I love football. That’s no secret. Part of what makes it great is how different players interact during the game.Before the season starts, or really gets into full swing, I want to help out those of you who care about someone who loves football. It’s hard to sit through something you don’t understand. My plan is to give you the basics of what you’ll be watching, so you can, at the very least, ask the right questions. Your loved one will likely heap plenty more information on you to further clarify the game.
It’s worth it. Football is such a great game.
Let’s face it, anyone who is good enough to make it to the pros (in any sport), is probably close to the same skill level as everyone else in the league. So, USUALLY, games shouldn’t be run-aways (unless you are watching the Super Bowl from 2014). A lot more has to do with the coaching and the play calls than the athletic ability of most of the players.
Of course, there are some exceptions, as there always seem to be.
With that in mind, below are the basics of the standard football positions. In this post, I will focus on offense. Defense and special teams will be out later this week. First, what do I mean by “offense?”
Offense in football:
Here are the basics of offense, in case you really don’t know.
1. Offense is the team that starts with the ball.
2. A player is either an offensive player or a defensive player. (Not like basketball, where everyone plays both.)
3. You can only have your offense or your defense (or a special teams unit, like a kicking squad) on the field at any time. Officials are pretty strict about that. You can’t even have a defensive player still running off the field when the next play goes off.
4. The offense stays on as long as they manage to get the ball (by running or throwing) 10 yards in 4 plays. Each play is called a “down.” The play only lasts – the ball is only “live”- until the ball hits the ground. (However, if the ball is “fumbled,” or the offense gives up the ball by dropping it, the defense can pick it up and continue to move the ball toward their intended goal line.)
5. If a team can’t get 10 yards down the field, they automatically forfeit the ball to the other team, who will pick up on offense at exactly the point on the field where the other team left off. That is called giving the ball up on downs (meaning 4 plays, or downs, expired before the team could go 10 yards.) You rarely see this situation in the NFL, however, because after 3 downs, a team usually tries to punt or kick a field goal. (I will explain these more in my “special teams” edition.)
6. So, when an announcer says the offense is “2nd and 4,” for example, that means they have tried 2 plays, and managed to get the ball 6 yards down the field. The “2nd” is the down, and the “4” is how many yards they need to go to get a first down and start over. Ideally, the offense wants to continue to get “1st and 10” until they score. “1st” down means you still have 4 tries to get the 10 yards you need for another set of downs.
7. When you get within 10 yards of your intended goal line, you will hear the term change to “1st and goal” or “2nd and goal” and so on.
8. Basic scoring is this: 6 points for a touchdown, either run or thrown into the end zone. After a touchdown, the team gets a chance to kick the ball between the goal posts for an extra point. (Teams can also elect to run another ground play after the touchdown to get 2 extra points instead of one. That is called a “2-point conversion.”)
9. If a team is 3rd and goal, or 3rd and anything and fairly close (within 40 yards or so) to the goal line, the team will likely try to kick a field goal instead of trying for a touchdown. Field goals result in 3 points.
10. When watching TV, before the play starts, if you don’t know which team is on offense, look at the score for a little football icon or a line by the name of the team. That will indicate which team has the ball.Now, let’s talk about the guys we’re looking at on offense.
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