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

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
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 NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What should the Vikings do with Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close