ITP Glossary: Swing Route

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From drive concept to wall technique, 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.

Swing Route

A swing route is a pass pattern typically executed by a running back in the backfield. The RB will release toward the sideline, and then bend or arc upfield ever so slightly. This route is often one of the last progressions reads for a quarterback on a given play, when all other options are covered downfield. SwingRoute

In this 2015 game against the New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders have 1st and 10 on their own 41-yard line. Derek Carr (#4) is in the shotgun and the offense deploys 21 offensive personnel, with fullback Marcel Reece (#45) split outside on the right. The quarterback is flanked by reserve tight end Clive Walford (#88) and running back Taiwan Jones (#22) in the backfield. Wide receivers Seth Roberts (#10) and Andre Holmes (#18) set up in a slot to the left, with Roberts on the inside:NFLReview8OaklandStill1

Because of this personnel, the Jets stay with their base 3-4 look, showing Cover 1. Prior to the play, Walford motions out to the right, giving the Raiders a 2X2 alignment:NFLReview8OaklandStill2

The offense runs switch verticals on both sides of the field. On the right, Reece cuts to the inside before releasing up the seam, while the TE bends outside on a wheel route. Jones releases to the outside on a simple swing pattern. Carr reads this play to the right side all the way. After checking the switch vertical routes, he sees the tight coverage and dumps the ball off to Jones on the swing route:

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This next example provides dual swing routes. On this play against Colorado from 2014, USC quarterback Cody Kessler (#6)  stands in the shotgun with 11 offensive personnel. The quarterback is flanked by running back Tre Madden (#23) to his right and wide receiver Nelson Agholor (#15) to his left. A single receiver is split wide right, while tight end Randall Telfer (#82) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (#9) align in an inverted slot to the left, with Telfer on the inside.

Prior to the snap, Agholor goes in deep motion to the right and will run a swing route on this Mills concept:KesslerOTVisionStill2

In addition to the swing route from Agholor, the single receiver releases on a go route on the weakside, setting up a two-level design. Back on the strongside of the formation, after meeting Kessler at the mesh point, Madden also releases on a swing route. Telfer and White execute the Mills concept, with the TE running the deep dig route while Smith executes the post route.

As the play develops, Kessler checks his first read, which is the straight go route on the weakside of the play. Seeing this covered, Kessler works to the high-low of the Mills design. But that is when interior pressure poses a threat:

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Kessler does a great job of sliding around the inside penetration, but rather than completely breaking the pocket, he starts to climb. This quick move and footwork is yet another example of Kessler demonstrating flow within structure. Rather than give up on the design of the play, he does what is necessary to get himself and the offense back on design. From there, he keeps his eyes downfield to find White on the deep post.

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Mark Schofield wrote this entry. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass and

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