10 Basic Offensive Football Plays

There are 10 basic offensive football plays that can make the game more accessible. Football can be a complicated game. There are 22 different positions on the field, all of them with different roles and responsibilities. There are trick plays and audibles. There are many different types of penalties. All of this makes it seem like football might have too high of a barrier to entry. 

Running Plays

  1. The Dive/Off-tackle/QB Sneak. Calling for a dive, off-tackle, or QB sneak all basically are the same idea. For the dive, the running back runs straight ahead into the center of the offensive line, with the goal of gaining a short amount of yardage. The off-tackle play is similar to the dive, except the running back runs to the outside hip of the tackle on either side of the offensive line. This is a very common play. Finally the QB sneak is basically a dive, except the quarterback runs the ball.
  2. Draw. The draw play is similar to a dive, except the goal is to make the defense think the offense is throwing the ball first. The quarterback receives the ball from the center, drops back, pretending like he will throw the ball, then at the last second, hands it off to the running back. The running back then runs forward. If the play works correctly, the linebackers will have dropped back to defend the pass, and the running back will have room to run.
  3. Counter. The counter starts off as if the running back is running an off-tackle play. Then, the running back cuts back to the other direction. This play, if executed correctly, will make the defense believe the running back is going to one side of the field. The defense will shift and cover as if the running back is running that direction. When the running back cuts back to the other direction, there will be much more open room to run.
  4. Sweep. The sweep is designed for faster runners. The goal of the play is to get the running back outside of the hash marks. A wall of blockers, including the fullback, will aide in blocking off all defenders while the running back has a lot of room to run.
  5. Option. The option is a popular play that is run at all levels except for the NFL. The play does exactly what it sounds like: it gives the quarterback three different options. The quarterback can keep the ball and run it, hand it off to the fullback, or pitch it to the running back who is running alongside. The decision is made based on which option looks like it will get the most yards.

Passing Plays

  1. Play Action Pass. When the defense has started to pick up on the run, a perfect option is the play action pass. The quarterback fakes a handoff to the running back. This will cause the defenders to come up to try and stop the run, leaving the wide receivers all alone or in one-on-one coverage.
  2. Go pattern. Perhaps the simplest of passing plays, the wide receivers simply run straight toward the end zone. These patterns are best for fast receivers.
  3. Down and out/in. A down and out, or down and in pattern involves a wide receiver running seven, ten, or fifteen yards down field, then making a 90-degree turn toward the sidelines or the middle, depending on the play call.
  4. Flag pattern. This play starts off like a go pattern, but after ten or fifteen yards, the receiver suddenly runs diagonally toward the corner of the field. This should create some separation from the defender.
  5. Screen Pass. A screen pass is an easy play that can have big rewards. The offensive line sets up a screen of blockers in front of a receiver. The ball is thrown to the receiver behind the line of scrimmage, and the receiver follows the wall of blockers. A running back screen can also be used. This is where the running back is normally the final offensive option. If everyone else is covered, the quarterback dumps the ball off to the running back.



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