The Snag Concept
During my coaching career, I have experienced several offensive systems ranging from triple option to hurry-up spread. Within those systems existed a passing game that included traditional 3-step, 5-step, play-action, and sprint out concepts. In my 10 years of coaching, the concept that has generated the most success in the offenses that I have been apart of has been the Snag. A staple of the West Coast Offense under legendary San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, the Snag has been a consistent yard-gaining concept for us throughout my time here and we have found multiple ways to run it both under-center and in the shotgun (which we almost exclusively run). This post will feature several ways that we currently run the Snag concept and how we teach it. If you have other ways that you run it, feel free to share them with us. We would welcome the opportunity to share your work!
Our favorite way to run Snag is out of 3×1 formations. Whether it be via an attached Tight End formation, a 10 personnel 3×1, or a 2×2 formation that motions into 3×1, our concept will always feature three eligible receivers at the snap of the ball. Our outside receiver towards the concept will always run the curl route, in which our aiming point is 7 yards. Our outside receiver knows that his curl route will change depending on how the corner is leveraging him at the snap and based on the depth of the outside linebacker’s zone drop. The middle receiver of the snag concept will run a corner route at 10-12 yards. His goal is to get the attention of the safety, while saving himself space within his route so that the quarterback has ample room to throw him the ball towards the sideline. The inside receiver of the snag will run either a flat or bubble route. His goal is to get the attention of the flat defender, whether that be a corner, outside linebacker, or rolled safety.
Our QB’s read progression begins with a pre-snap read of the safeties, determining whether it is a two-high or single-high look. If it is two high, his read will be the corner to flat route. If he reads single-high safety, he will read the curl to flat. This is a 3-step concept for us and our quarterback knows that this concept must be delivered quick or with a hitch if it is to our curl route. In any 3×1 concept, however, we tell our quarterback to first read what we have backside. We will vary up what we call backside depending on the opponent. Our backside receiver may run a slant, hitch, or go route depending on what our opponent’s tendencies look like. If our quarterback likes what he has backside, he always has the green light to go there. If not, he trusts his pre-snap analysis and reads the snag.
In this version of our snag, we sprint out to get to snag. We do this quite often, as we feel it does a nice job influencing the flat dropper. Additionally, it makes an easier read and shorter throw for our quarterback, especially if we run the concept to the wide side of the field.
In the clip below, you will see a common look that we will get to defend our snag concept. A lot of teams will try to reroute our middle receiver/receiver running the corner, in an attempt to “muddy up” our quarterback’s read and alter the route of our curl. We teach the receiver running the corner to press the defender’s inside hip and avoid contact if all possible; however, his main goal must be to get the attention of the safety and save space towards the sideline. In this clip, our middle receiver does not do a great job of executing these teaching points, however our quarterback bails us out with a great throw.
In this clip, we run the snag with an attached TE. Our outside receiver gets too deep on his curl route, which impacts our middle receiver running the corner. Although we complete the pass, our outside and middle receiver must do a better job in their splits at the start of the play. Our outside receiver should be at the top-to-middle of the numbers. Had he done that, there would have been more room for error and more room for horizontal stretch of the flat defender by the flat and corner routes.
If we feel like our middle receiver is not getting a good release against the flat defender, we will alter the route concept to feature our inside receiver running the corner route and our middle receiver running either a bubble or flat route. The read for our quarterback does not change, but we now have another way to stress the flat defender and keep him from impacting the curl route.
Ways to Protect the Snag Concept
In order to keep the defense off-balance and to protect our Snag concept, we have built-in plays that help loosen up the defenders and keep them honest. One tag we like to add is a “wheel” tag for the receiver running the flat route. When this tag is on, our receiver running the corner will adjust his route to a post or seam route depending on the alignment of the safety. Our quarterback then goes through his pre-snap reads as usual, focusing on the wheel to curl.
2×2 Snag Concept
Another way we like to run Snag is to run it out of 2×2 formations. Typically in our offense, if we are running the Snag out of 2×2, we are incorporating our running back into the pass concept as the flat route runner (unless we use motion to go from 2×2 to 3×1; in which case we would treat the concept as a 3×1 Snag). Our quarterbacks reads are the same in 2×2 as they are in 3×1, but we see a lot more two-high looks which converts his read to corner to flat route. If teams go Cover 0 or Cover 1 against this look, our running back becomes the primary receiving threat. This is not a great concept versus man/man-free looks and ideally, we would not call it versus these looks; but if we have the concept called, our quarterback can check to sprint-out protection and adjust his reads. He will now read swing to run, keying on the outside linebacker/whomever is responsible for the running back out of the backfield.
In this clip, we are facing a Cover 2 man look. Here our quarterback treats it like two high safeties and reads corner to flat (in this case we have a swing called instead of a flat). Had he identified the coverage as 2 man, he then could adjust the protection and read swing to run.
In this final clip, our receivers and quarterback do a nice job of executing the Snag concept the right way. Our middle receiver who runs the corner does a great job of avoiding contact and pressing the inside hip and our running back does a great job of getting the eyes of the flat defender. This opens up a nice window for our curl route, which our quarterback finds for a nice gain.
I hope this post helped generate some ideas for you and your passing game. The Snag concept has been great to us over the years and I know it would be a great fit in any of your systems as well. Like any good concept, it takes time and countless reps. One of the reasons we have had so much success with it is because we rep it a ton and find multiple ways to run the same concept. If you have another way to run this concept, or have different teaching points, please share your insights with us below.
Written by Brian Wille