All-22: Maclin Gets Loose On Jailbreak Screen


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In Chip Kelly’s first game as an NFL head coach against Jim Haslett and Washington last season, he used a look in the second quarter that we would see pretty much on a weekly basis throughout the year.

It featured stacked receivers to both sides and a single back.

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The quarterback’s job was to assess the defense, gauge how many players were in the box and either hand it off or throw a screen to the perimeter.

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The Eagles used this same look and this same play often.

But on Sunday against Washington, they unveiled a wrinkle out of the exact same look: a jailbreak screen.

The pre-snap look is similar, but with tighter splits.

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Washington is in man coverage with a single high safety.

After the snap, the wrinkle reveals itself.

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The key here is the action taken by the offensive line. In the packaged play shown at the top, the offensive line blocks for the inside zone. If the quarterback decides to pull the ball and throw the screen, that’s his decision. But the blocking doesn’t change.

On this play, however, it does. This isn’t a packaged play. It’s a designed jailbreak screen all the way. Kelly had said earlier in the season that he wanted to get Jeremy Maclin the ball in space so he could run with it.

“I know that’s a quality [he has], I remember the highlights of him in college, I think he led the nation in punt returns in college,” Kelly said. “You’re still seeing that aspect of his game that we haven’t brought out yet.”

This play was one way to get Maclin the ball immediately and let him do work. He took one step forward with his left foot and then brought it back as he turned for the football.

You can see Riley Cooper’s block at the line of scrimmage is crucial. But also take a look at what this play requires from left tackle Jason Peters. He has to get from his initial spot at left tackle to cornerback David Amerson before Maclin can really take off.

And that’s exactly what happens. Not a lot of guys have the athleticism to get this done.

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There were three key blocks that let the play get started: one from Cooper, one from Peters and the other from left guard Dennis Kelly.

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“I had [Jason] Hatcher on me, and when I went to get free, he kind of read it so I had to peel back because obviously you want to get the play started,” said Dennis Kelly. “And so I just got enough of him to keep Mac having momentum, get him running. Obviously I’m not nearly as fast as [Jason] Kelce so I was more of a spectator at that point, just watching it all go down. Seeing Jason run down the field is impressive and shows how good he is.”

You can see Kelce (No. 62) out in front.

Maclin, meanwhile, ends up bending the play back towards the sideline.

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“I think if I’d have gone either way, I would have had a chance to score,” Maclin said. “But obviously on most screen passes, you want to hit it up the alley and then get to the sideline. That’s how most screen passes are designed unless it’s a tunnel screen coming inside. That’s what I ended up doing with it.”

As we all know, Kelce hustled downfield but ended up getting called for an illegal block in the back against safety Ryan Clark. An 80-yard touchdown turned into a 50-yard gain.

“I know Kelce can move,” Maclin said. “The object of the line is to get out in front and pick off guys for me. That was a vet move by Clark there. He kind of turned his back at the last second. I think you can make an argument for either way whether it’s a good block or a block in the back. But Kelce can definitely run.”

The Eagles will probably show the double stacks look throughout the season. In addition to the packaged play, defenses will now have to be ready for the jailbreak screen as well.

“We’re just always coming up with ways to be creative and be effective at the same time,” Maclin said. “We know that we run that formation so we’re gonna use multiple plays out of it. We can run the ball, throw the ball, screen game. Anything we do in this offense we can do out of that set as well.”

Added Dennis Kelly: “It’s another thing teams have to prepare for. You show ‘em a look and you might run two plays out of it. But if you add just a little wrinkle, they have to prepare for it. That’s taking time from their practice and their game-planning.”