Shallow Cross/Drive

Shallow Cross/Drive:

This passing concept was invented by Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shannahan while he was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco.  The basic idea behind the concept is to create an easy hi-lo read over the middle of the field that takes advantage of linebackers who drop deep to quickly in zone coverage.  Against man coverage the receiver can get a good rub, but always will catch the ball in space giving the concept big play potential.

Just like the Smash concept this concept is only dependent on two receiver, it can easily be combined with other concepts, but the concept really comes down to only two routes.  However, unlike the Smash concept the two routes can be moved all over the field.  The Drag and the Dig can be on the same side, in this case the concept is called Drive, but if the Dig and Drag are on opposite sides the concept is called Shallow Cross.  Below are two examples each with video, the first is Drive and the second is Shallow Cross.


Thanks to Chris Brown's article on the NY Times Fifth Down Blog

This video and diagram of the New England Patriots running this concept against the New York Giants is from an article written by Chris Brown for the NY Times Fifth Down Blog.

*Something not shown in the diagram above is that often the WR running the drag in the Drive concept will be put in motion, this makes it basically impossible for the defender to keep up in man coverage.*

Shallow Cross

Thanks to Bruce Eien for the video, the play diagram is 10 seconds in.

The receiver running the drag route will run one step directly upfield (if bumped he will try to get inside position) and then will run through where the defensive linemen’s heals were.  After he crosses midfield he will aim his route about 5-6 yards past the line of scrimmage.  The receiver then has to read the defenders around him to determine if the defense is in man or zone coverage, this should be pretty apparent if he looks at the defenders on the sideline he is running towards.  If the defenders are looking at the quarterbacks they are most likely in zone, but if the defenders are looking at the receivers they are most likely in man coverage.  If the defense is in zone coverage the receiver will want to continue running his route aiming about 5-6 yards upfield, but as soon as he finds a whole in the zone he should stop, face the quarterback, and if he catches the ball he should head directly upfield.  Against man the receiver can choose to just continue running full speed aiming 5-6 yards upfield, but in most cases the receiver should instead turn the route into a jerk route, to do this the receiver makes his route looks like a staircase.  The receiver will run break his route upfield for one-two steps and then should run straight towards the sideline.  By heading upfield the receiver should be able to turn the hips of the defender following him so that the defender is out of positions when the receiver heads directly towards the sideline.

The receiver running the dig route will head directly upfield for about 15 yards.  Once the receiver reaches 15 yards he should know what kind of coverage he is facing.  If facing loose man coverage or zone coverage he does not need to be concerned about shaking  a particular defender, instead he is concerned about creating the hi-lo read on the defender or just outrunning his defender.  Therefore, in this case of loose coverage the receiver would make his cut as a “speed cut” where he rounds off the break in his route so that he doesn’t loose as much speed while changing direction.  However, if facing press man coverage the receiver will make his cut as a “flat cut” making the cut as sharp as possible.  In doing this the receiver is hoping to get underneath his defender by catching the defender off guard with his “flat cut”

Now with so many forms of essentially the same concept the quarterbacks reads are not quite as clear as they are for most concepts, instead they depend on the exact way the play is called.  In the case of the Shallow Cross as most Air Raid teams run it the quarterback will read drag then dig and then the dump off route, this ensures a quicker read where the quarterback will not try to force the deep throw to the dig route, but instead will get the ball out quickly to the drag more often than not.  In the case of the Drive concept the reads change depending on whether the defense is in man or zone coverage.  Against man coverage the quarterback will read the drag, the dig, and then look for the dump off route for the reason given above, but against a zone defense the quarterback will make a simple hi-lo read.  If the linebacker drops down to cover the drag the quarterback will hit the dig, but if the linebacker drops back to cover the dig the quarterback will hit the drag route.

Here are some good videos on the Shallow Cross Concept:

BYU hitting the Dig Route

BYU hitting the Drag Route

Old video of a quick description of the Shallow Cross

If you are looking for more on this concept:


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