Bumped. -BN Eds.
Snag is what Noel Mazzone was famous for long before he got to Arizona State. Here is Philip Rivers running it in his last college game, over and over and over and over. For a more in-depth look, check out the following articles:
- Snag Route: Noel Mazzone (NY Jets)
- Snag, stick, and the importance of triangles (yes, triangles) in the passing game
- West Coast Staples: Snag, Spot and Y-Stick
- Tressel’s new calling: Ball control . . . passing?
I'd suggest reading the first article to understand how snag works - I'll give a brief summary, but there's not much more I can add to that. Instead, I'll focus more on how snag fits in line with the base philosophy with the offense and other concepts in the quick passing game.
Snag can be run with two or three receivers. For 2-man Snag, it's a horizontal stretch of the perimeter defender - same guy that is attacked with the zone-bubble combo, same guy who has to adjust against spread formations. The back swings out of the backfield, similarly to the bubble screen look that Mazzone runs often. However, instead of blocking, the receiver steps inside as if running a slant, but plants his feet and settles once he crosses the first linebacker/safety. The read defender will either widen with the swing route, leaving the WR in open space, or stay with the snag route leaving the back with grass to the outside.
Simple enough, but what if the LB plays the snag and the corner helps out in the flat (cover 2)? Mazzone adds a vertical dimension with 3 man snag. The outer WR can run a fade while the slot WR runs snag, or the slot WR can run a corner while the outer WR runs snag. Weak spot of cover 2 is the deep sideline, corner or fade. Either way you are putting a guy on the deep sideline.
What if the defense plays man? Rather than have the receivers settle, have then keep running across the field - this is an Air Raid staple called Mesh. Tough to defend in man as you have defenders chasing receivers back and forth across the field. The next post will have more on this, but if defenses started to play man-up on ASU's offense, Mazzone liked to hit the backside fade sometimes against a single corner.
Finally, there are a couple different things you can do with the vertical receiver in 3 man snag. He can run a corner route, which works well if the CB is sitting hard in the flat on the swing route (see above). Or he can run a dig (deep in) right behind the linebackers against teams that try to take away the snag route with the MLB and the swing with the OLB. Here are a couple variations of snag, all from similar formations and motions that zone key is run from. It's all the same concept, just run from different looks - as Mike Leach said, it's easier to teach a kid a new place to stand than a new thing to do - if a guy knows how to run the snag route, you can have him run it from the outside, the slot, from motion, whatever.
Mazzone likes to package screens together - for example, running swing or bubble screen to one side, and then having the back leak out to the other side with a slower-developing screen. If teams overplay the swing out of the backfield, there are options to attack the other side. The difference between called bubble screens and what they do off the zone key series is that the linemen release outside to block on called screens.
ASU also used several combinations of short in-breaking routes, like double slants and double ins. This works the same way as snag - show a threat to the perimeter, and throw the route behind the defender that's flying out there. Here the read is very simple. QB looks at the #2 defender - if he plays the outside route, QB throws the inside one, and if he tries to undercut the inside route, the QB throws the outside one. Mazzone sometimes swings a back out to draw coverage as well. If the defense overplays this side, the backside also often has a corner or fade route.
Integration With the Rest of the Offense
The big thing about snag and other quicks are that they fit in line with the rest of the offense with a back swinging out into the flat and are versatile enough to be run out of several different looks. There is almost always a perimeter threat, which forces the defense to spread out to account for the sidelines. Zone Key, Snag, Double Ins/Slants, Bubble Screen all look the same at the start. Teams that send their LBs and safeties down hard to stop the swing route/bubble will widen and leave the snag and inside run open, and if a team tries to leave a corner in the flat, they'll leave the deep sideline open for corner and fade routes. If they overcommit to the motion side, there's always the threat of the backside fade or screen as well.
Another plus for this series is that these are fairly easy throws for a QB. With snag, the receiver is often sitting in space, facing the QB, for a fairly short throw. Once the rest of the offense gets going, the QB only has one main read and has two options to throw to based off this defender's actions. With the quick game, Mazzone gives his QBs a clear read and has them get the ball out quickly. These are all high percentage, safe throws, but this series combined with the zone key concept allows the offense to pick up a few yards at a time and set up the defense for big plays.
Finally, the last reason for the quick passing game is blitz control. Mazzone's QBs got the ball out very quickly, and both snag route and the swing are good places to dump the ball off. QBs aren't dropping back and looking all over the field, they've got one or two reads to look at before they either throw or start moving.
Cutups of Quicks