The Carolina Panthers hired Joe Brady to be their offensive coordinator on January 16. Brady’s rise to this position has been remarkable. He was an analyst for the New Orleans Saints for two seasons before being trusted to modernize LSU’s passing offense in 2019. It’s safe to say he accomplished that task for the Tigers.
Weak side option route
SB Nation’s Seth Galina has written in depth about the use of the Saints weak side option route. Brady brought over that concept from the Superdome to Tiger Stadium. LSU would motion or line up one of their running backs to the weak-side in a 3x1 or 3x2 formation. The wide receiver, usually Ja’Marr Chase, would line up in the slot. As Galina states here, the option gives the receiver multiple options based on the alignment of the defender.
The option route gives the slot receiver three choices predicated on the how the defender on top of him is playing. Essentially, he’s doing the opposite of that defender. After about 4-5 yards, if the guy is playing inside, run out. If he’s playing outside, run inside on a slant. If you feel like he’s playing deeper in zone, you sit down and hook up.
LSU is in an empty formation with Clyde Edwards-Helaire flexed wide with Ja’Marr Chase. Chase runs the option route, but he decides to run a slant due to the outside leverage of the defender.
Halfback corner route
Sean Payton has been instrumental in creating space for his running backs in the passing game. Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, and now Alvin Kamara are a few of the backs who have been productive receivers in his offense.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a career high in receptions and receiving yards for the Tigers in 2019. He wasn’t just catching screens, there were nifty route concepts created.
This HB corner route in the red zone was one of my favorite plays from LSU. Alabama brackets Chase on the post, the Will goes to Moss, and Edwards-Helaire is wide open pic.twitter.com/IIKEdKHfwD— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 15, 2020
The corner route underneath the deep post is an efficient way to create space for the back in the red zone. Brady was able to leverage Edwards-Helaire’s skill set as a receiver to exploit the defense time and time again.
The Saints have been known to vary their three or four vertical concepts over the years, but the foundations were on display in Baton Rouge last season.
The Saints create a mismatch on a four vertical concept by motioning tight end Jared Cook. The defense is playing Cover 3, but with the slot receiver able to attract the safety Cook has a free access down the seam.
LSU runs a fairly straight forward four vertical concept on this touchdown throw by Joe Burrow to Justin Jefferson. I expect Brady to add wrinkles like Sean Payton, but the foundation is there.
The use of a “switch release” is used to assist the wide receiver to gain leverage on the sideline.
The Saints have used this consistently over the years with the likes of Marques Colston, but now Michael Thomas too.
This switch verts concept to Chase is something I've seen the Saints do with Thomas. Creates a natural rub and allows the WR to gain leverage on the sideline pic.twitter.com/g9ypVDaZun— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 15, 2020
Brady did the same thing to create space for his ultra talented wide receivers at LSU too. It creates a natural rub, but also leverage for the receiver.
Glance route RPO
Before joining the Saints, Joe Brady was a grad assistant at Penn State under Joe Moorhead. It was in Happy Valley where Brady became immersed with Moorhead’s RPO offense. The glance route is a common route tagged in an RPO. The offense is attempting to replace the conflict defender by running a 5-step vertical slant to replace the safety rolling and filling.
It doesn’t stop there though. LSU’s offense used this concept to set up their run game too.
The linebacker is hesitant to fill the gap due to the threat of the glance route, which then creates a huge crease for the Edwards-Helaire. In addition, the safety doesn’t roll down. Burrow reads the two high look pre-snap, but then reads the linebacker after the snap. Edwards-Helaire finishes it with a touchdown.
An adjustment that Brady will have to implement is decrease the amount of empty formations (zero running backs in backfield). The Panthers do not have the offensive line personnel to hold up in these formations at this level. My guess is he will work closely with the new offensive line coach to scheme up protections to hold up as best they could, but there’s going to be a transition.
There will be other concepts and packages that Brady will install, but these were a few of the base concepts that will be on display in Charlotte next season.