Hey Peter King, Here’s What New Orleans Saints Play “Snug Left, Y Fly, P 35 Stab Dog, F Rail,” Means

Over at Pro Football Talk, the NFL news website that’s grown from a rather rag-tag blog to an NBC-owned place for league gossip, veteran pro football writer Peter King wrote about his “fly on the wall” experience with the New Orleans Saints coaches. It just so happens the game King was in the Saints’ coaches room for was what became the 48 to 7 massive blowout of the Philadelphia Eagles.

What caught my eye in King’s really interesting work was this passage he typed:

“Then the defensive coaches left to work on their own, and the offensive coaches work on the opening plays. On the screen, Payton’s opening plays come up … and the double-bunch is number five. Clearly, it’s going to be called early in the game. Payton wants to see the big-bodied Hill steaming around right end at number 22. (He never calls him “Sidney Jones.” Just “22.”) For a stranger who doesn’t know the Saints’ vernacular, listening to the discussion of each play is like listening to Dutch. One of the reasons Payton isn’t paranoid about me sitting in, I’m sure, is that when I hear, “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail,” I’m not going to know what it means—and that’s just the way they like it.”

And in this, the words “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog, F rail,” just jumped out at me like nothing else. I’m a massive football strategy junkie, and have plays and playbooks that go back to when I was 17 years old – and I’m 56 now. Some of the plays I’d never run today, but many of them have stood the test of time.

I was a proponent of five-receiver offenses as far back as 1978 at Skyline High School in Oakland, and so when I drew up a play from a shotgun formation (I was a huge fan of Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Tom Landry) with five wide receivers, the head coach then, the great Tony Fardella, and all of his players, swore up and down that I needed to keep a back in the backfield with the quarterback. I argued without giving ground that the play design gave my quarterback enough time to get rid of the football before any defender would touch him. Sadly, the concept of time-motion-studies escaped my Skyline High School Football friends, and its no wonder I was just the equipment manager, but that’s another story for another time. I’ll just say all of my plays at Skyline High worked (true), except the one that was to end with me getting the cheerleader.

But, I digress; back to “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail.

Jag RT 18 Boot
Jag RT 18 Boot

Anyway, I looked at that play name and thought I could figure out what it means. So, I copied “Snug left” conducted a Google search, and was reminded that “Snug left” was a formation featured in Ted Seay’s book called “The Wild Bunch: A Conflict-Theoretical Approach to Offensive Football.” Now, if you don’t know the name of Ted Seay, you should, because one of the play series in that book is one that’s now used by several teams, the LA Rams and Oakland Raiders among them. In fact, the Raiders opened their preseason against the Rams using Ted Seay’s approach, with a play very much like “Jag RT 18 Boot.” But, I digress; back to “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail.”

In addition, Ted advocated employment of the now-popular “Jet Sweep” way back in 2006, when he was making online playbooks about Wing-T Formation plays for youth football. I communicated with Ted a couple of times on football strategy forums, and appreciated that he understood my approach to the game, details of which I’ll leave out for this post.

Anyway, “Snug left” formation is in “The Wild Bunch: A Conflict-Theoretical Approach to Offensive Football.” And as the diagram shows us “Y” is part of this formation, so we have figured out who the tight end is, and it’s “Y” and he’s what many would call “flexed” out or away from the offensive tackle on the left side by about four yards, and the Flanker is “Z” and right behind the “Y” and just behind him to the outside – or on a “wing.” Here’s the Snug left” formation in total:

SNUG Left from Ted Seay
SNUG Left from Ted Seay

So, from there, I I have to conclude that “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail” is a pass play that has the Tight End as the primary receiver running a “fly” or “to the end zone” pass pattern, while “P 35” simply means “pass 35” or perhaps the 35th pass play of that type in the Saints’ playbook, and “Stab dog” and “F rail” call out the blocking scheme and the assignment of the fullback, who’s behind the quarterback, and “F” as well as “H”, who’s on the right wing position.

“Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail”

The plan to use “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail” is exemplary of what became a very aggressive Saints Offensive Game Plan. In this case, the use of “Snug left, Y fly” indicates that Coach Peyton and his staff believed they could hurt the Eagles Defense with the Tight End running deep in the middle of the field. Or perhaps the Tight End’s pattern had as a companion a “deep in” pattern by the Flanker? Either way, the formation itself clearly communicates the Saints intent to strike with its passing game.

Now that we know the Saints play “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail” is from (to a great extent) the Ted Seay approach to pro football as expressed in “The Wild Bunch: A Conflict-Theoretical Approach to Offensive Football,” it’s fair to ask if the pair of coaches know each other? I can’t find any direct evidence the two have, but I did find a 2013 article by Chris Brown in Grantland outlining how Coach Peyton was coaching his son’s peewee football Liberty Christian Warriors and was outsmarted by the Springtown Orange Porcupines, which employed football’s oldest formation, the Single Wing. And then there was this paper by Coach Seay that, has many of the base offensive plays ran by the Rams, Cowboys, and Raiders,today. It’s called “The Wing T For Youth.”

So, what we can gain from this is that in using “Snug left, Y fly, P 35 Stab dog F rail”, Sean Peyton employed some of Ted Seay’s concepts, and reached back to the lessons he learned from football strategy used in youth football today. That should not be taken as a slam on Coach Peyton. Rather, it’s a sign that he’s open to employing the most effective football strategy approaches regardless of the level at which they’re used, peewee, college, or NFL. We have also learned that Ted Seay, rather by intent or by accident, has had a giant impact on NFL offense design in the 2018 season.

Stay tuned.

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