By Noah Riley
Three elements to a well designed pass play are space, match-ups and leverage. The Patriots Juke series contains all three of these elements. It is designed to create space for a quick slot receiver to work off the leverage of a slower linebacker. It has become a staple of the Patriots offense, and has yielded great results. In the season I cut up (2014), when the Patriots ran the Juke series, they went 34/42 (81%) for 304 yards (7.2 yard average).
Juke route: The receiver tagged on the option route runs directly at the linebacker. The receiver can do one of 3 things depending on how the linebacker plays him:
- Sit: If linebacker does not match him at 5 yards.
- Return outside: If the linebacker plays him heavy inside.
- Juke and run across: If linebacker is plays him head up.
Hoss Y Juke: This is the patriots base play in the series and is discussed here in Bill O’brien’s clinic. In the season I cut up, Brady went 15/18 (83%) for 139 yards (7.7 average) on this play. The Patriots would run this concept when defenses were stuck in their base personnel without an extra db on the field, often times with tempo to prevent the defense from subbing. Their utilization of hybrid players who are versatile enough to be split out as receivers (White, Gronk, Burkhead…) allows them to go empty out of heavy personnel, which often times gets defenses into their base personnel, creating matchup issues for linebackers and safeties.
The quarterback will throw the juke route if he can tell pre-snap that he can get a 1v1 with the middle linebacker (2-high). If not, (1-high) the quarterback will work a hitch-seam combo. (full cut-up of hoss y juke)
2 high: When the defense is in 2 high, the middle linebacker is isolated on the #3 receiver (Edelman/ Welker). Because of this, against 2 high, the quarterback will throw to the #3 receiver on the juke route. Against 2 high, the #3 receiver is isolated both because of the defenses alignment, and the fact that the outside backers usually carry or are influenced by seam routes in 2 high. Occasionally against 2 high, Brady likes the pre-snap look of the hoss combo, but for the most part against 2 high Brady’s only read is the juke route.
1 High: VS. 1 high, the defense will usually have 2 linebackers in the box which makes the juke route less favorable. The quarterback will instead work the hitch-seam combo reading the flat defender.
Throw Hitch: Because the flat defender usually stays inside, the quarterback usually takes the hitch vs. 1 high.
Throw seam: Sometimes the outside backer buzzes to the flat under the hitch which opens up the seam window.
Cover 1 Man: Vs. cover 1 man, the QB picks his best vertical matchup and throws it. Since this play is specifically run when defenses are stuck in base personnel, Brady can usually find a matchup against a backer or safety.
Cover 0: Vs. Cover 0, the QB can tell the #3 receiver to tighten down and be a blocker. The QB then throws his best matchup. Nobody ran cover 0 in the season I cut up, but there is this 99 yard touchdown from 2011.
Hoss Y Juke tags: (4/5 25 yards)
Peal: (2/2 11 yards) This is a good way to run the juke route from a different formation in order to play vs. different coverages, and limit tendencies. The patriots only ran this in the superbowl against the Seahawks, so this must be gameplan specific, designed to attack how the Seahawks play against 3×1. Against 2 high, the post/wheel combo clears front side which opens up space for the juke. Vs 1 high, the QB works his same backside hitch-seam combo.
Smash: (1/1 9 yards) This is another way to run the juke route with a different concept and a different formation (trips closed).
Vert-Out: (1/1 5 yards) This is a good call when the frontside linebacker is not respecting #2. The read vs. 2 high is out to juke. The QB can still throw the backside hoss vs. 1 high.
Switch: The 49ers took the play, and put their own spin on it. They ran it with the #2 receiver in order to create a pick against 2-man.
Hitch n go: This is a good call when teams are jumping the hitch route. (0/1, 0 yards)
Hoss Y Juke Nod: This is a good call against a split safety look when you can get the middle backer on a double move. (not from year of cut ups)
(15/19 79%) (140 yards, 7.4 average) (1 sack)
The Patriots would also find ways to match the #2 receiver on an outside backer. The receiver’s thinking is still the same (sit, return, juke) but now he is just running at an outside backer instead of a middle backer. In order to try and isolate the #2 receiver on the outside backer, the patriots used different route combos to the front side that are designed to bring the middle backer to the strong side.
Curl wheel: (8/10 76 yards) This was the patriots most used tag when running #2 juke. The QB has alot of freedom on his reads. 4 times (all against 2 high) the QB threw the juke (only read). 2 times (both vs. 1 high) they worked the curl-shoot combo. 2 times, the QB threw the backside hitch/out. The QB also threw the tight end twice, once as a seam route (vs. 2 high mike blitz), and once as a deep over route (vs. c1 man).
Curl wheel (empty): (2/2 18 yards) This is the same concept run from a different formation.
2 Juke: (3/4 11 yards) This is the same idea is the original “Hoss y juke” The intent of the play vs. 2 high is to have the backers be influenced by the seams in order to create space for the juke route. They also have “Hoss” built in as a 1 high beater
Y Out: (0/1) This is the same concept, just with an out instead of a seam to occupy the mike.
Stick Wheel: (1/1 17 yards) The patriots added juke to the backside of one of their staple 3×1 concepts “stick wheel”.
Sail: (2/3 18 yards) (1 int) Because the patriots never threw the juke route here, I imagine the juke route is less of the intent of this play and more of a checkdown.