ITP Glossary: Drive Concept

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Drive Concept

The Drive Concept is a high-low passing scheme that dates back to the Bill Walsh era in San Francisco. Designed as a way to get Jerry Rice open on an underneath shallow route, the play is a high-low concept with a deep dig route from an inside receiver and a shallow drag route from an outside receiver. The quarterback can read the underneath defender, typically a linebacker, and throw off that defender. Should the linebacker drop deep under the dig route, the shallow drag route comes open. If the linebacker collapses on the shallow, there is a big throwing lane for the deeper dig route. 

On this play from 2013, the Kansas City Chiefs score a touchdown against Jacksonville in their season opener using the drive concept. Alex Smith (#11) stands in the shotgun and has trips formation to his left. The inside two receivers execute the drive routes:


As the defenders converge on the tight end at the goal line, the receiver comes open on along the end line on the deeper dig route:

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In a similar fashion, the Mississippi State Bulldogs use the drive concept on this play against Texas A&M. Facing 1st and 10 on their own 25-yard line, the offense sets up with Dak Prescott (#15) in the shotgun and trips formation to the left. The inside two receivers are in a stack slot and they run the drive routes. The receiver on the line of scrimmage runs the deeper route while the receiver aligned behind runs the shallow route:DriveStill2

Prescott hits wide receiver Fred Ross (#8) on the underneath route. Notice how the receiver on the line of scrimmage bends to the inside on his vertical stem, before cutting over the middle on his dig route. That path gives this play the inside/outside feel of the drive concept:

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Mark Schofield and Daniel Syed wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield. Follow Dan on Twitter @SyedSchemes.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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