Tight End Stick Route RPO

By FirstDown PlayBook on Dec 7, 2023
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The stick route RPO is a common thing in football today. It makes total sense because if the run pass option dictates that the pass part be used, you want a high percentage throw for your quarterback. Also if you are going to use the Tight End in your run pass option, the stick route is at the heart of what a Tight End does in the pass game.

Having said that, your Tight Ends must be great technicians when they run their stick route. They have to understand the importance of leverage and route running. If your Tight End understands this then it is very hard to cover him even if the defender understands what is coming. Let’s look at some key coaching points.

Your Stick Route RPO Requires Technique If You Want It To Work

The Tight End releases and attempts to get a vertical stem at 6 yards. This release must not look any different than a release for a seam route. Your Tight End’s body language must threaten the defense. Vs zone coverage he will turn or pivot away from the defender and the QB will place the ball on the shoulder away from this defender. The Tight end may turn inside or out.

If the Tight End feels and sees that it is man coverage he will turn this into an out route and stay on the move. Either way your Tight End needs to run a physical route. The Tight End needs to run a big body route and lean into the defenders.

It’s Hard To Find Time For Technique Work

I have included a video of this very simple, yet effective, play out of the Flank formation that allows the QB to pick a side to work. If he confirms that it is cover 3 or if the middle of the field is closed then the QB can work the Slant Flat. If it is cover 2 he will work the stick route side.

However, sometimes it’s just as well to let your Quarterback work the stick route vs cover 3 also. This is particularly true if the Quarterback and the Tight End have a lot of experience throwing and catching this route. I have also included coaching tips below. This play is not an RPO but the Tight End stick route principles remain the same.

MOF Open (Cover 2)

Read: Work the Stick-Flat side. F-Y-H

– If the ball can go to the F then get it to him immediately but the corner should be there.

-The Y should work off of the leverage of the SLB. This is the primary target on this play vs cover 2. You may set on the third step of your drop to let the TE work to get open.

-The H should be stationary but should be ready to take the throw on the shoulder away from the MLB.

MOF Closed (Cover 3)

Read: Work the Slant-Flat side Z to X to H.

-If the Z gets leverage on the WLB throw him the ball. Throw the ball to the X if the WLB expands.

– If the MLB takes away the slant give the ball to the H on his shoulder away from the MLB.

Alex Van Pelt