Football 101 for Fun ~ Offensive Line


December 5, 2010; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) and members of the offensive line walk off the field after not converting on fourth down late in the game against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers lost 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

The offensive line is primarily responsible for blocking. During normal play, offensive linemen do not handle the ball, unless the ball is fumbled by a ball carrier, or when a player who is normally an offensive lineman takes a different position on the field.

Offensive line positions are as follows:

The Center (C)The center is the player who begins the play by snapping the ball to the quarterback (or directly to a back as you see in the “wildcat”).  As the name implies, the center usually plays in the middle of the offensive line, though some teams may employ an unbalanced line where the center is offset to one side or another. Like all offensive lineman, the center has the responsibility to block defensive players. The center often also has the responsibility to call out blocking assignments and make last second adjustments depending on the defensive alignment.

Offensive Guard (G)Two guards line up directly on either side of the center. Like all interior linemen, their function is to block on both running and passing plays. On some plays, rather than blocking straight ahead, a guard will “pull”, whereby the guard comes out of his position in line to lead block for a ball carrier, on plays known as “traps” (for inside runs), or “sweeps” (for outside runs), or “screens” (for passing plays)

Offensive Tackle (T)Two tackles play outside of the guards. Their role is primarily to block on both running and passing plays. The area from one tackle to the other is an area of “close line play” in which blocks from behind, which are prohibited elsewhere on the field, are allowed. For a right-handed quarterback, the left tackle is charged with protecting the quarterback from being hit from behind (known as his “blind side”), and this is usually the most skilled player on the offensive line. Like a guard, the tackle may have to “pull,” on a running play, when there is a tight end on his side.

So, when you are looking at the line, the positions line up (T) (G) (C) (G) (T).  The line is a huge factor in the quarterbacks ability to perform.  It’s like that old saying, behind every good man is a good woman.  Protecting every good quarterback is a good offensive line.  Next time you see your favorite running back bust out a big play or your teams quarterback throw a great pass know they could not do it without the offensive line heroes.

ChargerGirl Cindi