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Football 101: The Route Tree (3-5)

Detailing all the routes of the route tree and how your favorite receiver makes a living off of them on Sundays.

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

As the weeks go by, we continue to inch closer to opening day of the 2022 NFL season which still seems like light years away for some. To pass the time by, we will be discussing the route tree once again, this time numbers 3-5.

Let’s get into it.

Comeback (3) - sprint to 12-15 yards, break back downhill towards the sideline at a 45-degree angle

The “Comeback” is one of the most precise routes in the NFL and a route that you must sell extremely well in order to create separation. In order to sell the route well you must take an outside release and get out the gate as fast as you can. You must threaten the cornerback that you are taking you route deep in an attempt to convince him. Then at around 12-15 yards depending on the concept, you snap your route off to the sideline at 45 degrees. This route should be timed extremely well since it is one of the harder throws for a quarterback to make.

Curl (4) - sprint to 12-15 yards, break back downhill inside towards the quarterback

The “Curl” is pretty much the opposite of the comeback route. The main difference is that instead of angling towards the sideline, you're working back towards the quarterback. The spot that you have to come back downhill to changes depending where the quarterback is on the field. It is most important that you have a good feel for where the quarterback is and how to find the soft spots in the defense to open up a throwing lane.

Out (5) - sprint to 12-15 yards, break out on a 90-degree angle

The “Out” is one of the most common routes in the game. They are used all the time as primary reads, secondary reads and read keys as well. Outs are often run differently depending on the coverage of the defense. Sometimes you will roll out (smooth cut) of your out versus zone. Other times you will have to break down (choppy steps) your defender at the top of your route with some wiggles if you got man-to-man. You may also roll the route if the concept is a play-action or some type of bootleg where the quarterback is throwing on the run. The main thing in general is to sell your route vertically the best you can to create deception so you will be able to create separation.

We’ll keep you posted with more route breakdowns soon...

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