Breaking Down Running Back Screens

Screens are a crucial part of the offensive game. They can be thrown on any down and can be particularly impactful against a high-pressure defense.

What Is A Screen?

A “screen” is when the offensive linemen fake like they’re blocking the defensive linemen, or blitzing linebackers, and let them run toward the Quarterback. They then go either left, right, or stay in the middle, and lead block for the running back.

The biggest key in the screen game is to bait the defensive linemen into going upfield. This puts them out of position and they’re unable to catch the running back who has snuck past them.

When a screen is executed properly, the running back will have 3, 4 or even sometimes 5 lead blockers in front of him with just the linebackers and secondary to beat.

Why Run Screens?

Screens are a great play to slow down defenses and aggressive defensive coordinators.

For example:

Let’s say a defensive coordinator loves to blitz on 3rd down and 6+ yard to go. As an offensive coordinator, we can call a screen to make the defensive coordinator think again about bringing pressure on 3rd and 6+ situations.

Creative Ways To Run Screens

Screens can be run out of any formation. Teams may elect to drop straight back with their Quarterback, to bait the lineman to chase the quarterback deep into the backfield before he throws it to the running back.

Newer, creative screens elect for some sort of play-action, coupled with a screen to the left or right side.

WR Screens

While we’re talking about screens, we wanted to touch lightly on the wide receiver screen game. The same concept as applies to WR screens as they do with running back screens.

The only difference is typically only the play-side tackle, guard and center will get involved with the screen game. The Quarterback will fake to the running back (or do a straight drop similar to the RB screen game), influence the defensive lineman to chase him, and throw the ball over their heads.