288 Special Explosive Pass Play

By FirstDown PlayBook on Jun 26, 2022
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An explosive pass play is hard to come by. The 288 Special fits into this category though. It offers you a chance to throw the ball down the field over a safety’s head. This concept is used as much with play action pass protection as it is with dropback protection. A lot of times it is used to fake the run play at a safety playing quarters who is getting too nosey in the run game. There are bigger gains though if you get the right look.

Let’s look at the play action implications first. You can fake the run play weak and keep the tight end in to protect the play as well as you can. Remember that the quarterback is going to turn his back to the defense when executing the fake if you are under center. The protection must be solid or you won’t get the ball off. If the play is run from pistol or gun the play can take time too if the fake is executed well. Either way your protection is key here.


288 Special

You can also fake the run strong, as we have on this play you see. On this version your offensive line would be responsible for the 4 down lineman back to the Will linebacker and your back will double read the MLB to the SLB. He is in no hurry to get out here. The H should be thinking protection first. If the MLB and the SLB both pressure the Y is your hot answer in this drawing.

Running Through The Safeties Is What Makes This An Explosive Pass Play

The X will cut his split down to approximately 5 yards from the Tackle. This will help him get across the field in time. The F can cut his split too and that will help him run through the Safeties. The general thought here is to read the Z to the X down to the H.

Now let’s look at the explosive pass play part. The F wants to run through a middle Safety or the far safety in a 2 deep look. The Z will look to cross the deep third corner’s face vs 3 deep. If it is 2 deep he will cross the near safety’s face. Both the F and the Z must run full speed to clear the middle of the field because the X is coming across behind them.

The QB will look to see if the Z runs through the coverage. If the Z gets even or behind coverage then he is the throw. However, if coverage takes away the double posts then the X is coming across on the 2 Special route into the void area.  If everything is covered the back should come open late for the QB.

It is much easier to generate an explosive pass play like this if you can call it as a play action play. However, there are plenty of proficient passing teams who dial this up with drop back protection. As you visit FirstDown PlayBook you will find several ways to call this play. There are thousands of pass plays all drawn with QB reads and coaching points.

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