Route Breakdown: Slants
In an effort to add to the reams of data that we already collect at PFF, we took the passing game to a whole new level in 2013.
Instead of just tracking each receiver’s targeted route, we went ahead and charted every route run on every pass play in the NFL and continued this work in 2014. We can now tell you how often each receiver ran a particular route, at which depth he ran it, and whether or not he was targeted.
This data becomes quite useful when analyzing each receiver’s role, but it’s also handy when determining passing concepts for each team. The ante was upped further this past season as we added exact WR splits as well as shifts in motions to our charting data. We now have the data to break down how often teams run their favorite plays, and the corresponding tendencies that come with them.
How often did Peyton Manning run his staple “levels” concept? How often did Chip Kelly have a built in bubble screen for his slot receivers? Which team’s receivers run the deepest routes? This is the type of data that can only be found in the PFF database, and it’s a big reason why NFL teams are adding our information into their weekly scouting reports.
While much of this data remains exclusive for NFL team usage, we’re pulling back the curtain to show some of the passing game trends, starting on a route-by-route basis.
Here’s a look at the slant route.
Our route charting is extremely detailed, but for the sake of this exercise, routes will be sorted into the basic families above. So while we can tell you if a wide receiver’s “go” route had an inside or an outside release, or if it was run up the seam or with a back shoulder throw, all of these unique routes will be lumped into the “go” route category for simplicity sake.
The Slant Route
The slant is rather self-explanatory, and there are not many iterations to it. It’s a staple in every NFL offense — for short, quick receivers looking to pick up yards after the catch and also for the big receivers looking to move the chains.
Here’s a deeper look into the players who ran the slant most often and most efficiently.
– For the second year in a row, the Green Bay Packers feature the top two receivers in numbers of slants run as Davante Adams dwarfed the field in his rookie season while Jordy Nelson ranked second. Another Packer rounds out the Top 10 with Randall Cobb running 54 slants on the season.
– Adams ran the slant on 15.8% of his routes, the second-highest percentage in the league, though he only picked up 110 yards on slants, the 27th-best total in the league.
– Fellow rookie Sammy Watkins ranked third in slants run with 73 making up 10.8% of his total routes.
– Despite ranking 15th with 49 slants run, Demaryius Thomas led the league with 25 targets on slants, showing that Peyton Manning was looking for him a very high percentage of the time when running the route.
– Dwayne Bowe, Steve Smith, and Kelvin Benjamin all tied for second with 23 targets on slants with Smith proving most efficient as he averaged 3.24 yards per route.
– Despite running the most slants, Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson failed to make the most targeted list as they both tied with 16.
– Big receivers dominate the top of the yardage chart, led by Rueben Randle who picked up 245 of his 938 total yards on slants. His 12.9 yards per target ranked third in the league.
– Antonio Brown ranked fifth with 171 yards and he led the league with 21 receptions on slants.
– Golden Tate’s 165 yards came on only nine catches, the only receiver on the list with fewer than 14 catches on slants.
Yards per Route Run
– Victor Cruz was the most efficient slant runner in the league catching all seven of his targets and picking up 146 yards while only running 25 slants on the year.
– Andrew Hawkins made the most of his slant opportunities as well, picking up 134 yards on only six receptions and 11 targets.
– Larry Fitzgerald tied for seventh with 14 receptions on slants while his 217 yards ranked second.
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