The Mesh Concept: The Complete Guide to This Classic Pass Play – Throw Deep Publishing



The Mesh Concept: The Complete Guide to this Classic Pass Play

Posted by Throw Deep Publishing Staff on

Mesh is arguably the first play that pops to mind when thinking of the Air Raid Offense. However, this play has made its way into many offenses across football, as it possesses principles that appeal to any offense looking to bolster their passing attack.

Mesh combines the potential for downfield completions, with underneath route runners looking to stay on the move vs man, or settle in open zone voids. With many different variations and tags to include in this play, you’ll see why offenses across all levels are adapting mesh into their offensive system. 

Mesh Concept Football vs 2 High Defense

Overview & Purpose of the Concept

Mesh is a short to intermediate concept that works to create natural picks/confusion for the defense. Against man coverage, it allows playmakers to stay on the move. Against zone, it empowers receivers to find voids in coverage, and allow the QB to find completions. Offenses will run this in a variety of circumstances, as it is a stable play-call against almost all types of defensive coverages. 

Coverages it Does Well Against

Man Coverage - Two of your best athletes in your RB and slot WR have the opportunity to beat their 1 on 1 matchup. The QB will be likely to find a completion in man scenarios, by analyzing the RB on his rail route, before transitioning to the slot receiver utilizing the pick in the middle of the field, running away from his matchup. 

Similar to the shallow cross concept, the ability to get the ball to guys on the run is a spread coach's dream.

Base Zone Coverages - While defensive guys may have input here, if your guys are trained up on this play, there are answers against cover 2, 3 and 4. While, this is dependent on solid execution, mesh is built for short, but solid completions against zone. This is different than something like the class Y Cross concept, which is adaptable but can often hit much deeper down the field.

The drag route runners will look to settle their routes down, while the arrow and flare routes out of the backfield are still options. The corner route is also a great option against cover 2 attacking the near safety, and against soft corners in cover 3 and cover 4 defenses. 

Coverages it Doesn’t Do Well Against

Mesh can often struggle against a zone blitz or simulated pressure. If the defense looks to get home quick against the 5-man pass protection of the offense, it could create potential issues. Many teams will look to confuse teams by dropping DL, or replacing blitzers with secondary players to fill voids in coverage.

These situations will speed up the need for the ball to come out, and challenge the receivers and QB to be on the same page. While mesh is a blitz beater, offenses will like this play better against man blitz teams!

Route Coaching Points vs Man and Zone

Mesh Concept Football vs 1 High

vs Man Coverage-

TE- Deep drag route. 4-5 yard landmark. Stay on the move. 

FB(Left Side)- Check pass protection. Release to arrow route. 

TB(Right Side)- Release wide with urgency on a flare route.

X Receiver - Shallow drag route. 3-4 yard landmark. Stay on the move. 

Z Receiver - Work vertical to 10 yards, steep vertical angle out of cut. Let the QB’s throw bring you downhill. 

vs Zone Coverage-

TE- Deep drag route, 4-5 yard landmark. Be prepared to sit in zone voids once passing the pre-snap alignment of the LT. 

FB(Left Side)- Check pass protection. Release to arrow route. 

TB(Right Side)- Release wide with urgency on a flare route.

X Receiver - Shallow drag route. 3-4 yard landmark.  Be prepared to sit in zone voids once passing the pre-snap alignment of the RT. 

Z Receiver- Work vertical to 10 yards, steep vertical angle out of cut. Let the QB’s throw bring you downhill. 

Quarterback Coaching Points and Progression

The QB must understand that the goal of this concept is to immediately release 5 eligible receivers downfield, therefore, he must anticipate blitzes and look to get the ball out quickly. A perk of the mesh concept is that all areas of the field are worked, allowing the QB to find easy ways to “throw into pressure”, as many quarterbacks are taught to do.

The corner from the Z WR is mostly a pre-snap decision for the QB that he can utilize if he identifies space/matchup opportunities. Here is the post-snap progression below. 

Progression

1) Flare

2)Shallow Drag

3) Deep Drag

4) FB Arrow Route

It should be noted that this progression stays the same against all defensive looks. With the drag route route runners looking to settle in voids of zone coverage, it makes for a versatile concept that offenses can run.

Variations

Variation 1-

This “mesh rail” variation is arguably the most popular mesh design in football right now. The main difference in this design is the use of the RB downfield, and Z WR running a sit route over the ball.

Mesh Concept Football - Steve Sarkisian Railroad

This design gets the running back involved as he becomes the primary option running the rail route. His job is to expand to the numbers and become available vertically up the field, while getting his eyes to the QB quickly to become ready for a throw. 

The X WR on the speed out is a pre-snap decision for the QB if he likes the space/matchup. Post-snap, the QB can move from the rail, shallow drag, sit route, to finally the deep drag working opposite of the formation. 

Variation 2-

We didn’t talk much about the sit route shown above. This is a great addition to the mesh concept, as it is an answer for the QB against zone. The core of the concept remains the same, but the quarterback can move to this sit route after looking at both his rail and shallow drag route post-snap. The receivers landmark is to sit over the football at 8-10 yards, and provides a simple completion for the QB in zone coverage to a stationary target.

Mesh Concept Football - 2x2 Mesh Z Corner 

Against man coverage, the sit route runner will not get the football. His natural path over the middle can look to set natural picks for both the shallow and deep drag route runners.

Mesh from the Single Wing

There are lots of different ways to run the mesh concept, and in the video below Bruce Eien explains how in his single wing offense, they use the mesh as a variation of the smash concept.

 You can watch even more clips from Bruce Eien's clinic talk HERE.