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The yankee route combination is a common concept seen in the NFL, especially amongst teams with speed receivers. Yankee concept is generally a two man deep crossing combo, with the underneath receiver running a deep over route, and the other executing a deep post over the top:
It is most often run with play action and max protection. Yankee is especially effective because of the bind it puts defenses in: Since the concept is used with heavy run formations and only two receivers, defenses often respond with a single high safety in either Cover 1 or Cover 3.
Below, the Dallas Cowboys have an 8 men in the box and are playing Cover 1 against Washington’s 12 personnel. Note that the receivers are both aligned inside the numbers: Yankee is often run with at least one receiver in a tight split. Washington is running a play action fake to the right with the yankee pass concept.
The Cowboys linebackers flow hard downhill and bite on the play action fake, causing a huge opening behind them for Pierre Garcon’s over route. The single high safety is responsible for deep middle, but moves toward Garcon’s over route widening the void. This allows DeSean Jackson on the post route to get behind the deep safety, and inside the cornerback who is expecting help to the middle of the field. The ripple effect of the linebackers biting up leads to a big gain, despite a severely underthrown ball:
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Below, the yankee concept is run against Cover 3. This time, Washington has a fullback in the backfield who leaks out to the left as a checkdown. The Philadelphia Eagles have two safeties on the field and the linebackers do a good job of getting depth in their drops after the play action:
The deep middle safety doesn’t bite hard on the over route, but his slight hesitation allows Jackson to get inside and behind the secondary. The receiver sets up his route via a “Dino” stem; he breaks to the corner to keep the deep third cornerback off, before breaking back to the post:
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Overall, the yankee combo is a great concept for teams with a speed receiver and a credible running game. Offenses can dictate an 8-man box by coming out in heavy personnel, and try to attract safeties eyes to the over route via a tight split. When the secondary doesn’t bite up for the home run throw, a flat checkdown and play action can open up the deep over route as well.
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