Like all of us, offensive linemen get caught doing things they are not supposed to do. As in life, some of these mistakes have consequences. In football, sometimes these consequences come in the form of penalties. There are some common penalties that offensive linemen may commit at some time or another. BTW, a penalty is called by officials when they throw out a yellow ‘flag’ onto the ground. These penalties may be called on the defense as well.
I would bet that HOLDING is one of the most frequent penalties the o-line incurs. HOLDING should get called on ANY player who grabs another player’s arm or jersey. It could even get called on a player who tackles another player from behind. Players can use their hands, so that’s not the issue. However, any player who is blocking another player should keep his hands in the opposing player’s shoulder and chest area, near the numbers on his jersey. In the NFL, the penalty for holding is ten yards from the line of scrimmage (this is the boundary between two teams as they are lined up prior to the snap of the ball, determined by the tip of the ball closest to the offense). In the NCAA, the penalty is ten yards from the spot of the infraction. If it occurred behind the line of scrimmage, the ball is placed ten yards from the line of scrimmage. In high school football, the ball is placed ten yards from where the infraction occurred.
ENCROACHMENT is another common penalty for the O-line. If a player crosses the neutral zone (the area between the two tips of the football) prior to the ball being snapped to make contact with another player. The penalty is five yards and the down is repeated.
An offensive lineman should have his position set prior to the snap of the ball. From this position, he is not allowed to move. If he does, he should be penalized for a FALSE START. The penalty is five yards and the down is replayed.
Another common penalty is when an offensive player positions himself over the line of scrimmage, hoping to gain an advantage over his defensive assignment in blocking, although sometimes he may not be sure exactly where he should be lined up. OFFSIDE may be called if a player leans forward over the line of scrimmage, or places his hand in the neutral zone. The penalty is five yards and the down is repeated.
There is only one player who lines up on the o-line (and he is not on the field for every play) that is an eligible receiver on a passing play. That would be the tight end. The o-line is responsible for blocking for the quarterback, running backs, and wide receivers. If an offensive lineman has crossed the line of scrimmage for any other reason, he should be penalized as an INELIGIBLE RECEIVER DOWNFIELD. The penalty is five yards with a replay of the down.
CHOP BLOCKING is a penalty incurred when a lineman blocks another player below the knees. Sometimes one player will hold a player by the shoulder while a second tackler aims below the knees. This is an especially dangerous situation given the risk of injury. The NFL thinks so as well, and penalizes CHOP BLOCKING 15 yards. CLIPPING is a 15 yard penalty as well. As with chop blocking, this is a hit below waist level also. However, clipping is a hit from behind.
Any coach hates to see his team make mistakes, particularly those that cost them several yards. It’s the offense’s job to move the football forward, not backward. And on that note, next up are the receivers and the passing game.