Football 101 – 02 : The offense

Welcome back! The fact that you’re here means you weren’t scared by the first episode, that you understood everything and you’re back for more! Right? At least, I didn’t get many questions so I’ll just assume then that everything was obvious. Anyway, today, we’re going to be looking at the guys who control the football and try to score, the offense.

Basically, the offense have a choice. They can either run with the football, or they can throw it (more commonly known as pass). It’s a bit of a risk/reward thing. Running the football is safer but on average doesn’t gain so many yards. Passing the football is risker but the rewards are greater.

The offense go to the football, line up, and stand still. Then it begins. The Center hands the ball between his legs to the Quarterback (called a snap), the offense do their thing, the defense theirs, somebody gets tackled, the ref blows his whistle and everybody stops. From the time the Center snaps the ball to the time whoever has the ball is tackled (or until they score a touchdown or run out of bounds) is called a play. So each play can either be a run or a pass. Once each play is finished, the offense will group together (called a huddle), the defense will group together in their own huddle, and they’ll talk about what they’re going to do on the next play.

– If it’s a run, either the Quarterback will run with the football himself, or he will give it to another player who will then run with it. Only one player can run with the ball, and the others protect him by blocking defenders. Blocking is basically pushing with open hands or arms, or hitting with the shoulder, so that the defender can’t tackle the ball carrier.

– If it’s a pass, the Quarterback will throw the football forward to a teammate. Passing is a little more complicated than running. A minimum of 5 and maximum of 8 players block to protect the Quarterback and give him time to throw the ball. The other players (2 to 5) run down the field, the Quarterback looks, makes a decision and throws one of them the football. If the ball is caught (a complete pass), the play continues until the player is tackled or scores a touchdown. If the ball is not caught (an incomplete pass), the referee will blow his whistle and the play is over.
This is important to remember – if a pass thrown forward is not caught (in other words, if it’s incomplete), nobody can pick up the ball and run with it, because the play is over, and it costs the offense one of their downs. Say it’s First and 10 and the team throw an incomplete pass. The ball comes back to where it started from, and it will be Second and 10.


There are 11 offensive players on the field, and they can be divided into two groups – Offensive Line and Skill Players. Here is an example of an offense lined up and ready to run a play.

note – Those letters are just the ones I would use : your favourite team may use other ones, but the idea is the same. Also note that an offense doesn’t have to stand exactly in this formation, it’s just a common example.


These are the guys in red. They wear numbers between 50 and 79. The offensive line are all big guys who do most of the blocking, in fact, they never get the football once the play has begun.

The C is the Centre – It’s him who snaps the ball to the Quarterback to begin each play.

There are two G : Left and Right Guard. There are two T : Left and Right Tackle. There’s not a lot of difference between a Tackle and a Guard, but Tackles are usually taller and preferably faster.
All offensive linemen are big and strong. You probably don’t notice them much, because they spend all their time pushing defenders around and… well, that’s about it. However, I shouldn’t joke with them, because the offensive line are absolutely crucial to any team – without good offensive linemen, you go nowhere.


These are the guys in black on the diagram. They’re known as skill players because they are the ones who handle the football.

H – Halfback (also known as Running Back) : If it’s a running play, he will mostly get the ball. So he must be fast, but also tough, because he gets tackled a lot.

F – Fullback : He is a bit of a cross between a Halfback and an Offensive Lineman. Sometimes runs with the ball but mostly blocks. It’s a well known fact that most Fullbacks are crazy.

X and Z – Receivers : These guys mostly play on the outside away from all the big guys, and they are mostly the target when the Quarterback throws the football. They should be fast, agile and good at catching.

Y – Tight End : He is a bit of a cross between a Receiver and an Offensive Lineman, so he can catch but also block and have good speed.

Q – Quaterback : Should be smart and have a strong arm. He’s the leader of the offense and the most important player on the field because he makes the decisions on who to throw the ball to. Also it’s the quarterback who tells the rest of the team in the offensive huddle what the next play is.

So now you know about all the players on the offense, and the fact that they can either run or pass the ball to try and make first downs and eventually touchdowns. Maybe if you know someone who plays on offense you can find out which position they play and see if their skills match what I said.

We’ll learn about the actual plays that the offense run another time. Next time we’ll talk about the guys trying to stop the offense – the defense.
Don’t forget to leave a message if something is unclear, the reason I write this is so everyone will understand the game a bit better – I don’t mind having to explain something again if required. Until next time!

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4 Responses to Football 101 – 02 : The offense

  1. Dennis ( Turtles) says:

    It’s a well known fact that most Fullbacks are crazy.

    Love it 🙂

  2. O-Line wins games!
    inch-by-inch, yard-by-yard

  3. Law Fg says:

    Dale! Really great that you are taking time to explain the basics of american football! You do it in a very simple, understandable and effective way! I will be sharing this with all the new guys coming in to our game!
    Big thanks! and keep up the good work!

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