Craig: Harvin and the bubble screen a perfect match

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 10, 2012 - 6:53 AM

The Vikings are getting a lot of mileage out of the bubble screen with the elusive, sure-handed Percy Harvin as the key component.

hide

Percy Harvin on his way to the end zone after catching a pass for a 10-yard touchdown run.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The bubble screen pass to Percy Harvin is the best example of the five favorite words in Bill Musgrave's vision for the Vikings offense. ¶ "Perform the ordinary extraordinarily well," the offensive coordinator has been saying since he touched down from Atlanta before last season.

The bubble screen is something that ideally shouldn't be called as much as the Vikings call it. However, much like the Patriots with Wes Welker, the Vikings and Harvin are at a point where the opposition's awareness of the play is irrelevant to the resulting success of consistently calling it.

"A couple of times, I actually do go to the line and you hear all the defenders calling out, 'Bubble, bubble, bubble!'" Harvin said. "It gets a little nervous."

One of those times came late in the third quarter of Sunday's 30-7 victory over the Titans at Mall of America Field. It was third-and-5 from the Tennessee 10-yard line when the Titans knew exactly what was coming. Harvin was lined up in a tight slot to the near right, while tight end Kyle Rudolph was bunched to his right and receiver Michael Jenkins was split wide right.

The Titans were playing zone coverage. Before the snap, cornerback Ryan Mouton, lined up across from Rudolph, looked over his right shoulder and motioned to safety Jordan Babineaux that the bubble screen was coming.

Quarterback Christian Ponder has the option to check out of the bubble screen. In what's called a "double play" in the huddle, Ponder can change at the line of scrimmage and call for Harvin to come toward him and receive a shovel pass underneath instead.

"[Against] zone, Christian actually isn't supposed to even look at me," Harvin said.

But in this particular case, he did. Why? Because Rudolph, the key blocker on the play, told him to.

"Rudolph was so confident that he could dominate his block," Harvin said. "So he said all week that no matter who the defender was, man or zone, he wanted Christian to throw it."

Per the proper execution of the bubble screen, Harvin took a jab step forward and then looped back and to his right, running a short route that looks kind of like a sideways "J." Rudolph did what he said he would do and moved into position to maul Mouton. Jenkins ran a go route, successfully clearing his man.

Now, the pressure in the bubble screen shifts to Ponder. And if you think a short touch pass under pressure is easy, you've obviously never seen Tarvaris Jackson play quarterback.

Although the bubble screen is essentially a toss sweep, it's still dead without timing and a good throw that is both forward -- to avoid it being a fumble in the case that Harvin drops it -- and chest high, front shoulder so Harvin doesn't have to make any unnecessary movements.

That's critical with the speed of the NFL. Especially when a safety, like Babineaux in this case, immediately breaks toward the bubble screen with a clear kill shot on Harvin.

Of course, this is Percy Harvin we're talking about.

"He makes big plays even when [defenses] have the numbers to make the play," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "[Tennessee] had the numbers, but an individual as talented as he is makes a play out of nothing."

Harvin caught the ball at the 16-yard line and quickly juked Babineaux to the ground at the 12. With Rudolph in the process of shoving Mouton halfway to St. Paul, Harvin sidestepped linebacker Colin McCarthy at the 10, ran through the arms of linebacker Akeem Ayers at the 6 and cornerback Jason McCourty at the 4.

Bubble screen legend has it that a man named Don Read created the play when he coached the University of Montana to Division I-AA success from 1986 to 1995. Lou Holtz is also widely credited with making it popular at Notre Dame after he had Read teach him all of its nuances.

If the Vikings keep doing what they're doing with the play, Harvin might end up with his name attached to the history of the bubble screen as well.

"It's a simple play," said Harvin, "but it's complicated when you break it all down."

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - LP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: K. Herrera 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 86 FINAL
LA Lakers 94
Phoenix 105 FINAL
LA Clippers 108
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close