Air Raid Personnel
I get a lot of questions about Air Raid Personnel. Where to put what skill sets with receivers and etc. How do you pick a quarterback? How do you need place players in their positions. I will talk about this from a 2×2 set, because to me this is blueprint for the personnel in this offense. I will also be talking about this from a spread personnel, so I will not get into H back and other personnel sets. It is not just speed and athleticism we will discuss. I will dive further into the characteristics and attributes of the offense.
I can tell a tremendous amount of information about skill players by watching them jump, power clean, squat, and dead lift. These lifts and movements are are core and hip explosion related. If your skill players can not hinge and close his 3 sets of hinges (hips, knees, and ankles) then he cannot play a skill position at the level needed to compete. I know before we get on the field if they can:
- get in a proper stance
- explode out of it
- make route stems
- get the ball
- settle in holes
- make a play on the ball
I really could stop right here, and that would be all you need to know about picking players you already have seen in your program, but for the sake of writing I will make a few more points.
We get involved in 40 times, size, hand size, body, etc., but the real questions are answered before we get on the field, and the reflections of these bullets can be seen during play. As coaches we easily corner ourselves by looking at genetic attributes and track times and forget how they must translate down to down. So where does speed breakdown into all this? Take the bullet list above and compare the two players. If they are close you have to play the faster player. The catch is very important, but can the kid do the process needed to get to the catch? and the second part of that equation is what can he do once he catches it?
If we could morph our receivers, I am sure we would go for the 6′-4″, 40+vertical, hands the size of sledgehammers, and around a 4.4 40 yard dash. Since those do not literally fall off trees I want to take a deeper look into the attributes these receivers may need based on the routes in the base concepts.
- The outside receiver must have great hands, and eye tracking ability. Since they will be the furthest from the ball, their routes demand these abilities.
- They must also be able to handle the tunnel screens. This is the “wide run” inside the offense this is a key part of the offense.
- They must be able to run the intermediate routes and recognize zone and man coverage on the run. They must be selfless because a bulk of their routes is beating the defender 1 on 1.
Eye tracking is something more than seeing it to the hands. The outside receiver must be able to do this in close quarters with defender. Since most of his vertical routes will be based on the quarterback “throwing him open,” he must be able to adjust his hands, feet, eyes, and hips in full stride. If we get into jump ball situations, this must leads back to my first bullet list in the post. How does he fundamentally flex in these lifts?
The tunnel screen is a staple of the offense, and a way to run the ball on the perimeter. This ball again works with the ability to change directions and run to a ball being thrown at a unique angle. This needs a great deal of hand, eye, and feet coordination to make the catch, and the ability to use your vision and posterior chain explosion after the catch. An outside receiver who can make good cuts will make this play dynamic.
As we talked about in the screen game, the short and intermediate routes in some of the concepts call for the same attention. In fact in the concept known as Y-Corner, the outside receiver is a premium target, but his needs a completely different skill set than we talked about earlier in the deep routes. The receiver has to now catch in the area of space and traffic. This is a settled position, that uses hips, hands, and eyes. Settling into a stop and catch situation requires body control and the eyes, hands, and hips must come through together. The start-stop-start is the part that separates the elite outside receivers.
If we could morph our inside receivers, I am sure we would look to the Wes Welker and Julian Eldelman type. The guys who are brave with courage of steel that allows them to carve up the crossing routes. I truly believe from coaching this offense the inside receivers have the greatest skill set.
- Great at catching in traffic
- Understanding Space and Holes
- Brave enough to go across the middle
- Fast enough to cross the middle and stretch a defense vertical
The hidden gem of this offense. The running backs skill is at a premium. This should be a 1/3 of your receiving yards. Their ability to catch hinges on the whole idea of a triangle. If your running back cannot catch you are severely hindered in your passing game. He will also be the check down to keep the defenses honest, when they want to bail. In a sense he is the built in if/then aspect of each concept. In fact, I look at him as an extension of the slot receivers ability to catch and stretch. What I am trying to say is his abilities are just as important as your receivers in this offense. If you scrimp here your whole offense will suffer.
- Catch the shoot and swing routes
- Find space on the Over the Ball Routes
If you have read my previous post on https://coachpatricktaylor.com/the-air-raid-running-back/, I speak about how important the running backs have been over the history of this offense. The idea of a dual purpose 1k rushing and 1k receiving strikes fear into a defense. The whole importance of a pass catching running back is being able to make a tighten defense defend empty on every pass play. It causes the third part of the stretch in the triangle, and puts at least on pass defender in a two way bind. In other words he better be able to at least catch it as well as he runs it to get the philosophy behind this offense to surface.
The position that receives all the hype, and justifiably should. This position is the “hinge pin”of the whole offense. What really are the key ingredients to a great quarterback?
- Decision Making Ability
- Is he accurate
- Mental and Physical Toughness
- Does he have quick feet
Decision making ability is a premium. If the quarterback cannot make a pre-snap and post-snap decision you are already handicapped in your offense. He has to have the ability to understand what you are calling, and how it applies to the “pictures” his eyes are getting from the defense.
Accuracy is the next most important ability a quarterback can possess. In any position in sports accuracy will prevail with consistently over ability. One of the greatest pitchers of our time Greg Maddox, was the most accurate pitcher of all time. He did not possess the physical dominance of throwing it by people. He won on location, and dominated batters because of how close he could pitch the corners. Because of his consistency he was able to get some calls that most pitchers did not. I truly believe that accuracy can be improved upon, but cannot be created. Some people are naturally more accurate than others. Their innate throwing mechanics allow them to be more accurate, but players who are naturally inaccurate, can only be improved upon, not completely changed to be more accurate. All of the greatest passers in the history of football have one common trait and that is accuracy.
Mental and Physical Toughness is a very important attribute. Physical toughness is something that reflects loudly on a field. The lack of will create salivation for a defense. The number one thing I look for is, can my quarterback can stand in the pocket and fire a ball knowing he is gonna get hit. Is he that mentally and physically tough. Can he take a defenders best shot, and know the result of the play is bigger than the mental breakdown. Mental toughness also drives the success of your offense as well as the player. Quarterbacks should have the same response after making a touchdown pass as an interception. They must understand the play is over now on to the next. A rinse and repeat mindset is crucial, and their demeanor is key to the success of the other 10 guys. If you coach someone who is constantly up and down and a “head case,” then you better find someone else to take your snaps. If not you will have to live with the constant roller coaster of inconsistency.
Quick feet is completely different from being fast. We are all caught up in quarterbacks who are a “dual threat.” We put a premium on that mindset, because of the fad. If a player is fast and a quarterback (i mean a true quarterback in the sense) then you have found the lost treasure we have all been searching for. I am not saying these combined attributes are impossible, just saying it is extremely hard to find. Quick feet is the ability to get into your drop fast and efficiently, and also cover space inside the pocket with minimal steps. The ability to create separation inside the pocket to avoid pressure.
If you notice I said nothing about arm strength. While it is important, it cannot be an absolute deciding factor. A kid that can throw it 60 yards is great, but is he accurate? How mentally and physically tough are they? How are their feet? I played with an offensive lineman that could sit on his knees and throw it through the goal post. It was impressive, but he was not a quarterback. Could he out throw our quarterback? Sure, but he lacked all of the important deciding factors. A quarterback need to be able to throw the ball at a max of 50 yards, since the timing of the concepts predict this. In the same token the fastest receivers can run 50 yards in about 5 seconds or more. This means that based on ideal protection time no quarterback should ever launch a fade route after about 2 seconds for it to be thrown on time and proper placement.
As you digest this post, inside each players list, I did not list genetic attributes. Simply because players line the football hall of fame that were different in many categories, but all possessed the traits that I have listed as important. As you look at your roster this upcoming off season look at these and see how you have defined you position players. Are your frustrations simply because you “put the cart before the horse?”