There are many routes in a solid passing offense. Foundational routes like a Post, a Corner, a curl and a slant need to exist to vertically spread the defense and open windows to find open receivers. Don’t forget the Out route with its many versions from speed out to quick out. But every now and then, you have to add a mix-up that becomes something the defense has a great deal of trouble covering. The Blade or Whip route is just such a route. Think of it as an out route on steroids!
Every form of passing attack has some way to “outflank” or get outside the defense. Hitting the flat with a speedy receiver is usually an easy way of picking up cheap yards. Using the Blade route, it attacks the flat, but can also attack the defender responsible for the flat by causing hesitation or delay. The other advantage is timing. Whereas a flat route, swing out of the backfield or a quick out attack the flat quickly, the blade route gives a little more time to create space.
For example, on a regular flat route, the receiver from inside attacks the flat zone on the snap. Any other routes that can clear defenders are only given a minimum of time to clear before the QB must throw the flat, otherwise the route runs out of room. That means the QB must decide on the throw earlier which allows more time for the defense to recover and surround the ball after the catch. Think about it from the perspective of a Cover 3 or Cover 4 Corner. He gives ground, backpedaling at the snap while reading the QB drop and the stems of the routes in front of him. If the QB plants his back foot and throws on his 3rd step quickly, the corner is most likely still in a slight backpedal, under control and only 10 yards deep, but ready to break to the flat as soon as the ball is thrown.
The basic premise of the route is to takeoff on a track inside at a 45° angle and break back outside parallel to the Line of Scrimmage (LOS) at 5 yards.
Because of the hard inside angle on the release, any defender has to fight to keep inside leverage which actually puts him at a huge disadvantage if the route is run correctly.
b. The inside leg must “whip” around in the direction of the next step
*A common problem with the back leg in this “spin” is not driving the knee, but swinging the back leg. This is slower and will cause receivers to correct their direction with a 3rd step instead of being set up on 2 steps.
e. Because the spin opens outside, the receiver’s head and eyes naturally find the QB when the break occurs. The re-direction with proper footwork also creates separation from the defender more easily than a speed cut.
When to use the Blade
One on one matchups with a single receiver played closely by a defender are the ideal time, but since this is hardly the norm and can be a hard angle to throw outside, this route is best used with a second receiver.
Here are some Video clips that will help further explain:
The last route run is a Blade/Whip