Dallas Cowboys: WR screen a fixture in Mike McCarthy’s playbook

Michael Gallup #13 of t (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Michael Gallup #13 of t (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

There’s a play all Dallas Cowboys fans should be ready for and that’s the WR bubble screen

Getting the ball in the hands of your playmakers is really the name of the game on offense. The Dallas Cowboys happen to have a metric crap-load of playmakers at the WR position and finding opportunities for all may not be an easy thing. Or is it?

Mike McCarthy together with Kellen Moore are tasked with developing offensive game plans designed to let playmakers do what they do best and that’s make plays. And one of the simplest ways to do that is by delivering a steady diet of screens to their most dynamic weapons.

WR screens are a great way to get the ball in the hands of your outside playmakers. It’s a high percentage pass that utilizes outside blocking and takes advantage of less physical defensive backs. It’s effective against off coverage and/or overaggressive pass rushers and blitzes.

Cowboys fans saw it first hand last week against the Rams. Jared Goff picked the Cowboys apart early with screen variations. He didn’t even complete a pass past the first down marker until 3:30 was left in the second half. He just dinked and dunked the ball into his play-makers’ hands.

WR screens match well with 11 personnel (something McCarthy does more than just about anyone else) and work best with large physical receivers willing and able to block downfield. Best of all, it works wonderfully with run-pass option plays and can be an extra layer in an already multilayered RPO attack.

In fact, in my piece a while back, I cited McCarthy’s offense in Green Bay as an example of how to use the bubble screen in an RPO play. I encourage everyone to check it out since the Dallas Cowboys are expected to increase their RPO looks in 2020.

light. Related Story. Explaining the RPO Offense in the NFL

So we know Mike McCarthy has a history of WR screens in Green Bay. And he cited the 49ers offense under Kyle Shanahan as something he’d like copy in certain regards. And wouldn’t you know it, the 9ers just happen to be one of the best bubble screen teams in the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t have Deebo Samuel but they have a few of equally impressive receivers who thrive in yards after the catch. Michael Gallup and  Amari Cooper are both beasts after the catch. And ya know what? CeeDee Lamb’s may be better than both of them.

With 682 yards after the catch and 26 broken tackles, Lamb finished second in the country in average receiving yards after contact last season.

But he’s not just an ideal bubble screen target, he’s also a plus-level blocker. Picture a bunch formation with Lamb, Cooper, and Dalton Schultz  on one side, passing to one of those two WRs, and letting the other two lead block downfield. It’s a pretty picture, right?

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In all fairness, bubble screens aren’t always a great play and if they’re used at the wrong times, they can be downright disastrous. But they add an extra layer to the attack and take this already versatile offense to another level.

The 49ers use bubbles screens on the regular and by doing so, opponents are always on the lookout for it. That may sound bad but it allows Shanahan to call bubble fakes that work as another form of play-action, in a way. DBs jump, WRs break free of press and big plays are to be had. It’s yet another tool in Dak Prescott’s arsenal that we should all be excited about.

Next. 3 Ways to Get CeeDee Lamb More Involved. dark

The Dallas Cowboys are going to adopt and expand on many facets of their attack and the WR screen is one of them. Given the explosive personnel Dallas has at WR, that should be very exciting for Cowboys fans.

  • Published on 09/16/2020 at 12:16 PM
  • Last updated at 09/16/2020 at 12:16 PM