Sunday, November 24, 2013

A-Gap Blintze

We have been focusing on the offense this entire time but now we will start with the defense. To refresh your memory: The main focus that the offense has is to get down the field and score. So that means the main job of the defense is to keep the offense from gaining yards and scoring. Not only do they want to stop the offenses from scoring, but they also strive to push the offense backwards, and better yet, if they can get the ball away and score it’s a huge achievement. Now with the defense, you will hear names like linebackers, tackles, ends, corners and safeties. But don’t be fooled. There is nothing safe about safeties, and cornerbacks do not stay in any, they are all over the field. Other terms like zone, blitz, sack, and Cover2 are also thrown around. And, no, they are not regions that we hear about in geography, a misspelled Jewish delicacy, our grocery bag or how many blankets we need on our bed now that winter is upon us.

We are going to start with the group of players that line up opposing the offensive line. These are known as the defensive linemen. There are two types of players that make up these linemen. The first group is the defensive tackles. There are two tackles on defense and they line up next to each other (see the red “X’s”) . These players are some of the biggest men on the team. They are huge and fast. They are crucial to stopping the running back by closing up any “holes” or “gaps” on the inside. If they don’t tackle the running back they try to force him into look for other avenues to get down field and buy time so the linebackers to come up and tackle them for little to no gain. The other job they have is to push the offensive guards into the quarterback if the offense is attempting a passing play. Why is that important? What happens is that the quarterback gets a little bit of security called a “pocket” (not to be confused with the rhinestone ones we have on our favorite pair of jeans) this pocket doesn’t last long but gives the quarterback some time to set up a pass play. This is guarded by the offensive tackles and guards but the defensive tackles and linebackers want to “collapse” the pocket to either force a “sack” (QB tackled behind line of scrimmage for a loss) or a hurried pass that either results in an incomplete pass( no one catches it and it results in a loss of down), or an interception ( the defense catches the ball resulting in a defensive score or a loss of possession for the offense). Defensive tackles have a lot to think about in that very short amount of time that it takes to line up. Although, the defense usually knows its assignment before the ball is snapped, they have to make adjustments on the fly. Terms like “A-Gap” and “3-Technique” or variations of those are used when talking about the way the defensive tackles play their assignments. You can really stop stun the football crowd if you say something like, “It looks like that tackle was using a 3-Technique in the A-Gap on the last play.” Expect utter silence and blank stares.

The next group is the defensive ends. There are two ends that line up on each side of the defensive tackles but are usually farther away. These guys do not have to worry so much about which gap to run through or how to out-maneuver the offensive guards. Their name give them away - ends. If the offense is running the ball, they try to keep the running back from getting around them on the “outside” (close to the edge of the field). They want to keep the running back in the middle of the field where the linebackers or safeties can tackle them for little to no gain. If it is a passing play, they run in at the quarterbacks from the outside and try to sack them. They usually have more opportunity to bat the ball down or creating a turnover. These are usually the players that we see celebrating a sack with a dance that is pretty uncomfortable to witness if you’re in a mixed crowd.

So go get ‘em this week! Begin to use your new-found football knowledge on those family and friends who might have given up hope that you would ever share in their fandom. See you next time!

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