Glossary of American football terms Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Glossary of American football For a list of words relating to American football see the Football American category of words in Wiktionary the free dictionary The following terms are used in American football both conventional and indoor Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football for a list of terms unique to that code see Glossary of Canadian football Contents 0 9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z See also References0 9 Edit2 4 5 defense A type of nickel formation with two linemen two defensive ends DEs or one DE and one defensive tackle DT four linebackers two interior linebackers ILBs and two outer linebackers OLBs and five defensive backs three corner backs CBs one free safety FS and one strong safety SS More common among teams with 3 4 base defenses than the 3 3 5 because all four starting linebackers remain on field while the defensive linemen the slowest players on the defense come out This maximizes versatility for the defense against three and four wide receiver WR offensive sets a safety will often cover the fourth receiver and a linebacker will cover the tight end or halfback leaving three to patrol the middle of the field The 2 4 5 is most often used against the two minute offense when substituting players may be difficult 3 3 5 defense Main article 3 3 5 defense A variation of the nickel formation with three linemen two defensive ends DEs and one defensive tackle DT three linebackers two outer linebackers OLBs and one middle linebacker MLB and five defensive backs three corner backs CBs one free safety FS and one strong safety SS 3 4 defense Main article 3 4 defense A defensive formation with three linemen and four linebackers A professional derivative in the 1970s of the earlier Oklahoma 5 2 or 50 defense which had five linemen and two linebackers The 3 4 outside linebackers resemble stand up ends in the older defense It is sometimes pronounced thirty four defense The 3 4 also was spun off from the Miami Dolphins 53 defense named for the jersey number worn by linebacker Bob Matheson who was often used by the Dolphins as a fourth linebacker in passing situations 4 3 defense Main article 4 3 defense A defensive formation with four linemen and three linebackers Several variations are employed It was first used by coach Tom Landry 1 2 It is sometimes pronounced forty three defense 46 defense Main article 46 defense Usually pronounced forty six defense a formation of the 4 3 defense four linemen and three linebackers featuring several dramatic shifts of personnel The line is heavily shifted toward the offense s weak side both outside linebackers tend to play on the strong side outside of the defensive linemen and three defensive backs the two cornerbacks and the strong safety crowd the line of scrimmage The remaining safety which is the free safety stays in the backfield It was invented by Buddy Ryan during his tenure as defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and was popularized by the Bears during their Super Bowl XX championship season 5 2 defense Main article 5 2 defense A once popular college defense with five defensive linemen and two linebackers Also known as the Oklahoma defense it is structurally very similar to the 3 4 In the 50 defense the team uses a nose tackle two defensive tackles lined up over or slightly inside the offensive tackles and two defensive ends lined up over or outside the tight end It maximizes size along the line of scrimmage and is mostly used in high school against teams that run the ball a lot 5 3 defense Main article 5 3 defense A defense with five defensive linemen and three linebackers that appeared in the 1930s to combat improved passing attacks The 5 3 defense and the 6 2 defense were considered the standard defensive formations of their time with the 5 3 defense being regarded as the defense that was better against the pass It was considered the best defense against the T formation By the late 1950s NFL defenses had switched to the 4 3 defense or the 5 2 defense as their base defense 53 man roster The most players a National Football League team can carry on its active roster at the start of the regular season To reach the deadline teams can cut players add players to their practice squad and if injured move players to the physically unable to perform list 6 2 defense Main article 6 2 defense A defense with six defensive linemen and two linebackers that became popular in the 1930s due to improved passing attacks The 6 2 defense and the 5 3 defense were considered the standard defensive formations of their time with the 6 2 defense being regarded as the defense that was stronger against the run As the T formation became more popular the popularity of the 6 2 defense declined By 1950 NFL defenses had switched to the 5 2 defense or the 5 3 defense as their base defense 7 1 2 1 defense Main article 7 1 2 1 defense A defensive formation with seven defensive linemen one linebacker and three defensive backs It was invented by Henry L Williams in 1903 By the mid 1930s it was considered almost obsolete due to its vulnerability against the pass 7 2 2 defense Main article 7 2 2 defense A defensive formation with seven defensive linemen two linebackers and two defensive backs It is akin to an offensive two tight end set or a goal line defense It was invented by Amos Alonzo Stagg in 1890 and used as the base defense by Knute Rockne at Notre Dame and Mike Donahue at Auburn n possession game A way of expressing the number of times a team that is late in the game and trails its opponent must secure possession of the ball and score without allowing the opponent to do the same in order to tie or overtake the opponent Eight points a touchdown and a two point conversion are the most points possible on any given possession therefore the number of possessions n necessary is equal to the point margin divided by eight rounded up to the nearest integer For instance a team down by 17 points would be in a three possession game A EditA 11 offense Main article A 11 offense An offensive philosophy designed to appear as if all 11 players are eligible receivers The offense exploits a loophole in the American football rulebook to technically make the formation a scrimmage kick and the offensive line is spread across the field all wearing numbers of eligible receivers in an effort to confuse and deceive the defense It was banned in 2009 Air Coryell Main article Air Coryell An offensive philosophy developed by San Diego Chargers head coach Don Coryell which combines power running with mid range and deep pattern passing The Air Coryell offense relies on getting receivers in motion and out into patterns that combine to stretch the field thereby setting up defensive backs with route technique and allowing the quarterback to throw to a certain spot on time where the receiver can catch and turn upfield During Coryell s tenure as head coach in San Diego the Chargers led the NFL in passing yards seven times first from 1978 to 1983 3 and again in 1985 air raid offense Main article Air raid offense An offensive philosophy derived from the West Coast offense but adapted to the shotgun formation In this offense the running game is heavily de emphasized while quick medium and screen passes are highly developed all purpose yardage The sum of all yards gained by a player who is in possession of the ball during a play All purpose yardage includes rushing and receiving yards gained on offense yards gained on returns of interceptions and fumbles and yards gained on kickoff punt and missed field goal returns attempt 1 A pass attempt 2 A rush attempt a carry 3 A kick audible A play called by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage to make a change from the play that was called in the huddle automatic first down For several fouls against the defensive team a first down is awarded to the offensive team even if the result of the penalty does not advance the ball beyond the line to gain In the NFL and NCAA the fouls include pass interference and all personal fouls Under NFHS high school rules only roughing the snapper holder kicker and passer are penalized with an automatic first down B Editback Any position not typically aligned on the line of scrimmage exception defensive linemen are off the line in Canadian rules but are not backs Offensively running back tailback quarterback halfback flankerback fullback and wingback defensively linebacker cornerback rover defensive halfback and safety backfield The area of an American football field behind the line of scrimmage The backfield or offensive backfield can also refer to members of the offense who begin plays behind the line typically including any backs on the field such as the quarterback running back and fullback backward pass A pass thrown backward Also called an onside pass in Canadian football There is no limit to the number of backward passes or where they may be thrown from Sometimes referred to as a lateral which specifically refers to a pass thrown with no motion toward either end zone If the pass is not completed it is automatically ruled a fumble which can be recovered by either team ball carrier The player currently in possession of the football If the ball is loose meaning neither team has possession there is no ball carrier ball control A strategy that is based on low risk plays in an effort to avoid losing possession of the ball examples of when a ball control strategy would be used include when a team is in the red zone and when a team is protecting a lead late in a game Black Monday Main article Black Monday The first working day following the final Sunday of the National Football League season week 17 in which unsuccessful coaches and administration are typically fired or resign their position 4 5 6 The term is also attributed to the day following the annual NFL Draft where players contracts may be terminated once new players are added to a roster 7 blitz Main article Blitz American football A defensive maneuver in which one or more linebackers or defensive backs who normally remain behind the line of scrimmage instead charge into the opponent s backfield However in the 3 4 defense one linebacker typically rushes the passer with the three down linemen This is not considered a blitz If an additional linebacker is sent bringing the total number of rushers to five it is a blitz block The act of one player obstructing another player with their body either to push the opponent back or to prevent them moving beyond the blocker Some types of block include a run block where the blocker pushes a defensive player back and away from the ball carrier a pass block where a blocker protects the thrower by moving laterally and backwards to slow or halt an incoming pass rusher a cut block a zone block which is any block executed in a zone blocking scheme a trap block a pull block a screen block and a double team block where two blockers simultaneously block one player blocking The act of executing a block the collective play of those players performing blocks the performance of a blocker or blockers during a game blocking back Used to describe a running back who is assigned to block It describes either an assignment for a single play or the back s primary function throughout their career as when describing a fullback who is particularly skilled at blocking Also an early term for quarterbacks blocking sled A heavy piece of practice equipment usually a padded angular frame on metal skids used for developing strength and blocking techniques bomb Also long bomb a long distinctly arching pass 8 bootleg Main article Bootleg play An offensive play predicated upon misdirection in which the quarterback pretends to hand the ball to another player and then carries the ball in the opposite direction of the supposed ball carrier with the intent of either passing or running sometimes the quarterback has the option of doing either 8 A naked bootleg is a high risk variation of this play when the quarterback has no blockers box An area on the defensive side of the ball directly opposite the offensive linemen and about five yards deep having eight players in the box means bringing in a defensive back normally the strong safety to help stop the offensive team s running game bust Main article Draft bust Term often used to refer to a player usually one drafted early on the first day of the NFL draft who failed to meet the expectations of the drafting team bubble screen A type of screen pass where the quarterback takes the snap and immediately throws to the inside most receiver who is moving towards the sideline with his body facing the quarterback on either side of the ball The receiver catches the ball and then turns to run downfield using the additional receivers to block busted play A play which deteriorates to the point that it no longer conforms with the coach s playbook and leads to confusion or chaos on the field buttonhook hook dig A route where a receiver runs straight upfield a certain distance and then plants hard and runs straight back towards the quarterback 8 Often simply called a hook route or a dig route In some cases a dig route is considered a very long buttonhook such as 15 yards or more downfield Hence the receiver must dig their cleats in hard to stop and come back at the quarterback after running so far and fast C EditCalifornia Community College Athletic Association Main article California Community College Athletic Association Governing body for community college athletics in California including junior college or juco football carry or carries Main article Carry gridiron football A statistic referring to the number of times a rushing player attempts to advance the ball A ball carrier can be any player that attempts to advance the ball during an offensive play regardless of position center C A player position on offense The center usually snaps the ball center eligible A trick play where the entire offensive line is to one side of the center at the snap so that the center is an extra lineman on the end and therefore an eligible receiver centre Canadian center chain The 10 yard long chain that is used by the chain crew aka chain gang to measure for a new series of downs checkdown Main article Checkdown When a quarterback has to complete a short pass commonly to a running back or tight end as a last resort in his read progression chip shot A very short field goal usually of 25 yards or less that is almost certain to be successful Named after the golf term of the same name for the ball s high and short trajectory chop block Similar to a cut block in which one offensive player blocks a defensive player below the knees and another blocks them above the waist It is illegal to block low if a teammate is already engaged with the defensive player blocking high to prevent knee and ankle injuries clipping A penalty called for an illegal block in which the blocked player is hit from behind at or below the waist the penalty is 15 yards Originally clipping was defined as any block to the back but is now restricted to blocks at or below the waist Other blocks from the back are now punished with 10 yard penalties clock management Main article Clock management The use of the rules of the game to manipulate the starting and stopping of the game clock to the team s advantage usually near the end of the game coffin corner The corner of the field of play between the end zone and the 10 yard line 8 A punter if they are close enough will often attempt to kick the ball out of bounds close to the receiving team s goal line and pin them back near their own end zone comeback route A receiver or tight end route where a player runs straight upfield a specified number of yards plants hard turns and runs back towards the sideline at a 45 degree angle Despite the name a wide receiver does not come back towards the quarterback instead they try to catch the ball and guarantee getting out of bounds completion percentage The percentage of passes completed from passes attempted contain A defensive assignment On outside runs such as a sweep one defensive player usually a cornerback or outside linebacker is assigned to keep the rusher from getting to the edge of the play and turning upfield If executed properly the rusher will have to turn upfield before the design of the play calls for it giving the linebackers a better chance of stopping the play for little or no gain cornerback Main article Cornerback A defensive back who lines up near the line of scrimmage across from a wide receiver Their primary job is to disrupt passing routes and to defend against short and medium passes and to contain the rusher on rushing plays cover An attempt to prevent a receiver from catching a pass There are two general schemes for defending against the pass Man to man each eligible receiver is covered by a defensive back or a linebacker Zone certain players usually defensive backs and linebackers though occasionally linemen are assigned an area on the field that they are to cover Common types of coverage Cover zero strict man to man coverage with no help from safeties usually a blitz play with at least five players crossing the line of scrimmage Cover one man to man coverage with at least one safety not assigned a player to cover who can help out on deep pass routes Cover two zone coverage with the safeties playing deep and covering half the field each Can be cover two man where every receiver is covered by a defensive player or cover two zone also known as Tampa two where a CB covers the flat zone OLB hook zone or a MLB curl zone Cover three zone coverage as above but with extra help from the strong safety or a cornerback so that each player covers one third of a deep zone Cover four as above with the corners and safeties dropping into deep coverage with each taking one fourth of the width of the field Also referred to as quarters counter A running play in which the running back takes a step in the apparent direction of the play only to get the handoff in the other direction Weak side linemen will sometimes pull and lead the back downfield sometimes called a counter trap The play is designed to get the defense to flow away from the action for a few steps as they follow the linemen allowing more room for the running back crackback block An illegal block delivered below the opponent s waist by an offensive player who had left the area of close line play and then returned to it or was not within it at the snap The term is also used to describe a legal block delivered from the front or from the side with the offensive player s helmet in front of the blocked player by a wide receiver on a player who lined up inside of them cut A sharp change of direction by a running player Also called a cutback cut blocking Main article Cut blocking A blocking technique in which offensive linemen and sometimes other blockers block legally below the waist i e from the front of the defensive player in an attempt to bring the defenders to the ground making them unable to pursue a running back D Editdead ball Main article Dead ball American football A ball which is no longer in play dead ball foul A penalty committed by either team before or after the play If it is after the result of the play stands and the penalty is assessed from the current position of the ball Pre snap penalties on the defense do not require the play to be blown dead unless a defensive player has a clear path to the quarterback On the offense some penalties stop the play before it begins and some do not A dead ball foul that does not stop play cannot be declined dead zone Main article Dead zone gridiron football Also known as four down territory a spot on the field outside of a kicker s field goal range but close enough to the opposing end zone that a punt will likely result in a touchback defensive back A cornerback or safety position on the defensive team commonly defends against wide receivers Generally there are four defensive backs playing at a time but see nickel back and dime back defensive end Main article Defensive end A player position on defense who lines up on the outside of the defensive line and which principal function is to deliver pressure to the quarterback defensive tackle A player position on defense on the inside of the defensive line and which principal function is to contain the run A defensive tackle who lines up directly across from the center is known as a nose tackle often the heaviest player on the defense A defensive tackle who lines up between an offensive guard and offensive tackle is known as a three gap technique tackle defensive team Main article Defensive team The team that begins a play from scrimmage not in possession of the ball delay of game A five yard foul which occurs when the offensive team does not put the ball in play before the play clock runs out There are also less common occurrences which result in a delay of game foul such as a defensive player holding an offensive player on the ground to prevent them from lining up during a two minute drill dime back Main article Dime back The second extra or sixth total defensive back Named because a dime has the same value as two nickels See nickel back direct snap A play in which the ball is passed directly to a player other than the quarterback by the center Contrast with an indirect snap play in which the ball is first handed to the quarterback who then passes or hands it of to the eventual ball carrier Also used to refer to formations that use a direct snap such as the single wing dive A play in which the ball is handed off to the running back who attacks the middle of the offensive formation between the OG This play is part of the triple option strategy double reverse A play in which the ball reverses direction twice behind the line of scrimmage this is usually accomplished by means of two or three hand offs each hand off going in an opposite direction as the previous one Such a play is extremely infrequent in football Some people confuse the double reverse with a reverse which is a play with two hand offs instead of three double wing A formation with two tight ends and two wingbacks in which the snap is tossed by the center between their legs to the quarterback or halfback moderately deep in the backfield double wing ed T A formation with two tight ends and two wingbacks in which the center hands the ball to the quarterback down A unit of the game that starts with a legal snap or legal free kick after the ball is ready for play and ends when the ball next becomes dead First down is the first of the plays fourth is the last down in American third in Canadian football A first down occurs after a change of possession of the ball after advancing the ball 10 yards following a previous first down and after certain penalties down box The post used by the chain gang to mark the line of scrimmage and designate the current down down by contact When the player carrying the ball touches the ground with any part of his body other than the feet hands or arms as a direct result of contact with a player of the opposing team In professional football a player must be down by contact in order for play to stop if they trip and fall without being touched by an opposing player they are free to get up and continue advancing the ball Exceptions to this rule that result in play stopping include when the player carrying the ball is on the ground but not downed by contact e g after tripping and falling and is touched by a member of the opposing team while still on the ground or when the player with the ball intentionally kneels down on the ground and stops advancing e g a quarterback kneel or touchback This rule does not apply in collegiate and high school football where a player need not be downed by contact at these levels in order for play to stop down lineman A player stationed in front of his line of scrimmage and who has either one three point stance or two four point stance hands on the ground draw play Main article Draw play A play in which the quarterback drops back as if to pass then hands off to a running back or runs with the ball themself See scramble drive 1 A continuous set of offensive plays gaining substantial yardage and several first downs usually leading to a scoring opportunity 2 A blocking technique drive block in which an offensive player through an advantaged angle or with assistance drive a defensive player out of position creating a hole for the ball carrier drop kick A kick in which the ball is dropped and kicked once it hits the ground and before it hits it again a half volley kick A drop kick is one of the types of kick which can score a field goal Drop kicks are extremely rare due to the pointed nature of the ball E Editeligible receiver A player who may legally touch a forward pass On the offense these are the ends backs and except in the NFL one player in position to take a hand to hand snap provided the player s jersey displays a number in the ranges allowed for eligible receivers All players of the opposing team are eligible receivers and once the ball is touched by a player of the opposing team anywhere in American or beyond the lines of scrimmage in Canadian football all players become eligible encroachment An illegal action by a defensive player crossing the line of scrimmage and making contact with an opponent before the ball is snapped end around Main article End around A play often confused with a reverse where the quarterback hands the ball off to a wide receiver The receiver motions into the backfield as the ball is snapped to take the handoff and runs around the opposite end from where they lined up end zone Main article End zone The area between the end line or deadline in Canadian amateur football and the goal line bounded by the sidelines extra point Main article Extra point A single point scored in a conversion attempt by making what would be a field goal during general play See tryF Editface mask The protective grill that forms part of the football helmet face mask grasping A foul in which a player grabs the face mask or helmet opening of another player s helmet usually in the process of making a tackle It results in a 15 yard penalty false start Main article False start A foul resulting in a five yard penalty in which an offensive player moves before the ball is snapped potentially drawing defensive players offside fair catch In American football an unhindered catch of an opponent s kick The player wanting to make a fair catch must signal for a fair catch by waving an arm overhead while the ball is in the air After that signal once the ball is possessed it is dead immediately and opponents will receive a 15 yard penalty for any contact with the receiver fair catch kick Main article Fair catch kick A free kickoff that takes point at the spot of a fair catch if the catching team so chooses to execute it unlike the standard kickoff it can score three points if the ball goes through the goal It is very rare in fact college football does not even allow it a very narrow set of criteria have to be met for it to be useful fantasy football Main article Fantasy football American A game in which the participants called owners each draft on their own or with the aid of software 9 a team of real life NFL players and then score points based on those players statistical performance on the field FBS Main article NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision the top level of U S college football FCS Main article NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision The NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision the second level of U S college football Distinguished from FBS by reduced scholarship limits and the existence of an official NCAA championship event field judge The official traditionally in charge of timekeeping field of play The area between both the goal lines and the sidelines and in some contexts the space vertically above it field goal A score of three points made by place or drop kicking the ball through the opponent s goal other than via a kickoff or free kick following a safety formerly goal from the field A missed field goal can be returned as a punt if recovered in bounds by the defending team In some leagues four point field goals can be scored under special circumstances field position A relative measure of how many yards a team must travel in order to score first down The first of a set of four downs Usually a team which has a first down needs to advance the ball ten yards to receive another first down but penalties or field position i e less than ten yards from the opposing end zone can affect this flag A weighted yellow cloth thrown by a field official to indicate that a foul has been committed Also the weighted red flag that an NFL head coach throws onto the field to alert officials that they are challenging a call on the field flanker A player position on offense A wide receiver who lines up in the backfield outside of another receiver The term is used infrequently in American football having been long since replaced by the Z wide receiver flat An area on the field between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards into the defensive backfield and within 15 yards of the sideline Running backs often run pass routes to the flat when they are the safety valve receiver flea flicker Main article Flea flicker American football A trick play in which a running back throws a backward pass back to the quarterback who then throws a pass to a wide receiver or tight end flexbone Main article Flexbone formation A formation involving three running backs where a fullback is lined up behind the quarterback and two slotbacks are lined up behind the line of scrimmage at both ends of the offensive line formation An arrangement of the offensive skill players A formation usually is described in terms of how the running backs line up e g I formation which refers to the situation where the halfback is lined up about seven yards deep and the fullback is lined up about five yards deep both directly behind the quarterback or how the wide receivers line up e g trips left in which three wide receivers line up to the left of the linemen Frequently the formation will allude to both such as with a strong I slot right in which the halfback is lined up seven yards deep behind the quarterback the fullback is five yards deep behind the guard or tackle on the strong side and both wide receivers are lined up on the right side of the offensive line There are rules limiting what is legal in a formation All five offensive linemen must be on the line of scrimmage a small amount of leeway is given to tackles when lined up for pass protection Also there must be one receiver usually one tight end and one wide receiver lined up on the line on either side of the offensive linemen it does not matter how close they are to the tackles as long as they are on the line with a total of no fewer than seven players on the line five of which must be numbered between 50 79 A numbering exception exists if the offense is in a scrimmage kick formation which allows a player whose number is 1 49 or 80 99 to take the place of a lineman numbered 50 79 A receiver who is on the line may not go in motion forward pass Main article Forward pass A pass that touches a person object or the ground closer to the opponent s end line than where it was released from or is accidentally lost during a forward throwing motion forward progress The location to which a ball carrier s forward momentum carries him before they are tackled At the end of a play the football is spotted at the point where the ball carrier s forward progress is stopped even if they are pushed backward by the defenders fourth down The final of a set of four downs Unless a first down is achieved or a penalty forces a replay of the down the team will lose control of the ball after this play If a team does not think they can get a first down they often punt on fourth down or attempt a field goal if they are close enough to do so fourth down conversion The act of using a fourth down play to make a first down also known as going for it on fourth down These are comparatively uncommon four down territory 1 The dead zone 2 A period of time late in the fourth quarter where a team that is on offense but trailing cannot afford to surrender possession since the defense will not realistically be able to stop the defense with enough time remaining to score enough points to tie or take the lead before the game ends During such a time an offensive team will attempt fourth down conversions in situations when it would otherwise be too risky to do so seriously four point stance down lineman s stance with four points on the ground in other words two feet and two hands often a technique used in short yardage or goal line situations free kick Main article Safety kick A kick made to put the ball in play as a kickoff or following a safety the score safety touch in Canadian football or fair catch free play When the defense commits a foul at the time of the snap usually an offside foul the offense can play out the rest of the play and either take the five yard penalty and replay the down or the result of the play whichever is more advantageous Thus the offense can afford to take greater risks since any catastrophic result will be wiped out by the defensive foul that has already been committed free safety FS A player position on defense Free safeties typically play deep or center field and often have the pass defense responsibility of assisting other defensive backs in deep coverage compared to strong safeties who usually have an assigned receiver and run support responsibilities front seven The defensive linemen and linebackers The most common configurations of a front seven are 4 3 four down linemen three linebackers and the 3 4 three linemen and four linebackers fullback Main article Fullback American football A player position on offense Originally lined up deep behind the quarterback in the T formation In modern formations this position may be varied and this player has more blocking responsibilities in comparison to the halfback or tailback fumble Main article Fumble A ball that a player accidentally lost possession of in Canadian football the term includes muffs fumblerooski Main article Fumblerooski A trick play where the quarterback deliberately places the ball on the ground technically fumbling so that another player usually a lineman can pick up the ball and advance it This type of play is now banned by most football sanctioning groups G Editgame manager Main article Game manager A type of quarterback loosely defined who makes a minimum number of mistakes for a team that relies on its defense and rushing offense to win games games decided by seven points or less A statistical measurement mainly used in reference to teams with losing records A team with a high number of losses with a margin of defeat less than a touchdown may need only to make minor changes to become successful compared to a team who loses its games by a wide margin A high number of overall games decided by seven points or less is a sign of parity in a league structure gate driven A league dependent on ticket sales to stay financially solvent These leagues stand in contrast to leagues such as the NFL and many of the Power Five conferences in college football that derive most of their money from broadcasting rights fees goal A surface in space marked by a structure of two upright posts 18 1 2 feet apart 23 1 3 in high school football extending above a horizontal crossbar the top edge of which is ten feet off the ground The goal is the surface above the bar and between the lines of the inner edges of the posts extending infinitely upward centered above each end line in American and each goal line in Canadian football goal area Alternate term for end zone used primarily in Canadian football goal line Main article Goal line American football The front of the end zone goal line stand When a team s defense stops another team s offense from scoring a touchdown when the opposition s offense is near the goal line gridiron 1 The field of play a football field 2 A generalized term for American Canadian arena and other related forms of football especially in contrast with rugby football rugby union rugby league and association football soccer See also Gridiron football The word derives from the same root as griddle meaning a lattice The original field was marked in a grid of crisscrossed lines the ball would be snapped in the grid in which it was downed on the previous play In modern usage a gridiron is a surface with parallel lines American and related codes of football have lines spaced every five yards as compared to 10 12 metres in rugby giving the field a unique look among football codes guard Main article Guard American football Two of the five offensive line positions See lineman gunner The widest player on the line in a punting formation The gunner is often one of the fastest players on the team usually a cornerback or wide receiver H EditHail Mary Main article Hail Mary pass A long pass play thrown towards a group of receivers near or in the end zone in hope of a touchdown Used by a team as a last resort as time is running out in either of two halves usually by a team trailing in the second half The term was first used during Roger Staubach s comeback victory in which he threw such a pass to Drew Pearson to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in a divisional round playoff game in 1975 The term refers to the Catholic prayer halfback Main article Halfback American football A player position on offense In American football it is a type of running back in Canadian football it is a type of defensive back Also known as a tailback halfback option play Main article Halfback option play A trick play in which the halfback has the option to either throw a pass or run with the ball halo violation From 1983 until the end of the 2002 season in the NCAA college football the halo rule was a foul for interference with the opportunity to catch a kick The so called halo rule stated that no player of the kicking team may be within two yards of a receiving team player positioned to catch a punt or kickoff before that person has touched the ball The rule was abolished beginning in the 2003 season In a hand off the quarterback Colt McCoy No 12 is handing the ball to the running back Jamaal Charles No 25 hand off A move in which a player transfers the ball to another player and the receiving player takes possession of the ball before it leaves the hands of the giver thus the ball is never in flight A handoff can occur in any direction Sometimes called a switch in touch football hands team A group of players mostly wide receivers that are responsible for recovering an onside kick They line up as close as possible to the 10 yard neutral zone and their goal is to recover the ball immediately after but only if the ball crosses out of the neutral zone hard count A strategy commonly used by offenses to convert on fourth down and less than five yards to go An offense will take the full time on the play clock with the quarterback utilizing an irregular accented thus the term hard cadence for the snap count in the hope that the defense will jump offside giving the offense the five yards needed to convert the first down However if the defense does not go offside the offense will take a five yard penalty for delay of game or a timeout hash marks Lines between which the ball begins each play The lines are parallel to and a distance in from the side lines and marked as broken lines If a play is blown dead while the ball is between the hash marks the ball is spotted where it is blown dead for the following play If the play ends outside the hash marks the ball is spotted at the nearer hash mark H back Main article H back A player listed in a roster or depth chart as a fullback but with better athletic or pass catching abilities and playing as a hybrid of a fullback and a tight end hidden yardage Yards based on the difference in starting field position between the teams and penalty yardage These yards do not show up in the statistics as yards gained by an offense hence hidden This sometimes explains how a team with a significant advantage in yards gained loses the game since starting possessions deeper in a team s own territory on a regular basis means more yards need to be gained in order to score points and that teams that tend to commit many penalties will force the offense to gain more yards to score points or give the opposing offense free yards allowing them to score points with fewer yards needed hike Synonym of snap the handoff or pass from the center that begins a play from scrimmage holder Main article Holder American football A player who holds the ball upright for a place kick Often backup quarterbacks are used for their superior ball handling ability and in the event of a bad snap requiring a pass play or punters for their ability to catch long snaps holding There are two kinds of holding Offensive holding illegally blocking a player from the opposing team by grabbing and holding their uniform or body Defensive holding called against defensive players who hold offensive players but who are not actively making an attempt to catch the ball if the defensive player were to impede an offensive player in the act of catching the ball that would be the more severe foul of pass interference hook and lateral Main article Hook and lateral A trick play in which a receiver usually a wide receiver runs a hook pattern i e moving toward the line of scrimmage to make a catch and then laterals the ball to a second player generally another receiver or a running back going in a different direction horse collar A horse collar is a type of tackle made by grabbing the back inside of an opponent s shoulder pads or jersey This type of tackle was banned in the NFL in 2005 and in college football in 2008 hot read When a quarterback sees a blitz coming and quickly passes to a receiver running a short route This involves the quarterback adjusting their target and the hot receiver adjusting their route for instance breaking off a deeper route in favor of a slant or hitch 10 If a quarterback at the line of scrimmage reads the defense and identifies a blitz coming they may call an audible to designate a receiver as a hot read or hot receiver 11 huddle An on field meeting of team members to communicate instructions for the upcoming play hurry up offense Main article Hurry up offense An offensive strategy designed to gain yardage while running as little time off the clock as possible Often involves making plays without a huddle This technique can also be used to keep the defensive team off balance hut A loud repeated command by quarterbacks for the other players to move Hut Hut Hut The command replaced hike in the second half of the 20th century probably as a result of players returning from World War II military service adapting the drill language they were familiar with as in Atten hut Hut two three four 12 I EditI formation Main article I formation A formation that includes a fullback and tailback lined up directly behind the quarterback while the quarterback is under center By definition the fullback lines up in front of the tailback Several variations on this backfield formation exist including the offset I in which the fullback lines up out of line to the left or right of the quarterback and halfback also known as the strong or weak I depending on which direction the fullback is positioned the Maryland I and power I in which an additional fullback is added to the backfield either next to in the power I or in front of in the Maryland I the fullback icing the kicker When a team calls time out just before the kicker has the ball snapped A team is limited to calling one time out on any given play thus a team cannot repeatedly call all of its time outs to prevent the game from continuing or else a delay of game penalty or more rarely a palpably unfair act penalty is imposed It is thought that kickers tend to miss after being iced due to nervousness so icing the kicker usually happens at the end of the game before a walk off field goal There is evidence that this tactic does not work 13 illegal formation On offense there must be exactly seven players lined up on the line of scrimmage for at least one count before the ball is snapped If not then it is an illegal formation illegal motion On offense a player may be in motion but cannot be going forward at the time of the snap except in arena and Canadian football where one player is allowed to do so and a lineman must be set for one second before the snap Otherwise it is an illegal motion illegal shift On offense only one person is allowed to be in pre snap motion after the formation is set A second person may go in motion after the first has come to a set position for one second If these conditions are not met when sending people into motion an illegal shift has occurred incomplete pass Main article Incomplete pass A forward pass of the ball which no eligible offensive player caught Interceptions are counted as incompletions inbounds lines The hash marks indirect snap A play in which the ball is handed to the quarterback rather than thrown directly to the ball carrier by the center as in a direct snap play So named because the quarterback acts as an intermediary in relaying the ball to the ball carrier Also used to refer to formations that use such a snap as most modern formations do Indirect snap formations exploded in popularity after World War II ineligible receiver Certain players on the offense are not allowed to catch passes For example in most situations offensive interior linemen cannot be receivers and they may cause their team to be penalized if they catch the ball An exception is if the ball has already been tipped by a different player In six man football all players are eligible receivers inside of a player s path Relatively close in reference to the sides of the field to where the ball was snapped from Thus a ball carrier s path in crossing the neutral zone may be said to be inside of an opponent or an inside run in general and a rushing defensive player may be said to put on an inside move or inside rush intentional grounding A type of illegal forward pass thrown without an intended receiver and no chance of completion to any offensive player for the sole purpose of conserving time or avoiding loss of yardage This foul costs the offense a loss of down and 10 yards If it occurs 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage then the 10 yards is taken from the spot of the foul If the foul is committed in the end zone the penalty is a safety Intentional grounding is not called in the case of a spike after a hand to hand snap or if under NFL or NCAA rules the quarterback was outside the tackle box the area between each tackle at the time of the pass provided that the ball travels at least to the line of scrimmage The tackle box is also known as the pocket interception Main article Interception The legal catching of a forward pass thrown by an opposing player interference An older term not to be confused with pass interference to lead block for a player with the ball usually in the open field interior offensive line Refers to the center and guards 14 J EditJack Interior linebacker ILB of the 3 4 formation that plays in the weak side of the formation Also known as Mo jumbo Main article Jumbo offense An offensive package which includes two tight ends a full back and a half back Similar to heavy jumbo in which either the half back or the fullback is replaced by another tight end In a goal line formation Miami package often one or more of the tight ends is actually a linebacker or an offensive lineman In the NFL such a player must report in as an eligible receiver because a lineman or linebacker would not generally wear an eligible number juke football move Main article Juke football move To evade a tackler by a deceptive move and thus without need of a stiff arm K Editkick A punt place kick or drop kick kicker Player who specializes in placekicking i e field goals and kick offs In rare cases the placekicker solely handles field goals while a kickoff specialist handles kickoffs kickoff A free kick which starts each half or restarts the game following a touchdown or field goal The kickoff may be a place kick in American or Canadian football or a drop kick in American football kick returner Main article Kick returner A player on the receiving team who specializes in fielding kicks and running them back kick six A field goal or punt that is blocked and returned for a touchdown or the return of a missed field goal for a touchdown Popularly used in reference to the 2013 Iron Bowl game 15 16 17 kneel Main article Quarterback kneel A low risk play in which the player in possession of the ball kneels down after receiving the snap ending the play while keeping the clock running This is done to end the game sooner without needing to run a riskier play The player kneeling is said to take a knee and thus is taking a knee or taking the knee The quarterback of the team in the lead will often take a knee on the first snap following the two minute warning Though long frowned upon because it was not in accordance with the game s doctrine of toughness taking a knee became an accepted way to run out the clock after the events of the Miracle at the Meadowlands To this end players will sometimes forgo scoring a touchdown and instead choose to run out the clock by kneeling short of reaching the end zone This is usually done when the team with possession of the ball is in the lead but not always 18 L Editlateral Main article Lateral pass See backward pass leg whip An illegal block or tackle using the legs to trip an opponent line of scrimmage Main article Line of scrimmage One of six vertical planes parallel to the goal line when the ball is to be put in play by scrimmage For each team in American football the line of scrimmage is through the point of the ball closest to their end line The two lines of scrimmage are called the offensive line of scrimmage and defensive line of scrimmage often shortened to line In Canadian football the line of scrimmage of the defensive team is one yard their side of the ball linebacker Main article Linebacker A player position on defense The linebackers typically play one to six yards behind the defensive linesmen DLs and are the most versatile players on defense because they can defend both run and pass plays or be called to blitz There are two types of LB middle linebacker MLB and outside linebacker OLB In a 3 4 formation an OLB may be designated as a rush linebacker rushing the passer on almost every play lineman Main article Lineman football A defensive or offensive position on the line of scrimmage On offense the player snapping the ball is the center The players to their sides are the guards and the players to the outside of the guards are the tackles The players on the end of the line are the ends This may be varied in an unbalanced line On defense the outside linemen are ends and those inside are tackles If there are five or six linemen the innermost linemen are known as guards This is rare in professional football except for goal line defenses but is sometimes seen in high school and college live ball Any ball that is in play whether it is in a player s possession or not The ball is live during plays from scrimmage and free kicks including kickoffs live ball foul A foul given for various infractions such as changing numbers during a game long snapper A center who specializes in the long accurate snaps required for punts and field goal attempts Most teams employ a specialist long snapper instead of requiring the normal center to perform this duty M Editman coverage A defensive concept where a defensive player usually a defensive back or linebacker is tasked with covering a certain offensive player usually an eligible receiver This concept differs from zone coverage where defensive players defend an area on the field In most cases linebackers are tasked with being in man coverage with Tight Ends and Running Backs whereas defensive backs usually cover wide receivers and sometimes Tight Ends man in motion A player on offense who is moving backwards or parallel to the line of scrimmage at the snap In American football only one offensive player can be in motion at a time cannot be moving toward the line of scrimmage at the snap and may not be a player who is on the line of scrimmage In Canadian football more than one back can be in motion and may move in any direction as long as they are behind the line of scrimmage at the snap man to man coverage A defense in which all players in pass coverage typically linebackers and defensive backs cover a specific player Pure man coverage is very rare defenses typically mix man and zone coverages Marty ball Main article Marty ball A conservative gameplan which involves an offense based around the use of running backs with use of the passing game only to advance the running game and a great emphasis on defense Popular term for Marty Schottenheimer s approach to coaching Maryland I An I formation with three running backs aligned behind the quarterback in a straight line max protect A modification used on pass plays usually combined with a shotgun formation which keeps the tight end and both backs in behind the line of scrimmage to pass protect rather than run a pass route This is used in obvious blitzing situations to give the quarterback maximum protection in the pocket Although good for holding off a blitz it leaves the quarterback with only two receivers to throw to and therefore only two players for the secondary to defend 19 20 mike The middle linebacker in a 4 3 formation In the 3 4 formation the mike is the interior linebacker that plays on the strong side of the formation The mike has the responsibility to defend the interior gaps and the curl zone The mike is the leader of the defense and has to be as bright as a quarterback because often they call the audibles on defense mo ILB Also known as jack the interior linebacker 3 4 formation that plays on the weak side of the formation monster man A player position on the defensive team the monster is a strong safety in a four deep secondary with the ability to cover deep zones defend against runs and on occasion play on the line of scrimmage 21 See strong safety motion The ordered movement of eligible receivers prior to the snap Motion can be used to cause mismatches Another use for motion is to enhance the pre snap read of the defensive coverage In Canadian and indoor football motion is also used to gain momentum prior to the snap Generally if the coverage is man the receiver s defender will follow them across the formation and if it is zone coverage the defenders will exchange responsibilities by shifting or bumping over muffed punt Main article Muffed punt Occurs when there is an uncontrolled touch of the football after it is punted May be recovered but not advanced by the kicking team N EditNational Football League Main article National Football League NFL The largest professional American football league with 32 teams split into two conferences National and American and four divisions each North West East and South National Collegiate Athletic Association Main article National Collegiate Athletic Association The principal governing body of college sports including college football National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Main article National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Another governing body of college sports including college football whose member schools tend to be smaller than those of the NCAA National Federation of State High School Associations Main article National Federation of State High School Associations The principal governing body of U S high school football and other high school sports The NFHS football rules are used throughout the country except in Texas where the base rules are those of the NCAA High schools in the Canadian province of British Columbia use NFHS rules instead of the Canadian rule set National Junior College Athletic Association Main article National Junior College Athletic Association The governing body for community college athletics including junior college or juco football California s community colleges are not subject to the NJCAA s jurisdiction neutral zone Main article Neutral zone American football The region between the lines of scrimmage or between the free kick restraining lines NFL The National Football League NFL Europa Main article NFL Europa The NFL s former six team European spring league which folded after its 2007 season It was originally intended to introduce NFL culture to Europe but ended up being a secondary league for failed NFL players Only a few have successfully transitioned from Europa to the NFL most notably Kurt Warner of the Amsterdam Admirals nickel back Main article Nickel back An extra or fifth defensive back Named after the five cent coin Popularized by the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s now common Used in situations where a forward pass is expected no huddle offense Main article No huddle offense A tactic wherein the offense quickly forms near the line of scrimmage without huddling before the next play nose tackle A tackle in a three man defensive line who lines up opposite the center Contrary to a regular defensive tackle a nose tackle is often much larger and considered the anchor of the line effective at disrupting blocking schemes and stopping runs O Editoffensive team Main article Offensive team The team with possession of the ball offside An infraction of the rule that requires both teams to be on their own side of their restraining line as or before the ball is put in play Offside is normally called on the defensive team during a scrimmage down and on the kicking team during free kick downs In Canadian football at the time a ball is kicked by a teammate being ahead of the ball or being the person who held the ball for the place kick one back formation A formation where the offensive team has one running back in the backfield with the quarterback Other eligible receivers are near the line of scrimmage onside conversion Main article Onside kick Alternatives to onside kicks A play unique to the Alliance of American Football a short lived minor professional league that eliminated kickoffs in which the scoring team opts to attempt a fourth down conversion from its own 28 yard line and maintains possession if the play is successful The same play is also available to a team that has surrendered a safety with the line of scrimmage being that team s 18 yard line 22 23 onside kick Main article Onside kick A play in which the kicking team tries to recover the kicked ball option offense Main article Option offense An offense heavily relying upon the option run and variations thereof option run Main article Option run Usually a type of play in which the quarterback has the option of handing off keeping or laterally passing to one or more backs Often described by a type of formation or play action such as triple option veer option or counter option Teams running option plays often specialize in them Less often a play in which a running back may either pass or run P EditPAT Point after touchdown See try package 1 The group of players on the field for a given play For example a nickel package substitutes a cornerback for either a linebacker or a defensive lineman the latter is referred to as a 3 3 5 nickel Catching a punt 2 An alternate term for personnel grouping pancake A pancake block sometimes shortened to cake is a particularly effective block where the player being blocked is pushed onto the ground by a blocker metaphorically flattening the opposing defender into a pancake This is usually performed by an offensive lineman tight end or fullback and is considered an ideal block designed to completely eliminate the defender from the play pass An action performed by a player using their arm to transfer the ball to another player by throwing the ball through the air between them Every pass is classified as either a forward pass or a lateral pass depending on the direction the ball travels pass attempt pass interference Main article Pass interference Also passing interference or PI when a player illegally hinders an eligible receiver s or a defender s opportunity to catch a forward pass pass protection The use of pass blocking by the offensive line tight ends and various backs to protect the quarterback from being sacked and to allow the QB time and space to throw the ball passer rating Main article Passer rating A numeric value used to measure of the performance of quarterbacks It was formulated in 1973 and it uses the player s completion percentage passing yards touchdowns and interceptions passing down A down in which a pass is likely to be attempted passing play A play in which a pass is attempted passing yards Also pass yards passing yardage and yards passing the distance in total yards from scrimmage that a passer has thrown the football plus the distance any receivers have run after catching the ball Passing yards do not include incomplete throws nor is the actual distance the ball travels through the air measured as it is measured in flat yards along one direction of the field always starting from the line of scrimmage and ending at the point that the receiver is ruled down If the receiver reaches the end zone and scores a touchdown then the yardage measurement ends at the opposing team s goal line the zero yard line Under NCAA and NFHS high school rules yards lost on sacks are counted in individual and team rushing statistics In the NFL sack yardage is counted as part of team passing yardage but is not counted in individual passing statistics peel back block An action where an offensive player blocks a defender who is moving back toward the direction of their own end zone they are illegal below the waist and from either the back or the side personnel grouping Main article Personnel grouping gridiron football A description of the specific offensive skill position players on the field for a given play also called a package Expressed as a two digit numeric code with the first digit indicating the number of running backs and the second indicating the number of tight ends Since normal formations have five linemen and a quarterback the number of wide receivers is implied to be 5 first digit second digit This means for example that 11 personnel or an 11 package has one running back one tight end and three wide receivers pick An interception of a pass pick six An interception pick that is returned to the passing team s end zone for a touchdown six pistol formation Main article Pistol offense A hybrid version of the shotgun in which the quarterback lines up about three yards behind the center and the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback place kick Main article Place kick Kicking the ball from where it has been placed stationary on the ground or on a tee play Main article Football play 1 See down 2 The plan of action the offensive team has for each snap for example a running play or pass play play action Main article Play action pass A tactic in which the quarterback fakes either a handoff or a throw in order to draw the defense away from the intended offensive method play clock Main article Play clock A timer used to increase the pace of the game between plays The offensive team must snap the ball before the time expires or receive a five yard delay of game foul Currently the NFL uses 40 seconds 25 seconds after a time out or other administrative stoppage playing field See field of play pocket The area on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage between the two offensive tackles where the pass blockers attempt to prevent the defensive players from reaching the quarterback during passing plays pooch kick A punt or kickoff that is deliberately kicked with less than full force It is often used in an attempt to limit the ability of the receiving team to return the ball 24 25 Pop Warner Little Scholars The predominant youth level 13 years old and younger football league in the United States The name Pop Warner or its generic equivalent pee wee can occasionally be used to refer to any youth league whether or not it is affiliated with the national organization possession 1 See drive 2 Physical control of the ball after a pass or fumble post pattern A passing route in which the receiver sprints eight to ten yards fakes a look back at the quarterback then sprints deep at an angle toward the middle of the field the opposite pattern is the flag route prevent defense A defensive strategy that utilizes deep zone coverage in order to prevent a big pass play from happening downfield usually at the expense of giving up yards at shorter distances Often used against hail Mary plays or at the end of the game when the defending team is protecting a lead pro set Main article Pro set Offensive formation using two backs lined up side by side two or three yards behind the quarterback with one on either side of the quarterback pulling A pulling blocker is an offensive lineman who instead of blocking the player in front of them steps back from the line pulls away from the line and runs to block a defender usually in a trap or sweep play pump fake When the quarterback fakes a pass and keeps the ball in their hand in an attempt to fool the defensive team punt Main article Punt gridiron football A kick in which the ball is dropped and kicked before it reaches the ground Used to give up the ball to the opposition after offensive downs have been used as far down the field as possible punt return When a punt is fielded by the receiving team and advanced for better field position The punt returner generally attempts to move the ball as far up the field as possible Alternatively they can signal for a fair catch or allow the ball to go into the end zone for a touchback A receiver can also immediately punt the ball back though this option is not used in modern football punter Main article Punter football position A kicker who specializes in punting as opposed to place kickingQ Editquarter One of four periods of play in a standard American football game A quarter lasts for 15 game clock minutes in most adaptations of American football but may take longer in elapsed time since the clock does not run continuously A tie at the end of four quarters results in overtime quarterback Main article Quarterback An offensive player who lines up behind the center and takes the snap quarterback rating See passer rating quarterback scramble See scramble quarterback sneak A play most commonly used in very short yardage or goal line situations The quarterback quickly takes the snap and runs right behind or beside the center quarter defense A defensive formation with seven defensive backs three down linemen and one linebacker quick kick Main article Quick kick An unexpected puntR Editreception When a player catches receives the ball past the line of scrimmage If a reception is made behind the line of scrimmage it is a lateral Another name for a catch red flag A weighted red marker thrown onto the field by a coach to tell the officials that they want a certain play reviewed sometimes referred to as a challenge flag red zone The area between the 20 yard line and the goal of the defensive team The area is not literally colored red and the term is used mainly for statistical purposes a team that has a high red zone percentage number of touchdowns scored from within the red zone divided by number of drives in which the team enters the red zone is capable of finishing drives with touchdowns on a regular basis redshirt Main article Redshirt college sports A college player who is forgoing a season to retain a year of eligibility Student athletes have five years to play four after they enroll A sixth year is occasionally granted to a player to play his or her four years under extenuating circumstances regular season In college football it is the portion of the season that is scheduled ahead of time by the schools It excludes any bowl game conference championship or playoff games In NFL football the regular season is defined as weeks 1 17 excluding the preseason or postseason restraining line 1 A team s respective line of scrimmage 2 On a free kick the line the ball is to be kicked from for the kicking team or a line 10 yards five yards in the NFL beginning 2011 in advance of that for the receiving team return The act of progressing the ball down the field after a change of possession such as a kick or interception return yards Main article Return yards Yards gained advancing the ball during play after a change of possession such as a punt or a kickoff or a turnover such as a fumble or an interception reverse Main article Reverse American football An offensive play in which a running back carries the ball toward one side of the field but hands or tosses the ball to a teammate almost exclusively a wide receiver who is running in the opposite direction This is slightly different from an end around in which the ball is handed off directly to a wide receiver usually the man in motion so the direction of the play never reverses RPO Run pass option rover A hybrid safety that has dual responsibilities as a defensive back and a linebacker This is more commonly seen in college football than in NFL CFL or AFL football An example of this in use is in West Virginia s and Air Force s 3 3 5 schemes run and shoot Main article Run and shoot An offensive philosophy in football designed to force the defense to show its hand prior to the snap of the ball by splitting up receivers and sending them in motion Receivers run patterns based on the play of the defenders rather than a predetermined plan Also known as run and gun run pass option Plays where the quarterback has the option to run or pass running back Main article Running back A player position on offense Although the term usually refers to a halfback or tailback fullbacks are also considered running backs running out the clock Main article Running out the clock A game strategy that involves repeatedly executing simple plays that allow the game clock to continue running in an effort to bring the game to a quicker end This strategy is almost always employed by the leading team at the end of the game and may involve one or more kneels running play A play where the offense attempts to advance the ball without a forward pass running up the score Main article Running up the score A generally discouraged practice in which a team despite leading by several touchdowns to the point that it is obvious that the team is going to win continues to score as many points as possible in an effort to create as wide of a margin of victory as possible rush Main article Rush American football 1 An attempt to tackle or hurry a player before they can throw a pass or make a kick 2 A running play rushing average or yards per carry average The quotient of a player s total rushing yards divided by the number of rushing attempts S Editsack Tackling a ball carrier who intends to throw a forward pass A sack is also awarded if a player forces a fumble of the ball or the ball carrier goes out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage on an apparent intended forward pass play The term gained currency circa 1970 safety 1 A player position on defense See free safety and strong safety 2 A method of scoring worth two points by downing an opposing ball carrier in his own end zone forcing the opposing ball carrier out of his own end zone and out of bounds or forcing the offensive team to fumble the ball so that it exits the end zone A safety is also awarded if the offensive team commits a foul within its own end zone After a safety the team that was scored upon must kick the ball to the scoring team from its own 20 yard line In the unusual event of a safety occurring during a try for an extra point or two points after a touchdown this scores only one point and is followed by a kickoff as after any other try In some codes the rules allow the defense in addition to the offense to score in this fashion safety valve A receiver whose job it is to get open for a short pass in case all other receivers are covered Sam The strong side outside linebacker scatback A small lightweight running back valued for speed rather than power scout team During practices the portion of the team that attempts to emulate the play style of the upcoming opponent based on scouting reports so the rest of the team can anticipate the opponent s play calls and defense Often includes players on the team s practice squad scramble Main article Quarterback scramble On a called passing play when the quarterback runs from the pocket in an attempt to avoid being sacked giving the receivers more time to get open or attempting to gain positive yards by running screen pass A short forward pass to a receiver who has blockers in front The receiver in this play is usually a running back although wide receiver and tight end screens are also used Although they are both called screen passes the wide receiver screen and the running back screen are used for very different reasons In the case of a running back screen the play is designed to allow the pass rushers by the offensive linemen leaving the defender out of position to make a play The play is usually employed to defuse the pass rush in the case of a running back screen The wide receiver screen is a much faster developing play designed to catch the defense off guard scrimmage 1 An informal practice matchup either between two teams or between different units of the same team Usually score is not kept often each team will get 10 plays from the same yard line Sometimes played seven on seven with a full backfield and an abbreviated offensive line 2 Play from scrimmage 3 Line of scrimmage secondary Refers to the defensive backfield specifically the safeties and cornerbacks Primarily responsible for pass coverage defense series A sequence of downs beginning with a first down and including all subsequent downs until a new first down score or change of possession A typical drive consists of multiple series shift When two or more offensive players move at the same time before the snap All players who move in a shift must come to a complete stop prior to the snap shooting Main article Shoot the gap The action of a linebacker or defensive back to blitz shotgun formation Main article Shotgun formation A formation in which the quarterback receives the snap 5 8 yards behind the center side zone The area between a hash mark and a sideline single wing Main article Single wing A diverse set of formations now out of fashion but highly popular between 1906 and World War II that typically used an unbalanced line direct snap and one wingback single wing ed T A formation with one wingback and an adjoining tight end in which the center hands the ball to the quarterback who holds their hands between the legs of the center slant A receiver route In the slant route a receiver runs straight upfield a few yards plants their outside foot hard while in full stride and turns 45 degrees towards the quarterback A staple of the West Coast offense WCO and the player may go as little as two yards or as many as six yards before moving inside for the pass Variations include the quick slant in which the player plants and turns at the snap instead of running ahead first and the slow or zone route in which the receiver runs 10 to 15 yards downfield to get behind the linebackers before turning slot The area between a split end and the rest of the offensive line A pass receiver lined up in the slot at the snap of the ball may be called a slotback or slot receiver smashmouth offense Main article Smashmouth offense An offensive strategy that relies on a strong running game where most of the offensive plays are handoffs to the fullback or the tailback It is a more traditional style of offense that often results in a higher time of possession by running the ball heavily Even though the offense is run oriented passing opportunities can develop as defenses play close to the line of scrimmage snap Main article Snap football The handoff or pass from the center that begins a play from scrimmage sneak Main article Quarterback sneak An offensive play in which the quarterback immediately on receiving the snap dives forward with the ball The play is used when a team needs a very short gain to reach either the goal line or the line to gain special teams Main article Special teams The units that handle kickoffs punts free kicks and field goal attempts Often made up of second and third team players spike A play in which the quarterback throws the ball at the ground immediately after the snap Technically an incomplete pass it stops the clock A spike is not considered intentional grounding if it is done with the quarterback under center and immediately after the snap the only penalty is that one down is sacrificed Running a spike play presumes there will be at least one play by the same team immediately afterward so it would not be done on fourth down or if it would run the clock out the clock is probably running while the teams are lining up for the play If for either reason a spike cannot be run a quarterback whose first choice was to spike the ball would have to run a regular play instead spiral Main article Spiral football The continuous lateral rotation of the football following its release from the hand of a passer or punter It is often described in terms of tightness a tight spiral is one where the endpoints of the ball continuously stay on the trajectory of the pass without wobbling throughout the pass or punt split T T formation in which the gaps between offensive guards and tackles are nearly twice as large as the gaps between the center and the guards splits The distance between the feet of adjacent offensive linemen Said to be wide if there is a large gap between players or narrow if the gap is small split end A player position on offense A receiver who lines up on the line of scrimmage several yards outside the interior offensive linemen The term is now rarely used in American football having been long since replaced by the wide receiver or wideout with no distinction between whether the receiver is on the line or not spot The location determined by the official where the ball was downed or blown dead spread offense An offensive scheme that is used at every level of American and Canadian football including professional NFL CFL college NCAA NAIA U Sports and high school programs across the U S and Canada Spread offenses typically place the quarterback in the shotgun formation and spread the defense horizontally using three four and even five receiver sets Many spread offenses utilize the read option running play to put pressure on both sides of the defense Spread offenses also leverage vertical down field passing routes to spread the defense vertically thereby opening up multiple vertical seams for both the running and passing game sprint football Main article Sprint football A form of football in which all players must be below the weight of the average college student the game is played at a select few colleges Weight limits are also present in most youth football leagues squib kick Main article Squib kick A type of kickoff in which the ball is intentionally kicked low to the ground typically bouncing on the ground a few times before being picked up This is done in the hopes of preventing a long return as the ball is often picked up by one of the upmen as opposed to the dedicated kickoff returners starter A player who is the first to play their position within a given game or season Depending on the position and the game situation a starter may be replaced or share time with one or more players later in the game As an example a quarterback may start the game but be replaced by a backup quarterback if the game becomes one sided A running back may start the game but share time with another running back in specific situations or to provide the opportunity for rest during the game The pole attached to the end of the chain that is used by the chain crew to measure for a new series of downs i e the line to gain a new first down stiff arm A ball carrier warding off a would be tackler by pushing them away with a straight arm string A grouping of players ranked by an ordinal numeral identifying their place on the depth chart The starting lineup is the first string backups and situational players constitute the second string Third stringers are typically players who primarily play special teams In situations with large rosters such as college football and the NFL preseason there may be enough players for a fourth string strip To remove the football from the player carrying it strong I A formation wherein the tailback is lined up deep directly behind the quarterback and the fullback is lined up offset to the strong side of the formation strong safety Main article Strong safety A kind of safety on defense as opposed to a free safety This is a central defensive back originally the term indicated the lining up on the strong side of the field and covering the tight end However the modern usage of the term now indicates a central defensive back with responsibility for run and pass support slightly favoring run support strong side The side of the field left or right that has the most players but depends on the formations of the teams When a team uses one tight end the strong side is the side of the field where the tight end lines up If the offensive package uses no tight end or more than one tight end the strong side is the side of the field with the most offensive players on or just behind the line of scrimmage assuming a balanced line If the offense uses an unbalanced line the strong side is the side with the most linemen stuff A tackle of a ball carrier on a running play behind the line of scrimmage Compare to sack stunt A tactic used by defensive linemen in which they switch roles in an attempt to get past the blockers Both defenders will start with power rushes with the stunting defender getting more of a push The other lineman will then go around ideally using the player as a pick to get free from blockers sweep Main article Sweep American football A running play in which several blockers lead a running back on a designed play to the outside Depending on the number of blockers and the design of the play this is sometimes referred to as a power sweep or student body right or left T EditT formation Main article T formation A classic offensive formation with the quarterback directly behind the center and three running backs behind the quarterback forming a T Numerous variations have been developed including the split T wing T and wishbone T The players in white No 7 and No 11 are tackling the ball carrier No 10 tackle Main article Tackle football move 1 The act of forcing a ball carrier to the ground 2 A player position on the line either an offensive tackle T or a defensive tackle DT See lineman tackle box The area between where the two offensive tackles line up prior to the snap tackle eligible A lineman that lines up in the position of an eligible receiver tailback Main article Halfback American football Player position on offense farthest deepest back except in kicking formations Also often referred to as the running back particularly in a one back offense take a knee See kneel three and out Main article Three and out When an offensive team fails to gain a first down on the first three plays of a drive and thus is forced to punt on fourth down three point conversion A novelty developed in the new millennium used in leagues such as the XFL and the Stars Football League and later proposed but rejected as a test by the Canadian Football League in 2015 that is nearly identical to the two point conversion A play that advances the ball into the end zone from the 10 yard line as opposed to the 2 or 3 yard line in a two point conversion earns three points three point stance A down lineman s stance with three points on the ground in other words two feet and one hand tight end A player position on offense often known as Y receiver lines up on the line of scrimmage next to the offensive tackle Tight ends are used as blockers during running plays and either run a route or stay in to block during passing plays time of possession TOP The amount of time one team has the ball in its possession relative to the other team Since there are 60 minutes in a non overtime game and one team or another always has possession of the ball the two teams divide up the time with which they have the ball out of the 60 minutes If one team has it 40 minutes the other will have it 20 and so forth A time of possession advantage is seen as a positive thing and is highly correlative with a win or loss as it usually means the opponent s defense becomes fatigued and easier to gain yardage on late in games Teams that dominate time of possession usually have good defenses that can keep the opposing team s offense from mounting many long drives and solid offenses usually with good running games as running plays keep the clock running more often than passing plays Teams that have a big disadvantage in the time of possession usually give up several third down conversions or frequently go three and out on offense total offense Main article Total offense A statistic that combines yards rushing and yards passing touchback Main article Touchback The act of downing the ball behind one s own goal line on a kickoff or punt after the ball had been propelled over the goal by the opposing team This can be accomplished by one of several ways the receiving team player catching the ball in the end zone and dropping down to one knee by the ball touching any part of the end zone the ball carrying out of the end zone in any way without being possessed by either team After a touchback the team that downed it gets the ball at their own 20 yard line in most situations Touchbacks on kickoffs are placed on the 20 under high school rules but the 25 under NCAA and NFL rules touchdown Main article Touchdown A play worth six points accomplished by gaining legal possession of the ball in the opponent s end zone or by the ball crossing the plane of the opponent s goal line with legal possession by a player It also allows the team a chance for one extra point by kicking the ball or a two point conversion see try trap A basic blocking pattern in which a defensive lineman is allowed past the line of scrimmage only to be blocked at an angle by a pulling lineman Designed to gain a preferred blocking angle and larger hole in the line trick play Also gadget play any of a variety of plays that use deception to catch the other team off guard Famous trick plays include the fake punt or kick the Statue of Liberty the flea flicker center eligible surprise on side kick and running back pass plays These plays are often very risky trips A formation in which three wide receivers are lined up on the same side of the field with one on the LOS and usually the others flanking the WR one yard off the LOS as in slot or wing though only one yard off the WR each way true freshman A player who is one year out of high school This contrasts with a redshirt freshman who has practiced with the team for one year but who has not played yet in any games try A try is a scrimmage down which is neither timed nor numbered awarded to a team who has just scored a 6 point touchdown from close to their opponent s goal line 2 yard line in the NFL for regular scrimmage plays 15 yard line in the NFL for place kicks 3 yard line NCAA amp NFHS in all situations The try allows the offense and in some codes the defense to score an additional one or two points Also called try for point conversion convert Canadian extra point s point s after touchdown or PAT Derived from the rugby term of the same name although in rugby the term try refers to the actual event corresponding to the American touchdown not the event that comes afterward as in the American game turn the ball over on downs Main article Turnover on downs When a team uses all four of their downs without either scoring or making a first down they must relinquish the ball to the other team turnover The loss of the ball by one team to the other team This is usually the result of a fumble or an interception two level defense Main article Two level defense A defense with only two as opposed to the usual three levels of defensive organization Generally a much more aggressive defense than normal two minute warning Main article Two minute warning A free time out given to both teams when there are two minutes left on the game clock in each half Certain leagues use different times for this warning two point conversion Main article Two point conversion A play worth two points accomplished by gaining legal possession of the ball in the opponent s end zone either via a run or pass after a touchdown has been made see try U Editunbalanced line Usually refers to an offensive formation which does not have an equal number of linemen on each side of the ball Done to gain a blocking advantage on one side of the formation typically one tackle or guard lines up on the other side of the ball For example a common alignment would be E G C G T T E under center Refers to the quarterback lining up directly behind the center to take the snap The person under center is considered ineligible in the NFL but an eligible receiver in the NCAA and high school though this distinction rarely manifests itself since the person under center usually is the passer Contrast with shotgun formation upback Main article Upback A player in a scrimmage kick punts and field goals or kneel formations who lines up behind the offensive line An upback s primary duty is to block oncoming defensive players in a kick formation and to recover any fumbles in a kneel formation They can receive direct snaps and are eligible receivers upman During a kickoff every player on the return team is called an upman with the exception of the one or two designated kickoff returners who stand furthest away from the starting point of the kicking team utility player Main article Utility player A player capable of playing multiple positionsV Editveer Main article Veer A type of option offense using two backs in the backfield one behind each guard or tackle referred to as split backs allowing a triple option play give to either back or quarterback keep W Editwaived injured Before NFL rosters are reduced to 55 players for the regular season any injured non vested veteran defined as a player with less than four years of experience has to be placed on waivers before being placed on injured reserve If the waived injured player is not claimed by another team then they are placed on the injured reserve of the team that waived them Once rosters are reduced to 55 players non vested veterans can be placed on injured reserve without having to be placed on waivers 26 walk on In college a non scholarship player I e a player who is not receiving a scholarship to play football weak I A formation wherein the tailback is lined up deep directly behind the quarterback and the fullback is lined up offset to the weak side of the formation weak side When one tight end is used the side of the field opposite the tight end In other offensive packages the side of the field with the fewest offensive players on or just behind the line of scrimmage West Coast offense Main article West Coast offense An offensive philosophy that uses short high percentage passes as the core of a ball control offense It was invented by the Cincinnati Bengals under coach Paul Brown and assistant coach Bill Walsh in the early mid 1970s It is now widely used in the NFL but it was originally made popular by Walsh when he was head coach of the San Francisco 49ers The original West Coast offense may have been a term used by Don Coryell as a Sports Illustrated article confused Coryell s title with the offense being used by Walsh thus possibly coining the term Coryell s offense was known instead as air Coryell through the 1980s The basis of Walsh s offense is to use short routes for receivers delivering the ball on time and accurately and using short passes to replace runs It relies heavily on yardage from running after the catch using many eligible receivers on plays to maximize quarterback options and spreading the ball to many targets to keep the defense confused wheel route A pass route in which the receiver often a running back travels parallel along the line of scrimmage and then takes off up the field wide receiver Main article Wide receiver A player position on offense who is split wide usually about 10 yards from the formation and plays on the line of scrimmage as a split end X or one yard off as a flanker Z The offensive formation rules regarding the number of backs and linemen are still used wildcat offense Main article Wildcat offense An offensive philosophy that dictates that either a quarterback or a running back can receive a direct snap from the snapper it is often compared to the single wing Originally invented by Billy Ford and Ryan Wilson and named after the Kansas State University mascot the wildcat was first employed by head coach Bill Snyder Recent use of the wildcat has been attributed to Gus Malzahn currently the head coach at Auburn University formerly at Tulsa and Arkansas where he made the formation famous with star backs Felix Jones and Darren McFadden Will The weak side linebacker wing back or wingback WB A player position in some offensive formations flexbone Lines up just outside the tight end and one yard off the line of scrimmage A versatile position that can be used as a receiver blocker or runner of reverses wishbone Main article Wishbone formation A formation involving three running backs lined up behind the quarterback in the shape of a Y similar to the shape of a wishboneX EditX receiver Used in offensive play calling usually referring to the split end the wide receiver who lines up on the line of scrimmage For example split right jet 529 X post tells the X receiver to run a post route Y EditYAC 1 Yards after catch the amount of yardage gained after initial catch A quarterback s length of pass is the distance from where the line of scrimmage is to where the receiver caught the ball YAC is the distance the ball carrier ran after the initial catch 2 Yards after contact the amount of yardage gained by an offensive player after the first defensive player makes contact Y receiver 1 A designation used in play calling for the offense s third receiver in a play This is usually either the slot receiver or the tight end depending on the play For example buffalo right 534 boot Y corner tells the Y receiver to run a corner route 2 The offense s primary tight end in a play yard line A marking on the field that indicates the distance in yards to the nearest goal line yardage The number of yards gained or lost during a play game season or career yards gained See yardage yards from scrimmage Main article Yards from scrimmage The number of yards gained by the offensive team advancing the ball from the line of scrimmage yellow flag See flagZ EditZ receiver Used in offensive play calling usually referring to the flanker the wide receiver who lines up off the line of scrimmage For example panther gun 85 slant Z go tells the Z receiver to run a go also called a fly or streak route zone defense A defense in which players are in pass coverage zones of the field instead of covering individual players Pure zone packages are seldom used most defenses employ some combination of zone and man coverage zone blitz Main article Zone blitz A defensive package combining a blitz with zone pass coverage Allows the defense to choose the blitzer after the offense shows formation and pass coverage requirements and features unpredictable blitzes from different linebackers and defensive backs Invented by coach Dick LeBeau zone read A type of option offense where the quarterback and the tailback line up approximately side by side After the quarterback receives the snap the two players cross paths and go through the motions of a hand off Based upon reading the defensive reaction the quarterback either completes the handoff or pulls the ball out and runs with it See also EditAmerican football positions American football strategy Comparison of American and Canadian football Glossary of Canadian footballReferences EditNotes Building America s Team Dallas Morning News Archived from the original on August 23 2004 Retrieved 2007 01 29 Describing The Innovator The Sporting News Archived from the original on December 1 2005 Retrieved 2007 01 29 NFL Records nfl com Pappano Lenny May 26 2014 SCHAUF S STILL CELEBRATING BLACK MONDAY FIRING OF MIKE SHANAHAN Draft Sharks Archived from the original on May 26 2014 Retrieved May 26 2014 NFL s Black Monday CycloneFanatic Archived from the original on 2012 02 20 Retrieved 2012 05 29 Moments sports and otherwise In Time NFL s Black Monday continues into Tuesday Abriefsecond blogspot com 2006 01 03 Retrieved 2012 05 29 ProFootballTalk ProFootballTalk 2012 05 21 Retrieved 2012 05 29 a b c d Hickok 1977 p 204 Fantasy Football Draft Software The Coordinator Retrieved 2012 05 29 Stoltz Jeremy Chalk Talk the Zone Blitz Scout com Archived from the original on 2007 12 27 Retrieved 8 February 2012 Weeks Chris Football Terminology fftoolbox com FullTime Fantasy Sports LLC Retrieved 8 February 2012 Pennington Bill 2018 Hut Hut Hut What The New York Times Retrieved 1 February 2018 Zimmerman Paul Icing on the cake Si com January 21 2005 Zierlein Lance April 14 2017 2017 NFL Draft Lamp leads O line class short on top talent nfl com Retrieved October 5 2017 Five things on the Kick Six that led to Browns latest defeat ESPN Retrieved 13 January 2016 Paschall David December 1 2013 Kick Six stuns Bama Chattanooga Times Free Press Retrieved January 4 2014 Deal Nathan December 2 2013 Kick Bama Kick Kick Six The Game that Made No Sense Fly War Eagle Retrieved January 4 2014 NFL Video Jones Drew takes a knee NFL Game Center Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets Week 10 2009 The Polian Corner Archived 2006 10 22 at the Wayback Machine colts com September 20 2006 accessed March 25 2007 Charles Nick Taylor made L T has a date with Canton destiny sportsillustrated cnn com August 12 1999 accessed May 25 2007 American Football Coaches Association Defensive football Strategies Human Kinetics 2000 pp 202 203 ISBN 0 7360 0142 5 Rothstein Michael February 8 2019 Everything you need to know about the first Alliance of American Football season ESPN com Retrieved February 13 2019 Munz Jason February 7 2019 Sky judge and the world of tomorrow A look at the AAF s notable rule differences The Commercial Appeal Memphis TN Retrieved February 7 2019 ITP Editors Pooch Kick Mallory Bill and Don Nehlen Complete Guide to Special Teams American Football Coaches Association ISBN 0 7360 5291 7 Duggan Dan August 11 2017 What does it mean when an NFL player is waived injured nj com Archived from the original on August 29 2017 Retrieved August 28 2017 CS1 maint bot original URL status unknown link Sources EditHickok Ralph 1977 New Encyclopedia or Sports New York McGraw Hill Inc ISBN 0 07 028705 8Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Glossary of American football terms amp oldid 1027621395, wikipedia, wiki, book,


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