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Short Yardage Pass Plays

Short yardage pass plays are very quick and involve a lot of timing between the quarterback and receiver. Many short yardage plays happen so fast that the defense cannot react fast enough. These plays are high percentage pass plays - the quarterback should be able to complete the majority of these passes. Although most yardage gained will be less than 10 yards, a receiver can easily turn a short yardage play into big yardage if they can evade the tacklers.

Since short yardage plays can happen so fast, it is important to create an open view for the quarterback to see. Often times, "chop blocks" are used to effectively take the feet away from under the defender. This will bring the defender to the ground, thus giving the QB a better view. On other plays, such as a screen, the line will fake very poor pass protection. The purposely allow the defenders to penetrate very deep. When the ball is flipped out to the back, these players will be to far upfield to chase down the ball carrier.

Many of the short yardage routes include 5 yard in routes and out routes, along with the slant pattern and the curl route, where the receiver comes back to the quarterback. Some plays incorporate a deep route to help open up the short passing lane. The timing between the receiver and quarterback is crucial. The receiver should expect to see ball and adjust to make a catch as soon as they reach the first break in their pattern.

Backs utilize swing patterns and routes into the flats. Passes to the running backs are very high percentage and often used as an outlet if all receivers are covered. Because short yardage pass plays happen so fast, the backs that receive the ball usually have an opportunity to break tackles and move the ball upfield.

Timing is everything for the quarterback when short yardage plays are executed. The quarterback should know there the receiver will be every time. It is common for the quarterback to throw the ball BEFORE the receiver makes their break. The quarterback can take either a 3 step drop or 5 step drop depending on the play. For screens, the quarterback will keep dropping back and release the ball just before they get sacked.

The key to making a short yardage pass play work is TIMING. Without timing, the quarterback will never get the ball to the intended receiver. Likewise, the line must make sure that they "chop" their defender down, to clear a viewing area for the quarterback. Consistency in completing short yardage passes will help your team move the ball fast and efficiently.

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