Film breakdown: The Giants need to beware the “sluggo route” from the Redskins

Disclaimer: The following is a post that is very similar to one I wrote for the Allentown Morning Call, in advance of the Eagles-Redskins game a few weeks ago.  Since it is relevant, especially because the Redskins burned the Giants repeatedly on little 10-yards slants, I tweaked it a little to fit this upcoming Monday night Giants-Redskins Monday night matchup.

The Redskins have been wildly successful running the football this season.  They run for 163.5 yards per game (tops in the NFL), at 5.2 yards per carry (3rd in the NFL).  My friend Mark Bullock of Hogs Haven did a phenomenal job breaking down the evolution of the Skins’ option rushing attack earlier in the season.  If you love X’s and O’s, it is definitely worth checking out.

Everything starts with the run game for the Skins, and once they begin to get opposing linebackers to cheat up a little, they love running 10 yard slants with their receivers behind the linebackers off of play action.

It all started Week 1 against the Saints.  On the Skins’ first drive, they “dinked and dunked” their way down the field throwing quick screens to the receivers and running the ball. They got the Saints linebackers cheating up, and on the first play of their second drive, they hit the 10 yard slant for a long TD to WR Pierre Garcon, and “Griffining” was born:

They would continue to run the 10 yard slant throughout the game.

Play action:

Redskins slant 10

10 yard slant complete for 14 yards:

Redskins slant 11

Play action:

Redskins slant 12

10 yard slant complete for 21 yards:

Redskins slant 13

Play action:

Redskins slant 14

10 yard slant complete for 13 yards:

Redskins slant 6

You get the idea.

As the season has progressed the Redskins have run this play repeatedly with success.  Clearly, it is a play they’ve practiced hundreds of times since way back in OTAs and minicamps.  It’s an easy play for a rookie QB to execute, and the Redskins have the timing down pat.  They run it out of multiple formations, and all types of downs/distances.  It is their “go-to” pass play in their offense.  They even burned the Giants with it on their opening drive in the first Giants-Redskins matchup:

Play action:

10 yard slant to Josh Morgan:

After after some nice running by Morgan in the open field, TD:

Unfortunately for the Skins, that play was called back on an illegal shift penalty.

When any play is successful, teams begin to look for it.  In the Redskins’ game against the Panthers, safety Haruki Nakamura was sitting on this route.

Out of a formation in which the Redskins are in shotgun, the Skins have 3 running backs in the backfield with Robert Griffin III. The Redskins are going to fake the run, and try to hit Josh Morgan on the 10 yard slant.  Nakamura (circled) is the safety playing center field:

Redskins slant 1

Griffin will fake the run to the back.  Notice that Nakamura doesn’t move:

Redskins slant 2

Nakamura stays at home, watching Morgan, and then breaks hard to a spot on the field where he thinks the slant will be thrown the second Morgan makes his cut:

Redskins slant 3

Nakamura gets to the spot as the ball arrives:

Redskins slant 4

And Morgan pays the price:

Redskins slant 5

If I’m Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, it would not be the 10 yard slant that would worry me.  It would be the “sluggo route” that the Redskins could try for the next team that tries sitting on the slant route.

“Sluggo” is an abbreviated term for the “slant and go” in which a receiver will fake the slant route hoping the safety will bite up.  If the safety bites, the receiver runs right by him deep, with the QB throwing the ball over the safety’s head.

Te Skins tried the sluggo route against Philly, however, the Eagles, or more notably, Kurt Coleman, was not fooled.  Here’s Moss beginning his route from the slot:

Moss 1

Moss then makes his cut and shows that he’s running a 10-yard slant:

Moss 2

Or not. Moss then cuts it upfield and has CB Brandon Boykin beat by a good 4 yards.  However, Kurt Coleman, who was playing deep middle as the “single high safety,” is in great position to make a play:

Moss 4

Back in the pocket, QB Robert Griffin III had to elude an oncoming pass rusher which delayed his throw.  This allowed Boykin to catch up to Moss as the ball is coming down.  Boykin and Coleman have Moss bracketed:

Moss 5

But neither Boykin nor Coleman can make the play, as Moss hauls in the deep pass:

Moss 6

And he scores:

Moss 7

Such is the cat and mouse game that exists in the NFL.  The Giants undoubtedly know the Redskins like to run the 10 yard slant, and the Redskins know the Giants know that.  Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, and Kenny Phillips (if he plays) have to be careful not to over-commit to stopping that 10 yard slant and getting burned deep.

You can follow Jimmy on Twitter: @Jimmy_Beast


  1. brisulph says:

    The Giants did get a pick last time around on the slant play (I believe), so they may be susceptible to biting on a sluggo from that as well.

    1. Hey, you’re right. Just looked for it, and they did. Great call. Looked like on that play, they had Logan Paulsen covered pretty well, RG3 sort of hitched, and then threw, and it was just a bad overthrow that went right to Stevie Brown. Brown didn’t jump the route or anything.

      But your point remains valid. You get a pick on that route, you’ll definitely be looking for it again, especially if you’re Stevie Brown.

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