Sniffing Out A Screen NFL Style

By Will Cinelli on Sep 17, 2020

By Will Cinelli, The Scouting Academy

Thursdays here on the FirstDown PlayBook Coaches Community website we feature a breakdown of personnel and technique. This is provided by our friends over at The Scouting Academy who are our go to experts in this field

One of the tried-and-true ways an offense is going to combat a high-level pass rush is through the screen game. Effectively defending screens while maintaining that disruptive rush is quite the challenge for a defensive lineman. It takes a lot, both mentally and physically, for a DL to combat a screen.

Here, we’ll take a look at Brian Burns of the Panthers. The first thing to note is how quickly he transitions from a pass rusher to a screen defender. By the time his second step is in the ground, he already knows that something’s amiss. Through top-notch mental processing ability, he’s able to see and understand all three aspects developing in front of him.

He sees the OL setting up for the cut block, the RB immediately releasing to the flat, and the QB setting up to get the ball out of his hands quickly. As he feels the OL’s cut block happening, he is effectively able to play off the cut by getting his hands down, all with his eyes still on the QB.

Now he shows off some high-level athletic ability by redirecting quickly and exploding in pursuit of the back. As he chases down the line, Burns displays excellent foot speed and bursts to close the distance and trip up the runner for a short gain. This pursuit by Burns really limits the back’s options and turns what should be a decent gain for the Jags into a small one. 

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