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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Breaking down screen play breakdowns

By Paul Gutierrez

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- So what, exactly, was going through the mind of Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver on Sunday on each Kansas City Chiefs screen pass that went for a touchdown, from 49, 39 and 16 yards, respectively?

Jamaal Charles
Jamaal Charles would not cooperate with the Raiders' plan of taking the ballcarrier down.
"Get the guy on the ground," Tarver said Thursday. "It's very simple. We've got to tackle the guy with the ball. We've got to do a better job of tackling in space."

Jamaal Charles, though, would not cooperate. Rather, he took Alex Smith's passes behind the line of scrimmage and bolted.

Asked after the 56-31 defeat how such a seemingly simple play could be so effective, Raiders free safety Charles Woodson laughed awkwardly.

"I have no clue," he said. "I have no clue. You've seen screens get out of the gate before, but to have a team go back to it and beat you almost every time, there's no explanation for it. It shouldn't happen; it did happen but it shouldn't.

"I don't know, man. That's hard, man, to watch a guy run up and down the field like that, basically untouched."

Charles finished with eight catches for 195 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball eight times for 20 yards and scored that way, too, to tie a Kansas City franchise mark for TDs in a game.

And for the Raiders to make sure the San Diego Chargers do not take a page from the Chiefs' playbook, they have to figure out the how's and why's of the Chiefs' screen game.

"The first play of the game, we're in a match-zone defense and, yeah, that's a play where they may get a few yards, but we've got three guys [linebacker Kevin Burnett, strong safety Brandian Ross and cornerback Phillip Adams] there with one blocker, we've got to make that play," Tarver said.

On the Chiefs' next possession, they were facing a 3rd-and-19 at the Raiders' 39-yard line.

"We have a pressure, but the pressure sets so that if the back goes out one way we've got him," Tarver said. "And if he goes the other way we've got him. And we just didn't do it right. That's [happened] very few times this year. We just didn't do it right."

The third screen-for-a-touchdown came midway through the second quarter, on 1st and 10 from the Oakland 16-yard line.

"It was a vision defense where, we've got to show up," Tarver said. "Our three players that can be in that area, they've got to show up quicker. That's it. If they get four or five yards, that OK. It's these ones where they get in space before anybody shows up. So any call can work on it."

Just not last weekend.