Get Your Tight-end Involved in the Passing Game | 6 Passing Concepts

Get Your Tight-end Involved in the Passing Game

If you have a good tight-end utilize him! Utilizing a tight-end stresses the defense by forcing them to defend him as a blocker and a receiving threat. Hitting the Tight-end on a play-action passing concept is one of the most difficult things to defend. This almost always works because kids get caught looking at backfield action. Below are ways you can get your tight-end involved in the passing game.

Tight-end Out 

This is a great play because most of the time the linebackers will come running up on the run fake, leaving the tight-end wide open. I can’t tell you how many times we killed defenses with this play. When you call this on a run down and distance the TE will almost always be open. It’s a great concept because it’s fast hitting and you don’t need to pass protect very long because the ball is out quickly. This video features whiteboard breakdown and some game footage.

Go-out Ace Formation 

Tight-end Out

Here’s the Tight-end Quick-out play out of the Ace Formation. The two outside receivers will outside release and run vertical. The tight-end will break at 6-8 yards. This is great against man to man coverage. It’s even better against bump and run coverage with the defenders playing inside leverage. It’s important that your receivers know that the outside release is mandatory!

Tight-end Stick / Stick Option

TIght-end Stick Option Route

This a great concept to beat aggressive linebackers. If linebackers are playing really downhill and aggressively playing their run fits hit them with the TE Stick. This is an easy route and easy throw for the QB. This is a great concept because it stretches the defense out horizontally. You have a vertical option (Z) as well as bubble outlet if the defense doesn’t match numbers or the defender covering the S blitzes.

See Also: The Square Drill for Tight-ends 

Stick TE Option (breaking out option)

Stick Route Tight-end

You can also have the TE run a Stick Option route. The Option Concept will tell the Tight-end that he is reading the linebacker. If he aggressive plays downhill he will run the Stick, turning inside. If the Linebacker is playing flat or non-aggressive, he will break his Stick outside, away from the linebacker. Basically, you want the TE to break to the side away from the linebacker.

Tight-end Quick Pop


TE quick Pop

You can’t do an article about Tight-end passing concepts and leave out the TE Pop Pass. This is a great blitz beater and I absolutely love it out of this formation. When you see the defense is misaligned or that they are aggressively playing downhill this play will hurt them big time. This is a simple concept that is easy to execute and has big play potential. The return on investment with this play is unreal. The timing is something that needs to be worked on though.

Counter Pass

get your tight-end involved in the passing game- counter pass

The Counter Pass is a great play-action play that stretches the defense vertically. You have the option to go max protection (see video below) if you are concerned about pass protection. This does take an extra second or two to develop. But once you notice the linebackers and the play-side CB creeping in for run, call this and it could score. If there is a deep safety it’s important that the TE continues on his corner route.

Here’s some game footage of the counter pass. We went max protection here as we knew they were going to be very aggressive. Max protect eliminates the backside Tight’s post route- he stays in to block. I’,m not a fan of single receiver routes, but sometimes you do have to load up on pass protection.

Tight-end Drag 

Tight-end Drag

The Tight-end Drag Concept is a great way to allow your TE to use his athleticism in space. The X receiver will run a post and the S receiver will run a wheel. These are basically clear out routes. This is an excellent man to man beater. The TE must continue his route across the field into space. His drag depth is just behind where the linebacker are. If it is zone coverage the TE can sit in a hole in the zone and the QB will hit him. For example, say the SS plays the flat and the CB bails back to cover the Wheel, the TE then needs to sit (stop his route and turn towards the QB) his route between the zones. Don’t run into a zone where a defender is! It’s that simple…

Related Content: How to Utilize a Tight-end in Your Offense 

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