The “Dodge” concept

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From Josh Herring’s interactive book Quick Rhythm Option Routes.


Another option route in our passing game is what we call “Dodge”.  While we usually only have one or perhaps two receivers that we really trust to run Sloppy/Option routes, we have found that Dodge is a route which more players have a knack for.  While the receiver can only break inside, we consider it a true option route because there are two options as to the break.  It is not simply a “sit or move” read.  Our Dodge option route began as a tag in our empty passing game.  Over time it has begun to evolve into a route with a variety of applications.  Built into the route is the ability to find grass immediately versus fire zone coverages as well as use a double-move technique to create explosive plays when the pattern is matched.  We use both field and boundary versions.

The initial step for the Dodge is to run a Hitch at 5 yards.  If you are wide open, give the QB your numbers and show your hands.  The ball should be on its way (Fig. 49).  Another way to think about it is if you are not matched by a defender…..expect the ball now.  If a defender is matching you from the inside, you will break inside him either underneath or over the top of his drop.  If he takes a high drop, uncover underneath (Fig 50).  If the defender is attacking the Hitch at a flat angle, go over the top of him into the void he created when he left (Fig. 51).  When in doubt, we prefer the underneath version, because it is most likely to result in a completion.  Big plays often come from the “over the top” choice, but the throw is more difficult for the QB.  One of the things we love about this route is that it attacks the aggressiveness of modern pattern-match coverages which refuse to concede a completion even on short routes.  These defenses match patterns quickly and aggressively and we use this aggression against them.

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When the Dodge faces a head-up or man defender, the hitch is clearly not going to be an option.  We want to give the Dodge an ability to defeat man coverage so we teach a principle many refer to as a “jerk” route (Fig. 52).  After hitching, the Dodge fakes an outside move.   This simulates the exact movement he would use on an outside pivot move for the Sloppy route.  He then breaks back inside.  Versus true man coverage, the next defender is of no concern, so the read is off.  The Dodge must beat his man.

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Not only does the hitch provide a quick completion vs the fire zones many teams may try to use vs empty formations, but Dodge allows a receiver the freedom to uncover vs an initial coverage look, often manufacturing a big run-after-catch opportunity in the process.  We tell our players it is simply an underneath double-move route.  To simplify things for both the QB and outside receivers, our base companion route is again a Dig.  For a QB who doesn’t like his initial look at the Dodge, his eyes can swing naturally to the Dig, just like on the two-man Sloppy concept.  Both patterns look alike and create indecision for interior coverage players.

Get the instructional video and cut-ups along with the other Quick Rhythm Option Routes and ideas for incorporation in your system in Herring’s iBook.  Over 2 1/2 hours of video are included.  Herring also includes a section on Run Pass Option.


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