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Cataloging Concepts: The Y-Cross

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Let’s learn some air raid concepts together.

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

I’ve said this before, I’m an air raid fanboy. And with the system coming to our favorite team, let’s take a look into some of the inner workings that make it tick. Walter is already brilliantly breaking down staple play designs, (which you should check out if you have not.) So how is this different you may ask?

Where Mr. Mitchell is breaking down detailed facets of specific plays, I thought we could take a look into some general concepts that some plays are built around. While I’m by no means on that level nor do I claim to be any sort of expert, as a fanboy I do hope that we can all learn something new together.

Let’s delve into one of my favorite passing air raid passing concepts; the Y-Cross or, simply “95” as Mike Leach calls it.

Pardon my rudimentary drawing.

Pictured above is a basic play design out of a 2 x 2 formation, or “Ace” as it’s known by Leach. If you’re like me, this is a Madden staple.

The Y-Cross is named so because of the “over” route, or “crossing” route run by the Y or slot receiver in the formation. As a whole, this passing concept serves to act as a weakside flood concept.

The Y receiver is taught to run “under” the SAM linebacker and “over” the mike. The beauty of this concept (and other air raid concepts, as we’ll come to learn) is that it has answers for both man and zone defenses.

If the defense is showing man cover, the receiver will continue to carry the crossing route down the field. But if zone is used, the receiver will then look for grass - any vacant areas between zones.

The accompanying routes can come in a variety of designs. The backside post (outside right as pictured above) can be a dig, the outside left could be a post, the opposite slot or “F” can be a a short hitch - as we see below in this variation out of an empty set from the Chiefs last season. (And those are far from the only options.)

One of my favorite facets of the air raid is that it is endlessly adaptable. Both in variation of the same concept from play to play and formation to formation, and also in live fire - pre and post snap.