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What is the Yankee concept?

Let’s take a look at how Pat Shurmur has used the yankee concept in the past, and how it might translate here in 2020 with the Denver Broncos.

With the Denver Broncos gearing up to start training camp soon, we’re going back to the basics as well. Welcome to the first installment of a ‘Football 101’ style series breaking down some offensive concepts that we’re likely to see on the field this fall (hopefully) from new Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.

Yankee Concept

What is the Yankee concept?

We’re keeping it simple for the first one out of the gate. The Yankee concept is just a two-man concept, designed to pick up chunk yardage. This is often used as a “shot” play - where the offense will keep everyone else in to block and attempt to push the ball down the field.

Most of the time, this is accompanied by play action, to give the routes time to develop and further suck the defense into the box.

The receivers will often be aligned in condensed or tight splits - inside the numbers and closer to the hashes, as this helps them gain inside leverage. Both receivers will be working to gain inside leverage on their defender and work across the field.

Since this concept is usually deployed from a heavy personnel grouping and formation, the defense will likely load up the box and play with just a single high safety.

The read for the quarterback then becomes fairly simple as he will watch the free safety and target whoever the safety doesn’t play. If both routes are covered, you’ll usually always have the back coming into the flat after the play action as a checkdown.

When do you use it?

This play is used most frequently on 1st or 2nd down when there is a credible threat to run the ball. While it can work against two-high safeties and both man or zone, if the offense is able to lure one of the safeties into the box it makes it that much easier to pull off.

Pat Shurmur loved to target Odell Beckham on this concept during his time with the Giants.

Here you’ll see if deployed against a two-high safety look. Both safeties freeze from the post route, and the underneath coverage is too focused on the backfield.

Beckham does a great job selling his route vertical before cutting across.

The underneath route is a great option to get guys open in space to pick up some additional yards after the catch.

This time around, Beckham is going to be on the deep route.

I’m not sure if the underneath receiver was supposed to break it back outside by design or he got tripped up and improvised, but it didn’t matter. The free safety played this one way too soft and Beckham was able to get across his face for the big play.

How could the Broncos use it?

Denver used this a few times last year with some success. It plays well to Drew Lock’s big arm, gives him an easy read, while getting the ball into the hands of a playmaker with hopefully room to run.

I like the wrinkle here by Scangarello to hide DaeSean Hamilton a bit with motion to ensure he has a free release. Houston is loading up the box, as they smell run.

Here is where Courtland Sutton just being on the field helps your offense. He commands the attention of both the corner and the safety on the post - clearing out a massive hole for Hamilton.

Imagine Sutton and Hamler on these combos together with Hamler’s speed after the catch.

Yankee concept wrinkles

Here are two wrinkles that can be added in if defenses are catching on or the safety is overplaying the routes.

This one looks like a bit of improv by Will Fuller who was on the underneath route and turned it upfield once the safety started cheating that way.

This next one, Denver fans know all too well, unfortunately. Tyreek Hill starts as if he’s running the post in the Yankee concept, but then bends it back outside to the corner, catching both Justin Simmons and Chris Harris Jr. not out of position for it.

It requires some on the fly adjustment and good trust between the wide receiver and quarterback, but those are two moves that Broncos receivers should definitely build into their arsenal when implementing these concepts.

I think we’ll see Pat Shurmur dial up plenty of these for his young quarterback and shiny new weapons this upcoming season.

Let me know your thoughts and/or questions below. What concepts do you want to see in this series in the future?