Who Protects The Quarterback In Football?

Who Protects The Quarterback In Football?

In the electrifying game of football, no player holds a greater influence than the quarterback. He is responsible for planning offensive strategies, throwing passes, and ensuring victory. But having a single quarterback who is vulnerable and open to attacks can be catastrophic. This is where unmentioned heroes known as offensive lines come in, and they create a fortress called Quarterback Protection.

Who Protects The Quarterback In Football?

The Front Line: Offensive Players

The offensive line comprises usually five gigantic people:

  • Left Tackle: The one that blocks enemy players at the quarterback’s blind spot; this side remains opposite their throwing hand.
  • Left Guard: Stands next to the left tackle and provides extra support when creating running lanes.
  • Center: He receives the snap and signals for the start of play, besides anchoring the blocking scheme.
  • Right Guard: This does what needs to be done by the left guard, but this time on the right side.
  • Right Tackle: This opens up the quarterback’s “hole” without allowing defenders to pass through it.

So what do they do? They should nullify defensive linemen whose only purpose on earth is to sack quarterbacks by showing raw strength and flexibility, as well as techniques like:

  • Individually defeat defenders: Offensive linemen use powerful stances and strategic placement of their palms to thwart those attempting to close in on the quarterbacks.
  • Double teaming occurs when two offensive linemen attack an elite pass rusher together, taking away their chance of making a successful attempt or completely blocking them.
  • Zone Blocking: In this scenario, the defense assigns an area to the linemen, allowing them to adjust accordingly.

The 1990s Dallas Cowboys, also known as the “Great Wall of Dallas,” were great offensive lines that dominated history and helped win championships. They provided security for Troy Aikman, leading him to multiple Super Bowl wins.

Leaving the Trenches: Tight Ends & Running Backs Join In

But even though the offensive line makes up most of these duties, keeping the quarterback safe is more than just that. Both tight ends and running backs are key to forming multi-layered shields.

  • Tight Ends: They can be positioned alongside the tackle, acting as an additional guard for the player who covers his blind side. They may also choose to chip at a closing defender before taking off on their path.
  • Running Backs: Under heavy pressure and blanketing, the primary receiver typically transitions into a recovery mechanic, returning to “check down” and receiving the ball.

Strategies For Success:

  • Screen Plays: During screen plays, a running back can serve as a decoy by feigning a block and then moving behind the line of scrimmage to receive a quick pass from the quarterback. It causes defenders to slow down, allowing them to buy time for quarterbacks.
  • Hot Routes: At times when he sees immediate pre-snap pressure, he has the option of changing plays to a hot route, which allows him to throw quickly towards someone like a running back or tight end who quickly alters their routes by this change in play direction.

Protection Examples

  • Tom Brady & New England Patriots: Against all odds, Brady’s success proves that the Patriots’ have always aimed at creating a dominant offensive line. This instilled confidence in Brady, who played some games from this pocket, leading to several Super Bowl finals.
  • Aaron Rodgers & Green Bay Packers: Having Aaron Jones as one such prime example receiving back provides valuable safety valves during passing while being complemented by another known as Tavon Austin, who has virtually no other similar skills such as good hands on short passes but speed and quickness that make him able enough to outrun almost everyone except top DBs if not even run away over 70-yard TD runs.

The Role of Wide Receivers Goes Beyond Catching The Ball

Wide receivers’ primary role is to haul in passes, but they contribute more beyond the stats pages. These are some of the ways they do it:

  • Chipping Defenders: When facing a blitz—where extra defenders rush the passer—a wide receiver might be asked to chip a Blitzer. Such an action consists of a quick block that slows down the defender and buys the quarterback time to heave the ball.
  • Double-teaming pass rushers: Occasionally, wide receivers may find themselves teaming up with either tight ends or running backs to double-team one particularly dominant pass rusher. This helps avoid instances where a lone pass rusher overwhelms the quarterback, as well as improving his chances of finding an open receiver.
  • Outlet Routes: Wide receivers have “hot routes” when the initial receiving options are covered; these routes use fast throws that get rid of the ball from quarterbacks’ hands quickly. It acts as a “dump-off” option, keeping quarterbacks out of risky sacks.

The Coaching Mastermind: Orchestrating Protection

While players carry out the plan, the coaching staff has a critical role in designing strategies that emphasize safety for quarterbacks. Here’s what coaches do to keep their signal-callers upright:

  • Identifying Blitz Packages: Through film study and pre-snap reads, coaches teach quarterbacks how to recognize blitz packages. Quarterbacks can adjust protections by calling hot routes or audibling into a different play.
  • Maximizing Offensive Line Strength: An investment in a strong offensive line is key. Coaches focus on developing an offensive line with size, strength, and agility to hold off any pressures coming from opposing defensive linemen and linebackers.
  • Game Planning and Adjustments: Pre-game preparations entail tailoring protection schemes toward specific opponents. Throughout the game, coaches analyze defensive tendencies and adjust blocking assignments to expose weaknesses.
  • Coaching Case Study: Consider Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots, for instance. Throughout his illustrious career, they have protected Tom Brady from danger by creating meticulous game plans and innovative blocking formations.


Football’s quarterback protection is a multi-layered symphony. While the offensive line provides the basis for their physical strength, wide receivers are essentially the supporting actors, chipping defenders or running hot routes.

However, it is the coaching staff that serves as the conductor of this orchestra by devising strategies and executing crucial adjustments mid-game. When all these elements work in perfect harmony, the quarterback has enough time and space to direct his offensive success. Because in football, a protected quarterback is a winning quarterback.

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