One of the universal rules for planning your offensive attack is that you must have an answer to man coverage. At one stage in the game the defense is going to put their defenders in man coverage and send a blitz. As an offense if you have a consistent answer to this you will be able to punish them when they go to these man coverage looks. But if you don’t have a solid answer, you should expect to see a lot more man coverage as the game goes on. One of our best answers to man coverage is the Mesh Concept. Using the Mesh Concept to beat man coverage is very simple:
Using the Mesh Concept to Beat Man Coverage
Mesh is one of the most popular and talked about routes in the modern game. The heart of the concept is the Mesh portion of the route. This is where two receivers are going to cross through the route and break to the opposite side. While this is where the route gets its name, it is not the only part of the concept. Where many people struggle with running Mesh is that they don’t understand the other routes involved in the concept and how they all play together.
The routes start on the wide side of the play where there is a Win Route. When you hear old school Air Raid Coaches talk about the Mesh Concept they will always talk about the Win Route and it’s importance to the concept. The Win Route is a 7 Step soft out that has the ability to turn into a Corner route. The result is that the defense must use two defenders to stop the route, one over the top and one underneath.
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The next route comes from the Mesh setter. This is the player that will be running the Mesh across the formation and will be setting the depth of the mesh. His goal is to be 6 yards deep by the time he gets over the Center. On the other side the receiver will be running the Mesh Under Route where he will need to adjust to the Mesh Setter’s route and come underneath him. These two defenders need to be tight enough to slap hands as they go by each other, which we will have them do as they start to learn the route.
There are two ways to teach the Mesh Routes based on how much time you want to devote to them. If Mesh is going to be a huge part of your game you may want to teach these defenders to read the coverage as they run their routes. In this version they will look to the opposite mesh runner and see if anyone is chasing him. If there is someone chasing him then they know the defense is in man coverage and they will keep running. If there isn’t anyone chasing him, it is a Zone Coverage and each Mesh runner will settle in the first open space they find once they cross the Center. The easier way to run this route though is to just have the Mesh receivers keep running. This takes away one of their reads and helps this play be effective with less reps.
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The last route is for the remaining receiver on the boundary side of the formation. This receiver is going to run a Hunt Route. On this route he is going to break to 10 yards deep and look to find the first window that opens up. Many times this route will be wide open if the linebackers are either chasing the Mesh Routes or matching the receivers when they settle into a hole in the Zone.
The key when talking to the Quarterback is to make sure they are reading the Win Route first. Without forcing the defense to use two defenders on the Win Route, he will find that the defense can compress the routes because they have a man advantage.