This is my 62-year old roomate, Hans. He’s a Vietnam Vet and avid skier who has asked me to teach him about football, so in the event that you need to help someone learn the basics of football or maybe catch up on a few things you missed, I’ll post here. These won’t be so detailed that you can’t understand. Expect an easy read.
Episode 1: Offensive Personnel
For Hans, it’s hard to read the site when I talk about having two WR’s.
“What is a WR? I don’t know what that means.” I’ll hear him say
Well, a WR is just an abbreviation for “wide reciever’ or the guy who catches the ball. You’ve probably heard of Jerry Rice (pictured) or Randy Moss. They typically run down the field, catch the ball in the air and go as far as they can while trying to score a touchdown. When they run, they don’t always run straight. They have designed routes to run. We’ll go into this more later.
The graph below illustrates a typical formation for the offense to line up in. This is called an “I-Formation” and it remains a mainstay in the NFL. Not all colleges use this, due to their desire to spread the field and put as many WR’s on the field as possible, this is called a “Spread Offense”, because it spreads out the defense. The I-formation’s use is to run the ball.
I’ll go over these abreviations.
First, the offensive line. These are very important members of any football team. Think about it, if you cant block the guys that want to bury you in the ground, then you have no chance. Simple enough? Alright!
If there’s only two rules in the NFL, the first one would be that rare, quality big guys up front are hard to find. For now, we will ignore the “TE” that is written on each side of the offensive line. These are the TE’s and we’ll come to them later on in this write-up.
The offensive line starts with the “LT” that is written on the left side of the line. If you’ll notice, there is a “RT” on the right side. These are the tackles and they are found at each end of the line. If you’ve ever heard someone say,”Oh that team, yeah they got there bookend tackles for the next ten years in this draft. Good for them!”, they are simply referring to having guys to start these two positions for hopefully the next ten years.
LT–left tackle (premier pass-blocker. has to defend against the best guys that try to down the quarterback, also known as sacking the QB)
LG–left guard (should be great at run blocking and hopefully great at pass blocking)
C–center (hikes the ball to the quarterback)
RG–right guard (same as left guard)
RT–right tackle (hopefully a great pass blocker, but doesn’t have to be as good as the LT)
These are your offensive linemen. The hardest to find is a premier LT as they typically guard the best defensive lineman, the right defensive end or “RDE”. The second hardest would be the center and some may argue that this is the hardest to find. The center will typically be in charge of instructing the rest of the offensive linemen on who to watch out for on each play. He is guiding them to “pick up the blitz”. A blitz, while not a german raid, is when an NFL team sends more than its defensive linemen to try to get the quarterback sacked or maybe to try and tackle the ball carrier behind the offensive lineman (also called behind the line of scrimmage).
So, the LT and the C are the two most important. Now, I mentioned earlier that for the guards (LG and RG), you want what they call “road-graders”. This just means that they can make a road for the ball carrier. You want them to be able to push the guy in front of them far out of the way so that whoever has the ball can run straight through, this will typically be the runninback, also known as a fullback or halfback.
The guard situation really depends on your type of offense. If you run an offense that passes a lot, then you want guys that don’t weigh as much. If you want to run the ball a lot, then you want a 330-lber at guard and not 295-lber. The lighter guys can move quick to adjust to pick up the blitz and the heavy guys are road-graders.
TE stands for tight end. These are guys that are to big to be a wide receiver but too small to play offensive line, so, they play both. The really great ones, such as Jason Witten of the Cowboys, can impact the game by running routes and catching passes as well as starting off next to the LT or RT and helping block. The real trick for defenses lies in a dual-threat at TE. The defense knows that if your TE’s only strength is blocking, then they don’t have to worry about him leaving his stance by the offensive line and going out for a pass. Jason Witten, for example, has to be accounted for on every play. He can block you as well as an offensive tackle and can receive as well as a WR. Keep in mind that most are one-dimensional and are either really good at receiving or really good at blocking.
The wide receiver catches the ball, like mentioned above with Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.
This is the fullback. In the modern NFL, the fullback is used primarily as a blocker for the HB, or halfback. Ideally, the center and the guards will move the interior defensive line out of the way and then the fullback will hit whoever is in the way after that, typically a LB or linebacker. Then the HB runs free.
As mentioned above, the HB is a halfback. They typically run the ball, catch the ball and block for the QB on passing downs. The modern HB is a do-it-all type of player. A great example is Chris Johnson of the TN Titans.
The quarterback. Think Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. They run the offense. They are the most important position in sports. They are the only ones to touch the ball on every snap that they’re out there.