Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe Run Perfect Back Shoulder Fade

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs need Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe to play like they did against the Denver Broncos on a consistent basis.

Smith may not be the best quarterback in the league—and in fact, it’s not even close—but when he’s on, he’s more than good enough to help the Chiefs win games.

Despite the loss to Denver on Sunday Night Football, Smith actually played well. He completed 21-of-45 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns.

Bowe has had somewhat of an off-year with just 426 yards and three touchdowns, but he also played well against Denver. He caught four passes for 57 yards and one touchdown.

That touchdown was an important one for the Chiefs, as it got them on the board in Denver. It was also a rare scoring play through the air for Kansas City, which was very good to see from the Chiefs.

So how did the Chiefs do it?  Let’s head to the film room to break it down.


Situation: Down 10-0 with over 13 minutes to go in the second quarter. Third and goal.

The Play:

The Chiefs came out in a pretty balanced formation with the two tight ends on the line (one offset to the left) and both receivers, Bowe and Avery off the line to the right and left respectively. Jamaal Charles was in the backfield offset to the left. I’ve circled Bowe, because he’s the target:



Next, here’s a look at the routes you’ll be seeing from the other receivers. Note that Anthony Fasano stays in to block:



The Chiefs have Bowe running a back shoulder fade, which is quickly becoming a go-to route in the NFL. It’s used by many teams, especially in the red zone. You can see below that he gets an outside release so to the corner, it’s got to feel like he’s going for the traditional fade route in the corner of the end zone. The same route that Avery is running on the other side, keep in mind. One can imagine that the second defender is thinking the same thing as well once he realizes Fasano is staying in:

outside release


In the next picture you can see that Bowe stops the fade route short though, gets a nice push-off (he probably got away with it), and opens up his hips to the inside. Again, notice how the second defender wasn’t able to undercut the route, probably because he was thinking fade. Also take note that the ball is well out of Smith’s hands. This is a great timing route:


Smith puts the ball where only Bowe can catch it, and #82 helps out by using his body to shield the ball from the defender.

This was a good physical route from Bowe, a great timing throw from Smith, and six very easy points for the Chiefs on the big stage.

One final point, notice the pass-protection:

pass pro


Alex Smith is an extremely accurate quarterback who can make throws when given time. The offensive line blocked this play well and that allowed Smith to focus on the timing of the route, rather than the pass-rush.

Like I said, this is a very popular play in the NFL today and it’s one that works like a charm in the red zone.

In order to continue winning ball games in 2013, the Chiefs offense will have to keep putting up points and Dwayne Bowe is going to have to be involved.

The back shoulder fade will be a great way to get him the football in the end zone moving forward.


Note: Film via NFL Rewind. Markings are my own.

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Tags: Alex Smith Dwayne Bowe

  • stevekozak

    You couldn’t stop at “Alex Smith might not be the best quarterback in the league”? You had to add “it is not even close”? It might be closer than you think, if you paid more attention to the league. my $.02

    • Brandon Mecham

      Paid more attention to what? Alex Smith being in the bottom half on just about every stat? He’s not close to being the best quarterback.

      • Jim Harper

        ORRRR. We could say he is not even close to being the worst QB in the league. I am with bert 100% on this one.

        • Brandon Mecham

          Well with his stats being in the bottom half he’s closer to the worst than he is to the best.

          • Jim Harper

            Well I have finally found someone on Micah’s level. You guys should hang out. Really. You two have so much in common.

      • micah stephenson

        Lol, the only stat that matters to Alex Smith fans is that 29-6-1 or wat eva it is! Besides that they have nothing else good to say.

  • Adam Hamilton

    Bowe got away with one. But Denver got away with a ton of illegal picks.

  • berttheclock

    BTW, Andrew, why didn’t you mention the comments by Pro Football Focus which gave him a plus rating of 1.6. They gave the ALL WORLD Peyton a minus 1.3. In fact, they went into depth about some of the fine work Alex Smith put into the game and discussed the many drops.

    Alex Smith is the quarterback for the Chiefs. Unless, he becomes injured this season, he will remain the starting QB for the Chiefs and I, for one, am damned proud he happens to be our starting QB. Plus, I trust he will remain our starter for a long time. Really getting sick and tired and fed up with the constant Alex Smith bashing. Want to see some new found bashing? Go to sfgate/niners and read many of the comments by the newly disgruntled Kaepernick crowd. More than one believe it was a mistake by Baalke and Harbaugh to let Alex Smith depart.

    • Andrew Kulha

      I like PFF, I just never use it personally. Know someone over there I believe, nice guy.

    • Rob Ross

      I agree. I think that “Arrowhead Addict could do better than to open his article with a blatant lambast of our quarterback. He gets enough of that from the sports media.

      • Andrew Kulha

        I wouldn’t look at it with such a “good or bad” thought process. The way I see it, there are a ton of great QB’s in the NFL. Is Smith the best, no, not close. That’s just the unbiased way of looking at it.

        In that same sentence I said “but when he’s on, he’s more than good enough to help the Chiefs win games.”

        I know that you’re sticking up for your guy, but it’s okay to call things how they are. Smith is a good quarterback and he’s good for the Chiefs. He’s not close to being one of the best in the league though–and that’s OK.

    • Suzi Conger

      Thank you berttheclock..well said.!! There are some great sites out there that are led by very knowledgeable… it’s been very fun posting on said sites. I was concerned that I might get addicted to the “Bash Alex Smith KoolAid” that is so prolific here at aa,,,lol Naaaaw, just got tired of some of the insipid uneducated comments. One of my fav pundits is nick athans, et al,,, warpaint illustrated; r u familiar with them?: the following article I do believe you will enjoy, and I really like his pod-cast post game … and , post Den game pod-cast.

      Even ‘the beard’ McGrath said it best post Den game ” …if we would have caught the balls, we wouldn’t be having this convo right now” (not to mention Sherm’s 10 yd line fumble) (KC would have won vs Den) I just found out yesterday that KC receivers are 4TH in nfl for the most dropped catchable passes/balls…wow. I knew it was a real problem for Alex (course he’d never say so,, he always puts the probs on himself )

      NFL states ” KC offense (Alex Smith) has the fewest T/O’s in nfl @ 8 (now 9 post Sherm’s fumble) which equals a +15 differential and is the Biggest Reason that the Chiefs are the only undefeated team in nfl”… (obviously, stated before Den game :)

      Our OLine is still getting hammered, out maneuvered and dominated by opposing D; presently ranked 26TH for allowing most collapsed pockets/pressure/sacks (Alex avoids as many sacks as he takes with his great running scramble skills,,what top 5-ish rushing QB’s, and achieving many 1st Dn’s) Also, our OL is #1 in nfl for excessive penalty yardage losses; false starts in particular, which kills many first dns, 3rd/conv and drives.
      But hey, to go from 2-14 to 9-1,,awesome.. now it’s time to Blow-Out the Boltz! :-)

  • Jim Harper

    They should run this every time Alex sees Bowe in single coverage like that until someone shows they can stop it.