Anatomy of a Playbook: Breaking Down the Jet Boot Concept in the NFL

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Anatomy of a Playbook: Breaking Down the Jet Boot Concept in the NFL
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With the imminent return of Percy Harvin for the Seattle Seahawks, I thought it might be fun to look at a concept I fully expect Seattle to employ with him back in the lineup.  

The Jet Sweep is a play that allows for a motioning wide receiver to get the ball on a handoff, where he's already running at full speed. In normal situations the play is run out of the shotgun with a read-option concept to it. The quarterback reads the defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on the defensive formation. and then either hands the ball off or runs inside between the guard and the center, depending on his read.

Historically, this play is used at the collegiate level and below and hasn't been particularly practical at the professional level, given the size and athleticism constraints of NFL quarterbacks over the years. With quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick, however, who are already the size of linebackers and defensive ends in the NFL and have elite athleticism, this is becoming less and less of a concern.

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Harvin can give an added dimension to Seattle's dangerous offense.

The Seahawks' Russell Wilson certainly doesn't have the size of a Kaepernick or Newton, but he does have their athleticism.  

Enter Percy Harvin.

Harvin, the maligned former Minnesota Viking, was acquired via trade this offseason but has yet to play a down for Seattle. He is one of the better runners after contact in the NFL, and with his combination of strength and speed, there isn't a player better suited to execute the motion receiver position on Jet Sweep plays.

The Jet Boot concept builds off of the Jet Sweep play.

Ideally a team will have run a few Jet Sweep plays and noticed the linebackers starting to lean to the play side. Now comes the perfect time to fool the defense with a play action fake, for a big gain. In the play below this is illustrated.

The Jet motion receiver executes as usual. When his stride hits the left guard's outside leg, the center snaps the ball.

The quarterback then fakes the handoff to the motion man. The motion receiver continues through his pattern as illustrated, pretending he has the ball, hoping the linebackers and safeties bite on the fake.

The right guard executes a pull to the weak side of the formation, and the running back steps up into that hole to seal the backside. The quarterback then loops in the opposite direction, running toward the backside of the play with the pulling guard out front.

While all of this is going on, the X receiver, tight end and Z receiver have all broken out into routes.

The X receiver runs up the field seven yards, and executes an out pattern. This pulls the corner toward the sideline and gives the quarterback a wider running lane behind the guard, should he choose to take off with it.

The Z receiver runs a deep post, but this is mostly a dummy route.

The route is intended to split the safeties and especially to draw the free safety nearer to the middle of the field. This frees up the tight end, who is running a mid-post behind the middle linebacker.

The Jet Sweep concept explained, from a more traditional flexbone formation.

The quarterback, who has been running, is also surveying the field.  

If he recognizes zone coverage, he stops, plants his feet and waits for the tight end to clear his zone. He then delivers a strike for a gain of 10-12 yards (plus whatever the tight end can get after the catch).  

If the quarterback recognizes man coverage, he takes off through the open running lane, staying behind his blocker. If properly executed, the quarterback will have only the free safety to beat with a guard out front paving the way for him.

With a quarterback like Russell Wilson, and a multi-faceted weapon like Percy Harvin, the Jet Sweep and Jet Boot concepts could pay huge dividends in Seattle.

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