In football, coaches and players are constantly looking for innovative strategies and tactics to gain an edge over their opponents. One such strategy that has gained popularity in recent years is the “Smash Concept.”
Below we provide an easy-to-read guide to understanding and implementing the Smash Concept in football.
Let’s take a look.
What is the Smash Concept?
The Smash Concept is a passing play commonly used in football, particularly in the West Coast offense.
The primary objective of the Smash Concept is to stretch the defense horizontally and vertically, creating opportunities for the offense to exploit.
How does the Smash Concept work?
The Smash Concept typically involves two primary routes:
- Corner Route: One receiver runs a corner route toward the sideline, aiming to stretch the defense vertically.
- Flat Route: Another receiver runs a flat route toward the sideline, aiming to stretch the defense horizontally.
The combination of these two routes creates a high-low read for the quarterback.
If the cornerback covering the flat route drops back to defend against the corner route, the quarterback can throw to the receiver running the flat route.
On the other hand, if the cornerback stays close to the flat route, the quarterback can throw to the receiver running the corner route.
Football 101: Smash Concept
Advantages of the Smash Concept
The Smash Concept offers several advantages for an offense:
- Creates mismatches: By stretching the defense both horizontally and vertically, the Smash Concept forces defenders to make difficult decisions, often resulting in mismatches that the offense can exploit.
- Provides multiple options: The high-low read created by the Smash Concept gives the quarterback multiple options to choose from, increasing the chances of finding an open receiver.
- Works against various coverages: The Smash Concept is effective against different defensive coverages, including man-to-man, zone, and combination coverages.
- Allows for quick passes: The flat route in the Smash Concept provides a quick and easy option for the quarterback to release the ball if the defense applies pressure.
Examples of the Smash Concept in Action
To better understand how the Smash Concept works in real-game situations, let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Example 1: NFL – New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
In Super Bowl XLIX, the New England Patriots utilized the Smash Concept to score an important touchdown.
With the ball on the one-yard line, the Patriots lined up in a shotgun formation with two receivers to the right side of the formation.
The outside receiver ran a corner route toward the back corner of the end zone, while the inside receiver ran a flat route toward the sideline.
The Seahawks’ defense was caught in a difficult position, as they had to decide whether to defend against the corner route or the flat route.
As the cornerback dropped back to defend against the corner route, Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady quickly recognized the opening and threw a pass to the receiver running the flat route, resulting in a touchdown.
Example 2: College Football – Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
In the 2019 College Football National Championship game, the Clemson Tigers effectively used the Smash Concept to move the ball down the field.
Facing a 3rd and 8 situation, Clemson lined up in a shotgun formation with two receivers to the left side of the formation.
The outside receiver ran a corner route toward the sideline, while the inside receiver ran a flat route towards the sideline.
The Alabama defense initially dropped back to defend against the corner route, leaving the flat route open.
Clemson’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence quickly recognized the opening and delivered a precise pass to the receiver running the flat route, resulting in a first down and extending the drive.
Implementing the Smash Concept
To effectively implement the Smash Concept, teams must focus on several key factors:
- Route running: Receivers must run precise routes to create the desired high-low read for the quarterback. Proper timing and execution are vital to the success of the Smash Concept.
- Quarterback’s decision-making: The quarterback must make quick and accurate decisions based on the defense’s reaction to the routes. Reading the cornerback’s movement and understanding the coverage is essential.
- Protection: The offensive line must provide adequate protection to allow the quarterback enough time to make his read and deliver an accurate pass. Any breakdown in protection can disrupt the timing of the Smash Concept.
You can view the Philadelphia Eagles’ take on the concept here.
Is the Smash Concept Used in the West Coast Offense, Air Coryell, Air Raid, and Spread Offense?
The concept of “smash” is commonly used in various offensive systems, including the West Coast Offense, Air Coryell, Air Raid, and Spread Offense.
However, note that while the term “smash” is used in different offensive schemes, its implementation and execution may vary based on the specific system and the preferences of the coaching staff.
In general, the “smash” concept involves a combination of routes designed to exploit a specific area of the field, typically targeting the short-to-intermediate range.
The concept is often used to attack zone coverages, particularly the “Cover 2” defense.
It involves a high-low read, where the quarterback has options to throw to a receiver running a short route to the flat or a receiver running a deeper route in the corner or sideline area.
Here’s a brief overview of how the “smash” concept can be utilized in the mentioned offensive systems:
Smash Concept in the West Coast Offense
The West Coast Offense incorporates a variety of passing concepts, and “smash” is one of them.
It typically involves a quick hitch route run by the outside receiver and a corner route run by the inside receiver or slot receiver.
Smash Concept in Air Coryell
The Air Coryell system emphasizes vertical passing routes, but the “smash” concept can still be used to attack underneath zones.
In Air Coryell, the outside receiver often runs a quick hitch or stop route, while the inside receiver runs a corner route.
Smash Concept in Air Raid
The Air Raid offense, developed by coaches like Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, heavily relies on the “smash” concept.
It is often incorporated as a base concept, where one receiver runs a hitch or stop route, and another receiver runs a corner or fade route.
Smash Concept in the Spread Offense
The Spread Offense encompasses a wide range of offensive styles, but many variations incorporate the “smash” concept.
The specific routes and formations may vary, but the general idea is to create a high-low read for the quarterback, exploiting the voids in zone coverages.
It’s worth noting that offensive systems evolve and adapt over time, and coaches may incorporate variations and modifications to the “smash” concept based on their own philosophies and personnel.
Therefore, while the general concept remains consistent, its implementation can differ within each offensive system.
FAQs – Smash Concept
1. What other variations of the Smash Concept exist?
While the basic Smash Concept involves a corner route and a flat route, there are variations that teams can incorporate.
One such variation is the “Smash-Seam” concept, where a seam route is added to stretch the defense vertically even further.
2. Can the Smash Concept be effective in the red zone?
Yes, the Smash Concept can be particularly effective in the red zone.
By stretching the defense vertically, the offense can create openings for quick passes or exploit mismatches near the goal line.
3. Is the Smash Concept suitable for all types of quarterbacks?
Yes, the Smash Concept can be adapted to suit different types of quarterbacks.
While it is commonly associated with the West Coast offense, teams with quarterbacks who excel at reading defenses and making quick decisions can effectively utilize the Smash Concept.
4. How can defenses defend against the Smash Concept?
Defenses can defend against the Smash Concept by mixing coverages, disguising their intentions, and applying pressure on the quarterback.
By disrupting the timing and forcing the quarterback to make quick decisions, defenses can minimize the effectiveness of the Smash Concept.
5. Are there any potential drawbacks to using the Smash Concept?
While the Smash Concept offers several advantages, there are potential drawbacks.
If the routes are not executed properly or the quarterback fails to make accurate reads, it can result in interceptions or incompletions.
Additionally, if the offensive line fails to provide adequate protection, it can disrupt the timing of the play.
6. Can the Smash Concept be combined with other passing concepts?
Absolutely! The Smash Concept can be combined with other passing concepts to create more complex and unpredictable plays.
Coaches often incorporate elements of the Smash Concept into their offensive strategies to keep defenses guessing.
7. Is the Smash Concept only effective against zone defenses?
No, the Smash Concept can be effective against both man-to-man and zone defenses.
Against man-to-man coverage, the high-low read can exploit mismatches between receivers and defenders.
Against zone coverage, the Smash Concept can stretch the zones and create openings for the quarterback to exploit.
8. Can the Smash Concept be used in youth football?
Yes, the Smash Concept can be adapted for use in youth football.
Coaches can simplify the routes and focus on teaching the basic concepts of stretching the defense horizontally and vertically.
9. Are there any famous teams known for effectively using the Smash Concept?
Several teams, both at the professional and college level, have effectively utilized the Smash Concept.
The New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Clemson Tigers are among the teams known for incorporating the Smash Concept into their offensive strategies.
10. Can the Smash Concept be used in running plays?
While the Smash Concept is primarily a passing play, elements of it can be incorporated into running plays.
By stretching the defense horizontally and vertically, running backs can find openings in the defense and exploit them for significant gains.
The Smash Concept is a versatile passing play that has become increasingly popular in football.
By stretching the defense both horizontally and vertically, the Smash Concept creates opportunities for the offense to exploit mismatches and find open receivers.
It offers multiple options for the quarterback and can be effective against various defensive coverages.
However, proper execution, route running, and decision-making are important for the success of the Smash Concept.
Coaches and players can adapt and incorporate the Smash Concept into their offensive strategies to gain an edge over their opponents.