Starting off the offseason series, I should mention that when I say top 25 "plays" what I might mean is a collection of plays. Sometimes I will focus on one single play, other times, I will focus on a collection of plays that were a key component of the 2013 Chip Kelly offense. Today, we will talk about the bubble screen and towards the end of the post we will show how newly signed Jeremy Maclin might just be the ideal missing piece from the 2013 offense with this play in mind.
The bubble screen is an interesting component of the offense that Chip certainly carried over from his time at Oregon. As you will see, it really is a play that stretches the field horizontally and can lead to explosive RAC on the outside, to a deep shot downfield, but also to open up the running game.
Let's start witha play from Nick's big game against the Raiders. The concept is very simple in this instance the Eagles line up with 3 WRs on the bottom of the screen. The pre-snap look is simple numbers. The Raiders have 3 defenders but a LB on the bottom of the screen who hasn't committed to coverage yet. The call is a read-option where Nick reads the LB on the bottom of the screen. If he commits to the coverage, Nick has a light box to hand off to or keep. If he commits to the run, Eagles have a 3-2 matchup on the bottom:
Sure enough, post-snap, the LB commits to the run. Eagles have the 3-2 and 2 lead blockers for Riley (Note this is a great example of big people beat up little people. That's Brent Celek and Zach Ertz lead blocking for Cooper):
The result is an explosive play down the sidelines:
The next one is out of a tighter, bizarre looking formation with Desean Jackson as the recipient against the Cardinals. 3 lined up at the bottom. Again, that's Ertz and Celek with him. Cards only have 2 defenders there and a deep safety over the top:
Easy read for Foles:
As Ertz and Celek form the sidewalk:
From the same game, here is a great example of the pressure some of these packaged bubble screens put on a defense. Here's the pre-snap look. Cards have a 7 man box, but with the Eagles motioning 3 WRs to the bottom of the screen, something has to give:
One defender comes down to even the match-up on the bubble screen. The edge blitzer is also key. He's coming off the edge and you can see Nick reading him at the mesh point. You see the bubble forming below, but the edge rusher is coming wide and focusing on Nick.
The result is 2 defenders pulled out of that box, unblocked, and a huge hole for McCoy to run through. This is what we mean when we talk about how these screens spread the field horizontally:
Finally, one of the other brilliant things about the bubble screen is that it can be used as a perfect constraint play; a concept that is brilliantly outlined by the great Chris Brown here. This is one of those plays that we run so much that it can lull the defense to sleep, and if you do it with success defense start to get really pissed off and get over-aggressive like this one:
But then, as Chip loved to do in Oregon, this happens. 3 WRs low and only 2 Chiefs defenders. They bring another defender down:
Looks normal, right?
Wrong. Instead of block, Jason Avant goes deep and even as one of the slowest WRs in the NFL, blast by his man towards the end zone:
The result is a TD:
Final point. Welcome back Jeremy Maclin! Here's betting watching the 2013 offense was one of the major reasons Maclin decided to take a one year deal from the Eagles instead of testing the open market. Anyone who paid attention to Jeremy Maclin in college knows he played in the spread offense and those bubble screens were one of his specialities. After getting drafted by Andy Reid and the Eagles he had to learn to play in the west coast offense which was more about longer-developing timing routes.
However, before Andy Reid left Philadelphia for good, he gave us these two gems to look forward to the 2014 season:
and the constraint play: