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Colts Film Breakdown: Colts Strike Gold On Screen Play To Marlon Mack

Posted Oct 30, 2017

Intro: Each week, Colts.com will take a look at a significant play from the previous week’s contest. This week’s installment examines a simple screen play on 3rd and 11 that turned into a Marlon Mack receiving touchdown on Sunday vs. the Bengals.

INDIANAPOLIS — This week's film breakdown looks at a well-executed screen play — on 3rd and 11, no less — that resulted in rookie running back Marlon Mack's first-career touchdown reception on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

Here's the All-22 development of Mack's play:

PRE SNAP

With the Bengals leading 17-13 with 2:40 left in the third quarter, the Colts face a 3rd and 13 from the Cincinnati 24-yard line. The two previous plays both went to Marlon Mack: a run for a loss of six on first down, and a short pass that got three yards on 2nd and 16. On 3rd and 11, and in field goal range, the ideal playcall here is a screen play, because it’s a low-risk, high-reward type situation — when executed well, you tend to get yards in large chunks and could, at the very least, possibly get the first down. If not, then you’re still going to be in field goal range, and you can still come away with points on the drive.

In this obvious passing situation, the Colts line up with trips to the left — three receivers (T.Y. Hilton, Kamar Aiken and Jack Doyle) who will each play huge roles in this play’s execution down the road. A fourth wide receiver, Donte Moncrief, is lined up as the lone receiver on the right side. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett lines up in the shotgun formation with Mack to his right.

The Bengals, who utilize a 4-3 base defensive scheme (four down linemen and three linebackers), show a man-to-man look, initially with a single-deep safety, but before the snap — probably because of the obvious passing situation — strong safety Shawn Williams runs back into coverage around the 11-yard line, giving Cincinnati two safeties to cover the back end. That sets up perfectly for the Colts, who want as few Bengals defenders in the box as possible for the screen play. With linebacker Vontaze Burfict covering Doyle on his pass route, just five Cincinnati defenders are left up front against the five Indianapolis offensive linemen.

THE SCREEN

The point of a screen play is to draw in the defenders up front as much as possible, so that, when executed correctly, they’re already non-factors by the time the pass gets to the receiver’s hands. The Colts’ offensive linemen sell this one perfectly, as three Bengals rushers are in Brissett’s face less than three seconds after the snap, while the other two remaining defenders up front — defensive end Carlos Dunlap and linebacker Nick Vigil, who is following Mack on the play — are tied up with center Ryan Kelly and left guard Jeremy Vujnovich.

THE RUN

Once Brissett delivers the pass to Mack, who has sprinted across the line of scrimmage to the left hash marks, the first down at the 11-yard line is a virtual certainty. But the play isn’t really solid until Vujnovich is able to dive at the leg of Vigil, barely clipping his right foot and tripping him up around the 15, just before he was about to collide with Mack. And remember those other three receivers at the beginning of the play? They have now played a huge role in clearing out space for Mack, as Aiken has sprinted across the other side of the field, bringing his defender with him, while both Doyle and Hilton are covered up close to each other around the 10-yard line. With Mack closing in, Doyle and Hilton each engage in solid blocks on their defenders, and all Mack needs to do from there is outrun cornerback Josh Shaw the final few yards and get into the end zone.

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