One route that is gaining more popularity in offenses across the country is the Fin Route. The Fin Route is able to take the major advantages of the slant and hitch and combine them into one route. It is becoming the go to route to put a receiver in the flats and force the flat defender to get wide.
The Fin Route and Routes using the Fin
The Fin Route got its name from the actual route. The route is a vertical stem of five yards where the receiver is attacking the outside hip of the Cornerback in an attempt to get him to backpedal and open his hips. When the receiver gets to five yards he plants off his outside foot and breaks directly in at a 90 degree angle and looks for the ball.
Teams are moving to the Fin route because it takes the advantage of the slant and combines it with some of the benefits of the hitch route. The best part of the Fin is that it stresses the defender vertically. In zone coverage this will force the defender to get back and honor the deep threat, or if it’s a Cover 2, the Cornerback will work to keep outside leverage on the receiver. Against man coverage the outside stem will get the defender worried about the fade down the sideline and may even force the defender to open his hips up away from the break. By threatening the outside deep ball the receiver opens up the flats for when he drops his hips and makes his break.
There are multiple routes that work well with the Fin. This route is great at occupying a Cornerback and still keeping width to create a horizontal stretch. This works especially well in the Fin-Seam quick route. Here the outside receiver will run his Fin route while the #2 receiver will be running a Seam route inside of the overhang player.
This makes for a very easy throw for the QB. If the overhang player steps in at all on the Seam route the Fin will be wide open. If the overhang player vacates to the Fin then the QB can deliver the ball to the Seam route immediately so he catches it before he gets to the Safety.
Another great to use the route with is the Smash Concept. In the traditional Smash Concept the #1 receiver will run a Hitch and the #2 will run a Corner. This creates a vertical stretch on the Cornerback that is especially effective when going against Cover 2. The way most defensive coaches try to defend this route is by having the Cornerback sag off the Hitch and drop to the Corner route. By having #1 run a Fin the Cornerback must deal with the route from #1 longer. The effect is that the QB has longer to get the ball to #2 running the Corner route.
These are two simple passing concepts that use the Fin but the possible combinations are endless. The Fin is an effective route against almost any coverage and is the new answer to stretch the Flat defender.
(See Also) Passing Concepts in Youth Football