Gunner is a little bit different from a lot of my passing plays because there's no big underlying theme that it's based around. I had a hard time picking out a name because of it, though I think Gunner is a good choice because the players most successful running it will be the ones who can make hard, decisive throws into tight openings and hitting receivers in stride. The play features immediate crossing routes on both sides of the formation, allowing receivers to get a quick step on man coverage and letting the quarterback make quick throws.

Funnel - Gunner

Oddly enough, the simple 5 yard in route run by the left split end may be your best bet for a big run after the catch. At least twice I've hit this route late at about the right hash marks and run for very long gains or touchdowns. What seems to happen is that the right TE takes the outside coverage wide while the right SE vertical slant pushes the safeties and linebackers deep. These routes pull the defense in opposite directions, creating a wide opening for the left SE to run with the ball after a catch.

Gunner generally seems to work best against man coverage, due to the quick crossing routes run on each side. Press coverage can cause some fairly serious problems, though. This is not because the split ends are bumped, disrupting the play's timing, as you may think. The split ends are too far inside for most press coverage corners to line up directly over them. It's simply that the defenders in press coverage get in the passing lanes for the quick throws. The play works better against less aggressive zones. In particular you can hit the TE swing on the outside, or the SE slant by throwing a hard pass between linebackers to the soft spot under the safeties.

Player Assignments

Position Action
O-Line Pass Block
QB Dropback 2yd
Left SE 5yd In
Left TE N2W4-N4W2-N4 (open)
Right TE N3E3 (curl right)
Right SE N9W4 (open)
RB Pass Block

See the Madden Playbook Guide for a description of these symbols.

Read Progression

  1. SE slant (quick)
  2. TE swing (quick)
  3. SE in
  4. TE curl
  5. TE swing (late down left sideline)
  6. SE slant (late over deep middle)

My favorite throw is to the SE slant right off the bat. I love quick slants because if the defense is not aligned properly to begin with a good throw is impossible to defend. This slant is a little more vertical than horizontal, giving bigger yardage potential but making it a little more likely that man coverage will be able to defend it. The other quick throw that can be made is to the left TE right as he runs behind the left SE. This throw has to be quick and hard to prevent a defender playing close from making a play on the ball. Practice will develop the timing ability to prevent this possibility.

If neither quick throw is available, possibly because the defense is in Cover 2 press coverage, look for the more developed routes. The in route is an easy read and throw right over the middle. Track this receiver as he runs right, then look to the TE out slant curl. This throw should usually be made to the outside to keep the body of the TE between the ball and any defenders. Finally, look for the left TE running down the sideline and the right SE down the deep middle.




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