Down and Distance

11 Feb

(Chain Crew)

You will routinely hear TV announcers use the expressions “first and ten” or “three and out” to describe the actions of a team’s offensive unit during a game. They are referring to the “down and distance”. A “down” is nothing more than a play. From the second the ball is snapped — or “put into play” — to the moment the action is stopped by the officials that is one “play”.

To maintain possession of the football, offenses are given four plays or “downs” to either score or gain the yardage necessary to be awarded a “first down” which is another set of four downs. Generally the yardage needed to gain a first down is ten yards but that can change due to penalties or tackles that result in lost yardage.

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Selling the Nine

11 Feb

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In a pass play, receivers run along specific, pre-designed paths that attack the “open grass” — or soft spots — in a defense.  These paths are called “routes” and a carefully crafted mixture of them is called a “pass pattern” or “concept”.   

The “9” is football’s most basic and most important pass route and, yet, it’s nothing more than a race to the end zone – or at least as far as the quarterback can throw.

Selling the nine is convincing a defensive back that he’s in that race every time a receiver releases from the line of scrimmage.

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The Battles Along the Line of Scrimmage

10 Feb

OL - neutral zone (Matt Pasant)

Football is conflict. This conflict is no more evident — or violent — than in the battles along the line of scrimmage where strength and positioning — what coaches call “leverage” — often determines the winner.  Here among the down linemen – the guys in a three-point stance — there are no Davids; there are only Goliaths.

That which separates the combatants is a no man’s land.  It is a swath of turf called the neutral zone.  No one, except the offensive center, can intrude upon this sacred ground and him only because he must handle the ball to snap it.

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