If you’ve ever been in the unfortunate position of being on a plane that is delayed, you know what a pain it can be. You’ve checked in, made it through security, found your gate, queued to get on board, struggled with the overhead lockers and settled back into your seat. But then you hear the captain say something like, “We’re waiting for a slot.” What does that mean and why can’t we take off?
Slot is a term that refers to an authorization for an aircraft to take-off or land at a particular airport on a given day during a specified time period. It’s a tool used to manage air traffic at extremely busy airports, and helps to avoid repeated delays that result from too many flights trying to take off or land at the same time.
As the NFL continues to evolve into more of a spread offense, teams are increasingly relying on slot receivers to provide them with an extra dimension to their passing game. Slot receivers are positioned in the middle of the field, typically between a tight end or offensive tackle and a wide receiver. They receive passes from the quarterback, and are responsible for blocking on running plays, such as slants and screens.
In order to be successful at their jobs, slot receivers must have a variety of skills that set them apart from other types of wide receivers. Most importantly, they must be fast and have excellent hands. Additionally, they need to be able to run complex routes that require them to make a series of cuts and evasions. Finally, slot receivers must be able to make adjustments to their routes in real time based on the coverage they’re facing.
While slot receivers are often considered the third receiving option on a team, they’re quickly becoming more of an integral part of the modern NFL offense. In fact, some of the most prolific receivers in recent history – such as Wes Welker, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. – have spent most of their careers playing in the slot.
Slot receivers are a necessity in today’s game because they allow quarterbacks to attack all three levels of the defense. They give the offense a versatile and reliable target when matched up against cornerbacks, and they are critical in terms of blocking on running plays. Without them, offensive coaches would have a hard time spreading the ball around and attacking the defense in different ways.