Zone Screen-Complement/Constraint for Zone-Bubble

The inside zone with bubble screen from trips has become a widely used play in football.  More and more defenses scheme to stop this play.  A popular way to take away bubble portion of the play is to align either head up to outside of the number two receiver in order to force the receiver catching the bubble back into pursuit and the cut down the field. In the example below, the defense has the bubble stopped schematically, the receiver does a great job making a move, breaking the tackle and getting himself into space for a decent gain.  However, the #2 receiver was not able to get leverage, and the pursuit of the inside backer would have cut anything off to the inside.


The defense can also take this away by playing man coverage or 3 defenders positioned over the three receivers.  By alignment this discourages throwing the bubble.  In the example, the quarterback gives the zone instead throwing the bubble.  The gain is enough for the first down.  The bubble could be thrown with some adjustments to the blocking scheme, but it’s definitely tougher than throwing it when the defense is aligned 2 over 3 with a safety aligned over ten yards deep.

bubble vs man

In order to slow this down or force the defense to use another tactic, a zone screen can be used to attack the space created by the widening alley player.  Up front the play looks like zone initially.  The tackle zone steps and slips up to the linebacker or safety over the #3 receiver, and the guard zone steps and slips up to the next linebacker.  Both #2 and #3 take their initial steps as if it’s bubble.  The initial move by both widens the defenders over them and sets up the blocks to create an alley inside of #2.

zone screen

In the example in the video, we are able to catch the defense in a fire zone and the tackle is now free to climb to the free safety.

zone screen


This is truly a constraint play to counter the defense’s efforts to stop the bubble.  Throwing a simple screen in like this as a complement forces the defense to play the bubble more honestly or expose themselves to a big gain inside of the bubble.

Read more about the inside zone scheme and the details to run it in 101+ Pro Style Pistol Offense Plays available for the Mac or iPad.  The chapter on Zone includes diagrams, presentations, and game video on Zone as well as many other effective concepts for any offense, not just the pistol.  It’s a football resource like no other.



3 thoughts on “Zone Screen-Complement/Constraint for Zone-Bubble

  1. Great post coach. Really like the concept. Reminded me a bit of the double screen Auburn scored on in the BCS title game.

  2. great idea. i think i’d even let the #1-receiver push-crack on the safety: come up to block the CB or even push him and then look for a crack on the safety. if the play is designed to run through the alley the push should be enough to keep the CB away. if the CB is really loose (think cov3) you dont even need to push him, the #1-receiver pushes for 3 yards or so and then looks for the crack.

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