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(Not so) Stupid football questions

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by neuronet, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    I have a kindergarten understanding of football, many here are PhDs. I hope you don't mind if I ask some simple questions in this thread. Here goes...

    A. The other night an announcer said that a corner was being used in 'nickel situations' and that this put pressure on the corner more than usual. What was he talking about?

    B. An announcer last night talked about the A slot and B slot in regards to the offensive line and running game (not sure I got the jargon right it went by really fast). What was he referring to?

    C. Is there a good web site people can recommend to learn the nature of the different positions on the O- and D-lines? I don't know the difference between a guard and a tackle, for instance.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2011
  2. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    well, LOL, i might have an elementary diploma, cuz i can answer only the last quesiton....

    the offensive line is composed of 5 players, looking at it from behind the line its

    left tackle - left guard - center - right gaurd - right tackle

    the center is the guy who snaps the ball, the left tackle is usually the best offensive lineman, because he usually protects a QB's blindside

    on the Pats Matt Light plays left tackle, logan mankins left gaurd, koppen center, neal/connolly right gaurd, and vollmer right tackle

    the names tackle and guard simply distinguish the position, tackles are on the outside, and gaurds on either side of the center....
  3. Dufflebagz

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    A. A nickel defense is when there are 5 defensive backs on the field (2 safeties and 3 corners). So he probably meant it put more pressure on him because in a lot of cases a corner will have more responsibilities in a nickel defense.

    B. I'm guessing he was referring to the A gap and B gap. The A gap is between the Center and Guards and the B gap is between the Guards and Tackles.

    C. I don't know a good website, but I can tell you.
    A 4-3 defense would contain:
    defensive end-defensive tackle-defensive Tackle-defensive End
    and a 3-4 (Patriots base package) would be:
    End-tackle-End
    or a player example:
    Wright-Wilfork-Warren

    The o-line is set up like this....
    Left tackle-Left Guard-Center-Right Guard-Right Tackle

    Hope I helped :D
  4. Joker

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    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  5. TheRealMcCagh

    TheRealMcCagh Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    A. a nickel back is when the offense lines up a 3 wide reciever set instead of two, so the defense must pull a linemen out and have 5 players in the back (hence nickel). not sure why they would say this is harder for the corner though, maybe because there is only 2 safeties so someone is left alone with their receiver.

    B. the A slot and B slot they were probably talking about was when a running back lines up to the side of center and usually up a little (called a slot back). this mostly means they are going to end up blocking a loose linebacker. sometimes they also break loose to catch a pass for a screen or something.

    might wanna double check on that, but im pretty sure it's fairly accurate.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  6. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    There's a lot of people that know way more X's and O's than me, but I'll get you started before they come in with better explanations.

    Normally in the defensive secondary there are two cornerbacks and two safetys. Often on passing downs the defense goes with another corner, giving the team five defensive backs (five, as in nickel.) I'm not sure if the announcer was implying more pressure on the third corner (usually a guy covering the slot receiver closer to the line, as opposed to the flanker and split end - receivers furthest from the ball, or true 'wide' receivers) or more pressure on the corners covering those wide receivers. Maybe the announcer was referring to the fact two safetys had to help out three corners rather than two corners, therefore more pressure on each of the three corners since one would be left with no help?

    Think of the offensive line: a center in the middle, a left guard and right guard next to him, and after that a left tackle and right tackle. The area between the center and guard is the A gap, the area between the guard and tackle is the B gap, the area between the tackle and tight end is the C gap.

    I'll take a look around tomorrow and see what I can find. Maybe others can chime in with some suggestions as well.
  7. sbpatfan

    sbpatfan Banned

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Patriots also like to use the "Big Nickel." Instead of three corners they use three safeties with two corners. An additional safety, as opposed to a corner, tends to produce better match ups against a TE that a corner might struggle with due to size.

    Sometimes you'll see a lot of the Meriweather / Chung / Sanders combo.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  8. Wax Frog

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Relative to the overall board population, I seem to have a mere HS diploma, or at least be in HS, and even that only because of watching since '86, and having spent way too many hours on the ORIGINAL John Madden Football*. It's why I seldom post, and wisecrack when I do.

    Aside from the time investment, another big help in building my understanding way back when were Bud Wilkinson's "Winning Offense/Defense" books, which I used as an aid in learning to design plays in JMF, and since kept for sentimental reasons. They're the only football how-to books I ever bought, so I can't say they're the best, and they are somewhat dated, but I found them very 'newbie-friendly', a good primer on the basics :)

    I'd like to note that I appreciate your thread, as I was beginning to feel as if I was the only "dummy" here...

    *I still fondly remember being able to fully design my own plays, including wonderfully illegal ones :D I tried an updated version many years later, didn't care for it, mainly because the play design options were all presets.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  9. Elijah

    Elijah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    I still don't know much, but most of it I learned by lurking here. This is a good place to get that knowledge if you can just pick things up in context :D
  10. Willie55

    Willie55 Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    6th grader here. :D

    In regards to A and B, I think it was Gruden who was saying 'A' gap and 'B' gap on the offensive line.. Each team could have there own terminology also. When I played for example the gaps were labeled as 1, 3, 5 on the left side of the offensive linemen, with the holes being between center/guard, guard/tackle and outside the tackle respectively. 2, 4, 6 was on the right side of the line. The quarterback and running backs each are designated a number, QB being 1, FB 2 and HB 3. When the play is called in the huddle, if they want to run being the HB to run between the center and the left guard, they would make a call something like a "31 dive". That's kind of a simplistic explanation but hope that helps answer your question.
  11. TheGodInAGreyHoodie

    TheGodInAGreyHoodie Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    One thing that make "tackle" confusing is there are both offensive tackles and defensive tackles.

    On offense a tackle, (who is not allowed to tackle it would result in a holding or unsportsmanlike flag) are the two positions on the OUTSIDE of offensive line.

    On defense a tackle are the one or two positions on the INSIDE of the defensive line.

    Really makes absolutely no sense.
  12. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    A nickel situation is where you need five defensive backs to cover the personnel package that the offense puts out. The nickel is commonly understood to have three corners in it, but's not necessarily the case. There are three safety nickels, ect. The third corner on the field is commonly referred to in the media as the nickelback. Not because they are a horrid Canadian butt rock bad for fat middle aged women, but because they most often only come out in the nickel. The more proper reference is the slot corner or "star" (football terms are pretty simple; matchup the first letter of each word like star/slot, will/weak, ect...). The announcer was probably referring to a bad matchup for the slot corner because an outside receiver was in the slot which intentionally creates a mismatch on the typically smaller, quicker slot corners.

    A and B gaps have already been explained.

    Tackles vs guards. The tackle is typically much longer than guards and have better lateral quickness and feet. This is because of the island that most tackles play on against typically the most explosive rusher on the defense. They need the feet and length to get depth against speed rushers, and the height to matchup against the taller edge players of the defense. Guards are usually your most explosive linemen. They are typically shorter to assist them in the leverage battle which is 99% of football. They also are your most powerful. One play they will have to move a 330 lb defensive tackle, the next seal a linebacker, the next kickout an end or pickup a safety, the next pickup a stunt. They need to be great through the hips for power and explosion, but also quick enough to reach the second level.


    Hope that was somewhat helpful.
  13. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Wow, great stuff guys thanks a lot, especially helpful description of the guards/tackles and their different roles on the line.

    It was indeed "A Gap" and "B gap" he was talking about in the O Line, not the A slot and B slot (I thought I had screwed that up).
  14. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Thanks that's good to know I've heard it a few times here too and not known what the poster was talking about. Is there a term for the the space between the offensive tackles and WRs? (Edit: see two posts ahead someone already mentioned gap between tackles and TE as the C gap).
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  15. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    That is a great explanation!

    Now if folks could give such explanations of the positions on the defensive line and linebackers that they have given for the O-line I would feel like a genius. ;)

    I always get confused by the different linebackers, weak/strong/left/right and the strategic reasons for going with a 3-4 versus a 4-3 defense.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  16. Willie55

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    If there are three wide receivers on the field the receiver lined up between the farthest split receiver and the line of scrimmage (whether it be the tackle or tight end) is the slot receiver.
  17. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Ah OK, another great explanation: if there is no TE, is the space between the tackle and WR also called the C gap?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  18. PatsWSB47

    PatsWSB47 Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    I'm confused too. I heard an announcer during the Jets-Bengals game talk about the Jets tendency to run though the A-hole. But that could be anywhere because as I looked at the Jets team out there on the field I saw eleven A-holes:confused:
  19. Dufflebagz

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    No, the gaps are only on the line.
  20. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Incidentally, I have looked for books that go over all these basics, and they are either too basic (they stop with the picture of the 4-3 versus 3-4 defense without getting into any details of the type that you guys are kindly providing), or so advanced (usually for coaches) that I have no idea what they are talking about.

    I have had trouble finding a book that actually gets into the details, but is not for someone who already knows all the basics.
  21. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    That's helpful: if you were to add a fifth linebacker (e.g., a 3-5 defense), that would NOT be a nickel situation? Or is it not that rigid and well-defined a term?

    (Just to show how little I know, I just had to look up that 'defensive backs' only includes the secondary (safeties and corners) not the linebackers.

    Also, someone just mailed me that "dime" situations are when you have SIX people in the secondary (so two extra people in the secondary). I would assume that was pretty commonly used against us in 2010.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  22. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    :)

    10 char
  23. BlitzFritz

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    awesome !!

    --fritz
  24. NEPats1

    NEPats1 Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    I have a question about the 3-4 defense for anyone who can answer I'd appreciate it:

    I've always understood the 5 technique (ala Seymour/Ty Warren) is aligned on the outside shoulder of the OT.

    But I don't understand when I see 3-4 teams rushing the passer, how come the OLB is seen matched up on the OTs?

    For instance, when Brandon Deaderick is playing RDE and that's where he's aligned on the ground before the snap, then after the snap I see Cunningham matched up with the LT.

    Shouldn't Deaderick be matched up with the LT and Cunningham matched up with the TE?

    I feel like I'm missing something fundamental and that's why I don't understand. Basically in general, are OLB's in a 3-4 scheme supposed to be going up against OT's or TE's?

    Thanks
  25. RayClay

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    A fifth linebacker would normally replace a lineman for increased athleticism. There are infinite combinations, but they are usually just called "sub" packages. Big guys for goal line, extra rushers, whatever.

    5 or 6 defensive backs are common, usually after we stop the run, but sometimes all game for someone like Peyton.
  26. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    First, consider that there are three groups of players of players on defense, often referred to as defensive units: defensive linemen (DL), linebackers (LB), and defensive backs (DB). Defensive linemen start the play parallel to where the ball is snapped (i.e., linemen). Behind them are linebackers (i.e., back of the linemen). Next are the defensive backs (i.e., furthest back from the ball).

    Defensive linemen consist of defensive ends (DE) who play on the outside (end of the line) and defensive tackles (DT) who play in the middle of the line. In a 3-4 defense where there is only one defensive tackle he is often referred to as a nose tackle (NT).

    Linebackers are subdivided into outside linebackers (OLB) and inside linebackers (ILB). That simply refers to whether they play inside, in the middle of the field, or outside, further to the edge.

    A traditional 4-3 defense would designate its OLB as strong side and weak side. Strong side meant that LB played on the same side of the field as the offense's tight end; weak side meant that LB played on the side of the field with no tight end. Similarly a strong safety played on the side of the field as the tight end; the other safety was referred to as a free safety.

    Now you had three linebackers: strong side, middle and weak side. The abbreviations for each were SLB, MLB and WLB. Coaches shortened those designations to one-syllable words based on the first letter of each position; SLB became Sam, MLB became Mike, and WLB became Will.


    Your 4-3 defense looks something like this:
    ................ S ................................... S ................
    ........................... LB ... LB ... LB ...........................
    CB .................... DE .. DT .. DT .. DE .................... CB

    And your 3-4 defense looks something like this:
    ................ S ................................... S ................
    .................... OLB ... ILB ... ILB ... OLB ....................
    CB ...................... DE ... NT ... DE ...................... CB

    Depending on the position teams may line up a player on a certain side of the field regardless of where an opponent's tight end is. That's why you see some positions referred to with a left or right rather than a strong or weak designation. Devin McCourty plays left cornerback (LCB) for the Pats; other teams will line up their corner on either side depending on whom they want him to cover. Left and right is most commonly used in reference to offensive and defensive linemen, who line up on the same side all game long. On the other hand linebackers tend to be referred to by strong and weak side rather than left or right. I know, kind of confusing but that's the way the terminology has evolved.

    There's a book by Pat Kirwan called "Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look" that is supposed to be very helpful for fans watching football on TV. I don't know if it's basic or assuming a more advanced knowledge of the game, but it might be worth checking out. Perhaps others that have read it might be able to let you know if it should be considered recommended reading.
  27. neuronet

    neuronet Rookie

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    Re: Stupid football questions


    :youtheman: :youtheman:

    That is freaking awesome dude, I'm not worthy. I have looked this stuff up a lot trying to figure out what the hell is going on, and that is the best explanation I have seen of a football defense.

    Question about 'strong' versus 'weak' designation. Do most offenses have a side that the TE tends to line up on? And if so, does the strong side LB line up on that side, or switch to whatever side the TE lines up on a given play?

    And is the origin of "strong" from the fact that they literally tend to be bigger and stronger because of the big TEs they have to face?
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  28. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Earlier we discussed the different gaps (A gap, B gap). You'll often see people talk about a one-gap defense or two-gap assignment. Essentially what that means is that a defensive player is responsible for one or two gaps on the opposing offensive line.

    When a defensive player is responsible for only one gap he can be more aggressive, shooting through that gap to get to the opposing quarterback or running back. The downside is that he might run right past that RB or QB (one gap away) and take himself out of the play, leaving a big hole open. A one gap defense is more high risk/high reward, with more big plays both for and against than a two gap defense.

    More on one-gap versus two-gap, and 3-4 versus 4-3 here:
    FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | The 4-3 vs. the 3-4

    Also I found this, it might help in understanding the differences between a 4-3 and 3-4, and the pros and cons of each defense:
    What are the 3-4 and 4-3 Defenses in Football?
  29. JSn

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    May I add a question? Something I just realized I don't understand yesterday.

    When kicking an extra point, where is the first down line? The blockers or the holder? I assume it's the blockers, but I'm not totally sure. Same deal with punts?

    Also are the holders to be a specific distance from the line?

    Lastly, what's the official distance of a kick? From the line to the posts or from the holder to the posts?
  30. Mweymark

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    Re: Stupid football questions

    Have another stupid Patriots question, one that really has nothing to do with the football but more to do with the fans.

    My mother is a newly converted Pats fan (she was a Bills fan for a very long time but I finally managed to convert her) who insists she has to be the oldest living pats fan. I assured her that there must be fans older than her 73 years but thought that she might be the oldest female Pats fan. Anyone know if this is possible or where I might find out?

    Mel
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010

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