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Football 101 – Playing Wide Receiver

“Football 101” is a series by Joel Bishop that will take an in-depth look at formations, coverages, passing concepts and much more.


In this edition of Football 101 I am going to breakdown the Wide Receiver position. Let’s start of with the different type of receivers:


X Receiver

Also known as the split end, this is the receiver that usually aligns on the weak side of the formation. This receiver in most formations will line up on the line of scrimmage and cannot go in motion. At times the receiver will have to be physical taking on press corners attempting to jam. Examples of X receivers: Dez Bryant, Mike Evans and AJ Green.

Z Receiver

Also known as the flanker, this receiver will align on the opposite side of the field to the X in most formations. The Z will line a few yards off the line of scrimmage in most formations allowing the tight end to be eligible. Examples of Z receivers: Michael Crabtree, Terrance Williams and Sterling Shepard.

Slot Receiver

A slot receiver will line up between the lineman and one of the outside receivers. Also known as a Y receiver depending on if the tight end plays as a Y. Examples of slot receivers: Julian Edelman, Cole Beasley and Victor Cruz


Now it is time to look at a basic route tree. Nine possible directions for the wide receiver to run depending on alignment. Here is a diagram:

The Slant and Flat routes are more commonly run after three steps. The Go route (Go/Fade/Fly) is run vertically and the rest of the routes (3-8) the receiver typically runs 12-15 yards vertically before breaking into the route.


Here is how some of these routes look like on the field:


Advanced Routes

Here are some more routes that are not on the basic route tree:

Wheel route – A route run towards the flat, parallel to the line of scrimmage but then up the field. Most common by running backs but also sometimes by a receiver in the slot.

Bubble screen –  Run by an outside wide receiver. The receiver steps back and cuts horizontal towards the quarterback to receive pass and then goes up field after the catch. This receiver will have help from blockers in front.

Pivot route – Quickly run to the inside like a slant (2-3 yards) but then stops and then cuts to the sideline parallel to the line of scrimmage. Most commonly run by a slot receiver or running back.

Sluggo – The word sluggo means “slant-and-go”. The receiver breaks inside to run a slant route for a few steps before vertically going up the field.

Seam route – Similar to a go/fly/fade route but is run inside by a slot receiver or tight end. The receiver runs up-field vertically into a gap or “seam” created by the defense.


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