An Old Friend Is A New Weapon

July 17th, 2020

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Buc fans need to extend a little Southern hospitality toward a stranger who hasn’t been seen around these parts in about five years.

Say hello again to the screen pass, peeps.

It’s one of the best ways to slow down a pass rush, but the Bucs have been averse to running screens since Dirk Koetter’s days as offensive coordinator for Lovie Smith.

So here comes Tom Brady, a noted screen savant in New England for most of his two decades under Bill Belichick. Unless he had an elite deep threat like Randy Moss, Brady made his bones by carving up defenses with surgical precision.

He exploited the slightest of cracks in the middle of the field, whether he was finding Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker or Julian Edelman with quick, short-range strikes. And when frustrated pass rushers went all out to sack Brady, he’d flip the script — dropping back, back, back before floating a screen to James White that sent the chain crews scurrying.

Even a curmudgeon like Belichick would break out in a smile, admiring New England’s efficiency in the art of the screen.

“The screen is a team play, so there’s a lot of people involved,” Belichick says. “Obviously, it’s a deceptive play. There’s some acting in it, trying to make it look like one thing when it’s really something else. That’s the quarterback, it’s the line, it’s the receivers, it’s the screen back.”

We get it, it’s complicated.

Arians Approved

The Bucs’ last great screen back

One overlooked aspect of Aaron Rodgers is his knack for executing deft screen passes. Yes, the man throws an incredible deep ball, but he also knows how to take advantage of an overly aggressive defense.

The Bucs boasted a very effective screen game in 2015, Jameis Winston’s rookie season. Charles Sims and Doug Martin combined for 84 receptions on 114 targets, a sizzling 74 percent catch rate. They also generated 32 first downs as receivers, helping Tampa Bay rank fifth in total offense.

Sims couldn’t sustain his success in Tampa, but he was particularly adept at the screen game in 2015. Yet when Koetter replaced Smith as head coach, he decided to bury those screen calls where the sun don’t shine for three seasons.

While Bruce Arians is known as a bold risk-taker, he has also been known to extend a high five after a short pass kept the chains moving.

“Tom Moore has the best saying in the world,” Arians says. “You don’t go broke by putting money in the bank. Take the damn checkdown.”

Hunting Brady is Job 1 for Buc opponents this fall. If given time, Brady is too smart and too accurate to deal with.

If pass rushers are having their way with Tampa Bay’s offensive line, Brady will let the screen door slam them in the face.

“Sometimes, the idea is to draw the rushers to the screen and throw it over them,” Belichick says. “Sometimes, it’s to create some kind of action away from the play and then screen back to the opposite side. There are various wide receiver screens, exterior screens, kind of middle screens, if you will, kind of around the numbers area.

“There are a lot of different ways of doing that, but basically, they’re all deceptive plays that you want to try to, again, make the defense think it’s one thing when it’s something else. No one guy can do that. If one guy doesn’t do it, then a lot of times a defender will read that and even though the other 10 guys could be doing it well, if one guy doesn’t then you’ve got a bad play.”

Tom Brady doesn’t stomach bad plays.

If Ronald Jones drops a screen pass early in a game, he may not get another opportunity that day. Few plays require the kind of timing that a screen pass demands, but when it works, it’s a thing of beauty.

Welcome back, stranger.

You’ve been gone far too long.

Enjoy Mike Alstott’s June interview on the Ira Kaufman Podcast.

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15 Responses to “An Old Friend Is A New Weapon”

  1. Jason Says:

    And we just had a report that TB12 and ROJO have been working out together. Hmmmm… I wonder what they’re working on.

  2. ocala Says:

    Brady is not only the best QB of all time, he is also the best decision maker of all time.
    He will know when the right time is to throw screens or bubble passes.
    I think the Bucs will utilize their RB’s, Godwin, Howard and Gronk a ton in their short passing game.

    As great as a receiver Evans is. I do not think they will use him a bunch in the short passing game.

  3. Bucsfanman Says:

    No way!!!! That’s what that play is called?!!

    Lets not forget the screen’s trusty sidekick…..the SLANT!!!

  4. WyldKat Says:

    Slant, that quick thing with timing, accuracy, and anticipation?

    I can’t imagine why it hasn’t been featured much for the past few seasons.

  5. Dewey Selmon Says:

    RoJo had a career day vs Cardinals last year, 8 screen passes. Then it sort of disappeared

  6. Mike Says:

    I only recall one trick play last year for the bucs, seemed like ever other time I would catch a New England game I would see them pull one out. Wonder if the bucs will run more of the trick plays just to put more on film for opposing defensive coordinators to think about.

  7. SB Says:

    G.O.A.T + Weapons + Less turnovers + ascending Defense = Yeah you know it!:)

  8. firethecannons Says:

    next up: the fleaflicker

  9. Greg Says:

    @wyldcat. Right on, the previous QB well it was a crap shoot there on the slant. Receivers having to make too many adjustments to catch and run. Yea he caught it and made percentage look good but they couldn’t turn in to a big play.

  10. stpetebucsfan Says:

    “a sizzling 74 percent catch rate.”

    If that is sizzling what is ROJO’s 77.6% career catch %?

  11. Cainishere Says:

    It used to drive me insane to watch almost every Buccaneer QB we have ever had fail miserably at the screen.
    I mean honestly, you’re 5 to 15 yards away from each other, usually with no defender near enough to disrupt it. To watch it haplessly fall to the turf is a super frustrating sight or the all-time fun play is the one where the QB throws a screen on 3rd and 8 or more, REDICULOUS!
    To me, the way Brady dissects defenses is refreshing for our QB position.
    I have witnessed him complete screens so many times my head starts to spin.
    Brady is the type of QB who punishes defenses and if he spots a weakness he exploits it when it is the right time to exploit it and not before.
    we really are lucky to have such a high caliber person commanding our offensive unit.
    Thanks Brady. GO BUCS!!!!

  12. bojim Says:

    Rojo has been working with Brady since the beginning.

  13. 40TDs Says:

    Arians is to smart to let 2020 go by without a Super Bowl appearance.

    He willl chop that wood masterfully. Playoffs are under every Bucs fan Christmas tree.

    Go Bucs!!!

  14. Colonel Angus Says:

    A properly executed screen pass is one the prettiest plays in the game. Can’t wait!

  15. BucEmUp Says:

    Gee, Ive been screaming about this since Koetter took over as head coach!!!!!! I never undewrstood why the hell he went away from the screen game. It’s what killed Jameis. If you took those plays away from Tom Brady’s offense over the coarse of his career, I’d argue that he may not have more than one ring if that. It’s all about deception , execution and efficiency….not enforcing you’re will on the opponent. That was 30 years ago.

    This is why Jameis will be successful in New Orleans IF he ever gets a chance to start under Sean Paytons play calling. Tom Brady coming here was the best move ever for Arians because he was able to fire his buddy from play calling without actually firing him. It’s a thing of beauty!