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Whisenhunt Wrinkles: Hunter Henry and the over route

The second in a series that showcases the wrinkles returning offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt uses on offense.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In the first installment, we went over how effective the switch release can be. Today, we'll talk about a "hi-lo" concept that puts the linebackers in a bind. Think 2013 against the Chiefs when Ladarius Green ran by Brandon Flowers over the middle of the field for a long TD. Along those lines.

Personnel and set up

This isn't going to surprise you but the Titans are in 12 personnel. So there are 2 WRs, 2 TE's, and 1 RB. They're in an empty formation.


From top to bottom I would assume the Chargers would lineup Allen, Gates, Henry, Gordon/Woodhead, Benjamin. This route concept is perfect against, any man or middle of the field coverage, which the Bills are in here. The idea is for "Gates" to hold the linebackers and Henry to sneak behind them.


As you can see both yellow arrows jump on the curl route underneath. That leaves the middle of the field wide open for "Henry." All "Henry" has to do is beat the safety or shield him off.


This is a tough assignment considering how deep the safety is. If he doesn't already have a jump on the route, there's no chance he is breaking up this pass unless it's way off target.

Different points of view

Let's look at the play from 3 different defenders point of view. Let's start with the defender who blows his coverage and gets too nosy.

If you've watched San Diego's defense the last 3 years you're quite familiar with what a blown coverage looks like or guys not doing their job. This is another advantage of staying in 12 personnel. That's a linebacker out there. You can tell he's not comfortable in all that space. If the Chargers have 3 or 4 true receivers on the field that's likely a defensive back. But the Bills have to respect the threat of the run so they stay in their base personnel.

Here's a look at it from the middle linebackers point of view;

He is screwed no matter what. If he falls back to the over route, Gates will take that 5 yards all day and move the chains. Rivers would just throw it to Gates' left shoulder and it's a 1st down. If he jumps the curl route, like he does here, he now puts the safety in a bind.

In the 2nd half of the video, I explain how the safety doesn't have much of a shot to begin with, but even the slightest of hesitation allows the play to work. The other thing that allows this play to be successful is the offensive line. There's a clean pocket. This allows the QB to be patient and let the over route develop.

When it doesn't work

So we saw above, how it looks in a normal middle of the field type zone coverage where you put a linebacker in a position where he has to make a tough choice. In the play below the Browns run a zone blitz and do a good job of taking away the underneath threats.

Then you see the safety take the 2nd level route. The offensive line actually does a good job of picking up the blitz. It's just that there's nobody open. The Browns dropped 8 in coverage so not only do they have a body to account for everyone running a route but they have an extra player in coverage and that's where the play dies here.

This is just another wrinkle that I expect Whisenhunt to bring over. This is a route that Henry excelled at in college and I expect him to be a big part of the Chargers second level route combinations. Next up, involving Gordon in the screen game.