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Playbook: Play Action

Welcome back to Playbook, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite segments. To read the others, click here. Today’s lesson focuses on play action passes. Let’s go to the drawing board.

This is a pretty standard play action play. Manning fakes the handoff to Jacobs, who runs to the left. Manning, sells the fakes, and then bootlegs to the right. He has options. The main thing about any offensive play–run, pass–is to have options. One option doesn’t cut it. What hurts young quarterbacks is that they lock on to a receiver. If you’ve made up your mind before the play starts, then you’re closing the book on potential gains. This play has options. The first one is Smith. The goal to any successful play action is to have the defense bite. Smith becomes the main option if his corner bites. If the corner creeps up, Smith sneaks behind him, and Manning finds him across the middle.

The second option is Kevin Boss. He’s running a post to the outside. Again, like Smith, he becomes the main option if the linebackers bite. Do they bite and go immediately towards Jacobs? If they do, then hit Boss right as he heads towards the sideline.

The third option is Manningham, who’s going to run the with the fake. In other words, he’s running where the defense will run if the fake is executed well. Manningham is a decoy. He’s bringing his corner, and hopefully a safety, to the other side of the field. So, he’s turning right after the fake. He’s not the first option, but he’s there. He’s mimicking the effect of the play fake. He wants to bring the defense away from the other receivers. Again, that’s what makes play action so successful. Drawing the defense away from the main options.

The 4th option is Nicks. He’s running a deep fly. Pretty standard route. If he’s open,  he’s open.

The 5th option is Jacobs. He’s critical to the early success of the play. He has to sell the fake. Really sell it. It can be hard to do.  Once Eli rolls out, Jacobs is running a simple curl. He’s the checkdown.

I can’t stress how important selling the fake is. If the defense doesn’t bite, then it’s not worth it. Throw it away. You want to get the defense going one way, offense the other. When executed well, it’s a great play. It can be particularly effective in the red zone, because there’s limited space and time for the defense to recover.The Giants usually do a good job of play actions. They use it a lot, and it works well. Play action is a great play when done right. Problem is, it’s not always done right.

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One Response to “Playbook: Play Action”

  1. Carrie says:

    I am loving this feature. Great job. Keep it up!

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