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K-Raid Basics

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Minicamp Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The more I watch and break down plays in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, a couple of basic premises have become evident.

  1. Pre-Snap: Take what the defense gives you.

With every play in the K-Raid, the QB’s first look at the line of scrimmage is to see how the opponent’s linebackers and secondary are leveraging their pass coverage.

Scenario 1—let’s say that the Cardinals have twins (2 WRs) to each side.

The questions and answers are:

Qs. Are the CBs (on the widest WRs) in off or press coverage? How is the LB lining up versus the slot WR?

A1. If a CB is in off coverage, the WR runs a 5 yard out and bang you take it.

A2. If the LB shading the slot WR is not all the way over to immediately cover the slot WR because he is trying to position himself to be able to stop the run—-the slot WR runs a stick route and bang you take it.

Scenario 2—-let’s say that the Cardinals have trips to one side and a single WR on the other,

Q. Has the defense committed to matching the trips with equal numbers?

A. If so, you can do one of two things—-you have the single WR to the other side matched up 1 on 1 with the CB—-and if the CB is in off-coverage, you can run the out pass or the skinny post—-and bang you take it. Or—-knowing that there are more defenders to the side of the trips—-you run a quick flare pass to the RB away from the overloaded side, thus giving the RB one man to beat—-so bang you take it.

A. if not, and there are only 2 immediate defenders in the area of the trips, you run a WR hitch screen to that side, with the other 2 WRs blocking the 2 defenders.

2. Snap—-Phase 2: If the QB has determined that the quick bang routes are not going to be open—-he then enters the Part 2 phase of the play call—-which always means one thing: there is one player on the defense that the QB reads—-typically one of the linebackers or one of the safeties is that read. If the LB or S goes one way, the play has an opposite counter either as a pass or a run—-and bang you go opposite.

The goal is to influence the LB one way, and go opposite.

3. Part 3 Phase—-this is what Kliff Kingsbury calls the QB’s “freedom” option. If Parts 1 and 2 of the play are taken away, it is time for the QB to move his feet and get creative. On many K-Raid plays the QB will have a safety valve receiver who is making the defense have to defend the field horizontally, but by the time Phase 2 of the play has ended, the safety value is often wide open. if not, the QB has the freedom to extend the play with his feet, either to buy time to pass downfield or to scoot up an alley toward daylight.

Steven Ruiz and Evan Thorpe of “For The Win” do a good job of showcasing these concepts:

It is interesting to hear Larry Fitzgerald talk about the K-Raid. He says that the terminology is fairly simple—-but the greatest challenge is being able to process the play calls fast because of the up-tempo design. This is why Kingsbury reps his plays over and over in practice, so that the players can get used to processing the play calls quickly and effectively.

Regardless of the play call, as emphasized in this thread—-every play has an instant “bang” potential based on what kind of look the defense is showing and therefore what easy 5+ yard pass the defense is giving up. There may be times in games where the offense won’t get to Phase 2 or 3 of the plays because the initial bang plays are there.

What Kingsbury wants to force is the defense to come up and matchup head to head, man-to-man, but if they don’, he takes advantage of the portions of the field that are left open by defenders who try to position themselves to play both the pass and the run.

Today the Cardinals welcome the rookies to training camp. These talented rookies get another extra week of preparation and with it a better chance to make the team and to be factors on game day right away.