Swing Screen with QB Counter

I spent yesterday, like most football diehards, watching the 2 College Football Playoff games.

In each game I noticed a package play… a RB swing screen to the wide side of the field, packaged with a QB GT Counter to the short side of the field.  Below I will breakdown how Alabama and Oklahoma each ran this play for explosive first downs.


The design of the play is to have 3 lead blockers on the perimeter for your RB swing to block the Corner, Sam LB, and Safety.  Bama ran there’s from a 20 personnel set with my favorite RB in the world Najee Harris, and Josh Jacobs in the backfield.  Oklahoma ran theres from a spread trips formation.

The perimeter players block the screen, and the OL blocks the counter for the QB.  The QB reads the Swing side DE… if he squeezes/chases the pulling tackle throw the swing.  If he attacks the RB, tuck it and run following the pullers.

The backfield action attacking out wide, with the OL blocking counter the other way really stresses the defense and truly cuts them in half.  The box players have to respect the counter, the perimeter players have to respect the Swing screen.

In the Bama clip they’re able to hit the RB swing for an explosive 22 yard play.

In the Oklahoma Clip Baker Mayfield keeps the ball and runs for an explosive 22 yard run.

Alabama’s TE flat screen packaged with Inside Zone

Throwing quick bubble screens as stand alone plays and attached to run plays is nothing new.  The idea is to get the ball to an player quickly in space with the playside WR(s) blocking the secondary for them.  The play is successful when you have a numbers or leverage advantage because of how a team may be playing your run game.

A new trend in football is rather than a bubble, offenses will use a quick flat route from a TE/H back.  It is a designed quick throw to the flat but the other WRs are not running routes, they are blocking the secondary from the start of the play.  The route is caught behind the line of scrimmage so there is no penalty from pass interference on the WRs for blocking with the ball in the air, and there is no illegal man down field on the OL if they go down field because you are working it as an RPO.

In the clip below I analyze how Alabama ran this concept in the National Championship game against Clemson.


Alabama aligns in a 2×2 set, a quick motion puts OJ Howard into the H back position.  Alabama is showing an “inside zone slice” concept up front.  The OL is doing IZ right, and it looks like OJ Howard is “slicing” back to block the backside DE.  Rather than block the DE, Howard bypasses the DE to run his flat route and turns for the ball immediately.  The 2 play side WRs stalk the Corner and OLB to give Howard space to run after the catch.

The QB is reading the DE end on the play and can choose to give the ball to the RB on the inside zone, or pull it and throw the quick flat.

In this clip Coker feels the end has closed down and pulls the ball to quickly flip it out to Howard in the flat who turns it in to a huge gain.

Cut up of the day: Screens

I have been going through every offensive clip of the season, and picking out clips to include in my presentations at a clinic in the Spring.

Since I now have some playlists saved by play type, they are easy to load on here.

I will start this off with screens, since that has been the most popular of my posts on this blog.

Now I am going to warn you, you are not going to see linemen all over the place lead blocking in the past.  We went away from this some this year because my OL was just bigger than in the past (weight wise) so they didn’t move as well, and they struggled when releasing so we OZ’d called screens.  Also we got in to running more screen/run combos as we went along.

My goal with screens was no to exploit the defense any time they gave us the number/leverage advantage.

There is one RB screen where we release the OL in these clips.

Enjoy… new set of cut ups will follow tomorrow.


Double Screen using new screen rules

Now that I have explained my new set of screen rules in a previous article I want to touch on how I run a RB screen using the same OL rules as I use in our WR screen game.

Quick refresher… PST has the unblocked Alley player, PSG has 1st LB in box, C has 2nd LB in the box.

First I believe in doing the RB slip screen as a double screen.  I think at some point in all of our coaching careers we have called a RB screen only to see the DE read it and sit right in the QBs window, or you have that fat DL who just didn’t rush that play and is now right on top of the RB ready to kill him.  Well I got tired of seeing this so i believe in running all RB screens as a double screen.  RB slip screen to one side, with a WR built in on the backside that the QB can throw if he has any doubt or cloudiness with the RB screen.

We installed this last year and I really liked that we always had an answer, it was automatic for the QB, drop and throw to F if he is open, if you don’t like the throw, plant and throw jailbreak backside.  Clear = F screen, Cloudy = Jailbreak

OL will block it just like Jailbreak, the play side half (including Center) will block using same rules as jailbreak to their side.  Backside Guard and Tackle will block just like Jailbreak to their side.

If we had a RB screen called to the Right it the assignments would look like this

RT: Alley
RG: 1st LB in box
C: 2nd LB in box
RB: Slip Screen Right

LT: Alley (Left)
LG: 1st LB in box (Left)
Backside WRs: Jailbreak

Screen Update!

My blog posts on our screen game have probably been the most popular/asked about of all the content on my blog. The screen game has been the best part of our offense for the 2 years we have been spread but I began noticing a problem with our screens last year. They were still very successful but we began having some “run by” issues with my OL. We were so anxious to get down the field that pursuit would often come right behind us and make the play.  I preached “not running by color” but it didn’t help. I decided that a tweak to my “out, up, in ” rules was needed. Our entire run game is rule based. I look at our screen game as outside runs so I decided to give my OL steadfast rules to be able to always know who they are responsible for and thus greatly reduce the risk of running past the defender they are suppose to block.

I will explain the specific assignments later on in this post.

We run 4 types of screens:

  1. fast screen = throw it right now
  2. play action = fake run away then throw
  3. jailbreak = sell drop back then throw
  4. slip/double screen = RB slip screen with jailbreak on the backside ( I will explain this one later on in a separate post)

On our fast screen I really just want the ball our there fast… I will call this because I have the defense either outnumbered or out leveraged. I don’t need my OL picking guys up down field but what I do need is for them to seal the box and keep the defensive end from getting in the quarterbacks window to throw. On fast we block it just like OZ to the play side.

Our play action and jailbreak screens remain nearly identical as my prior articles. The WRs will always block the most dangerous defender(s). Up front we are either showing run steps away or selling pass set at the snap, we engage, and release flat down LOS … Now is where the change to blocking rules comes in to play.

(After working flat down LOS)

Play side tackle – Alley defender

  • The alley defender is either the corner or the defenses overhang player. Since the WRs are blocking the most dangerous, someone is left unblocked and this can change depending on leverage and depth of defenders. That’s why I describe this rule as alley, he is running the alley thinking 1st LB outside the box… If he sees him being blocked then he knows to keep working flat to the Corner.

Play side guard – 1st LB in the box

  • It’s that simple… He works flat down LOS and picks up First LB in the box from the sideline.

Center – 2nd LB in the box

  • It’s that simple… He works flat down LOS and picks up Second LB in the box from the sideline.

We ran right past these 2 players a lot last year and they pursued out screens very well from inside out and this change should stop this.

Backside Guard and Tackle have the safeties… Essentially creating a touchdown alley or cutback opportunity for the WR.

I believe these changes to our screens will improve our consistency from down to down in our screen game. We get a hat on a hat against every look we may see and we have a more concrete, definitive set of rules that are much less open to interpretation than my previous screen blocking system.


The Screen posts I put up last year seemed to be the most popular so I picked out a few highlights on our screens this year… you will see they vary from solid to jail to RB screens. They are a big part of our offense and I have found we can run them pretty much against anybody when our WRs commit to blocking.

Sorry for the poor video quality… The video is in good quality when I watch it on hudl and on my computer but something about uploading it to this blog makes it look like Atari.

Enjoy !


Screens – Cage Drill

I have received a ton of reader interest on the series of posts on screens, so I decided to add more to the series.

Below i will diagram and explain what I call “Cage Drill”  this is the only drill we use for our screen game (OL)

I do this 1 or 2, 5 minute segments per day and we will rep screens live.  What I love about this drill is that it

  • Works all necessary skills needed for our screen game
  • Allows me to check for understanding of each of the screens
  • Emphasis on the proper release/steps
  • Emphasis on not “whiffing” on contact

First let me explain the drill layout, drill roles, and the rotation.
Please excuse the crude diagram of the drill.  O is the Offensive Lineman who is working, D represents defensive dummy players.  The orange circles are cones.

This drill uses 4 defensive players.  2 on each side.
1 Defender on each side is in the “cage”  they can move around anywhere within the cage, as your guys get better expand to bigger cages to they really have to get good at covering ground.

This cage defender is holding a bag (or no bag if you want to go live) their job is to move around a bit, try to juke the OL as if he were a LB or DB avoiding a blocker

The other 2 act as DL, they just come up the field a few steps on every rep.  They are there so the offensive player gets used to proper disengagement and release for the given screen called.

Once an OL guys on offense, he takes the bag and moves into the cage, that previous cage defender becomes the new DL, that DL moves to the back of the offensive line.  That is how we cycle through to keep everyone moving efficiently.  We get a decent amount of reps on this, probably 4 or 5 per minute.  Do not let them slack, they run to switch spots and rotate.

If you have a lot of kids, I have broken up into 2 cage drills and have run them simultaneously, or have another assistant take over

Teaching points

First to check for learning I call all of our screens in 3 different ways.  We might be doing Jailbreak right for a player’s given rep.  His wristband would say Jail Rt in a game.  So I can call it this way, or I can call it by our no huddle name for it, or i can call it by our audible name for it.  We have 3 different ways to call each screen, so when we do cage drill I constantly mix up the names I am using to be sure that they have learned our system.

They have to take the proper steps/release described in my earlier posts on screens Screens – OL

The keys I stress are working flat down the LOS, and once they near the cage defender they need to break down just like an open field tackle.  They must buzz their feet, widen their base, and punch the defender, then run their feet to stay engaged/in front of the defender.  They block until my whistle then everyone rotates.

As we get better I really start making HUGE cages for the defenders to move around in, really gets the guys good at blocking in space.

Please keep the questions/comments coming

Some Screen Film

Ok so I finally figured out how to take the video off of our HUDL account and put some up online…


Quick Screen

I apologize foe the video quality, I swear it looks much better on my computer.  Somehow putting it up on Blogger turns it into  garbage.

Hope this helps to visualize some of what I discussed in my posts on our screen game.

Screens Part 3: Offensive Line Play

Now to the sexy Stuff!!!
I think our OL play on screens is what really makes these screens so great.  Sure we have some good athletes that do special things with the rock in hand but the 5 up front set it all up.

Now to the BEAUTY of what I teach my OL on our screens.

  • Every screen is essentially blocked the same way
  • works vs any front/coverage/blitz/anything
  • Since its the only thing we have to work for screen we get really good at it
  • All 5 OL have the exact same steps, path, rules, everything so if guys get moved around up front due to injury, grade problems, anything, it doesn’t matter. No new teaching if a kid moves from Lg to RT or any other switch

So the first thing one needs to understand is that our path and cue words are the same on all screens.  The only thing that changes is what they do at the snap of the ball, ex. how they set up the defense before releasing .

I will first cover how we block screens, then I will cover the actual releases in each screen (since that’s all that varies)

First off we release all 5 linemen on all of our WR screens, on Slow Screen we have both tackles high wall DEs and only release the GCG.

On all screens we open up and run flat down the LOS for a MINIMUM of 10 yards.
We do not pass up color if someone crosses your path you pick them up

  • This is what allows us to release all 5, and not have to worry about penetration or DE getting hands up to stop the screen.  If anyone comes up the field then they will run right into one of our OL who is running flat down the LOS and we will rip and run right through him.  I teach them to work through him like a reach block and continue down field, this has effectively stopped or at least slowed his penetration and gotten hands down so we can get the ball off.

I cant stress enough how important it is for them to run flat down the LOS, I scream run flat all day long.  it is so much easier to adjust their path by working flat as compared to coming up field then trying to get back flat.

So you might be wondering, how can you release all 5? yet have some guys possibly getting caught up on DL? while blocking it as sexy as you say? and doing same thing for all the different screens?

The Answer my friends is a Mantra i have created…


That’s it, that’s the key, Out, Up, In.

OUT: As we release down the LOS we look Out ( to the sideline we are running towards) we are looking for any unoccupied color.  If we see any defenders from the outside/flat area that are unblocked by WRs then this is where we are going

UP: Now if we see all of the “out” defenders accounted for either by WRs or by another OL who has released ahead of me, we now transition into UP.  We turn our head and shoulder up the field (facing the goal line) We are looking here for OLB or safeties who are coming up the field unaccounted for.

IN: So we work flat down LOS looking out, transition into looking up, then if everyone is accounted for UP, we turn our eyes to the IN (Opposite sideline of play direction) basically for everyone pursuing from the backside, scraping ILBs.

That’s it that’s the key.

I hate man style screen blocking systems because you cant predict the Defense before the play.

Sometimes our WRs wont even know who they are blocking until the ball is snapped, so by teaching my entire OL Out, Up, In they are able to account for any possible unblocked defenders on that side of the field.

I don’t know which of my OL will get a clean easy release on a given snap, that’s why they are all taught to run flat.  Sometimes tackle gets caught up with DE, keeping him occupied.  And we will get G blocking out, C blocking up, and backside G and T blocking in.

Or a couple guys get locked up and the backside guys hustle and make a key block.

The key is that they sprint flat down LOS!

Best way for them to “feel” what out, up, in means is live reps in practice.  They will begin to see WRs in position to block certain guys, and see who they have to pick up.
If you dedicate 10 minutes a day to screens (10 for drills, 10 for live screen) you will get pretty darn good at an amazing offensive weapon.

Since this is all we do on all screens we can work it over and over and over again until they fall asleep mumbling out, up, in.

Now to what makes the screens different.


We go right now! As soon as it is snapped we bucket, rip through and try to run flat down LOS, executing screen technique discussed above. Simple.

On bubble (since we stalk with outside WR(s)) once they get out they will instantly see all the “out” defenders accounted for by WRs, and begin to turn up, (to in) and effectively lead blocking for the bubble.  This year my LT was so quick getting out there, that at times my #3 WR would bubble, catch the ball, and just get right on my LTs back, literally like a human shield, and follow him down the field.

On Quick they really have to work their EYES, and keep flat until they see for sure all “out” defenders are going to be blocked.


We take 2-3 Zone steps to the opposite direction.  ex. if we have solid Left the entire OL takes 2-3 zone steps to the right, then turns and uses above screen technique to the Left… That’s it, see how just the first couple steps change

Jail Break

We 90s Pass Set. We use 4 step vertical set, swing and whiff, clubbing/punching the defender past us and we execute above screen technique.

Slow Screen

Tackles 90s Set and high wall DEs
G C G does exact same thing as Jail Break

I really don’t think it can get any simpler than that… We have a base set of rules used for all screens, and the only that that changes is the first couple steps.

I have to admit this post was very difficult for me to type out.  I came up with this system in my head, and I taught it in person to our kids and coaches.  This was the first time I really put it down in written word.  I hope it didn’t turn into an ugly incoherent rant 🙂

I truly feel this is the easiest way to do screens.  We didn’t have any stud OL in fact it was a below average group overall, however like I said in another post there were times when all we could run was screens.  Screens were our best play because that’s what our OL did best.

Screens Part 2: Skills

Now the break down of what the Skills do

Quick Screen:
The #1 WR (widest WR) to the called side foot fires, a lot of exaggeration from arms and feet, really want the CB thinking he has to get deep.  He should go about a yard up field, then come back to catch the ball where just behind the LOS.  My biggest piece of advice here, is repping the screens live in practice, so he gets used to cutting off his blocks and finding lanes.  We allow them to come inside a few steps to let their blockers get in front of them, but it hits best when they get back outside after this. On these WR screens are best long gainers, were when the WR dipped in (behind an OL or WRs block, then got up field or back outside)

Slot WR(s) : The #2 WR has the rule of #1MDM, or most dangerous man to making the play.  If he sees a very tight corner then that corner is the most dangerous man and our #2 WR must block him.  If the corner is soft and the OLB over him is playing tight then that is the most dangerous man.  If both guys are playing soft he will slow play it, going half speed off the LOS looking for who is coming downhill to attack the screen first.

If we are in trips and have a #3 WR he then blocks the second most dangerous defender.  We work everyday drills in practice with the WRs recognizing who is picking up who based on their depth.

RB:  Original TFS stuff has the RB also getting out on the second defender play side, but ours never really did anything, my Ol were better blockers so I eventually stopped releasing them to block from the backfield.  I would either move them out to empty so their path is shorter, or if they are in the backfield they just step up in case somehow someone comes through completely untouched and can possibly fluster the QB.

QB: Grip it and rip it… that’s really it.  It is called quick for a reason, he throws it as soon as he gets it.  With a kid who has bigger hands I think he can get away with not even getting the laces and just getting it out.  I tell my QB to throw the ball to where the WR starts out pre snap.  If they throw the ball right there, the WR (after going up and back) should be in the perfect spot to catch the ball.

Bubbles are fairly simple for the skill guys. We run these to our #2 and #3 WRs, as well as to the Rb out of the backfield.

Called WR runs the bubble route which I teach as follows:

  • Align a little deeper than normal for easier window for QB
  • Cross over step toward sideline on the snap
  • Lose 1 yard on first step
  • Run flat down the line after that
  • Shoulder North/South
  • Head Turned back to Qb

I dont like big looping bubbles, QB has to be extremely accurate and lead the WR just right. We align deeper and lose 1 yard off the snap so we have more depth, makes QBs throw easier.  Then we run (kind of a cross over type run) toward sideline, since ou shoulder are square Qb can just throw the ball aiming to throw it in front of the front shoulder, once ball is in the air it is easy for the WR to adjust.  Very effective and I don’t recall my team having a single incompletion on bubble all year.

QB: Similar Grip it and rip it idea, key is aiming for bubble man’s front shoulder.

Other WRs: Stalk your man

RB: I will either have him do the same as in Quick screen, or I will signal a play fake and the RB fakes a run the opposite way QB just shows the ball and throws the bubble.  RB fake was always good for making the Lb take at least 1 step the opposite way we were throwing.

Solid Screen:

This one will be short because it is essentially the same as Quick Screen.
Solid always goes to the #1 WR.
Same WR blocking rules apply

#1 WR will push it up the field maybe one more step than on quick, for timing, then come back to other side of LOS.

RB fakes run to the opposite side.

QB rides the fake and throws the screen.

RB has to sell the fake because QB is mostly concerned with getting the laces and focusing on the throw itself.


Jailbreak is always to the #1 WR.

#1 WR: He pushes an outside release up the field for 3-4 steps, then turns around retraces his steps, gets back on his side of the LOS and runs flat down the LOS to give QB an easy target.

Slot WR(s): On jail we usually identify the corner as the most dangerous because we sell pass by everyone else, so the defender over our slot WRs usually follow him in coverage because they have him in man or they have flats.  The only time he won’t block the corner on jail is if that OLB is attacking the screen right at the snap.

#3 WR (if we have one) will block the next most dangerous guy

RB runs a swing to the opposite side.

QB catches the ball, pumps the bubble to the RB.. then he has to retreat, quickly ( we don’t block any DL up front so its on him to get depth) then he throws the screen aiming in front of the WR, allows WR to run flat down LOS right into the pass.

We can also fake to the Rb if we tag or hand signal it

Key on this is the Qb getting plenty of depth, makes his throw much easier.

Slow Screen:
All WRs run whatever route we put on their wristband, usually verts to clear things out.

RB: Step up like normal pass pro, don’t really touch anyone, then reverse pivot to face Qb and settle in an open area to receive screen.

QB: Take 3 step drop… hitch up, then maybe retreat just a bit before dumping the screen to the back.

We didn’t run this a ton, I didn’t like it, I felt we were running it too wide.  I have seen some stuff with running it always as a middle screen to the Rb that I like a lot more.  a lot of defenses overloaded guys deep and outside on us and the middle was wide open.  I would like to run a RB middle screen, similar set up, but RB just works in between tackles to get open instead of outside like we did this year.

Well I think I touched on just about everything regarding skill guys and screens.  I highly advocate running them live in practice 10 minutes a day so your kids get used to reading the lanes on them.
OL post coming within the next 24 hours I hope.