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Crank That Bubble Screen: Eagles and Cowboys Edition

Eagles DB Asante Samuel

Chris over at Smart Football wrote a GREAT and very readable post on constraint plays i.e. those plays that are designed to put constraints on defenses. Chris’ post is about offensive philosophy and structure and how important it is not to lose sight of it. I think it’s worth the read.

One passage, however, triggered a memory I had of the Cowboys handily beating my Eagles:

Constraint plays thus work on defenders who cheat. For example, the safety might get tired of watching you break big runs up the middle, so he begins to cheat up. Now you call play-action and make him pay for his impatience. The outside linebackers cheat in for the same reason; to stop the run. Now you throw the bubble screen, run the bootleg passes to the flat, and make them pay for their impatience.

The bubble screen as an example reminded me of the 2009-2010 season when Cowboys QB Tony Romo completed 8 bubble screen passes to WR Miles Austin in just one game against the Eagles. Of course I didn’t remember how many passes there were, I had to use my trusty google. But I did remember several plays being executed the same way against an Eagles defense that wasn’t particularly good but contained a few gems of individual talent.

And that’s where the possibility of getting burned comes into play as those players like, for example, Asante Samuel are looking to break up the play.  The inclination for Eagles defensive backs to move up  (I look at it as almost blitzing without blitzing) got them burned on lots of deep passes. Eagles were using “aggression” to make up for the lack of quality. BURN.  The bubble screen being a shorter pass that initially looks to be deep was just as effective at exposing their problems in the secondary. Eagles DBs are not much of a unit per se and in many ways the Eagles defense continues to be a sham in the backfield. That’s why all the  talk of sending Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles talk is so prominent.

Eagles did pick up some defensive backs in the draft but still plan to pursue starters in free agency. Not Asomugha though.



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