The pressure on the quarterback, the accuracy of the throw, and the skill of the receivers make passing plays, in a football game, one of the most exciting parts!
There are three types of receivers (players who catch the ball) on a football team. They are wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. The quarterback will work with all of them on a daily basis to perfect the timing and accuracy of their “pass patterns” or “routes“. Pass patterns and routes are just names for a predetermined spot a receiver will run to catch the ball from the quarterback.
The most basic offense (11 players) will have five receivers: two running backs, two wide receivers and one tight end. A lot of offenses today are deviating from this typical offense and will have only one running back, three wide receivers and one tight end. It really depends on the offensive philosophy for each individual team.
There all kinds of pass patterns (routes) that a team will have to choose from in their playbook. Here are some of the most well known pass patterns used by most every team from high school to the pros.
- Slant - The receiver will run straight for about 3 to 8 yards then “slants” his route to the middle of the field.
- Hook (Buttonhook) - The receiver will run down field and make a small turn coming a bit back to the quarterback to catch the ball.
- Out - The receiver will run about 10 yards down the field and make a sharp turn toward the sideline.
- Post - The receiver goes out for a long pass, anywhere from 40 to 50 yards. He will run straight down the middle of the field, make a 45 degree turn toward the goalpost, hence the term “post” for the pattern.
- Streak - Not to be confused with the naked guy running across the football field, in this pattern the receiver will be looking for a 20 to 40 yard pass from the quarterback. The receiver will run down the field cutting over to align himself with the sideline. He will continue running down the sideline as fast as he can looking for the throw from the quarterback.
- Flag - The receiver will run straight down the field about 25 to 30 yards then slant to the right aiming for the corner of the end zone.
Passing patterns are not something we necessarily need to know but it is good to have an idea of what is involved in order to understand what can go wrong. Here are 7 common things that can go wrong with a passing play that you will most likely see in any game regardless of whether it’s high school, college or the pros……
- Deflection - A defensive player (someone on the other team) can use his hands to knock the ball down after the quarterback has thrown it and before it gets to the receiver.
- Illegal Forward Pass - The quarterback is not allowed to run across the line of scrimmage (where the ball was hiked) to throw the ball. Remember: the quarterback will take 3, 5 or 7 steps back to throw the ball.
- Intentional Grounding - The quarterback is not allowed to intentionally throw the ball to the ground or out of bounds to avoid being tackled while the ball is still in his possession.
- Interception - If a defensive player (someone on the other team) catches the ball instead of the intended receiver.
- Roughing the Passer - No one is allowed to tackle the quarterback after he has thrown the ball.
- Sack - When the quarterback gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage (where the ball was hiked), before he throws it to the receiver.
- Trapping - When a ball is thrown low to the ground a receiver may dive for it and use the ground to help “trap” the ball in his arms. This is illegal. A receiver needs to make sure his hands and arms are between the ball and the ground when making a complete (legal) catch.
Each of these scenarios either results in a penalty or lost yards and we are going to discuss penalties in greater detail later in the series but for now we will continue with our look into the offense and turn our attention to the running play tomorrow!