A sail concept in football is a passing play that sends three receivers to one side of the field at various depths. The purpose of the play is to make the flat defender choose which route to cover often leaving one of the receivers wide open.
In many defensive formations, there are only going to be two players on each side of the field to defend the pass. Sending three receivers into this section of the field is going to force one defender into a tough decision.
In most cases, this is going to be the flat defender which must decide between covering the intermediate route or the short route on this play. Typically the deep receiver is going to clear out the player in deep coverage.
Since the first receiver runs deep, the deepest defender must run with him in order to prevent a long pass. This leaves only the flat defender left to deal with two receivers.
If the defender steps up to stop the flat route the quarterback can toss the ball over him to the intermediate player. And if the defender covers the intermediate player the QB can pass the ball to the short route for a moderate gain.
So long as the defense only has two defenders on this side of the field they will have to leave one receiver open on the play.
If the quarterback can read this play properly teams should be able to move the ball consistently with this passing concept.
Benefits Of The Sail Concept
Now that you know what the sail concept is in football it is time to learn about how this play can benefit your team.
Easy Read For The Quarterback
One of the best aspects of a sail concept is that it presents an easy read for the quarterback. In football reading a defense can become incredibly difficult for a quarterback with some plays including three or even four reads.
With a sail concept, the quarterback simply has to read a single defender. Since the deep route is going to be covered by the deep defensive back a quarterback knows he has to read the one defender left.
All the quarterback has to determine is which route the defender is going to cover. Once he sees that he can throw the ball to the other receiver.
If your quarterback is struggling or in need of a confidence boost a sail concept can be a great tool for getting momentum back with an easy throw.
Great For Two Minute Drill
One aspect of the sail concept makes it a great tool when operating in the two-minute drill. With two or fewer minutes remaining in the half teams look for offensive plays that will keep the clock stopped.
Since the sail concept has the receivers heading towards the sideline it is a great option. Both the flat route and the intermediate routes allow players to quickly get out of bounds after catching the ball.
This allows them to stop the clock between plays saving them a good chunk of time.
Potential Deep Shot In Man
Another added benefit of the sail concept is the potential to take a deep shot against man coverage. The main purpose of a sail concept play is to overwhelm the two defenders on one side of the field.
But on some occasions, the receiver that is simply running a deep route to clear out a defensive back will get open. If in man coverage this player will often be running one on one against the corner.
If he beats the corner that means he will be open for a deep touchdown. This is not the usual result of sail concept but every once and a while this play results in six points.
Now that you’ve learned about the sail concept in football you may want to check out our article on the mesh concept.