yards deep over Gronkís alignment. If the Void remains there post-snap, Gronk will spin, sit and catch the ball on his outside shoulder as we just saw from Edelman when he was running the Stick route. The Ravens ILB however threatens that void post-snap which both Brady and Gronk are aware of from game planning install and film study. They recognize what is happening here. The actual void opens up outside of Gronkís stem so he breaks to the Quick Out to fill the wider void. The void isnít all that large when you see it in the third pic but in NFL terms Brady has a lot of room to work. This same pic shows a common Flat route adjustment. In some concepts, the Flat route gets to the sideline without a throw and sits down for a late outlet while in others the receiver converts and turns upfield for a downfield throw. Thatís what Edelman is doing here. He wants to pull the CB away from Gronk and possibly become viable if needed.
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File Type: jpg Stick 7a.jpg (121.5 KB, 78 views)
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:00 AM   #68
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This is a game planning deal here where the Patriots packaged 2 Man Stick with Slant/Slide against the Colts in the Championship Game. They saw during their scout that the Colts will align soft against compressed 3x1 formations which is what the Pats aligned in initially. They also knew what the Coltsí reaction would be to motion, or at least planned on it. They motioned LaFell to the left to run the Slide in Slant/Slide. Brady would decide which side to work depending on the Coltsí ultimate reaction. If they pressed Edelman he probably would have gone to the Slant/Slant. Here, the Colts roll to a Man 1 coverage. They stay pressed on Gronkís Slant. Up there we see the same type of look we saw against the Slant/Slide that Brady hit a lot during the season however he went to the Stick here because the CB over Edelman stayed soft rather than press up. By alignment Brady knows that the double out action of the 2 man Stick is going to put a stretch on the OLB who is either going to have to either cover Edelmanís Out or Hoomanís Stick. This will create either a void outside that Edelman will fill or one inside that Hooman will fill. This is man so the void is outside Edelman who fills it for the quick completion. This is once again a 2 man Stick into the boundary that Brady liked due to the short throw into a clear void.
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File Type: jpg Stick 8b.jpg (110.2 KB, 77 views)
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:02 AM   #69
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This is the same package run against the Dolphins in week one with Thompkins running Gronkís Slant and Dola running LaFellís Slide. The difference was that Edelman motioned from the right to the left. Miamiís boundary CB stayed soft which weíve seen that Brady likes against this look into the boundary so he took it. The Slide up top is wide open as well. This is a case were an unobservant critic might criticize Brady for ďfocusing on EdelmanĒ when he could have looked over and seen Dola wide open and hit him for a bigger gain. Brady is choosing between two separate concepts here and not in the position to work them both. Itís one or the other and here he chose the Stick. I recall a lot of criticism of Brady early last season by unknowledgeable individuals in the media for his ďmissingĒ opportunities like this and focusing on Edelman to people like Dolaís misfortune. However itís obvious that in many cases itís a function of game planning as we see here where the intention was to get Edelman, their best receiver, on a soft boundary CB and if they got it Brady was going to throw it.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:06 AM   #70
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This is a play from the Super Bowl shows the Patriots using 2 man Stick in the red zone which was the last Stick call of the season which was called two plays before Edelmanís touchdown. LaFell and Dola are running the Stick into the boundary against a soft aligned Simon at CB. Brady passed up Edelman & Gronk to the wide side against a hard pressed Sherman at CB in favor of Lafell against a soft aligned CB. This is what Brady did all year regardless of who was running the 2 man stick. If he got a soft CB into the boundary he stole yards. The Seahawks were ready for this however with a nice defensive wrinkle they could get away with due to their outstanding second level play. Unfortunately for them, Simon failed to execute.

On the snap, they wanted Maxwell at Nickel to carry Lafell to the edge of the void where Simon would pick him up. At that point Maxwell would have come off of LaFell to bracket Amendolaís Stick route with Wagner. Maxwell has outside leverage and Wagner has inside leverage off the LOS. Simon needs to see the release and drive on the void. The Safety is sitting on the deep China route if thatís what they get. Either way Simon should have stepped up on the short route.

As you look at the pics you see Simon frozen in place until it much too late to impact the play. Maxwell expected Simon to be on LaFell as did LaFell. LaFell was disappointed after he stepped out of bounds expecting the hit because he realized there were yards there to be gained including a possible touchdown. I think itís clear that Simon wasnít as prepared for this play as Lane would have been having gotten far more reps during game prep.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:07 AM   #71
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This is a little Stick-Wheel the pats will run occasionally sending the Out/Slide deep on a trail route hoping to fill a vacated zone. Itís also a keep them honest type of call.

The next concept Iíll look at the Fade-Seam and its many variations.
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Old 04-05-2015, 07:39 AM   #72
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:01 AM   #73
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Fade-Seam

The Fade is a downfield throw outside the numbers everyone recognizes. The Pats will run singled up Fades and alert Fades attached to other concepts as we have seen. They also build combination concepts around the Fade. Their favorites are Fade-Seam and Fade-Out. I’ll look at Fade-Seam first.

Fade-Seam is a companion concept to Hitch-Seam. Where the QB looks for CB depth and an open window to the Flat to throw the Hitch, he looks for route leverage and an open window downfield to throw the Fade. If he doesn’t get it he will look to the Seam read just like he does on Hitch-Seam. The Seam acts as it does in Hitch-Seam. It’s a read route that adjusts to defensive leverage. Fade-Seam easily packages with other compatible concepts.

This was a nice Fade-Seam the Pats ran against the Bengals last year with LaFell on the Fade & Wright on the Seam read against Cinci’s single high soft zone. The Pats used a 6 man TE protection here. They dropped off Gronk as a late dump off if needed. They did this because they wanted to use six man protection but also wanted to release the RB to the low middle to occupy the ILB to prevent him from dropping under Wright’s Seam. They compressed their formation as well to force the CB/nickel into an uncomfortable drop which Wright took advantage of under cutting the defender to fill the void between the Fade and the MOF high Safety.
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:02 AM   #74
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This is a look at the Seam being run against Dual Safety coverage. Dola would have stayed high like Wright did against a single high MOF Safety the way Wright did but if he does it here against the dual Safety heís going to run right into him. Instead Dola reads the Safety whoís taking away his Seam which creates a void inside that Dola fills. The Pats again used the RB releasing him on a choice route to put a stretch on the ILB just long enough for Brady to sneak the ball into the void. If the ILB had gotten under Dola Brady would have checked it down. This is a pretty tough throw here into the void but itís what NFL QBs are paid for. In this case the Safety got there early, lit up Dola and caught a flag.
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:02 AM   #75
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This is a look at the adjustment we saw in the Hitch-Seam section where the Seam read canít stay high due to the Duel Safety look yet he also canít simply bend inside into a void because the Safety walls him off. We see the correct adjustment here where Gronk converts this Seam to a Dig. This is nice route running by Gronk who widens to beat the OLB who is attempting to collision him as he gets vertical. After beating the OLB he now has to deal with the Safety who is sitting over his head with slight inside leverage. The defense is doubling Gronk; theyíve left their CB one on one with Edelman as the Fade really isnít his strength. This is where w true ďdownfieldĒ threat paired with Gronkowski would be scary.

The CB gave Edelman the inside release which isnít ideal on Fade which is why you see him fighting to regain leverage in the second pic. Once again the RB was used to control the depth of the ILBís drop. Gronk shows his tremendous route running ability here deftly getting around the OLB to fill the void.

The precision involved here is amazing as Brady has to release the football before Gronk ever makes his break knowing that he and Gronk are reading this the same and trusting Gronk to be where he expects him to be.
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File Type: jpg Fade 3b.jpg (107.1 KB, 59 views)
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