Offense: Executing the Big Plays

Not all plays are created equal. Some plays are designed to pick up a few yards and move the chains, while others are created for scoring points. If your offensive playbook lacks big play potential, you can easily add a few of these plays that are sure to move the chains and add points to the scoreboard.

The Screen

Before you can successfully run the screen, you have to set up this play with either a good running attack or misdirection.

The purpose of the screen is to get a skilled player in the open field, usually with blockers in front to assist in yards after the catch.

There are several options for the screen; here I am specifically referring to a halfback screen. One way to execute this play is to have the quarterback roll out one way while the back flares out the other direction. The lineman on the opposite side should hold their positron for two seconds and then get out front of the back to block. Once the defense over pursues, the quarterback will dump the ball underneath to the back with blockers ahead. If run correctly, this okay should yield a large chunk of yardage or a touchdown. Keep in mind that this play has to be set up by rolling out the quarterback and throwing a few passes or a quarterback keeper. Also, remember to teach your lineman not to engage the defenders until after the ball is caught to avoid a penalty for man downfield or illegal blocking downfield. This play is all about timing so practice the screen as much as you can before competition.


This play is designed to get the defense moving one direction and your offensive speedster coming back the other way in a foot race to the end zone. The reverse can be executed several ways, so experiment with your options before finalizing the play. The reverse here has two ball exchanges, from quarterback to running back and from running back to receiver. Set up the play by running the ball wide throughout the game. After success in the outside sweep, pitch or stretch, have the quarterback handoff and then bootleg the opposite direction. If this run has been successful, most defenders will flow the direction of the ball. The receiver on the side the ball is coming will take a quick wide step and then reverse field to get the handoff. If your players get comfortable enough, then try switching the handoff for a quick toss, but only if the running back and receiver have mastered the exchange. The quick flip is dangerous if the ball is fumbled but it keeps the back and receiver from colliding in the backfield. This play will also yield a lot of yards or even a score if executed properly.

Play-Action Pass

A good running game is the key to the play action pass. Coaches often perform the play action pass with a standard dive/lead fake or with a bootleg. The dive/lead fake sets up a quick pass usually although good protection can allow a quarterback to go downfield. The fake with a bootleg gives your receivers time to get further downfield and usually gives the quarterback the option to run as a result of extended spacing. Try both forms of the play action pass to see which style works best for your team.

These plays are simple to incorporate into your offensive scheme.

Timing and patience are critical because most of these plays have to be set up in order to be effective.

Adding big play potential to your playbook energized the offense and forces the defense to re-evaluate their strategy. Keep the chains moving and light up the scoreboard by adding these big plays into your playbook.


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