Wheel (route)

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A diagram of wheel routes run from a number of different positions.

A wheel route is a pattern run by a receiver or running back in American football. When run by a receiver, the player will immediately run a quick out pattern, then proceed to turn upfield in a curved pattern. Typically this route is run from an inside receiver, with the number one receiver heading inside to exploit coverage in the defense. When run from the running back position the player will run towards the sideline while looking back at the quarterback as if he is about to receive a pass on a flare route. The running back will then turn upfield at the sideline and run straight down the field.

This route is useful when run from the wide receiver position because the defensive back will expect the ball to be thrown as the receiver makes his first turn and will bite (go for the fake) underneath the receiver (run between the quarterback and the receiver to try to prevent, block, or intercept the pass) to defend the pass and be unable to recover as the receiver turns upfield. In this respect the route is very similar to an Out-and-Up or Chair route, but without the vertical release that the Out-and-Up utilizes. The route is useful when run from the running back position because the defender will assume the ball is going to be thrown to the running back behind the line of scrimmage (the quarterback can use a pump fake to further "sell" this), and will bite underneath the running back only to have the running back turn upfield.