Thursday, November 12, 2009

The greatest play in football

At the risk of sounding like too much of a football nerd, I want to share with you my love of the screen pass. There are few things in this world that I find more beautiful than a well-executed screen.

It is everything that is great about football:

  • The play must be designed and called as a result of a careful analysis of the defense's tendencies as well as knowledge of how it fits into the defense's idea of YOUR tendencies.
  • It involves just the right amount of deception, but not so much trickery that it becomes "cute."
  • It showcases the oft-overlooked athleticism of offensive linemen. It takes alot of athleticism for a guard or center to first absorb a blow from a defensive linemen, than gain enough speed to make it all the way to the outside to set up in front of the receiver before hte ball arrives. The very fact the pass rush is let through on purpose means the QB has to get the ball out pretty quick. It is a race to get in position on time, and one that not many 300 pounders would have a chance to win.
  • If all 11 men don't do their job, the play has no chance. The receivers have to run complementary routes to clear some of the defendes out of the target area. The linemen who are blocking for the receiver, before they slip away, have to engage in convincing enough blocks on the line that it's not immediately obvious they are letting the rushers through intentionally. The QB will be expecting the pressure from the play side, but will also only have one read and will be focused on it - so the blockers on the non-play side must keep any pressure from coming from an unexpected angle and ruining the timing of the play. The guy who catches the ball must have the patience to let the blockers lead the way downfield - then once they have made their blocks he needs the decisiveness to exploit one of the holes to create a big gain.
  • After all of the delicate work described above, you get the visceral pleasure of watching a wall of enormous blockers storming downfield and flattening some helpless defenders.

In summary: Preparation, subtle deception, athleticism, teamwork, execution, timing, discipline, carefully controlled and targeted aggression, all polished off with the perfect amount of good old fashioned brute force.

The screen pass IS football.

1 comment:

  1. Give me a good ol' stretch right any day.