World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Screen pass

Article Id: WHEBN0000679941
Reproduction Date:

Title: Screen pass  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: American football plays, Interception, Ineligible receiver downfield, Swinging gate (American football), Checkdown
Collection: American Football Plays
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Screen pass

A screen pass is a play in gridiron football consisting of a short pass to a receiver who is protected by a screen of blockers.[1] During a screen pass, a number of things happen concurrently in order to fool the defense into thinking a long pass is being thrown, when in fact the pass is merely a short one, just beyond the defensive linemen. Screens are usually deployed against aggressive defenses that rush the passer. Because screens invite the defense to rush the quarterback, they are designed to leave fewer defensemen behind the rushers to stop the play.


  • Use 1
  • Types 2
  • Shovel pass 3
  • Offensive action during a screen pass play 4
  • Types of plays 5
  • References 6


A screen pass can be effective, but it can also be risky as it is rather easy for a defensive player, even a lineman, to intercept the pass if a defender gets between the quarterback and the intended receiver. If the pass is intercepted, there are often few offensive players in front of the intercepting player, thus making it much easier for the intercepting team to earn a large return or to score a touchdown.


Screens come in many forms. A screen to a running back to either the strong or short side of the field in the flats is often just called a screen. Screens to wide receivers come in four forms: the bubble screen, middle screen, slot screen, and slip screen.

The bubble screen was essentially created by Don Read when he was head coach of the Montana Grizzlies, and Lou Holtz, head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, brought the play into prominence after calling Read and asking for the play. The bubble screen involves a receiver taking a step forward, then darting toward the quarterback to receive the ball while the offensive linemen release to clear a path for the receiver. The benefit of the bubble screen is that it works against either zone or man-to-man coverage. A downside is that it is dependent on proper timing; a zone blitz or defensive end dropping into coverage can disrupt the timing, and may result in the quarterback being sacked.

The middle screen is similar to the bubble screen, except that the receiver continues his route to the middle of the field. The linemen release up the middle of the field in front of the receiver.

Shovel pass

A screen pass is sometimes executed using a shovel pass throwing motion. To throw a shovel pass the quarterback palms the football, and "shovels" the pass directly forward to the receiver, usually with a backhand, underhand or pushing motion. When a designed play calls for the quarterback to use a shovel pass forward to a receiver it is, by definition, also a screen pass. Because the pass appears to be a fumble if not completed, some defenses attempt to recover the ball as a turnover.

The Utah Pass is an overhand forward shovel pass of the ball.[2] popularized by the Utah Utes football team. The play is commonly used by teams that use a spread offense.

Offensive action during a screen pass play

The quarterback drops back as if he is going to pass the ball deep. The offensive line sets up in pass protection for usually one to two seconds, then releases and lets the defensive line go. The player receiving the screen pass moves behind the releasing linemen and waits for the ball. The outside receivers run clear-out routes in order to make a path for the screen coming behind them.

If run properly, the defensive backs will be run out of the play by the receivers, and the defensive line will penetrate too far to stop the short pass from being thrown. The only defenders left will be linebackers, which will be picked up by the "screen" of offensive linemen in front of the receiver—hence the name "screen pass".

Types of plays

There are a number of variation on screen pass plays.

The "conventional" screen to the running back (the action described above). This type of play is something of a scripted checkdown.

A tight end screen where the tight end takes the place of the running back in the above description.

The wide receiver screen (or "jailbreak screen"), where the linemen sprint out in front of the wide receiver catching the screen pass. However, the blocking may be as simple as one receiver blocking ahead of another. A wide receiver screen thrown to a receiver moving towards the quarterback, behind one or more blocking receivers, is also commonly called a "tunnel screen".

The "quarterback throwback" screen, where the quarterback will pitch to a running back or throw a short pass to a wide receiver, and run the opposite direction, with releasing linemen in front of him. The running back or wideout will then lateral, or "throw it back" to the quarterback, with offensive linemen leading him downfield. This is also known as a "Blitz Beater" or "Blitz" for short because it's almost always used against a blitz-heavy defense, also called that because when you can tell a blitz is coming, this is a common play called to counter it, and the overpursuing nature of the blitz leaves the running back, and then the quarterback wide open with the possibility of gaining huge chunks of yardage. The "quarterback throwback" has been known to force defenses to blitz less, because one successful play can turn into a quick touchdown with a mobile quarterback.

The "middle screen", which has the same type of action as a "conventional" screen, but the linemen remain in the middle of the field rather than releasing to either side.


  1. ^ John Grasso (13 June 2013). Historical Dictionary of Football. Scarecrow Press. pp. 357–.  
  2. ^ """Origin of "The Utah Pass. Salt Lake Tribune. November 19, 2003. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.