Football is filled with slang and terminology often leaving fans confused. One common question asked by football fans is what is a hot route in football.
A hot route in football occurs when a quarterback identifies that a blitz is coming and signals one of his receivers to run a short route. The quarterback will then quickly throw this ball to the receiver to avoid getting sacked.
A hot route in football is also referred to as a hot read or hot receiver.
The main purpose behind a hot route is to avoid the blitz, but these plays can have big potential as well. Similar to screen play a blitz will place a large number of defenders into the offensive backfield.
If the hot route pass is completed there will be fewer defenders in position to make a tackle on the ball carrier.
This often results in hot routes creating a lot of yards after the reception for the ball carrier.
How Do Quarterbacks Know When To Hot Read?
A hot route itself is called when the quarterback notices a blitz is coming, but how does the quarterback find this out?
One common way to know if a blitz is coming is by looking at the number of players near the line of scrimmage. A regular defensive formation is going to have three or four players on the line of scrimmage pass rushing.
When blitzing quarterbacks will often notice more players lined up on the line of scrimmage ready to rush the passer.
Another way that quarterbacks can determine a blitz is coming is via a hard count. A hard count in football involves making audible signals to trick the defense into thinking the play is about to start.
If the defense falls for the hard count the quarterback may notice several defenders getting closer to the line of scrimmage as the play starts. If a defender is blitzing from the secondary a good hard count will usually snuff this out and allow the QB to call a hot route.
Which Player Runs The Hot Route?
Now that you understand what a hot route is you may be wondering who is on the receiving end of these passes.
The vast majority of the time the running back is going to be the player that runs the hot routes on the offense.
The reason that the running back is chosen is that they are the closest player to the quarterback. The running back can run a short route into the flat in only a second or two.
Additionally, the quarterback can make a throw to the flat even if they are facing pressure from the defense.
The short distance between these players means they can easily communicate and run this route before the blitz gets home.
On some occasions, hot routes can also be run by wide receivers and tight ends. A team’s choice for a hot route receiver may largely depend on their personnel and which players they trust to make a catch.