The running back (RB) is a key member of the offensive unit who can often be the difference maker in key situations, just look at the Ray Rice reception back in the 2012 season playoffs:
For me the running back or tail back as they are often known is the third most important member of the offense behind the quarterback (QB) and left tackle (LT). I can assure you that one of future lessons will cover the offensive line and left tackle to explain why a great LT is so invaluable to any team.
Anyway now back to the running back and like most of the skill positions you can get different types of back. Firstly you have the power back who is not necessarily known for their speed but more their ability to shed tackles without even breaking stride!
On our podcast ‘Spitball’ we often refer to the power back as a ‘Thunder’ back. At the bottom of the page we will show you some clips of the power backs in today's league.
Next we have the lightning back or as they are referred to on our podcast, the flash back. These running backs are known for their blistering pace and cutting ability which is likely to break defenders ankles!
Finally the great thing about the NFL running back is that every so often you get a freak running back who possesses both of the above attributes making them a complete nightmare to defend against.
It is great to see that even in this pass dominated league an amazing running back can be the biggest difference maker, just look at Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs last season!
Click the picture to view the highlights from www.seahawks.com
Click the picture to view the highlights from www.vikings.com
The linebacker and in particular the middle linebacker (MLB) or mike as they are often referred as are thought to be the quarterback of the defence. The main reason for this is that they are the players who typically receive the play calls from the sideline and give them to the defence in the huddle. It will also normally be down to the linebackers to make any defensive adjustments or audibles based on the offense they see in front of them.
On a lot of teams you will also find that the middle linebackers are the inspirational leaders for their team and there is no better example of this than Mr Ray Lewis. I don't know about you guys and girls but every time I watch the clip below from the start of Madden 13 I get goosebumps!
The main responsibilities of the middle linebacker aside from play calling is to stop the run first and then if needed drop back into pass coverage. During the game at least one middle linebacker will never leave the field of play when his team is on defence regardless of the formation being played.
Now we move onto the outside linebacker (OLB) which is split into right and left sides. The strongside linebacker plays on the right hand side of the field if you were facing the offense and the weakside linebacker plays on the left hand side of the field. In this 3-4 defence the outside linebacker is often used as the extra pass rusher and so you may also find them lining up on the line of scrimmage.
In previous years linebackers used to specialise in either run stopping or coverage however with the evolvement of the league and its tendency towards passing, you will find that the linebackers have to be quick from sideline to sideline as well as strong tacklers.
Now we move onto our examples, so sit back relax and enjoy the clips:
MIDDLE LINEBACKER (MLB)
Mr Ray Lewis
Parental Advisory Warning due to the lyrics of the backing track
Parental Advisory Warning due to Mr Tate's vocabulary
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (OLB)
I was thinking to myself the other day about what to do for another football 101 lesson when it suddenly dawned on me that I have not even covered the real basics like the field of play yet, so here we go!
Field of Play
The field of play is 100 yards long by 53 yards wide. At each end of the field you have an endzone which is 10 yards in length and again 53 yards wide. At the back of each endzone in the middle you have the goalposts. The pitch is also surrounded by a sideline which separates the playing area from rest of the field.
The area within this line is referred to as being "inbound's" and anything on the line or outside the line is known as "out of bounds". I think the picture below gives you better idea of the pitch set up.
Duration of Game
Every game is 60 minutes in length and this is split into four quarters of 15 minutes. During these quarters the play clock will keep running unless there is a stoppage in play such as an incomplete pass, player injury or turnover of possession. In the second and fourth quarters there is also something called the two minute warning where the clock also stops. Because the play clock is consistently running with the exception of the above, each team is also awarded 3 time outs per half to stop the clock as and when they feel the need to do so.
A team can score points with a touchdown, field goal or safety and number of points awarded is dependant on the type of score. A touchdown is worth 6 points, a field goal 3 points and a safety 2 points. Each of these types of scores will be covered in separate lessons, check the links under the archive session for those already posted.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
Each team can only have a maximum of 11 players on the field at any one time however an NFL squad consists of 53 players due to the different aspects of the game. By this I mean offence, defence and special teams.
Types of Player - Offense
The offense is split up into several positions which I have listed below with their abbreviations:
Quarterback ( QB )
Running Back ( RB )
Full Back ( FB )
Tight End ( TE )
Wide Receiver ( WR )
Centre ( C )
Guard ( OG )
Tackle ( OT )
I will cover all of the above positions in separate lessons to give you a better understanding of their roles on the field. If you haven't already seen my lesson on the Quarterback then click on the link to the right under categories.
Types of Player - Defence
The defence is also split into several positions which I have listed below with their abbreviations:
Defensive Tackle ( DT )
Defensive End ( DE )
Outside Linebacker ( OLB )
Inside Linebacker ( ILB )
Cornerback ( CB )
Free Safety ( FS )
Strong Safety ( SS )
Again I will cover all of the above positions in separate lessons to give you a better understanding of their roles on the field.
Types of Player - Special Teams
Traditionally special teams is made up of a combination of the above offensive and defensive positions however there are also some specialist positions which I have listed below with their abbreviations:
Long Snapper ( LS )
Kicker ( K )
Punter ( P )
Kick Returner ( KR )
Punt Returner ( PR )
I think that is enough for this lesson but be sure to check out all of our other lessons by clicking on the links in the category section.
There are many different ways a touchdown (TD) can be scored in the NFL and before I show you some fine examples I think it is best to give you the official rules and terminology courtesy of our friends at NFL.com:
Article 1 Touchdown Plays. A touchdown is scored when:
(a) the ball is on, above, or behind the plane of the opponents’ goal line and is in possession of a runner who has advanced from the field of play; or
(b) a ball in possession of an airborne runner who is on, above, or behind the plane of the goal line, and some part of the ball passed over or inside the pylon; or
(c) a ball in player possession touches the pylon, provided that, after contact by an opponent, no part of the player’s body, except his hands or feet, struck the ground before the ball touched the pylon; or
(d) any player who is legally inbounds catches or recovers a loose ball (3-2-3) that is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line; or
(e) the Referee awards a touchdown to a team that has been denied one by a palpably unfair act.
(1) The ball is automatically dead when it is in legal possession of a player and is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line.
(2) the player is attempting to catch a pass, the ball is not dead, and a touchdown is not scored, until the receiver completes the catch. See Rule 3, Section 2, Article 7.
A.R. 11.1 Third-and-goal on B2. Runner A1 goes to the goal line with the ball over the plane of the goal line. He is tackled, fumbles, and the defensive team recovers in the end zone.
Ruling: Touchdown. The ball is automatically dead at the instant of legal player possession on the opponent’s goal line.
A.R. 11.2 Second-and-10 on B18. Runner A1 takes handoff and runs down the sideline toward the goal line with the ball in his outside arm. He crosses the goal line plane standing with the ball to the outside of the pylon.
Ruling: Touchdown. Part of the ball crossing over or inside the pylon only applies to an airborne runner who lands out of bounds.
Now we have got the official wording out of the way let’s check out some examples of each type of touchdown that can be scored:
INTERCEPTION RETURN (PICK SIX)
MISSED FIELD GOAL RETURN
You can also score a touchdown from a blocked punt or when a blocked field goal where the ball does not touch the floor. I went a bit video crazy and so will spare you these two however do check out one of my favorite touchdowns of all time:
The quarterback (QB) is the leader of the offense on the field of play and is responsible for receiving all of the incoming plays from the offensive co-ordinator in the huddle. The QB then relays this play onto his teammates. The quarterback is also responsible for reading the defence prior to the snap of the ball and it is their responsibility to change the play if they see fit depending on what they see.
The quarterback is also known as the field general because of the above and some quarterbacks like Peyton Manning tend to receive three plays from the co-ordinator and he then chooses the best play at the line of scrimmage. As well as the above the QB is also the main passer on the team and is responsible for most of the forward passes and handoffs. There are several different types of quarterback and you will often hear them being referred to as a pocket passer or a mobile quarterback. Please see below examples of both:
THE POCKET QUARTERBACK
Firstly I would like to explain the term pocket. The pocket is the space behind the line of scrimmage in-between the hash marks. The pocket passer is someone who tends not to scramble around or run with the ball and usually passes the ball from this area known as ‘The Pocket’. Some examples of great pocket passers are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Here are highlights of each of these examples:
THE MOBILE QUARTERBACK
The mobile quarterback is someone who likes to move around outside of the Pocket to pass the ball and they are also known for how well they scramble with the ball. Offenses with mobile quarterbacks also tend to use a play called the ‘read option’, and this is where after the QB receives the snap he decides whether or not to hand the ball to the running back or run with the ball himself. Some examples of great mobile quarterbacks are Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. Here are highlights of each of these examples:
ROBERT GRIFFIN III
The important factor in a safety is impetus. Two points are scored for the opposing team when the ball is dead on or behind a team’s own goal line if the impetus came from a player on that team.
Examples of Safety:
(a) Blocked punt goes out of kicking team’s end zone. Impetus was provided by punting team. The block only changes direction of ball, not impetus.
(b) Ball carrier retreats from field of play into his own end zone and is downed. Ball carrier provides impetus.
(c) Offensive team commits a foul and spot of enforcement is behind its own goal line.
(d) Player on receiving team muffs punt and, trying to get ball, forces or illegally kicks (creating new impetus) it into end zone where it goes out of the end zone or is recovered by a member of the receiving team in the end zone.
Examples of Non-Safety:
(a) Player intercepts a pass with both feet inbounds in the field of play and his momentum carries him into his own end zone. Ball is put in play at spot of interception.
(b) Player intercepts a pass in his own end zone and is downed in the end zone, even after recovering in the end zone. Impetus came from passing team, not from defense. (Touchback)
(c) Player passes from behind his own goal line. Opponent bats down ball in end zone. (Incomplete pass)
Video EXAMPLES OF SAFETIES SCORED