One such strategy that has gained popularity over the years is the option route.
Here we provide a guide to understanding the option route in football, including its definition, execution, and its impact on the game.
We look at how the option route works and how it can be used effectively on the field.
What is an Option Route?
An option route is a pass route in football where the receiver has multiple options for their route based on the coverage of the defense.
Instead of running a predetermined route, the receiver reads the defense and adjusts their route accordingly.
This allows the receiver to exploit weaknesses in the defense and create separation from defenders.
Execution of an Option Route
The execution of an option route requires both the receiver and the quarterback to be on the same page.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how an option route is executed:
- Pre-Snap Read: The receiver and the quarterback analyze the defensive alignment before the snap to identify potential weaknesses or mismatches.
- Route Adjustment: As the play develops, the receiver reads the coverage of the defense and makes adjustments to their route accordingly. This can include changing the direction, depth, or timing of the route.
- Communication: The receiver and the quarterback must have a strong understanding of each other’s adjustments. Non-verbal cues, such as eye contact or hand signals, are often used to communicate these adjustments.
- Timing: The receiver must time their route adjustment in sync with the quarterback’s dropback and progression. This ensures that the quarterback can deliver the ball to the receiver at the right moment.
- Read and React: The receiver continues to read the defense during their route and makes further adjustments if necessary. This allows them to exploit any changes in the defense’s coverage.
Benefits of Using Option Routes
The option route provides several benefits to the offense, making it a valuable tool in a team’s playbook.
Here are some of the key benefits:
- Exploiting Defensive Weaknesses: Option routes allow receivers to identify and exploit weaknesses in the defense’s coverage. By adjusting their route based on the defense’s movements, receivers can find open spaces in the secondary.
- Creating Mismatches: Option routes can be used to create mismatches between receivers and defenders. By adjusting their route to take advantage of a slower or less agile defender, receivers can gain an advantage and create separation.
- Flexibility: Option routes provide flexibility to both the receiver and the quarterback. The receiver can adjust their route based on the defense, while the quarterback can read the receiver’s adjustments and make quick decisions based on the coverage.
- Improving Timing and Chemistry: Option routes require a high level of communication and understanding between the receiver and the quarterback. By practicing and executing option routes, the timing and chemistry between the two can improve, leading to more successful plays.
What Is a Weak-Side Choice Route?
In football, a weak-side choice route refers to a pass route option typically run by a receiver or a running back on the weak side of the formation.
The weak side refers to the side of the field that has fewer players or fewer offensive players.
A choice route is a route that offers the receiver the flexibility to make decisions based on the positioning of the defenders.
The receiver running the weak-side choice route has the freedom to read the coverage and make choices in real-time to find an open area on the field.
The specific route options or decisions in a weak-side choice route can vary depending on the offensive system and the play design.
However, some common route options for a weak-side choice route include:
- Out Route: The receiver can break towards the sideline, typically at a 45-degree angle, and move towards the boundary.
- Curl Route: The receiver can run a few yards upfield and then turn back towards the quarterback, settling in an open area between defenders.
- Slant Route: The receiver can angle towards the middle of the field on a diagonal path, looking to catch the ball quickly in a gap between defenders.
- Option Route: The receiver can read the coverage and have multiple route options based on the positioning of defenders. This could involve breaking in or out, depending on the defender’s leverage.
The weak-side choice route is designed to give the receiver the flexibility to adjust their route based on the coverage they encounter.
The goal is to create separation from defenders and provide the quarterback with a reliable target in an area where the defense is vulnerable.
The success of the weak-side choice route depends on the receiver’s ability to read the defense, make quick decisions, and establish a connection with the quarterback to be on the same page regarding the route adjustments.
Examples of Option Routes in Action
To better understand how option routes work in practice, let’s look at a couple of examples from recent NFL seasons:
Example 1: Julian Edelman’s Option Route
Julian Edelman, a former wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was known for his ability to run precise option routes.
In a game against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, Edelman’s option route played a crucial role in the Patriots’ victory.
On a critical third-down play in the fourth quarter, Edelman lined up in the slot and ran an option route against Seahawks cornerback Tharold Simon.
As Edelman approached the top of his route, he read Simon’s coverage and made a quick inside cut, creating separation from the defender.
Quarterback Tom Brady recognized Edelman’s adjustment and delivered a perfectly timed pass, resulting in a first down for the Patriots.
This play showcased the effectiveness of the option route in exploiting defensive weaknesses and creating separation.
Example 2: Tyreek Hill’s Option Route
Tyreek Hill, a wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, is known for his speed and agility.
In a game against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, Hill’s option route proved to be a game-changer.
On a crucial third-down play in the fourth quarter, Hill lined up on the outside and ran an option route against 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman.
As Hill approached the top of his route, he read Sherman’s coverage and made a sharp cut towards the sideline, leaving Sherman trailing behind.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes recognized Hill’s adjustment and delivered a perfectly placed pass, resulting in a long completion and a first down for the Chiefs.
This play demonstrated how option routes can create mismatches and exploit the speed and agility of a receiver.
How to Practice the Choice Concept / Option Route
The option route is a valuable strategy in football that allows receivers to adjust their routes based on the defense’s coverage.
By exploiting weaknesses, creating mismatches, and improving timing and chemistry, option routes can be highly effective in moving the ball down the field.
Understanding the execution and benefits of option routes can give teams a competitive edge and lead to more successful plays.
As the game of football continues to evolve, the option route will remain a key component of offensive strategies.
FAQs – Option Route
1. What is the main purpose of an option route in football?
The main purpose of an option route is to allow the receiver to adjust their route based on the coverage of the defense.
This enables the receiver to exploit weaknesses in the defense and create separation from defenders.
2. How does the receiver determine their route adjustment in an option route?
The receiver determines their route adjustment by reading the coverage of the defense during the play.
They analyze the movements and positioning of the defenders to identify open spaces or mismatches that can be exploited.
3. What role does the quarterback play in executing an option route?
The quarterback plays a crucial role in executing an option route.
They must read the receiver’s adjustments and make quick decisions based on the coverage.
The timing and accuracy of the quarterback’s throw are essential for the success of the play.
4. Can option routes be used by all positions in football?
While option routes are most commonly associated with wide receivers, they can be used by other positions as well, such as tight ends or running backs.
Any player who runs pass routes can potentially execute an option route.
5. Are option routes difficult to execute?
Option routes require a high level of communication, timing, and understanding between the receiver and the quarterback.
They can be challenging to execute effectively, but with practice and repetition, players can develop the necessary skills to execute option routes successfully.
6. Can option routes be used in both short and deep passing plays?
Yes, option routes can be used in both short and deep passing plays.
The receiver’s route adjustment will depend on the coverage and the desired outcome of the play.
In short passing plays, the receiver may adjust their route to find open spaces in the intermediate or short areas of the field.
In deep passing plays, the receiver may adjust their route to create separation and exploit mismatches downfield.
7. Are option routes more effective against certain defensive coverages?
Option routes can be effective against various defensive coverages, but they are particularly effective against zone coverages.
In zone coverages, defenders are responsible for specific areas of the field rather than individual receivers.
Option routes allow receivers to find open spaces in the zones and exploit the coverage.
8. Can option routes be used in combination with other route concepts?
Yes, option routes can be used in combination with other route concepts to create more complex and unpredictable offensive schemes.
By incorporating option routes into route combinations, teams can confuse defenses and create additional opportunities for big plays.
9. How can teams practice and develop their option route execution?
Teams can practice and develop their option route execution through regular drills and repetitions.
Quarterbacks and receivers must develop a strong rapport and understanding of each other’s adjustments.
Film study and analysis of previous games can also help teams identify weaknesses in the defense and improve their option route execution.
10. Are option routes more commonly used in college football or professional football?
Option routes are used in both college football and professional football.
However, they are more commonly seen in professional football due to the higher level of skill and understanding required to execute them effectively.
Professional quarterbacks and receivers often have more experience and knowledge to read and react to the defense, making option routes a valuable tool in their offensive strategies.