Oakland Raiders Film Room Special: Michael Crabtree

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Hitting the Carr Sweet Spot

Derek Carr loves to work the sidelines. Last season he was by far most efficient throwing to his right sideline from 10-19 yards. Comeback routes, quick outs, and his patented back-shoulder throw were Derek Carr staples all season. Though Crabtree worked mostly on the left side of the field in SF, he knows how to work those routes to perfection. Don’t be surprised to see Crab and Carr hook-up consistently on second & third and long near the sidelines.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

In Week 7 against the Broncos, Crabtree works the left sideline opposite the bunch formation on the bottom of the image. It’s 2nd & 8. Crabtree lines up in a plus split (lined up outside the numbers), which should alert CB Chris Harris, Jr. to a possible backside slant. With only a single safety to help, Harris, Jr. lines up with inside leverage on Crabtree just deep enough that he won’t get burned deep.

Crabtree does a good job reading the coverage before the snap and runs off the line in a full sprint with his head down as though he’s running a go route. Pay attention to the timing of the break. Crabtree breaks a couple yards before the sticks, but it’s exactly when Harris, Jr. opens his hips up to run with Crabtree. This gives him the necessary separation to not only make the catch, but step up to get the first down before Harris, Jr. can close the gap.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind

In the 2013 Wild Card game against Green Bay, Crabtree shows off not only his great route skills but his fantastic hands as well. This play should have Derek Carr jumping in excitement. Kaepernick has often said that if he sees Crabtree get one-on-one coverage with no help he’s going that way every time. Here we see why he feels that way.

Same formation as above except Crabtree actually runs the go route. It’s 2nd & 15 and SF is looking to make 3rd down much more reasonable. Crabtree does a quick shake off the line (a Crabtree special) and gets his defender to stumble. As a result the cornerback has to open his hips immediately and run with Crabtree upfield. With his head turned away from Kaepernick, he’s exposing himself to the back-shoulder throw. Crabtree makes sure to keep enough space between himself and the sideline for the throw and uses it as he falls away during the spectacular catch. His catch set up a much more tolerable 3rd & 2 in an important playoff game.

Next: Michael in the Middle