It has been a long offseason, hasn’t it? I’m not sure how you filled your offseason, but I filled mine by watching the Rams offense and looking for concepts to steal. It has been a fun trip, and I’d like to share some of my favorite plays with you before the season kicks off. Join me, won’t you?
Did you know the Packers love to run the slant/flat route concept? Because they do. Ohhhhhh buddy, they do. In fact, one of my favorite moments from last season was a variation of the standard slant/flat. I loved it so much I did a write-up of just that play, which you can read here.
Part of what makes those route tendencies so powerful is having some variations to them. Run the same thing over and over again, get the defense to start trying to jump those tendencies, then hit them with a variation that finds them totally and completely out of position. That’s how you can hit some big plays.
Let’s start by talking about what slant/flat is. It’s a route combo with the inside receiver running a flat route while the outside receiver runs a slant route. Here’s a sloppy diagram of the basic routes:
Simple. Beautiful. Powerful.
I won’t get into the nitty-gritty here, but it’s a route combo that can be effective against man coverage and zone coverage. In man coverage, the defenders will be following the receivers, setting the state for a natural pick at the mesh point.
In zone coverage, the defenders will be sitting back, waiting for their men to clear the mesh and pick them up on the other side. That leaves the window open for a quick throw to a man in space.
Let’s get to the variation the Rams used.
The action is happening on the top side of this gif. You’ll see what appears to be a slant/flat combo between Robert Woods  and Sammy Watkins , with Woods in the slot and Watkins on the outside.
At the snap, Watkins hits the slant while Woods runs to the flat. The key here is that Woods sets up to block.
Setting up to block gets the defender across from him looking at it like a pick. That gets him leaning towards the slant. I isolated the break of the slot defender so we can see exactly what happens.
From this, you can see the defender doesn’t actually break until Jared Goff  begins his throwing motion. Look at his feet prior to that motion: they’re in cement. At the snap, he steps slightly back to pick up the flat, but stops and comes back towards the middle once he sees the block setting up. He’s basically standing exactly where he started the play; between the hashmark and the sideline. The fake block gets the slot defender thinking about breaking on the slant pattern, since the flat looks like nothing more than a block. He has written off Woods and has proceeded to turn his full attention on Watkins, hoping to jump the slant.
Once again, a sloppy diagram…
…and another. This one shows where everyone is after the fake block. The slant receiver is heading towards the middle, the outside defender is shadowing him and the slot defender has broken down on the slant from his position. That leaves the flat defender all alone with a lot of green space.
In the actual play, Goff throws to Watkins on the slant and the Rams pick up a handful of yards.
But oh, what could have been.
Woods breaks out of the fake block and runs a wheel up the sideline. With a single-high safety and his man defender breaking on the slant route, Woods has a ton of room.
If Goff pump fakes to Watkins, I believe the slot defender still breaks on that route, leaving the wheel wide open.
The Packers roll out the slant/flat concept on a regular basis. Adding a new wrinkle could lead to some big plays. I highly recommend adding this one to the playbook.
Before we go, here’s the slant/flat variation the Packers ran in Week 4 against the Bears. I referenced it above, but I just really want to look at it for a while in this post. It’s so pretty.
Album listened to: Richard Edwards – Verdugo