Have you ever wondered who the bulky guys are with the big, round, bodies on the field? They are the offensive linemen and they are anything but out of shape. Their size is exactly what the coach ordered when it comes to their strong legs and 300 + pound physiques. They are powerful, agile and meaner than a junkyard dog!
As I mentioned in my post about the “players“, the offensive line consists of a center, two guards and two tackles and these five guys are who we are going to talk about today.
Basically the offensive line has one job and that is to protect whoever has the ball. If the play is a running play, the offensive line will work very hard to keep the defense from getting to the ball carrier as well as blocking in order to create holes in the defensive line that the ball carrier can maneuver through.
If the play is a passing play, the offensive line creates a pocket, like we talked about here, to give the quarterback a few extra seconds to throw the ball to his receiver.
So let’s talk O line positions. As you can see in the picture, the guy in the middle is the center. The O line positions are based on the center. On the center’s immediate right is the right guard and on the center’s immediate left is the left guard. Outside of the guards are the right and left tackles.
**If the quarterback is right handed, the left side tackle is also referred to as the blind-side tackle. Remember the movie, The Blind Side, about a big huge guy named Michael Oher? He was a left tackle and the quarterback was right handed!
Basically what this means is that a right handed quarterback will usually drop back to pass and turn his head to the right making his left side his blind side.
Center – The center is the player that hikes or snaps the ball to the quarterback. Basically, the center will bend down and put one or both hands on the football. The quarterback will speak a series of commands such as, “down, set, hut, hut..” The center needs to know what these commands or signal count means because it indicates when the quarterback wants the center to hike or snap the ball to him. They will make this exchange of signals for every offensive play. The center will then hike the ball through his legs to the quarterback.
Seems like it should be fairly simple but sometimes the ball gets mishandled and a fumble occurs and the ball gets dropped. This could be from the center not making a clean snap or perhaps from the quarterback moving his hands away too soon. Either way, a fumble allows the other team a chance to get possession of the ball.
The center also needs to know all the blocking responsibilities that the offensive line has. They must know how the defense will set up on the line of scrimmage and he will use special code words to tell his linemen where to block.
Centers are usually very smart and very quick considering how big they are. The are mentally and physically tough and leaders of the linemen.
Guards – The guards are the guys on the right and left side of the center. Their ability to block is what makes them so very important to the O line. The guards make direct contact with the defensive line, using their hands, arms and shoulders to move them out of the way. This is basic blocking. If a guard can get a defensive guy out of the way to make a hole for the ball carrier then he has done his job. The defense is also trying to break through the O line to get to the ball carrier so it is extremely important for the O line to make sure this doesn’t happen as well.
Tackles – The tackles, one on each side of the guards, are usually the biggest of the linemen. They are extremely athletic as they take on the best defensive players in the game of football. Their agility and strength allow them to prevent the defense from getting to the ball carrier. If the tackle is doing his job then the ball carrier will have an open field to run and score. Whether the tackle is pushing the defensive guys toward the outside so the ball carrier can run up the middle or pushing the defensive guys toward the middle so the ball carrier can run freely on the outside, blocking is primary job of the offensive line.
Here are 7 common types of blocking:
- Cut-off Block – The offensive lineman gets in the way of a defensive player and blocks him from the side or from an angle.
- Chop Block – The offensive lineman blocks low with this shoulders and arms to try and take a defensive player down by the legs. This must occur within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage or a penalty will be called.
- Drive Block – The offensive lineman lines up with one defensive lineman. One to one block with head and shoulders up.
- Double-team – Two offensive lineman double up on one defensive player.
- Reach Block – The offensive lineman reaches for the defensive player to his right or left, not the one in front of him.
- Trap Block – The offensive line intentionally allows a defensive player through their line and then a guard or tackle from the other side comes in for the block.
- Zone Block – The offensive linemen are responsible for individual zones or areas to protect. Even if the defensive player leaves the offensive player’s zone, the offensive player must stay there in the event the play comes back to his area.
** The difference between blocking and tackling: A person tackling will only be allowed to tackle or grab the ball carrier. A block is done to protect the ball carrier by pushing or blocking. A blocker can not tackle or grab.
The majority of the time the offensive line will always have a center, two guards and two tackles. Very rarely, but it has happened, a coach will double up the tackles on one side and bring in an extra lineman. If this occurs, it is primarily to mess with the minds of the defense and again, it very rarely happens. The 5 players that make up the offensive line are 99% of the time in the same place.
Since tomorrow marks the middle of the month and we have discussed so many new concepts, we are going to take a half time break and talk about famous football movies before we move on to the next topic……DEFENCE!
Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite football movie is, of all time, and why and you will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced at the end of this 31 Day Series.