“Locked Route” Passing Concept

Nov 12, 2017 | Offense, Pass Game, Intermediate Pass Concepts, 11 Personnel Concepts, Personnel

By Brian Grady
Head Football Coach
Fair Haven Union High School (VT)



The Locked Route pass concept allows us to be able to run 6 base pass plays without receivers or tight ends having to learn to many concepts. The idea is we can run 1 play out of 3-4 different formations per game, which gives the defense a lot of looks, and gives us answers to different coverages. At the same time, our players only learn 1 route on that play, as they run the same route no matter where they are formational aligned. These base pass plays are very quick to install on the high school level. 

Out / Curl Concept

No matter the formation, our Z and X receivers will run a 10-yard out route and our A and Y receivers run 10 curl routes. We are trying to isolate our outside receivers to get 1 on 1 coverage with the corners.


Coaching Points:

  • All 4 receivers need to sell they’re going vertical.

  • QB must use the pre-snap read to decide which side we’re throwing to in 2 x 2 formations. He will take the best match up by scouting report or the receiver that is getting the biggest cushion.

  • In 3 x 1 formations, the QB will decide if he likes the 1 on 1 match up. If so, he will take take it. If he doesn’t like that matchup, the post-snap read will be to attach the curl to the out. If the defender on inside receiver stays inside, throw the out route.

  • This a play we run in all situations.

Out / Curl Variation

When cornerbacks start to jump the out route because we throw it so much we tag “GO” call to it. This creates the chance for explosive plays with the Z and X running out and up routes. If teams play cover 2 and press outside receivers, we will automatically convert to 4 verticals.

Curl / Slide Concept

This is a play we run a lot because it is an answer to all coverages and can be run in a variety of down and distance situations. The routes are as follows:

  • X has a 13 to 10-yard curl

  • Z has a slide route (1 step then angle to sideline to get to a depth of 7 yards)

  • A has Curl or Post depending on formation.


Coaching Points:

  • The QB must take the following pre-snap read in 3x1 formations.

    • First, is the middle of the field open? If so, he should look at taking the shot in the middle of the field.

    • Next, he must decide if he likes the 1 on 1 match up on single receiver side. If he does, he should look that way.

  • The QB’s post-snap read from 2x2 of 3x1 formations should be as follows:

    • First, read the flat defender. If he is not jumping the slide route, take 1 step and throw now. If he does jump the slide route, continue on the 3 stop drop.

    • Is the curl route open? If so, throw the curl. If the CB is jumping the curl, the QB should hitch up.

    • Lastly, he should look for the wheel route. The Z receiver is taught that as he looks back at the QB and he is continuing to take a 3 step drop, then he should turn his route into a wheel when he is six yards from sideline.

  • The biggest coaching point for our QB’s is to stay with the read progression as it happens, don’t predetermine what is going to happen. He must take the first open receiver in the progression.

Out / Vertical Concept

This is a shot play for us that has worked very well against cover 3 by throwing the verticals. It has also been effective on 3rd down and long by throwing the out routes. Before we call this play, we normally know by film study or as the game goes on how our opponent is defending 3 x 1 formations. The routes are as follows:

  • Z always runs a seem route

  • X and Y always run Out Routes

  • A always runs a post route.


Coaching Points:

  • The QB’s pre-snap read is to see if the middle of the field is open. If it is, he should look their first post snap.

  • If the middle of the field is closed (C3) the QB reads flat defender to see if he staying over the top of the inside vertical. If he is, throw the out route. In the second diagram, we formational switch the alignment of the receivers to add a little confusion to the defenders, but as in all locked route plays the routes don’t change.