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Why we keep yelling Screen Pass (and its cousin, the Flare)

Why is it that every other word out of our mouths is “Screen Pass”..?  Hint- it has to do with the state of the NFL.

The screen pass is a 21st Century tool.  Why?  Because it all started in the latter part of the 1980s and into the 1990s, when the game of professional football got boring.  Follow this set of dominoes…

1) Defenses suffocate offenses, dropping scoring trends. >>

2) The NFL changes rules and selectively enforces other rules so that passing (at the expense of running) is rewarded. >>

3) Teams allocate more resources to WRs to take advantage of the rules. >>

4) Defenses (and their GMs, in response to the needs of the defensive coachs) place an emphasis on disrupting the time and timing of the passing game. >>

5) The Fran Tarkenton Rule: “If you want to keep points off the board and keep people from lighting you up for 300 and 400, 500 yards, you’ve got to be willing to go and have sound fundamental blitzes with 5, 6, 7 and even 8 people coming!” >>

Which brings us to the latest

6) So how do you beat the pressure of blitzes?.. Slants, screens, flares, draws.  With a strong emphasis on the screens and flares. 

Did you notice how often screens and especially the checkdown/flares have been used this past weekend in the wild card games?  This is chess.  Someone acts on offense, the defense reacts, the offense reacts to the reaction, the defense reacts to the offensive reaction.  The game is continually evolving, and if you are not staying ahead you are … behind.  In January, when your running game is important, teams use run blitzes.  A quick flare in the flat or above the line of scrimmage to your RB can pick up great yardage and move the chains, burning the pressure.  And that in turn loosens up your offense to pass the ball (in other route schemes) and run the ball more effectively.

If passing is all the rage in the NFL, and blitzing is the defensive response, then screens and flares are the blitz busters to allow your offense to keep attacking those defenses.