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Film Room: Looking at a Staple of the K-Gun Offense: 4 Verts

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Super Bowl XXVII

This off season I’ve spent a lot of time researching Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich in an effort to learn all that I can about the offenses that have influenced him throughout his football career. I wanted to give you guys a quick look at a very small portion of that work. As a part of learning about the K-Gun offense that was made famous during Reich’s time as a player for the Buffalo Bills I learned more about the K-Gun’s roots in June Jones’ Run-N-Shoot offense and one play specifically, 4 Verts, encapsulated most of the ideas that drove the entire system.

What follows is a teaser of what’s to come with the entirety of my breakdown of what I expect the 2018 Colts offense to be.

The 4 Verts Concept

There has been a lot written about “4 Verts” especially since it’s the concept that won Alabama their most recent national championship. There’s nothing new about it and the concept is designed to provide the QB with a numerical advantage deep down field.

The receivers (or mix of backs, tight ends and receivers) do exactly what you would expect them to do with a concept called 4 verts, there are 4 guys who run vertically. Also, just a note, this concept could have one of a million names based on all sorts of things, there isn’t a single NFL offense where a QB would call “4 verts” in the huddle and everyone would just know what to do, but for those of us without a specific offensive system or formation we’re going to focus on 4 verts as an idea (or concept) that can be run from almost any formation.

The idea is to put stress on the DB’s, wait for them to make a decision and exploit whatever decision they make. Depending on the defensive look, the QB is going to have either a single high safety or a two safety look. The play is slightly different based on the number of high safeties, obviously a single high safety is advantageous for the offense.

One (or more) of the vertical routes (a receiver in the slot or a TE, or both) is going to change slightly based on the number of deep safeties in an effort to further stress the decision making of the safety on that side of the field.

In the video below I breakdown Alabama’s now famous overtime winner:

Before anyone starts to panic, please note that this isn’t a play that I expect will become a staple. I don’t expect 4 Verts to become our go-to play week after week. Like Reich has said there will be plenty of quick hitting passes designed to get the ball out quickly.

With that said games are won and lost in the NFL with plays that are designed to pick up large chunks of yards and when the time comes, with a quarterback like Andrew Luck, just know you’re going to see Eric Ebron work the deep middle of the field against two high safeties and TY Hilton is going to feast if a safety dares drift away.

Strap in kids, offensive football is about to be fun in Indianapolis, again.