Football is finally back in Green Bay after the start of the 2018 training camp. It’s good to finally see the team all back together at practice and preparing for this season. Fans have been keeping a close eye on the quarterback group this year. It’s going to be a battle for the number 2 spot. I’ve been watching a lot of the quarterback drills during camp and noticed several of them focusing on the 3 step drop.
The 3 step drop is popular in the quick passing game. When a 3 step play is called usually you will see the Packers offense mix in some slants, drags, and hitches as the routes. It’s all about timing. So far at training camp we have seen Rodgers really connect with Jimmy Graham. I expect a lot of their connections will be called on 3 step drop plays. It’s a quick 1-2 read for the quarterback and get the ball out. The drop was especially popular in the west coast offense. We saw Brett Favre do a lot of this during his time at Green Bay.
The idea behind the west coast was to control the clock with emphasis on the short pass game. As offenses evolved we started seeing more 3 step drops from the shotgun or pistol. The transition hasn’t had to be huge for quarterbacks. Rodgers does just as good taking a 3 step drop from the gun as he does under center. You will hardly see the Packers run any 3 step drop from under center anymore. McCarthy will sprinkle it in but the offense now is a lot more wide open and operating more from the gun. Quarterbacks as a whole like the shotgun much more than under center. When a quarterback is in the gun he can see sideline to sideline and read the defense pre snap. Under center his vision is limited and he can’t see the whole field, though there is the advantage of a downhill running attack.
Fundamentals of a 3 Step Drop Play
One of the most important parts of a 3 step drop is the first step. The first step is known as the explosion step. This is the step where the quarterback wants to push as far as he can away from the line of scrimmage. It needs to be a long, exaggerated step that pushes him away from the protection. In the gun this step doesn’t have to be as far as it would be under center because of the distance that he is from the line of scrimmage. Watch this clip where Rodgers gets a good push-off and gets a little distance from the protection.
Compare the first step in the gun from the step under center. This is going way back to Rodgers rookie year in Green Bay. You can see a big difference in the step under center. This point can’t be went over enough because this step is what sets the rest of the drop up.
The next step in the 3 step drop is known as the balance step. The quarterback wants to be a little low and staying balanced throughout the drop. There should be absolutely no ‘hopping’ throughout the drop. Everything should be one smooth drop. The feet are almost dragging the ground. If any hopping would occur than it hurts the quarterbacks balance, vision, and timing with receivers.
This play is a good example of how quick the progression should be in a 3 step. As Packer fans we are lucky to have a quarterback make plays like this look so easy. I can see Rodgers and Graham really hooking up on a play like this. Short yard situation, get a decent gain, march down the field. Also notice how both the slot and boundary receivers run slants. If the TE is taken away then Rodgers has a quick 1-2 read between them. Usually an inside linebacker would take the TE away here but thankfully he came through clean.
The final step in the 3 step drop is the plant step. This is where the quarterback is going to plant his foot, find the receiver and get the ball out. Remember, this drop is all about timing, so it is crucial that the quarterback gets the ball out quick. If not the defense can collapse the pocket and force the quarterback to scramble to buy time. This can throw off timing for all routes, so this is a crucial step. Rodgers is so good at this. Notice in this clip how he drops back and on the third step his number one read in the progression is taken away. One thing that makes Rodgers so good is how fast he can go through the progression. He scans his receivers so fast and can get the ball out quickly. Rodgers hits Cobb for a good gain here.
If I’m going to talk about the 3 step I have to include my all time favorite Packer player, Brett Favre. Favre was one of the best I’ve ever seen when it comes to drops. He was great under center early in his career and in the gun at the tail end of his career. He was one of the best at getting separation from the line of scrimmage. If you want a good example of timing this is a great clip to look at. It’s a quick 1, 2, 3 and throw. These throws can pay big dividends. Something like a little slant can turn into 6 points. There was no hesitation in Favre’s drops. Favre always had a good plant foot. Many throws were a little unorthodox as he had a tenancy to throw off the back foot. Only Favre could get away with it. His arm strength made up for a lot of things. On his third step though you could always count on him zipping in a pass like this on the slant.
Keep an eye out during camp on the drops and progressions quarterbacks the Packers quarterbacks are working on. Some quarterbacks are better with certain drops than others. The Packers are already in week 2 of camp and before we know it there will be preseason games at Lambeau.
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