There may be another play that better attacks deep yardage, but no other play has served me better for this situation than this one.
So instead of only giving you a play slide to learn from, I want to write full posts for each play, and we might as well start with HB Circle.
The play slide above breaks down the steps, but I will break it down further here.
Once I know it’s Man, the first thing I will do is watch what the safeties are doing.
Safeties move around much more in Man than in Zone.
You may see one (or both) of the safeties come down to cover or double-team a receiver.
Other times they will stay in the same spot until you snap the ball.
Regardless, after I snap the ball I immediately see what the safeties are doing.
If both safeties come closer to the line, then we know the defense is in Cover 0 which means we will TAP it to the Post route.
I will throw to him after his final move; always throw the ball to a receiver after his final move!
All Cover 0 beaters need only a TAP of the button as we want our receiver to handle the rest as we are basically treating every Cover 0 beater as a jump ball situation.
I have had success throwing a hard (HOLD) pass to the Post route before, but you better have a QB with the accuracy to do so, otherwise a HARD ball can be picked off by the covering CB.
It’s a sweet site to see a HARD pass to the post in stride for a touchdown, but it’s never fun seeing the CB get in front of the pass to pick it off.
This is why I suggest just lobbing the ball for a better percentage of completion.
If you don’t see both safeties come down or your Post route is double-teamed, then we move on to one of our Man beaters.
Another reason why HB Circle is so great is because all four eligible routes can beat Man in some way.
Unless he is double-teamed, I will HOLD it to the Comeback on the left.
The Comeback route is a killer Man beater.
If for whatever reason I choose not to go to him, then I will PRESS it to the HB on the Circle route.
The HB can get great sereparation here depending on his speed and your timing of the throw.
Also, look out for the lingering defender who is covering your FB since he is only blocking, that defender has no reason to move thus your throw to the HB needs to be quick.
If you see one high safety (he’ll be in the deep middle of the field) then you can also PRESS it to the Flag route on the right.
I rarely throw it to him but it is possible where both the Post and Comeback routes are double-teamed and your HB can’t catch thus will result in throwing it to the Flag route.
Plus, due to sub-packaging or formations subs, you may have a stud player at this position thus giving you more reason to throw it to him.
Now you see why I don’t give you strict progressions as it is all situational.
Another good thing about HB Circle is the addition of what I like to call a “Center” beater which are killers against Zone
A Center beater is a route that attacks Zone coverage in front of the Center.
Depending on the defensive play chosen and once the ball is snapped, you will immediately a hole open up in front of your Center.
If you see a hole in front of the Center, PRESS it to your HB and watch him gain good yardage.
Otherwise, look at the safeties and see where they are moving.
If you see Cover 2 or Cover 3, HOLD it to your Post route as he normally does a good job of adjusting to your throw.
The Post route works better against Cover 2 than Cover 3, but I have had success with this route when there are three deep defenders.
Your last Zone beater available is the Flag route.
If you see Cover 2 and there is not much pressure from the right side, roll out and PRESS it to the Flag route.
The reason I kept this one for last is because sometimes the right CB might keep moving back to cover the Flag Route in Cover 2 which means the window to throw into will be tighter than usual.
This means that the Post route is safer to throw to.
Other Things You Need To Know
You will notice in the play slide that this is naturally a left hash play.
Yes you can flip the play and use it on the right hash, but the Comeback route does not work as well against Man as you have to wait a tad longer for him to make his final move before throwing it to him.
Otherwise, the rest of the play works like normal when flipped and on the right.
Also, at the beginning of this post I mentioned how well this play works for 3rd and long situations, but there is nothing wrong with using it on any down.
In fact, I would call this play more often if my current offense is more vertical-based.
In conclusion, I think I have covered everything I know about this play.
As usual, practice makes perfect so make Practice Mode your friend and rep it.
Finally, the play slide is there as a great reference so don’t forget to use it.
(If I find a major change I need to make to a play slide and its post, I will highlight it in blue as we all know, the more you practice a play in 06, the more things you will find that will make the play work even better).