Running Back routes explained here.

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Some teams have running backs who have great hands and can be a dangerous receiving threat themselves. Denver just signed one with Jamaal Charles. With that said, at his age, and injury, don’t expect the same deeper routes that some teams can use.

If your team has this precious gem, it opens up the playbook because they can run a variety of routes and be a threat on any play. On a play action pass they can be exceptionally lethal.

Ever hear the term, backfield receiver? They’re referring to any back who catches a pass. He’s lined up in the backfield, hence the name.

Here are some routes that are run from the RB position, some you will know/see from the WR Route Tree. Some are primarily used as RB routes, and some can be seen from WRs/Slots & TEs as well.

Running Back Route Tree
  • Angle — It is shown being run off the sit route (see below), but can be run off of either the wide/tight stem.  It’s similar to a slant
  • Flat –A route where he looks as if he’s headed down field but peals off into the flat towards the sideline/boundary.
  • Flat & UP — A double move off of the Flat route.
  • Seam  –This route is the RB version of the Go route which is straight down field.
  • Settle — This is a popular route when the back has run one of many forms of a play-action fake, they come through the LOS and turn and settle into a spot.
  • Sit — It is a flair out that is not quite in the flat, but they sit at the LOS and is another safety valve.
  • Sting— It’s similar to a standing still slant. The RB bursts out at a 45° angle .
  • Swing — A quick little loop off to either side of the offense. One of the most popular RB routes as a safety valve if nothing is open downfield.
  • Wheel — The same concept as the Swing but the RB turns and heads up field. A RB can sneak downfield and get a big play if nobody is paying any attention to him.
  • Wide/Tight — You can see the path out of the back field on the comeback and the corner route are similar but further apart. The initial part of passing the LOS can be referred to as the stem of the route, before the WR makes a move or a break. The Comeback is the tight path, the corner is the wide, and most of the interior type routes can be run off of the tight or wide stem.

Carryover routes from the WR Route tree:


Running Back Option Routes

Option Routes

Like the WR, the RB can run options routes based on what he reads from the coverage he sees as he’s headed down field. He chooses which route to proceed with based on the coverage he’s reading/receiving. In this particular example with the LB/FS sitting there, the out route is the one that looks optimal. There is a chance the corner comes into play, but it would be at the very end and it would be based on the FS floating to a Deep Zone with the X/Y receivers both headed  deep.

Again, the QB/RB have to be on the same page, or a huge mistake can  happen with the ball headed back in the other direction.

Where does the RB Line Up?

The answer is at times all over the place.

Running Back Positions

It varies from formation to formation.  The example above and the wording that you are reading is solely based on the left hand side of the offense. 3-6 could easily be lined up in the same spots on the right hand side of the offense.

#1 is the ideal slot for the Ace Formations. He’s behind the QB.

#2, he’s lined up behind the FB in the I.

#3 is where he lines up in most shot gun formations, and it is also an off-set variation of the Ace sets.

#4 is what we call the wing position and it shifts out to outside the TE if a TE is present.

#5 has the WR in the slot position.

#6 has the RB in a wide position more like a WR. They can line up in any given spot and then shift to another. Each is part of the chess game with the MLB/DC.

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