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Rub concept and BANJO technique explained

Baltimore Ravens v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Giants utilize many tactics to exploit defensive strategies and tendencies. One method to combat aggressive press-man defenses is to employ rub-route concepts. The objective of a rub concept is for one receiver to set a pick - like in basketball - on a man-covering defender, allowing the other receiver the space to break free like Queen in The Works.

A RUB CONCEPT frequently draws yellow laundry when not executed properly. The receiver that runs the pick must display his hands, lest offensive pass interference may be called. He must act as if he intended to receive a pass and not just Dennis Rodman the defender.

The calls can be subjective based on the official, so too much contact is risky. In the play above, David Sills (13) is executing the pick, while Richie James (80) is the designed receiver. Sills forced the covering defender to work over the top of his release, which gave James the space to pick up eight yards on first-and-10. This is a simple read for Daniel Jones to see how the defenders handle the concept.

Jacksonville played this well without switching responsibilities. The Jaguars have seven players in the box with a deep safety and two defenders covering Marcus Johnson (84) and Wan’Dale Robinson (17) to the field side. Robinson ran the delayed release to allow Johnson to obstruct Darius Williams (31).

The Giants ran an RPO, but the pre-snap check allowed Jones to make an easy read with the rub concept - if the rub is executed well, Robinson would have space to the outside. However, Williams is hardly impeded by Johnson’s rub, and the cornerback made an impressive tackle on a well-adjusted catch by Robinson for only one yard.

Despite the execution, Jacksonville changed its assignments in a similar situation in the red zone. On the third-and-goal at the 2-yard line, the Giants attempt a different type of rub concept with Sills releasing through the outside shoulder of the defender assigned to cover Robinson in man.

If Jacksonville handled this route concept as it did above on the first drive, this would be an easy touchdown for Robinson, but the Jaguars used a BANJO technique to handle the threat. Banjo coverage is a switch where the outside cornerback takes the number two receiver (inside receiver) upon an outside release, and the inside cornerback handles the number one upon an inside release. The man-covering defenders switch responsibilities upon the receiver’s releases.

Robinson is quickly eliminated from the play, and Jones throws the football out of bounds. Sills had a step on Williams, but the switch in coverage, along with the presence of Dawuane Smoot (91), forced the toss away. Here’s how the Banjo switch operates in illustration form, courtesy of USA Football:

One of the many reasons why continuity is so important with defensive backs is quick coverage switches like Banjo and pattern-match principles that are determined after the routes are declared by the offense.