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Film Room: The Patriots HOSS Concept

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The Philadelphia Eagles are tasked with slowing down a living legend in New England Patriots QB Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. They need to be disciplined in coverage, trust their keys, and execute for sixty minutes or more to keep the game from becoming a track meet. In the film room, you can guarantee they have seen the concept we will talk about here, in all of it’s forms.

With as much cover 3 zone and man free (man across the board with one deep safety) as the Eagles run, the Patriots will utilize their staple “HOSS” concept to attack those coverages. You can also read more about this in an excellent article from Inside the Pylon (here).

“…the HOSS concept is a two-man route combination comprised of a curl route from the outside receiver and a seam route from the inside receiver (either a TE or slot WR).” – Ryan Dukarm, Inside the Pylon

HOSS stands for “hitches outside, seam”. This is a staple of the Patriots offense and can be used in a variety of ways. First let’s take a look at HOSS Y-Juke.

The outside wide receivers run hitches and the inside receivers, in this case a slot and a tight end, run seam routes. The Y-Juke indicates that RB James White has three options depending on the leverage of the defender. He can either bend and “run” his route inside to cross face, “sit” against soft coverage, or “return” by working to the outside. This Y-Juke can also be run from the slot if the Patriots go empty.

This puts the defender covering White, typically in a linebacker, in a tough spot. With plenty of space to cover against a detailed route runner with several options, it’s important the defender takes a good angle to get in the hip pocket of the route or at the very least secures a tackle.

It didn’t take long for the Patriots to utilize this concept against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. Keep in mind, the Jaguars deploy their coverage in a manner similar to the Eagles.

This is a variation that USC ran in the cited Inside the Pylon article. Instead of running it from bunch like USC, the flat route comes from the RB Dion Lewis. Additionally, WR Danny Amendola is facing tight coverage and has the option to take his route vertical. With the flat route coming underneath him and a cornerback in his face, Amendola exercises this option.

Brady dumps it off to White in the flat with space to operate. The Jaguars do a good job of rallying to the ball-carrier, but the Patriots will take this type of gain on first down all day if given the opportunity.

On the second play of the game, the Patriots run HOSS to the right side of the formation. The pre-snap motion from TE Rob Gronkowski reveals bracket coverage on him. He’s running a wave concept which requires him to cross the face of the linebacker and over the next defender, which he does by bending his route with a stair step. This is designed to clear out those linebackers, giving WR Danny Amendola space to operate with his crossing route.

WR Brandin Cooks is in the slot running a seam route, which he bends outside against the inside leverage of the nickel cornerback. This helps him avoid the middle of the field safety and the hitch route on the outside holds CB Jalen Ramsey long enough to create a clear throwing window.

The Patriots will run HOSS in a variety of ways, with a variety of options for its receivers to alter their routes based on coverage and leverage. Another utilization of this play includes putting a running back in a “tear motion” where he motions laterally from his starting alignment for a flare route, getting him to space and getting rid of the ball quickly.

The variations from this concept will be key for the Patriots in attacking the Eagles typical coverage types. It will also provide Brady quick hitting outlets in the face of a wood-chipping Eagles pass rush.

Did you enjoy this breakdown? Check out our other Film Room pieces!

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

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