Slot receivers are a key part of many football offenses. They’re versatile and can play multiple roles, giving the quarterback the opportunity to stretch the field while attacking all three levels of the defense – line of scrimmage, linebackers, and secondary.
Historically, they’ve been used by coaches such as Sid Gillman to great success with the Oakland Raiders in the 1960s. However, Al Davis took this idea to another level with his creation of the slot formation in 1963.
Lineup in the slot – The slot receiver is typically lined up in a wide spot behind the line of scrimmage, but they may also be needed to start on the line of scrimmage to maintain seven players on the line of scrimmage. This allows them to be in a position that is open for easy motions and shifts in formation.
They run a variety of routes and have to be precise with their timing and the ball’s location on their route. They’re also very elusive, as they often need to dive and duck through crowded areas or underneath coverage in order to find the ball.
Speed & Hands – Slot receivers are often faster than most wide receivers and can get past defenders when running a go route or out of coverage. They also need to have excellent hands and be able to absorb a lot of contact.
Good chemistry – Slot receivers need to have great chemistry with their quarterback. When the quarterback and slot receiver have the same vision on the game plan, they will be able to make better decisions together. This is especially important for passing plays, as the Slot receiver has to be able to sync up with their quarterback in order to find the ball.
Blocking – Slot receivers are sometimes asked to block for the quarterback on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds. This helps the quarterback pick up blitzes from the linebackers or secondary and provides protection for the running back.
Running Back – There are times when the quarterback asks the slot receiver to run with the ball, as well. This allows the receiver to get a good jump on their defender and outrun them. They are then able to pick up a sack and catch the ball with their legs, giving them a huge advantage on their route.
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