My guess is that what is really good to the offense might be really bad for the opposition’s defense. And that opposition is looking for some bad and ugly to exploit. We’ll look at the bad from both perspectives, starting with the offense.
One of the worst things that can happen to a quarterback, or any offensive player, is a fumble. This occurs when an offensive player either accidentally drops the ball or it is forced out of the ball carrier’s hands during a tackle. The ball can be recovered by the offense OR the defense. If it is recovered by the defense, they have an opportunity to score. If it is recovered by the offense, they may lose yardage. Either way, a fumble does a great deal of damage to an offense.
An interception happens when a defensive player catches a pass. This is one of the worst things that can happen to an offense. The defensive team is given possession of the football and an opportunity to score, especially if they have a player who runs well on an open field.
Any quarterback will tell you that getting sacked is bad news. A QB is sacked when a defensive player tackles the QB behind the line of scrimmage. Because the tackle is behind the line of scrimmage, it is for a loss of yards. This is why it is important that the offensive line does it’s job. Every QB needs protection to do his job well. And any defender will tell you that a sack is his holy grail.
A deflection is something QB’s hope to avoid. When the QB passes the ball and a defensive lineman knocks down that pass with his hands or arms, it’s called a deflection. The end result is either an incomplete pass or possible interception. It is rare, if not impossible, for the offense to recover the football and gain yardage if the football is deflected.
QB’s must pay close attention to where they are in regard to the line of scrimmage. If he forgets where the line of scrimmage is or where he is in regard to it, and he runs forward in an attempt to avoid a sack, he can be charged with making an ILLEGAL FORWARD PASS. The resulting penalty is 5 yards from the spot of the foul and the loss of a down.
INTENTIONAL GROUNDING is a penalty that has one of three outcomes for the offense. A QB intentionally grounds the ball if he throws it to the ground or out of bounds on purpose. One of the outcomes can even be beneficial for the offense. If an offense is out of time outs or it wants to stop the clock to save the time outs it does have, a QB will back up from the center after the handoff and ground the ball. The only penalty in this situation is a loss of downs. The other two intentional grounding scenarios carry serious consequences for the offense.
If the QB is in his own end zone and he either throws the ball out of bounds or to the ground on purpose before he is tackled, the opposing team is given two points (this is called a safety). The offense then has to give up possession of the football and kick off from their own 20 yard line. In the NFL, teams kick off from the 30 yard line, so this is a 10 yard penalty.
If the QB is more than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and he grounds the ball on purpose because he is afraid of losing field position, he will be penalized for intentional grounding. The penalty is the loss of a down and the ball being placed at the spot where the QB was standing when he committed the foul. If the QB is less than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and he is called for intentional grounding, the penalty is 10 yards and the loss of a down.
Holding is a pretty common penalty overall in the game of football, but since I discussed it while talking about common offensive line penalties, I’ll let it rest here. That being the case, TRAPPING is the last offensive penalty relating to the passing game that I’ll discuss. Trapping occurs when a receiver gets help from the fround in catching a low pass. Receivers must see that their hands or arms separate the ball from the ground when making a catch. Trapping is a difficult penalty to assess because the actual catch happens in a split second, usually as the receiver is falling to the ground. It often takes a review of the play to rule on whether the receiver trapped the ball.
The defense has one penalty (other than holding) that affects how they defend passing plays. ROUGHING THE PASSER is a penalty that was designed to limit a QB’s chance of injury. Defensive players must do what they can to avoid contact with a QB after he releases the ball. It is not easy for a defender to stop once he is in motion, so he may take one step once he sees that the football has been released. If he hits the QB after that first step, the referee can penalize him for roughing the passer. This is a 15 yard penalty and automatic first down. This penalty is hard to assess unless the defender obviously hits the QB late, so it may not always get called precisely on that second step. It’s not easy for a large lineman to get stopped when he is coming at a QB full speed ahead.
Next up: passing patterns. I’m learning a lot and I hope you are too!!!!