Football Speak

  1. Audible
    What a quarterback does when he changes the play at the line of scrimmage by calling out prescribed signals to his teammates
  2. Backfield
    The group of offensive players--the running backs and quarterback--who line up behind the line of scrimmage.
  3. Blitz
    A defensie strategy in which a linebacker or defensive back vacates his customary position or responsibility in order to pressure the quarterback. The object of it is to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage or force the quarterback to hurry his pass, thus disrupting the offensive play. It generally involves more than four defensive players rushing the quarterback.
  4. Bomb
    A long pass play in which the passer throws the ball to a receiver between 35 and 40 yards past the line of scrimmage
  5. Bump and run
    A technique used by defensive backs to slow down receivers. The defender bumps the receiver at the start of the play and attempts to keep his hands on him legally for 5 yards before running downfield with him.
  6. Carry
    The act of running with the ball. In statistical charts, a runner's rushing attempts are listed as carries
  7. Completion
    A forward pass that's caught in-bounds by an eligible receiver
  8. Count
    The numbers that a quarterback shouts loudly while waiting for the ball to be snapped. The quarterback informs his teammates in the huddle that the ball will be snapped on a certain count.
  9. Counter
    A running play designed to go against the intended pursuit of the defense
  10. Defensive line
    The defensive players who play opposite the offensive linemen. This is made up of ends, tackles, nose tackles and under tackles. These players disrupt the offense's blocking assignments and are responsible for clogging certain gaps along the line of scrimmage when they are not in position to make the tackle themselves
  11. Double Foul
    A situation in which each team commits a foul during the same down
  12. Double-team
    To play two defenders against one offensive player in order to prevent him from making a big play. Usually, it's receivers who this is done to.
  13. Down lineman
    A defensive lineman
  14. Draft
    The selecting of mostly collegiate players for entrance into the National Football League. It occurs on a weekend n late April. The NFL team with the preceding season's worst record selects first, and the Super Bowl champion selects last. Each team is awarded one selection per round, and there are seven rounds.
  15. Draw
    A disguised run, which means that it initially looks like a pass play. The offensive linemen retreat back like they're going to pas-protect for the quarterback. The quarterback drops back and instead of setting up to pass, turns and hands the ball to a running back. The goal of every play of this type is for the defensive lineman to come charging after the quarterback, only to be pushed aside by the offensive linemen at the last instant. To fool the defense with this run, a team must have an above-average passing game.
  16. Fair catch
    When the player returning a punt waves his extended arm from side to side over his head. AFter signaling, a player cannot run with the ball, and those attempting to tackle him can't touch him. However a player can signal for this and then allow the ball to sail over his head, hoping that it bounces into the end zone for a touchback. If the returner drops the ball it's a fumble and can be recovered by anyone. The ball is placed where the player catches the ball. If it rolls into the end zone, the ball is placed on the 20-yard line.
  17. First down
    A team begins every possession of the ball with this. The offense must gain 10 yards or more in four downs or less to be awarded another one. Teams want to earn lots of these because doing so means that they are moving the ball toward the opponent's end zone.
  18. Flanker
    A player who catches passes, also known in more general terms as a wide receiver. In an offensive formation he usually lines up outside the tight end, off the line of scrimmage.
  19. Flat
    The area of the field between the hash marks and the sideline and in close proximity to the line of scrimmage. A pass, generally to a running back, in this particular spot is described as a flat pass.
  20. Formation
    A predetermined setup or alignment that the offense or defense uses
  21. Foul
    Any violation of a playing rule
  22. Franchise player
    In the NFL's current collective bargaining agreement, a player who is designated by his team and must be paid the average salary of the top five players at his position. Football reporters often use this term to describe a superstar player who is invaluable to his team.
  23. Free agency
    An opening signing period. usually beginning in mid-February, during which an NFL team can sign any unrestricted player who is without a contract. Teams traditionally bid against one another through an agent for a particular player's services. An unrestricted one is totally unencumbered if he ha completed four seasons in the NFL. A restricted one is one who has completed three NFL seasons. Any team signing him would owe some draft-choice compensation to his previous club
  24. Free Safety
    A defensive player who lines up the deepest in the secondary. A free safety is the equivalent of baseball's center fielder; he defends the deep middle of the field and seldom has man-to-man responsibilities. A coach wants this player free to read the quarterback and take the proper angle to break up or intercept any forward pass thrown over the middle or deep to the sidelines.
  25. Gap
    The open space between players along the line of scrimmage when they are aligned. For example, there is a wide gap between the offensive guard and tackle.
  26. Goalpost
    The poles constructed in a U-shape at the rear of each end zone through which teams score field goals and extra points. The post that holds the U is 10 feet tall and placed approximately 80 feet from any sideline. The crossbar which is 18 feet, 6 inches in length, sits atop the post. The two uprights extend 30 feet above the crossbar and are 3 to 4 inches in diameter. A 4-inch x 42-inch ribbon is attached to the top of each upright giving kickers a sense of the wind.
  27. Hang time
    The seconds in which a punted ball remains in the air. If the punt travels 50 yards and is in the air for more than four seconds, that's very good.
  28. Handoff
    The act of giving the ball to another player. Handoffs usually occur between the quarterback and a running back.
  29. Hole number
    The offensive coaching staff gives a umber to each gap or space between the five offensive linemen and the tight end. The players, particularly the running backs, then know which hole they should attempt to run through.
  30. Holder
    The player who catches the snap from the center and places it down for the placekicker to kick it. A holder is used on field goal and extra point attempts.
  31. Huddle
    When the 11 players on the field come together to discuss strategy between lays. On offense, the quarterback relays the plays, which can be in the form of a semicircle or with teammates lined up in two rows of five facing the quarterback. On defense, the captain, generally a linebacker or secondary player, relays the coach's instructions for the proper alignment and how to defend the expected play.
  32. Hurry-up offense
    An offensive strategy that's designed to gain as much yardage as possible and then stop the clock. It's generally used in the final two minutes of a half when time is running out on the offense. The offense breaks the huddle quicker and runs to line up in the proper formation, hoping to get off as many plays as possible. Offenses tend to pass , and receivers are instructed to try to get out of bounds, thus stopping the clock
  33. I formation
    An offensive formation that looks like an I because the two running backs line up directly behind the quarterback
  34. Incompletion
    A forward pass that falls to the ground because no receiver could catch it, or a pass that a receiver dropped or caught out-of-bounds. After this occurs, the clock stops and the ball is returned to the same line of scrimmage
  35. Key
    Either a specific player or a shift in particular offensive formation that serves as a clue to a defensive player. From studying a team's tendencies, he immediately knows which play they will attempt to run and to what direction.
  36. Kick
    A play that occurs after a team is awarded a safety.
  37. Lateral
    A sideways pass thrown from one offensive player to another. Not considered a forward pass, so players can lateral to one another beyond the line of scrimmage.
  38. Line of scrimmage
    The imaginary boundary between the two teams prior to the snap of the ball. The offense's and defense's scrimmage lines are defined by the tip of the ball closest to them and stretch from sideline to sideline. The term implies a play from scrimmage, and the defensive team usually lines up less than a yard away from where the ball is placed.
  39. Man-to-man coverage
    Pass coverage in which every potential offensive receiver is assigned to a particular defender. Each defensive player must stick to his receiver like glue and make sure that he does not catch a pass thrown in his direction
  40. Motion
    When an offensive receiver or running back begins to move laterally behind the line of scrimmage--once his teammates have assumed a ready stance and are considered set--he is in motion. This motion cannot be forward, and only one player is allowed to move at a time.
  41. Neutral zone
    The area between the two lines of scrimmage, stretching from sideline to sideline. The width of this area is defined by length of the football. The offensive and defensive teams must remain behind their scrimmage lines. Other than the center, no player can be in this area prior to the snap; otherwise an encroachment or violation of the neutral zone penalty is called.
  42. Nickel back
    An extra defensive back who is used in some defensive formation. He's referred to as a nickel back because he becomes the fifth defensive back on the field
  43. Nose tackle
    The defensive player who lines up directly across from the center or "nose to nose" with him. His job is to defend the middle of the offense against a running play
  44. Offensive line
    The human wall of five men who block for and protect the quarterback and ball carriers. every line has a center (who snaps the ball), two guards, and two tackles. Teams that run a lot may employ a blocking tight end too who also is considered part of the offensive line
  45. Offensive pass interference
    A penalty in which, in the judgement of the official, the intended receiver significantly hinders a defensive player's opportunity to catch a forward pass. The offensive player is usually guilty when a pass is thrown inaccurately and he anticipates that the ball will be intercepted. Occasionally, neither the offensive nor the defensive player has gained position and both players, virtually simultaneously, make contact in attempting to catch the ball. This incidental contact is not viewed as a penalty
  46. Officials
    The men in the striped shirts, aka zebras, who officiate the game and call the penalties. Their decisions are final
  47. Offside
    A player is offside when any part of his body is beyond his line of scrimmage or the free kick line when the ball is snapped
  48. Off-tackle
    The oldest run around--a byproduct of the old single wing offense of 90 years ago. This is a strong-side run, meaning that the running back heads toward the end of the line where the tight end, the extra blocker, lines up. The runner wants to take advantage of the hole supplied by the tackle, the tight end, and his running mate, the fullback. He can take the ball either outside the tackle or around the tight end. He hopes that the fullback will block the outside linebacker, giving him room to run
  49. Option
    When a quarterback has the choice to either pass or run. It is more common in high school and college football, where quarterbacks may be excellent runners and coaches don't mind them running.
  50. Pass Interference
    A judgement call made by an official who sees a defensive player make contact with the intended receiver before the ball arrives, thus restricting his opportunity to catch the forward pass. The penalty awards the offensive team the ball at the spot of the foul with an automatic first down
  51. Pigskin
    A slang term for the football, which is actually made of leather
  52. Pitch
    The act of the quarterback tossing the ball to a running back who is moving laterally away from him toward either end of the line of scrimmage.
  53. Placekicker
    The player who kicks the ball on kickoffs, extra point attempts, and field goal attempts. Unlike a punter, he either uses a tee or kicks the ball while it's being held by a teammate
  54. Play-action pass
    A pass play that begins with the quarterback faking a handoff to a running back while he's dropping back to pass. The quarterback hopes that the defense falls for the fake and doesn't rush him.
  55. Pocket
    An area that extends from a point 2 yards outside of either offensive tackle and includes the tight end if he drops off the line of scrimmage to pass-protect. The pocket extends longitudinally behind the line back to the offensive team's own end line
  56. Possession
    When a player maintains control of the ball while clearly touching both feet, or any other part of his body other than his hands, to the ground in bounds. A team is also considered to be in this whenever it has the ball on offense. It ends when a team scores, turns over the ball, or punts the ball or when a half of the game ends.
  57. Post
    A forward pass that the quarterback throws down the center of the field as the intended receiver attempts to line up with the goalpost
  58. Punt
    A kick made when a player drops the ball and kicks it while it falls toward his foot
  59. Punter
    The lone player who stands 10 to 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage, catches the long snap from the center, and then kicks the ball after dropping it toward his foot
  60. Red zone
    The unofficial area from the 20-yard line to the opponent's goal line
  61. Redshirt
    A player who skips a year of eligibility due to injury or academic trouble.
  62. Reverse
    A play in which the running back receives a handoff from the quarterback and the runs laterally behind the line of scrimmage before handing off to a receiver or flanker running toward him. The offensive line blocks as if the direction of the play is designed for the running back. This play works only if the receiver is a fast and tricky runner and the interior defensive players and linebacker fall for the running back's initial fake
  63. Salary cap
    The maximum amount of money that a team can spend on player salaries in a given year under a formula that includes base salaries, prorated portions of signing bonuses, and likely-to-be-earned incentives. The salary cap figure is a league-wide number that every team must use. The cap number is 63 percent of designated gross revenue of league-wide income, the bulk of it from network television contracts and stadium ticket sales.
  64. Scheme
    A slang term used to describe offensive and defensive formations and the overall strategy for using a formation
  65. Screen pass
    A forward pass in which at least two offensive lineman run wide to specific side of the field and then turn to block upfield for a running back who takes a short pass from the quarterback. This is effective against defenses who rush the quarterback and play man-to-man coverage in the secondary
  66. Secondary
    The four defensive players who line up behind the linebackers and wide on the corners of the field opposite the receivers and basically defend the pass. These defensive players are separated into safeties and cornerbacks and occasionally nickel backs
  67. Shotgun
    A passing formation in which the quarterback stands 5 to 7 yards behind the center before the snap. This setup enables the quarterback to scan the defense while standing back from the line of scrimmage.
  68. Sidelines
    The sides of the field along its long part, where players, coaches, trainers and the media stand. These areas are not part of the actual playing field; out of bounds
  69. Single-wing formation
    An offensive formation devised by legendary coach Pop Warner in 1906 after rules outlawed helping the ball carrier advance the ball by pulling or pushing him. The object was to concentrate great blocking power at the point of attack, which meant that three backfield teammates might block for the player carrying the ball. These days, this formation is never seen in the NFL and is rare even on the youth and high school levels.
  70. Slant
    A run play in which the runner slants his angle forward after receiving the ball rather than running straight toward the line of scrimmage. This play is used to take advantage of defenses that overpursue, or when an offensive lineman believes that pushing the defensive lineman to one side will be more effective
  71. Special tems
    The 22 players who are on the field during kicks and punts. These units have "special" players who return punts and kicks, and also players who are experts at covering kicks and punts. Most teams have special units to block field goals and extra point attempts as well as punts
  72. Spiral
    The tight spin on the ball in flight after the quarterback releases it.
  73. Split end
    A player who catches passes. In an offensive formation, this player usually lines up on the line of scrimmage
  74. Stance
    The position that any player assumes prior to the snap of the ball and after he is aligned
  75. Strong safety
    A defensive player who generally lines up deep in the secondary but often aligns close to the line of scrimmage. In most defenses, this player lines up over the tight end and is responsible for both playing the pass and supporting the run. He is usually bigger and more physical than a free safety and should be a great open-field tackler.
  76. Strong side
    The side of the offensive formation where the tight end aligns. With a right-handed quarterback, the strong side is generally to his right side
  77. Stunt
    A maneuver by two defensive linemen in which they alter their course to the quarterback, hoping to confuse the offensive linemen and maximize their strengths. In most stunts, one defensive lineman sacrifices himself in hopes of his teammate either going unblocked or gaining a physical advantage in his pursuit.
  78. Substitution
    The act of a player running onto the playing field, replacing another player. This player is also called a subsititute
  79. Subway alumni
    First used to describe the many NYC fans who followed ND football. The term has since evolved into a description of followers of any college team who didn't attend or graduate from that institution
  80. Sweep
    A fairly common run in every team's playbook. it begins with two or more offensive linemen leaving their stances and running toward the outside of the line of scrimmage. The ball carrier takes a handoff from the quarterback and runs parallel to the line of scrimmage, waiting for his blockers to lead the way around the end. This run is designated to attack the defensive end, outside linebacker and cornerback on a specific side. Most teams that have a right handed quarterback run this toward the left defensive end. It often begins with the other running back faking a handoff and running in the opposite direction of where the play is headed
  81. Tackle
    To use your hands and arms to bring down an offensive player who has the ball
  82. Takeaway
    How a defense describes any possession in which it forces a fumble and recovers the ball or registers an interception. Any turnover that the defense collects is called a takeaway
  83. Touchback
    A situation in which the ball is ruled dead on or behind a team's own goal line, provided that the impetus came from an opponent and provided that it is not a touchdown or a missed field goal. Following, the ball is spotted on the offense's 20-yard line
  84. Trenches
    Where the big guys in football butt heads
  85. Turnover
    A loss of the ball via a fumble or interception
  86. Two-minute warning
    The signal that two minutes remain in the half
  87. Veer
    A quick-hitting run in which the ball is handed to either running back, whose routes are determined by the slant or charge of the defensive linemen.
  88. Weak side
    The side of the offense opposite the side on which the tight end lines up
  89. Zone coverage
    Coverage in which the secondary and linebackers drop away from the line of scrimmage into specific areas when defending a pass play. Defending areas, not specific players
Card Set
Football Speak
Football Speak according to Football for Dummies