Over the next few weeks, I would like to take a close look at some basic K-Raid (Air Raid) plays that may be in the Arizona Cardinals offense Just to give us a clearer sense of Kliff Kingsbury’s play designs and the various options the offense can take advantage of within the framework of each play.
Today’s play is “Stick Right, RB Screen Left, Safety Valve Right.”
Formation: Twins to both sides (“2 by 2”). QB in shotgun, RB to the right of QB.
Motion: the left side slot WR motions on a 30 degree backward angle (into a “1 by 3”...aka “Trips”) and stops all the way behind the right flat as the safety valve.
Snap: QB can snap the ball just as the motion man has started his 30 degree motion, which would give the appearance of a possible slot WR sweep---or the QB can let the motion man clear out before snapping the ball. What the QB wants to know is whether the defense will chase the motion (man coverage) or show zone.
Option 1: The slot WR to the right---runs a 5-7 yard “stick” route (5 step route, stop and square up back to the ball).
Read 1: The QB reads the LB closest to the stick route. If the LB has not covered the stick route---bang---you throw it right now. Take the 7+ yards you are going to get from it. If the LB is close to the route---the QB knows that Option 2 is a RB screen to the Left---so the QB then wants to drift back to the left in order to set up the screen.
Option 2: RB “Slow” Screen Left
RB---off the snap he steps into the middle as a pass protector an make it hard for the MLB to know where he is, if the stick pass isn’t thrown, the RB slides to an open passing lane to his left---he and the QB need to see each other’s eyes while sliding their feet to create an open passing lane.
LT and RT---want to influence the DEs to rush to the outside and then ride them as wide of the pocket as they can.
LG---makes initial pass block on DT, when the stick isn’t thrown, he releases to his left and is assigned to go block the CB.
C---fans and makes initial pass block and then releases to go block the “alley” where the LBers are going to try to chase the play down. He has the key block on the MLB. Leverage block and ride the MLB on whichever side the C can get.
RG---same as C, only he releases more straight downfield to try to seal off the middle pursuit.
LWR---he fakes a post route because this brings him right to his assignment of crack blocking the FS.
QB---if he can’t create an open passing lane to the RB, then it’s “GO” time---on to option 3---
Option 3: Safety Valve Right
The motion man to the right has stayed in the flat and by now will likely be wide open and all alone--and when the QB has not hit the stick or the screen, the QB is in “GO” mode, which means to bolt the pocket or move to where he can throw the outlet pass to the safety valve.
Why This Play Is Difficult to Defend:
* The initial motion forces the defense to either chase it (man coverage) or zone it.
* The LB to the side of the stick route has to make a quick close on the route---but in doing that, he makes it much harder to recover on the screen pass left.
* If the defense does chase the motion---it leaves a single WR left (with the RCB)---and the motion creates “trips” (3 WRs) to the right---and with the LB chasing the motion man it leaves one fewer defender to the side of the screen.
* The play looks like a zone overload pass to the right (3 WR and the RB to the right initially).
* The misdirection to the right will cause havoc for the defense to have to redirect very quickly to try to bust the screen to the left.
* Then---with the safety valve 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage to the right---the defense has to defend the field horizontally, both versus the screen to the left and the safety valve to the right.
* Stretching the defense out to make them cover the width of the field horizontally is a staple of the Air Raid. The Air Raid is designed to make defenses have to cover both the horizontal and the vertical areas of the field.