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Taking a deeper look at the widely used Mills Concept and what makes it such a popular route variation in both the NFL and NCAA!

The Mills Concept from Steve Spurrier USA Today's FTW
Nov 24, 2012; Clemson, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier (left) shakes hands with Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney (right) prior to the game at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

With us in an extended period of offseason, and coaches with more time to research and refine playbooks we are going to start looking at different offensive and defensive concepts.

If you have listened to our podcast (and why wouldn’t you?) you have heard us talk about various different concepts, we did a series of episodes on the different evolutions of the Air Raid, from College all the way up to Kingsbury in the NFL. Dan and I have leant on a lot of the concepts in our time calling plays, but there is one play that is a staple of my offence that I thought I’d share here today.

Mills. The Mills concept gets its name from the fun and gun offence that Steve Spurrier ran in Florida but it has been used by the 49ers with Jerry Rice in the past as well. The basic premise is a 10-yard dig by the slot receiver and a post by the outside receiver. If you run this correctly the dig concept should freeze your safety allowing for the post to get free in behind. The 49ers would use Rice on the dig route here if the safety didn’t bite down then it was a throw to Rice and letting him gain YAC, if the safety did decide to come down on Rice then that left the outside receiver space in behind.

Here is the classic version of the concept:

I like this because I can run this against man or any zone scheme, if the defence plays cover-3 on this then my QB only needs to read half the field, and either the post or the dig is open. If they are in a two-high safety look and playing a cover-2, then I like to have my Z receiver run his release inside and attack towards the hash as this will make the SS drift towards them and open up more space in behind for the post route.

Below are some clips of the concept in action being ran by Mason Rudolph and James Washington:

It’s a good way to get your wide receivers involved and, as the Old ball coach once said “Shoot, they didn’t hire me to come down here and run the football. We’re going to throw it.”

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