The screen pass is a play that, if executed properly, will net big gains for the offense. You sucker the D into rushing the QB, who then lobs the ball to the running back or receiver, who charges downfield under the protection of his massive offensive linemen.
“Screens are one of those things that are drawn up on paper to look nice and seem like such a great play,” says Indianapolis Colts OL Andy Alleman. “But when you get in the middle of the game, things happen and you have to adapt on the run.”
Here, Alleman draws the Xs and Os of playing a screen pass as an offensive lineman.
Whether the screen is coming from the outside-in or from the inside-out determines how you block it. When I come to the line of the scrimmage, I try to read the safeties to see if it’s man or zone coverage.
When I take my pass set, I’ll [look to] the linebacker. Right away I’ll know if the linebacker has the running back man to man. If he does, I have to take him. If not, I move on.
You always want to go flat down the line of scrimmage; you don’t want to get upfield. You’re out there, you start to get in the heat of the battle and go after a guy. But the defense has to come to the running back; and if you get flat down the line, you can set it up and have better timing, and the running back can break off your block easier.
From the RB’s Perspective
As a running back, you want to sell it like it’s a pass play. You want to be aggressive in your pass protection. And you’ve got to watch your linemen, because your linemen are going to time it for you to be able to get out on the screen pass. Focus on catching the ball, and try not to go back inside where the pursuit is. Stay outside and get up the field.
— San Diego Chargers RB Michael Bennett