In this weeks film breakdown, I thought we could talk about the screen game and take a close look at the Tight End Screen Boise State used last Friday at Virginia
What is a screen play?
You will often hear commentators talk about screens and the screen game…but some may ask themselves what is a screen exactly. A screen is when the offense tries to get the ball in space to one of their better offensive weapons either a wide receiver (tight end) or a running back. In a typical screen, the offense will release anywhere from 1 to 3 players downfield to block.
The players released downfield can be lineman or receivers depending on the type of screen called. For a screen to work, the ball must be thrown behind the line of scrimmage (LOS). By throwing the ball behind the LOS, it allows the offensive blockers to block downfield. The player catching the screen will then follow his “screen” of downfield blockers which is why it is called a screen.
When and why to call a screen?
An offense can call a screen at any juncture of the game. Most teams like calling screens when faced with a down and distance greater than 7 yards 3rd and 9 for example. The other reason to call a screen is if you are facing a good rush from the defensive front 7 and are having a hard time slowing them down. The offenses can use the defenses aggressiveness against them in this way.
Some teams use the screen game as the base part of their offense. Many spread teams like Oregon and Auburn for example will use the screen play as an extension of their run game by getting the ball on the perimeter quickly thus forcing the defense to defend the entire field. Several spread teams will package their screen game with the inside zone play for example but that is another post for another time.
Types of screens
As mentioned before there are numerous types of screens in use by offenses. here is a list of a few
Bubble Screen as i’m sure most people are familiar with is designed to get the ball on the perimeter quickly by throwing to a wide receiver. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about the bubble screen which will cover it more in depth and you can read it here.
Wide Receiver Jail break screen is another screen using the athleticism of your wide receivers by throwing him the ball behind 2 or 3 offensive lineman and letting him work. This is the type of screen where the offense wants to take advantage of a hard up field rush by the defensive front 7. You can read more in depth about the jailbreak screen here.
The bubble and the jailbreak screen are two of the more popular screens run by spread offenses. There are additional screens involving running backs and tight ends which use a similar philosophy. The variations of screens can go on forever where one could write a book about them.
Boise State Tight end screen
After giving you a little background on screens, we can now take a look at how Boise State utilized their tight end on a screen play versus Virginia last Friday.
Like with any pass or run, the offense has to set up the play. Earlier in the game, Boise State had success with the sprint out pass. On this play however, the Broncos made it look like a sprint out to the left while slipping the tight end out with the backside guard and tackle blocking in front for him.
The diagram below shows Boise State with 11 personnel (1 RB and 1 TE). In true bronco fashion, they will use motions and shifts with almost every play. Boise State will motion the slot receiver across the formation thus widening out the corner on the backside. At the snap of the ball, the two wide receivers at the bottom of the screen will run their route concepts.
The Center, Guard, and Tackle play side along with the running back will run their sprint out protection making it look like a sprint out pass. The backside guard and tackle will pass set for a 2 count letting their man go and running up field lead blocking for the screen. The TE will pass set for a 2 count and will release behind the LOS into the flat. The QB will sell the sprint out pass and on his 5th step, turn back and throw the ball to the TE waiting in the flat. Once the TE catches the ball he runs behind his lead blockers (Guard and Tackle) for a nice gain.
In the video below you can see it unfold and executed beautifully.
Thanks for viewing this week and I look forward to another video breakdown session next week.