Raiders news: Hunter Renfrow can play in Josh McDaniels’ attack.
Hunter Renfrow has just completed his breakout season, receiving a Pro-Bowl invite. This season, the sneaky slot receiver has become a running aficionado, putting the corners of his ankles in excruciating pain.
The former Clemson Tiger has proven himself to be a strong slot receiver heading into 2021. His intelligence and understanding of zone coverage has allowed Jon Gruden to lean on him with prime routes. He succeeded early on, even taking a few home.
Enter Josh McDaniel as the head coach who brings the Erhard-Perkins offensive end of the Patriots system. Bill Belichick has been around this system since the 1970s as a coach in New England and followed Ray Perkins to the Giants with Bill Parcels.
Inside receivers are a big key to making this offense successful. Each route has an answer against a defense, and the best way to win pieces in midfield. That’s why Renfrow can excel for this offense. The play examples below explain why he can go big in this attack.
Turn Renfrow into a major threat
Renfrow’s work with the Raiders was under his first three seasons. He became a comfort player for Derek Carr to check and create yards after the catch. It can be used for larger games and work from the slot in this offense.
A concept they call smoke (two verticals) is a basic element of the Erhardt-Perkins system. The inside receiver will run a post against two high covers and a seam against a single high. The example below is the Patriots vs. the Chiefs from 2017. The Chiefs will be in two before the snap and go to coverage 3 after.
Danny Amendola runs the middle reading lane, and since it’s a single high defense, he knows how to handle the post. He sets it up perfectly, beating one-on-one with the safety for a massive gain of 27.
Another deep concept for slot receivers is a variation of route combinations called Gotti (option route and outside receiver start) as shown below.
With the Patriots using it to set up teams to play the option, they add a nod to the concept called backtracking. As seen below, the Houston Texans show off a two-height look and complete the game stand cover or cover 7 post-snap. Chris Hogan fakes the exit route on the option, which moves the safety in front of him, then backs it up the field. The Houston Texans are caught off guard and lead on a 45-yard touchdown.
The main way Renfrow will get football is with optional routes, and there are plenty of choices in this offense. The only difference between the previous offenses was that none of the Patriots routes penetrated the interior, with a few exceptions. It’s either the outside hitch.
On this design we have a dig with whip option. The Patriots call this combination of routes the curse. A whipped route occurs when an inside receiver simulates an incoming route and then backtracks outside. However, if the cover dictates an opening in front of the slot receiver, it becomes a shallow drag.
In the example above, it is Amendola on the way to the whip option. He reads the defense correctly, seeing the opening left by the linebackers in coverage. He stays perfectly inside and Brady hits him for the easy completion underneath.
The following option route is a weak and strong option of a 2×2 set. The slot receiver may burst or snag while reading the covers.
Amendola is again the target, and the Jacksonville Jaguars are in the cover of the upper two quarters. Amendola reads it based on the version knowing that the exit route will be wide open based on the coverage rules. Brady sees it and hits it for the first down late in the game.
Renfrow is already an ascendant player in this league. He now has the opportunity to transform that consistency with the offense of Josh McDaniels and Erhardt-Perkin. The future is bright for the fifth-round pick, and this offense will help him reach his full potential.