The Yankee Concept: The Complete Guide – Throw Deep Publishing



The Yankee Concept: The Complete Guide

Posted by Throw Deep Publishing Staff on

The Yankee concept is a pro-style concept that you’ll see a lot of NFL teams running on Sundays, but one that is applicable to offenses looking to spread teams out as well.

Yankee is considered a “shot” play, as offenses are primarily looking for a way to get over the top of safeties in hopes of creating a big play. The post-dig combination stresses both safety and LB level players, as the QB looks to find downfield completions to two receivers staying on the move. 

Yankee Concept vs 2 High

Overview & Purpose of the Concept

The Yankee concept is often utilized by teams in pro-style sets that include either multiple running backs or tight ends in the game. Many teams do this to encourage the defense into 1-high safety looks, as the heavier set requires the defense to adjust by adding more bodies into the box.

The focus of this concept is the post-dig combination working from opposite sides of the formation to stress the defense. While throwing posts against 1-high safety looks isn’t generally ideal for offenses, the Yankee concept creates a natural high-low on the safety that makes it possible in this design. 

This play creates more opportunities to attack the middle of the field, just like the Y Cross concept, whether that's deep down the middle by stretching the safety, or by creating open space for the underneath routes.

Coverages it Does Well Against

Cover 1 and Cover 3- Oftentimes, teams will run Yankee in heavier sets, hoping to draw 1-high defense from their opponents. This holds true in this picture, as the offense is in a 21 personnel set (2 RBs, 1 TE). Against a 1-high look, the quarterback can high-low the FS to find success. If the FS plays low, he can throw the post. If he sinks deep into coverage, he can look to find the dig route runner over LB level. 

Coverages it Doesn’t Do Well Against

Cover 2 and Cover 4- If the QB finds that the defense is in a 2-high safety shell, this play isn’t set up for as much success as an offense would like. If defenses fail to add numbers in the box against this set, the offense may be more suited to dial up a different pass game concept, or look to run the ball against a lighter box while having bigger bodies in the game. However, the QB can still look at his primary progression in the post-dig combination, but should be prepared to find one of his underneath routes fairly quickly if coverage lifts. 

Route Coaching Points vs Man and Zone/One High and Two High

Yankee Concept vs 1 High

One High

Tight End - Crossing route. Landmark is 5-6 yards. 

Tailback (Left Side) - Check pass pro responsibilities. Release to flare route.

Fullback (Right Side) - Arrow route. Landmark is at 3-4 yards.

X Receiver - Dig route. Landmark is 15 yards. 

Z Receiver - Post over the top of safety level. 

 

Two High

Tight End - Crossing route. Landmark is 5-6 yards. 

TB (Left Side) - Check pass pro responsibilities. Release to flare route. 

FB (Right Side) - Arrow route. Landmark is at 3-4 yards.

X Receiver - Dig route. Landmark is 15 yards. 

Z Receiver - Post over the top of safety level. 

 

Vs Zone Coverage

Tight End - Crossing route. Landmark is 5-6 yards. Freedom to sit in voids vs zone. 

Tailback (Left Side) - Check pass pro responsibilities. Release to flare route.

Fullback (Right Side) - Arrow route. Landmark is at 3-4 yards.

X Receiver - Dig route. Landmark is 15 yards. 

Z Receiver - Post over the top of safety level. 

Quarterback Coaching Points and Progression

The QB must understand that the Yankee concept is designed to be a shot play, with the deep-post route being the primary option.  In throwing the deep post, the QB should throw it to the opposite hash, leading his Z receiver across the field, who has plenty of room to work 1 on 1 against the CB. The QB should be prepared to read this progression high to low, while knowing that he has 3 potential underneath options if he recognizes blitz pre-snap. 

Yankee Concept Progression

Progression

1) Post

2) Dig 

3) Crosser

4) Either Check-down

*Against 2-high defenses, the QB needs to transition quickly to the underneath routes, as the defense is in good position to take away the post-dig combination*

Variations

Variation 1- 2x2 Yankee Concept Shallow Crossers

Presenting the same concept in the same formation throughout the course of the entire season is sure to get picked up on. Giving players the tools to learn the principles of the concept is highly beneficial in applying it in this 2x2 formation.

2x2 Yankee Concept vs 2 High

You’ll notice that the eligible receivers still get to the same landmarks as the original diagrams pictured. In this case, it just means that the slot receiver will run an underneath crossing route to stretch the opposite flat. The read will be the exact same for the QB moving from the post-dig combination, to the underneath crossers who have the freedom to sit their route down against zone coverage, similar to the mesh concept

Variation 2 - Yankee Concept with Whip Routes Underneath

Yankee Concept Whip Route Variation

Whip routes, like shallow crossing routes, are a great way to force LB level players to run with skill players looking to create separation in the underneath areas of the field. Does the opposing defense pass off crossers with ease? Or do their LB’s struggle in 1 on 1 situations? Those are two potential questions coordinators may consider in running this variation. 

That being said, the shot portion of this play is still the main focus in terms of the post-dig combination. If the whip routes successfully pull coverage from the OLB’s, it gives the X WR that much more room to work to become open for the QB. This simple change looks to minimize cloudiness over the middle of the field, and allows the QB to have a clear throwing lane to the dig pattern.

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