Flexible Passing Concepts for Multiple Teams


With more and more offenses trying to be multiple in this era, there is a unique need to minimize new learning – especially in regards to the passing game and passing concepts.

I’m of the belief that excessive new learning truly tanks your teams ability to excel. I’ve touched on this topic several times already, but not so much in the passing game.

Let’s be honest, in any of your passing concepts, if a receiver screws up a route, it can be devastating to your offensive attack. For high school teams that try to be multiple with formations, this can lead to problems.

Below you’ll find a fairly solid system for passing concepts that ensures you get receivers in the correct routes, generally. While passing concept systems are not perfect, this one included, they do minimize learning, without teaching a numbered route system. And I feel this system is one of the best at minimizing learning.

Numbering your receivers in your passing concepts

Most teams already do this, except they differ with how they treat backs and backside players versus front size players.

To truly minimize learning, this passing concept system counts from the frontside of the play to the backside.

The #1 outside receiver to the primary route side is #1. The first receiver inside of him is #2. Now with play action and backs, you’ll need to determine how they’re numbered. Imagine a 6 man slide protection, with the tailback in the protection. It can be used for play action or drop back passing. In both regards, the back who inserts in the protection is not in our count.

If you have problems with counting, your receivers can all use their bodies in slightly different ways to help identify themselves for the QB and other receivers. For instance, the #1 receiver might always have his hands flexed or open. The number two might keep them in a fist. #3 might bow his head slightly but keep his eyes up.

This isn’t perfect, but it should help in the teaching phases like drills and pass skeleton time. It could be extremely useful in 7 on 7. However, by game time, hopefully you no longer need it.

Now that we understand the count, let’s work on passing concepts.

Exploring Play Action Multiple Formation Passing Concepts

The concept below is a fairly straight forward passing concept, used potentially against a cover 2 side.

basic passing concept

The #1 receiver runs up and inside like he is going to crack or block the safety, before breaking outside to the corner. The #2 receiver runs a delay flat.

If a tight end is the #2 receiver and he’s on the playside, he can delay block for a second before working into the flat. If he’s on the backside though, the delay is taken into consideration with his route. So he needs to take one step like he’s going to down block before sprinting to the opposite flat.

delayed tight end passing concept

The #3 receiver runs an under/middle dig concept. He’s looking for voids past the playside tackle area.

play action passing concept

On the backside, #4 runs a post.

passing concept trips

Throughout those paragraphs, you saw a number of different ways to show this concept. Regardless of the formation, you can execute the base concept. This allows you flexibility without a lot of new teaching. This gives you time to focus on other things, and steal a few minutes here or there.


Overall, there are a lot of ways to learn passing concepts. My goal here is to show you one method that will minimize teaching time. While it’s not perfect, no system is. Hopefully for those of you coaches who run multiple offenses with lots of formations, this passing concept system will be helpful.