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Throwing the Deep Pass from the Spread Run Formation

Sending Running Back Downfield Completes ‘4-Verts’ Pattern


Vertical Pass

Adding Running Back Pass Route Creates 4-Verts Look

Sean McCormick

After successfully running the football out of the shotgun spread formation, surprise teams by throwing the deep ball from the same offensive look.

Twins-Right Max Alignment

Twins - two receivers to the right side of the ball.

Max - two running backs, one aligned on each side of the quarterback.

Setting up Deep Ball

Create running plays using the Twins-Right Max formation. Run these plays, and note what secondary pass coverage is used by the defense. As the offense gains positive yardage, the defense will start to bring more defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. This will likely force the defense to play Cover 3 in the secondary. Now is the time to send four receivers on deep vertical pass patterns.


Twins outside receiver - this receiver runs downfield and follows the numbers on the field.

Twins slot receiver - this receiver will run downfield and follow the hash marks to that side.

Back side receiver - this receiver will run a skinny post until the hash marks and follow them downfield.

Back side running back - the running back will run to the outside and runs downfield along the numbers to that side of the field.

Blocking Protection

  • The interior linemen will slide protect to the back side.
  • Strong side running back will block defender coming from outside the strong side tackle.


This is as seven-step quarterback drop. Out of the shotgun, the quarterback will take three steps back.

Hot Read

The back side running back and the quarterback must both watch for the back side blitz. If there is blitz from that area, the running back will cut his pass pattern short and look for the dump pass from the quarterback.

Coaching Points

  1. Quiz the quarterback on secondary coverage recognition.
  2. Help the quarterback develop pass rush awareness, and to throw the ball away to avoid a sack.
  3. Use the 4-verts play immediately after a change of possession due to a defensive interception/fumble recovery, as it can surprise the opposition.

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