he great Chinese general Sun Tzu once said, "All warfare is based on deception."

And although you may not think the words of a man who was born in 544 BC would apply today, nothing is further from the truth.

Today's modern football game is filled with tricks and deception.

Let's take a screen for example. When running this play, the offensive line will set back as if they're pass blocking and then at the last second wheel out to the flat and block for the receiver on a screen.

Deception at it's finest. And it's deception that your D-Line needs to be prepared for.

That's why today I'll be detailing step-by-step how to defeat screen and improve your D-Line's ability to recognize it.

How to defeat screen block

On a screen, your opponent's job is to make you think it's pass (by pass setting), but then vacate the pocket to block for the receiver in the flats.

To combat this all you need to do is...

  1. Recognize the block
  2. Follow the blocker to the ball
  3. Locate the receiver
  4. Disrupt the past

And thankfully I’ve found an absolutely beastly clip of Vince Wilfork destroying screen to demonstrate each of these steps…

Recognize the block

If blockers are leaving the pocket, it doesn't mean you're an amazing pass rusher. It's a screen! So, put your foot in the ground and don't get upfield.

Follow the blocker to the ball

Once you recognize screen, stay in the hip pocket of your opponent. He’ll bring you to where the play is going.

Locate the receiver

You can’t disrupt the play if you don’t know where the ball is going. So get your eyes up and look for the receiver coming across the field.

Disrupt the pass

Disrupt the pass by knocking out the receiver or getting a hand on the ball. Note: pile driving the receiver into the ground is more fun, but make sure not to hit him before the ball gets there.

How to improve recognition and disruption

Although the steps to destroy screen are fairly simple, it’s actually very difficult to properly recognize and react to this deceptive blocking scheme.

Because of this I’ve included a few drills below specifically designed to improve your D-Line’s ability recognize the screen and disrupt the pass.

Screen recognition

To have any chance of destroying screen your D-Line first needs to recognize the difference between a pass and screen block. These two blocks look extremely similar and can be very difficult for young D-Lineman to distinguish between.

The trick then is to "feel" how difficult it is to get past the blocker. In a true pass situation, your opponent will do everything they can to stay between you and the QB (which will feel like a struggle); however, if it's a screen, your opponent will pass set initially, but then avoid you to block for their receiver (which will feel easy).

So, if it's too easy, stick your foot in the ground and follow the blocker to the ball.

DSPC drill

The best drill I've seen for developing recognition between these blocks is University of Washington's DSPC drill where pass, cut and screen blocks are all rolled into one drill.

Because this drill focuses on blocks that all look like pass to begin with (pass block, cut block, screen block), it will hone your D-Line’s ability to recognize the different feelings between each of these blocks.

Another benefit of this drill is that you can practice multiple realistic looks in a short amount of time, thus fitting nicely into a 15 minute individual.

Pass disruption

Once you’re D-Line can recognize the difference between pass and screen, progress to improving their ability to disrupt the pass.

Now, a screen pass can be disrupted in two different ways…

  1. By getting a hand on the ball or
  2. By knocking out the receiver

If you have a D-Line who has good ball skills, I personally prefer getting a hand on the ball (because turnovers are more impactful than tackles), but both of these techniques are excellent ways to destroy the screen.

Retrace & retrace turnover drill

So if you want to teach your D-Line to knock out the receiver, use the retrace drill. In it you can practice staying in the hip pocket, locating the receiver and finishing on the ball.

On the other hand, if you want to create turnovers with your D-Line, use the retrace turnover drill.

With it you can improve your D-Line's ability to stay in the hip pocket, keep an eye on the QB and get a hand on the ball.

That’s all for this week folks. Hope you have an amazing Labor Day!

And whenever you are ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:

  1. Learn how to develop top tier pass rushers and a lethal pass rush attack here (1,000+ students)
  2. Learn how to turn your D-Line into a block destruction machine here (1,100+ students)


Sep 7, 2021
Block Destruction

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