If you are a casual fan of football you may have heard the terms x, y, and z receiver in relation to players on the field. And unless you know the game of football inside out it is quite likely that you don’t know what these terms mean. That’s why this article is here to explain what is a Z receiver in football.
A Z receiver in football is an outside receiver that lines up across from the X receiver. Z receivers are often considered the number two option in the receiving core. These receivers often run crossing routes working underneath the x receiver. As well as running deep routes in order to open up underneath routes for other receivers.
What Is The Role Of A Z Receiver?
The role of a Z receiver is to be a quality second option for the quarterback to look to. As we stated this receiver lines up across the field from the X receiver which has given this position the nickname of flanker.
The Z receiver often runs crossing routes and are often known for picking yards after catch. Oftentimes the X receiver will be double covered on a play. This often allows the Z receiver to get single coverage.
This reciever should be able to beat one on one coverage. This often allows them to receive deeper passes when the safeties are more concerned with covering the X.
A Z is also often used to pull coverage away from the X by running deep routes. A fast Z receiver can run a go route making the safety move further from the line of scrimmage. This often allows the X receiver to get open for an underneath route.
The Z receiver also lines up off the line of scrimmage, this is different from the X who always lines up on the line. Since the Z receiver is off the line of scrimmage he is able to be in motion prior to the snap.
This allows this receiver to move around pre-snap and even get a few carries on a jet sweep if they have enough speed.
What Are The Traits Of A Z Receiver?
Though it is not always the case Z receivers are often speedsters and there are several reasons for this. First off the Z receiver often runs deep routes to open up the underneath coverage.
When you have a player looking to draw extra coverage he is going to need to be a real threat. A Z receiver with blazing speed is going to require extra help from the safety. This is so he does not beat his corner over the top.
This is exactly what a team would want from a Z receiver. As it allows more open looks towards their X receiver.
These receivers can also use this speed to pick up extra YAC. As we covered earlier these receivers are known for picking up yards after the catch. Whether it a quick shovel pass as they come in motion from the sideline or a crossing route across the middle having top-end speed as a Z receiver is important.
Another trait need from a Z is the ability to beat man coverage. As we stated earlier it is not uncommon for teams to focus their defensive efforts on the X. This often means the Z is going to have single coverage.
Since your X will likely not be getting the ball with the extra coverage it is up the Z to step up. The Y is typically meant to pick up shorter yardage. So if you’re X is covered it is largely up to the Z to find those big yardage plays.
For this reason a competent Z can beat single coverage and step up when needed.