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By Matthew T. LemMon, Head Football Coach, Tamalpais High School (CA)

The idea behind this is to limit the amount of teaching to our Offensive Line and limit the input they must process before running their tracks. The concept tries to create a funnel with lead blockers to attack a potentially weak piece of the defense to give the receiver a clean lane to the end zone.

By Matthew T. LemMon
Head Football Coach
Tamalpais High School (CA)
Twitter: @tamhighfootball

 

 

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The idea behind all our screen concepts is that the Offensive Line will run their screen tracks the same way on each screen type, except our middle screen.  The idea behind this is to limit the amount of teaching to our Offensive Line and limit the input they must process before running their tracks.  The concept tries to create a funnel with lead blockers to attack a potentially weak piece of the defense to give the receiver a clean lane to the end zone.

Diagram 1

 

The simplest way to break down the process of our screen is by each position on the Offensive Line and how they process who they are to block and at what angle is most effective.  We will go through each position and then include how we teach and coach our middle screen concept.  We teach three tracks for the Offensive Lines, they are Sidewalk, Alley and Kill.  These three tracks will be explained throughout the article. 

Diagram 1B

 

Play side Offensive Tackles:

We teach our offensive tackles are coached to take two and a half kick steps (this can alter depending on the speed of the Offensive Tackles on your team, quicker guys may need to take three or more kick steps, while slower guys may need only to take one kick step – timing is everything) and throw their hands violently in an attempt to convince the defense they are indeed pass blocking. 

 

Play Side Offensive Guard:

The offensive guards will take one and a half kick steps and pump his arms as if he is pass blocking.  He needs to sell the pass block as most of the Linebackers in our league are reading the guards for their keys. 

 

Center:

The offensive center will take one and a half kick steps and pump his arms as if he is pass blocking.  He needs to sell the pass block.

After these kick steps, they should look to attack what we call the “alley” – this is the area between the farthest defender and the hash.  Before the snap of the ball, the Offensive Center should identify the first defender in this area between the depths of 5 and 15 yards, so that we may know exactly who our aiming point is and how they might move to the play.  Usually, this individual is either the Overhang defender or the Safety to the side of the screen. 

 

Back Side Offensive Guard:

The offensive guards will take one and a half kick steps and pump his arms as if he is pass blocking.  He needs to sell the pass block as most of the Linebackers in our league are reading the guards for their keys. 

After their kick steps, they should look to what we call the kill area.  The kill area is the entirety of the field from play side guard to the backside sideline.  The backside guard needs to identify the potential defenders that might be able to retrace the screen from the backside and make a tackle.  His steps to begin are similar, but once he releases downfield, he must find where the center is blocking, releasing almost to the middle of the field and turn towards the backside.  When he does turn towards the backside, his job is simply to find the first opponent jersey and ensure he climbs underneath the block he is throwing.  If this defender slips off, his job is to continue to look for work. 

Diagram 5

 

On the kill, the biggest mistake we make is allowing the defender to climb over or to stop and look.  The goal is to make the path of any backside defender walled off by the block or the OG looking for work.  We are always attacking upfield shoulders and looking to legally and safely create the backside of the funnel.  This defender is usually the backside LB and sometimes the Mike LB – the overhang, CB, and Safety to the backside should be locked in on our backside passing concept, which is usually a fade-out concept, or a bubble go.

 

Back Side Offensive Tackle:

The backside offensive tackle is going to pass block against the end, ensuring we do not get a quick speed rush that lands in the face of the QB.  If we get beat, our job is merely run-down field as if we are releasing on a run play.  If we are handling the Defensive end, then we continue to pass block until we see the ball carrier in front of us, at which point, we need to find work.

This is the way we run all our screens from the offensive line perspective – there is a fair amount of blocking done by the receivers to the screen side, and it alters our aiming points very slightly as an offensive lineman.  We continually teach our offensive lineman how to identify the most dangerous man in their area and at what angle blocking them is necessary depending on how they might move as we window dress our screens.  Most of the adjustments come in respect to our game plan and how we intend to create misdirection or who is getting the screen mostly during the week.

The only alteration to this is that if we are running a mid-screen to the RB or an H in motion, we separate the offensive lineman into two sides.  They will both run the screen as if they are play-side while recognizing the formation and route concepts we are running to that side.   The center no longer has the kill but will attack straight forward to the first potential Linebacker who can make the play.

 

Coaching Points:

The most significant piece outside of the steps for the Offensive line is identifying pre-snap who is in your lane to block and how that might adjust based on the post-snap movement of the defender.  This takes the scouting of your opponent and merely working the most likely movement to a specific action.  Offensive linemen are taught daily to trust their track until they reach 5 yards downfield, then find work.  This will put them in the most effective position to make a quality block and pop the screen for substantial gains.

 

Variations:

We discussed how we might run a mid-screen out of the same look with very similar assignments for the offensive line and trying to keep all our concepts connected.

The biggest thing we look for when running the screen is running it to a side where we outnumber defenders.  This puts two offensive linemen for one defender in the hopes that even as a quicker play if he slips over or underneath, another lineman is looking for work to attack this defender.

As an offense that runs a lot of Jet Sweep and Orbit Sweeps, we use a lot of motions to create window dressing and give more space to our players.  This also drags the defenders into a position where we can attack them and get functional blocks on their upfield shoulder.

 

 

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  • How Tackles are taught to block alley defenders that are deeper than 8 yards.
  • How Tackles are taught to adjust and block alley defenders that float between 5-8 yards.
  • What three things Guard are taught to identify when blocking the sidewalk defender.
  • How the Center is taught to identify and block the defender inside the play side Guard’s block.
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Conclusion

Our screen game is not expansive in terms of blocking, but by using the same blocking for each different type of screen and screens to different guys, we create fluidity in teaching and make the screen runner's job very easy.  No matter the position you are in, whether you motion or where you are aligned pre-snap, you understand that the Offensive Line is doing the same blocking and where the hole to the funnel will open to score.  Ideally, we would like to be able to screen you from various positions and run the screen under the action of other plays we have to get individual problematic defenders (linebackers and safeties) to put themselves in place to be blocked out of the play.

The biggest issue we are working on to create even more of an advantage is teaching WR’s and TE’s how to read the screen and how we can get more live reps running the screen game in practice with actual moving pieces.

All credit to Coach Casey Sully (Offensive Coordinator) and Coach Matt Gillespie (Offensive Line Coach) for ensuring the vision of simple screen rules for Offensive Lineman is carried out consistently and effectively.

 

 

Meet Coach Matthew LemMon: Coach LemMon has been at Tamalpais High School for the past three seasons attempting to rebrand and rebuild the program to compete in the area. A young man from Richmond, CA, who went to San Diego State and began his coaching career at Hercules High School upon his return, he thrives on challenges and building a community around football. His love for the game was instilled as a young child by his Grandfather, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and his father, who played at the University of California Berkeley. Every day is an opportunity to get better and make the situation you are in a better situation for all – focusing on helping underserved youth and young men and women looking for their place in the world. Coach LemMon currently teaches Social Studies at Tamalpais High School and is the Head Football Coach for the Red-Tailed Hawks.

 

 

 

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