11 Top Air Raid Offense Playbook Plays

If you want to learn how to run the Air Raid offense but don’t have time to search all over the internet for it, here are 11 of the top Air Raid offensive plays.

1. Y-Cross


This staple pass play of the Air Raid offense run by Mike Leach currently at Washington State has everything. It can be run as a play action, drop back or even RPO. It is simple to run and has tons of big play opportunity. In this free download I break down Washington State’s example of the Y-Cross.

2. Mesh

The Mesh or Y-Mesh is the most well know Air Raid play in the offense today. Coach McKie explains everything you need to know in this video. You will see versions of it in in nearly all spread offense systems it has become so popular. Most Air Raid coaches today will say that if they only had one pass play this would be it.

3. Stick and Corner

Picture taken from CougCenter

Also known as either Y or H Stick and Y or H Corner, these two plays compliment each other as a quick three step package option. If you need a good possession down, Stick is hard to stop when you get a great personnel matchup. The Corner is the 2-punch to the stick when teams try to sit hard on it. Check out both these plays at the CougCenter site by SB Nation.

4. All Curls

This play is very similar to the “spacing” concept of play that many teams use to gain an advantage against teams that have a more spread out under coverage. I found this great Air Raid Playbook resource over at winwiththepass.com that has three variations of the All-Curls air raid play. The photo above is a sample of one of the diagrams that also has assignments in this 80+ page playbook download that is free with just your email address.

5. Shallow Cross

In this article by X and O Labs you will find a ton of great information on the shallow cross concept. Again this is another route concept that teams at all levels and offensive styles have adopted into their systems. What I love about it is that it gives you answers to whatever the defense is doing. I have plugged in this play in my Pro-Spread system because you can do so much with it and it is perfect to get the ball to your playmakers.

6. All Verts

If you have the talent that can run and jump on and a QB with a gun for an arm, this is the Air Raid play of your dreams. Or if you have a couple of tall TE’s and Slots that you can send down the seam it is perfect.  I have sadly been at the wrong end of that battle and felt nothing more then helpless as each big play ate up our defense. But it’s not just about going deep either. It’s about feeling the coverage and breaking off if the defense is soft. On this play especially, it’s all about the spacing.

7. Fast Screens

Fast screens have been a staple of the Air Raid offense ever since it’s inception and they might be one of the most important aspects of the entire offense. That’s why I like this article by X and O Labs so much because running fast screens is really like stealing yards from the defense. Not only have my offenses stolen 3-5 yd gains but we have also stolen touchdowns when defenses cheat. Read more about how to run the bubble screen as a part of your offense here.

8. Slow Screens

The difference between the fast screen and the slow screen is that the fast is perimeter only and getting the ball outside now. The slow screen takes more time to setup up because you will be releasing lineman out to make blocks downfield.  Sometimes they are also called Tunnel Screens, but in the Air Raid offense they are labeled with one word for each side they are run to. Randy to the Right and Larry to the Left.

9. All Slants

All slants is the one step answer to everything. Air Raid coaches love to attach it to the backside of 2×2 route concepts because of this flexibility. Not only can your QB look first to the slants, he can come back to them as a secondary read.

10. Drag, Cross and Grab

Tony Franklin is well know in coaching circles for his “ultra-secret” Air Raid system. I’m not kidding either as coaches who join have to sign a non-disclosure statement. Here are three great videos and diagrams of pass concepts that he breaks down to a local TV station reporting on MTSU.

11. Shakes

The Shakes concept is a classic 2-high safety beater that has worked for decades. It can also be a struggle to get this play to work if the WR doesn’t take a proper break according to the safeties coverage. Here’s a good sample of the play that covers how to run it correctly.


Today the Air Raid offense is continuing to grow in popularity. From Mike Leach at Washington State all the way to Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. What makes it so appealing is that it has been proven to work at all levels. Even though many of the plays are predictable, the concepts have answers for anything the defense is doing. A good air raid passing game can also combine with any style of offensive running game. One of my favorite aspects of the offense is it’s ability to help quarterbacks quickly identify where to go with the ball. And because the concepts are simple, teams can practice them to perfection much more easily then other passing systems that have 100’s of different passing options.

If you find another free resource on the Air Raid that is good, please leave it in the comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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