A play action pass in football is a passing play that is disguised as a running play. To start the quarterback snaps the ball and pretends to hand it off to his running back. The quarterback will then pull the ball back at the last possible second so it seems as though the running back still has the ball.
The running back will them carry on running down the field pretending he has the ball. The blocking scheme in a play-action pass often looks very similar to a run blocking scheme. This is another factor that plays into tricking the defense.
At this point the quarterback will look down the field for an open receiver and attempt to make a throw.
Benefits Of A Play Action Pass
A play action pass can benefit your team in both the passing game and running game.
Better Chance At The Deep Pass
One of the biggest benefits of play-action passes in football is that they will often allow you to complete long passes. The reason for this is because the defensive players covering your receivers still have run game responsibilities.
If a run play were actually called the cornerback covering your receiver will likely attempt to get off the receivers block and make a tackle. When a pass play is called these defensive backs simply have to cover their man or their zone.
When you run a play-action you may be able to get the cornerback or safety to take one or two steps in the wrong direction. And if they take that step forward to stop the run they will not make up that ground against an NFL receiver.
Play action passes often feature receivers running deep routes for this very reason. When running a play action pass you will find your receivers have a much easier time getting open for deep balls.
Improving Your Run Game
Another benefit you may not realize about play-action passes is that they can improve your ability to run the ball. When using these plays the defense will start to catch on that a play fake may be coming.
This means when you do actually run the ball you may find that the defensive backs may hesitate prior to stepping up to stop the run. This will give your offense that extra second to let the blocks develop. This will potentially give the running back a hole.
Detriments Of The Play Action Pass
Though the play action pass is a great play to have in you repertoire it still comes with its own limitations.
One issue with running a play fake is that you are going to need a lot of time in the pocket. Since you are going to fake the run first. And then start looking at your receivers you are going to need more time than a typical passing play.
This is why you will often see play action plays using extra protection. Your quarterback is going to be in the pocket holding the football for a long period of time. This is not something you want in your offensive plays.
Does Running The Ball Help Play Action?
In theory running the ball should improve your ability to run a play action pass. The reasoning for this is quite simple.
The more the opposing defense is intimidated by your run game the harder they should bite on your run fakes. This is often while you will see teams who often run the ball utlize play fakes like this.
That all being said there is no statistical evidence that we have come across that proves for a fact that running the ball improves play fakes.
Play Action Vs RPO?
Many casual football fans have heard the terms play action and RPO yet don’t know the difference between the two. Luckil is a quite an easy concept to understand.
A play-action is a passing play that is disguised as a run when the ball is snapped. A RPO AKA run pass option is a play in which the quarterback snaps the ball and makes a read on a specific defender to determine if he should hand the ball off or throw it.
In short, RPOs give you the option to pick a run or a pass. While a play-action is simply a passing play that is made to look like a run.