Football Streak Routes
What is a Streak Route in Football?
A streak route in football is a pattern route in which a receiver runs straight downfield. Also known as go, fly, or vertical routes, streak routes are long routes that take a while to develop, often aimed at gaining more than a few yards on a catch. Receivers may bob or chop once they get close to the defender to fake them out and create separation. Some streak routes have specific names. For example, a streak close to the sideline is called a fade, and streak routes run between defensive zones are called seam routes.
When to Use a Streak
Streak routes, especially seam routes, are very useful for offenses facing a zone defense. The idea of the seam is to put a receiver right between two defenders forcing them to choose who covers the receiver. In a perfect defense, the defenders would be able to coordinate which player covers the seam and which takes another receiver; however, realistically, there are mistakes made that lead to either the seam route being completely open or double covered with a shorter route being open.
Streak routes are great when paired with out routes. They often help set up for a receiver on a shorter route to be open. This is best seen with flood routes. In the most typical flood play, a wide receiver runs a streak, a slot receiver runs a 10-yard out, and a backer or wing runs a waggle. These plays are great for exposing Cover 3 man defenses, in which priority is given to the deepest route, often leaving the 10-yard out or the waggle open.
The most commonly known use of the streak route is in a Hail Mary. This is a play where all four receivers run streak routes. This play is usually used as a last-ditch effort and is easily countered by a good prevent defense.
Streak Route Defense
How a defender covers a streak route depends on the defender’s position and coverage. In a zone defense, a corner or safety’s number-one priority is to make sure they don’t turn out of their backpedal too late. The space between a defender and the receiver is a cushion, and when it gets too small, the defender must turn to run with the receiver.
In man defense, the corner will line up closer to the receiver and follow them pace for pace. Since there’s little question of when to turn, corners covering the receiver in man only have to worry about being faster than the receiver. Regardless of the coverage, once the ball is thrown, it is the defender’s job to take away the ball and prevent the catch. This means constantly staying between the receiver and the ball and taking away the receiver's inside arm.