The Smash Passing Concept, behind the Four Verticals, might be one of the most universally recognized passing concepts in football. It is most offenses’ go to route combination to beat Cover 2. The goal of the concept is to put the flat defender (normally the Cornerback) in a high low read. This can be done in a variety of different ways and offensive coaches are adding new tweaks to the combination to stay one step ahead of the defense.
In the basic Smash Concept the #1 receiver will run a hitch. This is a simple hitch where the receiver will push vertical for 6 yards and then turn and face the Quarterback. Ideally the ball should be delivered immediately to the hip away from the defender as he turns around. This makes it a difficult route for a defender to break up if the route is run well and the ball is delivered accurately and on time. If the Quarterback is late delivering the ball the receiver must work back to the ball so he keeps the advantage he gained in his break. If he remains stationary the defender has a chance to eat into the cushion.
The standard route from #2 is a Corner route. On this route the receiver will push vertical for 7 yards and try to get an inside stem on the Safety. It’s critical that he holds the Safety and does not let him start moving towards the sideline. When the receiver gets to 7 yards he will plant on his inside foot and break at roughly 45 degrees. The critical coaching point is keeping the receiver high so that he gives more room for the Quarterback to throw the ball. Young receivers tend to break the route off at too sharp of an angle and it allows the Cornerback to play both the hitch and the corner routes.
As time has gone on defenses have gotten much better at defending this concepts. The main way defenses have adjusted is by telling their flat defender to drop back to make the throw to the corner route more difficult. Another technique teams have been using to stop the Smash Concept is to harass the #2 receiver so he does not get a free release. This gives the Safety time to get over the top of the route and make a play on the Corner route so the Cornerback can concentrate on defending the hitch.
“WHIP” SMASH PASSING CONCEPT
In the never ending evolutionary game offenses have adjusted their routes to combat these adjustments. One of the simplest adjustments to the the concept was developed as a way to stop the Cornerback from playing both the Corner and Hitch route. In this adjustment the #1 receiver will run what ends up equating to an outside breaking whip route. The number one rule for a Cover 2 Cornerback is to not allow a free outside release by the #1 receiver. This adjustment uses that tool against the defense.
Here the #1 receiver will push hard to get an outside release which will force the Cornerback to widen with him and collision him. As he collisions him the receiver will try to step on the defenders toes with his inside foot, turn his back into the defender and come back horizontally towards the QB. This is a longer developing route that stresses the Cornerback and forces him to focus his attention on #1. The effect is that the Safety will not have any help defending the Corner route and the Quarterback should have an easy throw.
“FIN” SMASH Passing Concept
The second adjustment to the Smash Route is to use a simple Fin route to take advantage of the overhang player who is focused on harassing the #2 receiver. The Fin route is a simple 5 and in route from the #1 receiver. He should get an outside stem and attack 1 yard outside of the Cornerback. This will force the Cornerback to widen to protect against a free vertical release. When the receiver gets to 5 yards he breaks off the route straight down the line.
The major difference between the Fin and the Outside Whip is the time it takes to run each route. The Fin is a much quicker route and will only be open if the overhang player does not immediately get to the Hook-Curl zone. The Outside Whip is a longer developing route but it stays wider. As a whole it is used to open up the Corner but if the Cornerback does drop off to defend the Corner route the Outside Whip gets the receiver in a position to catch the ball while moving which can result in more yards after the catch.
SMASH PASSING CONCEPT FROM TRIPS
The Smash Concept can easily be adjusted to Trips. The simplest way to adapt the concept for a third receiver is to have the #3 run a Divide route. In this route his job is to split the Safeties. The majority of times this will be a vertical route but sometimes it will require him to take a slight angle in or out. The effect of this is that if the playside Safety does fly out to cover the Corner route the divide route should be wide open and will result in a huge gain.
(See Also) Smash Concept off of Jet Sweep Action
(See Also) Wide Receiver Route Running
(See Also) Curl-Flat Passing Concept