The slot is one of the most important positions in all of football. A team simply cannot succeed without a good slot receiver because they do so many different things for the offense that other wideouts do not. They are also a lot smaller and more narrow than outside wideouts, which makes them able to get open in crowded areas much easier. The best slot receivers in the NFL have great route-running skills, excellent hands, and the ability to block.
The position of slot was created by legendary Oakland Raiders coach Al Davis in 1966, when he began to use the second wide receiver in his offense more frequently than the first. He wanted a player who could line up slightly in front of the second offensive tackle or tight end and make plays against the defense’s coverage. The concept was revolutionary at the time, and it is still the main way that teams run their offensive sets today.
Slot receivers are a special breed. They usually have the speed to blow past the safety on a go route, but they also need to be reliable with their hands and precise with their timing. They must be a threat to run both inside and outside routes, and they must have great chemistry with the quarterback. They are also called upon to block on running plays, especially pitch plays and reverses, and they must be able to hold up against blitzes from defensive backs and secondary players.
In addition to their receiving and blocking duties, slot receivers are sometimes asked to carry the ball like a running back on some play types. They may be involved in a jet sweep, a bubble screen, or an end-around. In these cases, the quarterback will either hand the ball to them after calling their name in pre-snap motion or he will pitch it to them from behind as they are making their way into the backfield on their respective routes.
Slot is an important position in the modern game because it allows teams to stretch out their offenses and create mismatches for the defense. As a result, it is becoming increasingly popular for coaches to incorporate this position into their overall offensive plans.
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