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Summer School: Spot concept explained

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Photo by Vincent Alban/Getty Images

The spot concept, which is similar to the snag, is a common passing concept at many levels of football. It’s one of the many passing concepts that symbolizes the geometric theory of Sid Gillman, whose nickname is The Father of the Modern Passing Game.

Gillman employed geometry, spacing, and timing to optimize the passing game. Hall of Fame coach of the 49ers, Bill Walsh, the father of the West Coast Offense, stated he got his ideas from Gillman, who started experimenting with his theories 20 years prior in the AFL.

  • Matt Bowen

The spot concept is a half-field read consisting of the number one (outside) wide receiver releasing inside and sitting at about 4-6 yards, with a deep corner, or 7, route as a vertical stretch element. A third receiving option, typically from the backfield, releases into the flat, as seen above.

This creates a three-progression read to one side of the field while putting zone defenders into conflict. The corner route acts as two high-lows - depending on the coverage - with the number one and flat route. The primary read (the spot) is great against zone coverage, for the player has the freedom to find and sit away from the middle hook defender.

If it is man coverage, the man covering defender on the flat route must work through traffic to get outside. If the defense attempts to push the flat route to the cornerback, the seven route could have leverage outside the numbers against the safety.

Moreover, the concept is excellent in the red zone where defenses tend to rely on man coverage. Man coverage in a confined area of the field leads to a lot of traffic that could allow the F above to break into the flat or the Y to come free to the back pylon.

The primary difference between a spot and a snag concept is where the receiver stops. In a spot concept, the receiver generally stops right on the track of the vertical receiver; in a snag concept, the receiver stops over the top of where the tight end would be located. The Giants used a concept that almost blends the spot/snag meaning against the Colts, for Daniel Bellinger stays on the track of the vertical while sitting close to where an inline tight end would have been present.

The Giants ran a spot/snag concept out of a boundary stack - something the Giants used a lot late last season - with Daniel Bellinger (82) behind Darius Slayton (86) versus man coverage. The stack made the spacing different than the illustration above.

Saquon Barkley (26) flared to the flat, not in a direct manner but wider, which expanded Zaire Franklin (44) away from Bellinger’s spot. Slayton released through the inside shoulder of Bellinger’s defender, creating a legal pick, as Slayton’s defender worked over the top of Bellinger’s defender.

Bellinger was open on the play; Jones did not pull the trigger and trusted man coverage against the switch release at the bottom of the screen with the field safety rotating to middle-of-the-field-closed - post - look and the boundary safety staying outside the hash. Jones displayed trust in Hodgins to defeat Dallis Flowers (33) inside at the break. Since the boundary safety stayed outside, Jones and Hodgins would have between the hashes to operate.

Isaiah Hodgins (18) and Richie James (80) ran a post-wheel switch release to the field side. The defender eliminated James from the play, but Hodgins won inside as Jones hoped for a 12-yard gain, and a first down.

Jones did not take the spot concept to Bellinger and came off a relatively easy look because he believed Hodgins would win inside against his defender with no safeties in his vicinity to impede him. It was Jones reading the safeties rotation accurately, along with his trust in Hodgins against that defensive back, that led to the confidence to make that decision and come off the half-field read.