Oakland Raiders Film Room: CIN at OAK

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A Game of Screens

Screens are difficult. They need to be the right part of a larger scheme, executed at the appropriate time in the game, ideally with a personnel advantage. Screens require perfect timing. They shouldn’t be a base play. Instead, they should behave more like a counter-punch. Here we’ll compare a screen play from each team to evaluate effectiveness and play calling.

2nd and 7. The Bengals go right into this 3×1 formation in a textbook perfect use of the no-huddle. Charles Woodson is deep in the box looking to rush the QB while Larry Asante is playing on the opposite hash instead of in the middle of the field. Cincinnati sneakily places TE Tyler Eifert on the line at left tackle and splits Whitworth out wide at receiver.

At this point DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie should be screaming at the rest of the defense. While it’s certainly possible for this to be a decoy, considering the potential blocking power in front of speedster Mohamed Sanu and the numbers disadvantage for Carrie and Hayden, Oakland is begging for this screen to be run against them.

Sure enough, Hayden ends up flat on his back and Carrie has to work to get through a defender to protect nearly half a field of wide open space behind him. There’s just no chance. This is an issue that can easily be avoided with some better communication. If either Carrie or Hayden sees a look like this again they have to yell inside and get some help their way, or at least make sure everyone else takes it into consideration.

When the Raiders run this fourth quarter screen the situation is a little different but miscommunication still seems to be the culprit. Remember the earlier note about timing needing to be perfect? Here’s an example how a little off timing and miscommunication can destroy a screen.

Make note of the motion from WR Amari Cooper and tracking by CB Leon Hall. It helps to indicate man coverage, but also provides no numbers advantage or disadvantage.

A big discrepancy shows up in the first few moments of the play. Cooper’s first inclination is to go to his right, outside, before he see’s the defender. If he’s indeed supposed to go outside, the snap and throw was a little late. Had it been a half second earlier Cooper could have potentially used his entangled teammate as a blocker against Hall, or at least had a little more room to make a move before Hall closed the gap toward the line of scrimmage. The space created by the reduced split of WR Seth Roberts would give Cooper loads of room to run. That’s if he was supposed to go outside.

Take a look at the blocking. Cooper has a big wave of three lineman pushing up the middle of the field as though this is supposed to be a tunnel screen (receiver curls inside to get upfield) instead of a bubble screen (receiver goes outside). There are more indicators pointing toward this being an outside play, but with the timing issue it wasn’t given a chance.

This along with other communication issues can absolutely be resolved. This team is going to take a while to really get in sync and things like this are bound to happen. Look for silly mistakes like these to get fixed over the next couple of weeks as we get closer to seeing this Oakland Raiders team really firing on all cylinders.