If you have to defend four vertical receivers, you’ll be looking to keep a cushion on the receivers and safeties deep to prevent them from getting over the top. What happens when those receivers bolt out of their stance only to come up short (quickly)? With four deep defenders, you’re not left with many bodies left to cover the 53 1/3 yard width of the field underneath (horizontal stretch). This leads us to the spacing concept and its variations.
After threatening and torching DBs with the 5-step game, what do you do when those same receivers come up short on their stem and break short? You're left with a big cushion between the receiver and the ball.
here, with its variations stick , scat, and snag, these short concepts allow receivers to gain immediate horizontal leverage on underneath defenders, gain separation, and allow the quarterback to quickly throw a completion.
Again working off the 5-step passing game, the utilization of screens to trap an over aggressive defense underneath creates another dimension of attack. So for a defense, just wildly attacking the quarterback won't get it done (because you only open up the effectiveness of the screens). Getting full use out of the athleticism of their running backs and tight ends, the Saints can further isolate less athletic defenders in space by showing a ‘deep pass threat’ (drop back action) then throwing to a back (feigning blocking) with a linemen leading on the perimeter for them.
Here we'll see backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas athleticism exploiting linebackers and safeties to get to the perimeter.
With versatile players like Jeremy Shockey, David Thomas, Billy Miller, and Heath Evans (now Jason McKie), the Saints can create a 3-way threat H-back. Using these players in such a role further aids the run game and deep passing game.
As with any good zone / stretch running team, the bootleg off of run action is a great way to slow down and victimize backside defensive edge pressure. A back or tight end will release backside (of run action) with a post (playside of run action) creating a two-level horizontal stretch that a quarterback can be assured of an easy downfield completion.
FLOODThe flood concept creates a three-level sideline stretch after freezing the defense with run action. With a receiver deep (outside the hash), a receiver intermediate (outside the hash), and a back flaring to the flat; the quarterback is assured a completion by overloading a defense to one side.
I hope this overview of 5-step, 3-step, and complimentary passes provides a 100-foot perspective of how these concepts are employed to keep a defense on their heels. With a myriad of ways to attack on any given play, every down becomes a "passing down" regardless of field position. This versatility also alleviates pressure on the offensive line both in pass protection and run blocking. Because the defense cannot pin their ears back and focus on one or two game plan elements, they are forced to slow down and react, allowing the offense to dictate the tempo of the game (and why you'll often see Sean Payton open games with up-tempo/no-huddle drives).