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

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