What Is A Blitz In Football – Terminology

A blitz in football is a play in which the defense focuses on pressuring the quarterback by sending more defenders than the quarterback has blockers. The goal of a blitz is to either tackle the quarterback or pressure him to the point in which he is forced to make a bad throw.

Pros And Cons Of A Blitz

Like most plays blitz have strengths and weaknesses when used in a game. Below we’ll break down the reasons how a blitxz can help or hurt your football team.



Generating sacks is one of the best benefits of a blitz. When you send extra defenders after the quarterback it can be difficult to keep them blocked. Sacking a quarterback sends the opposing team back to the location in which the quarterback was tackled.

A successful blitz that results in a sack makes it much more likely for the defence to stop the drive.

Forcing Incomplete Passes

Forcing incomplete passes is another great benefit of the blitz. When rushing the quarterback you are not always going to be able to bring him down. And if you cannot bring him down the next best thing to do is force him to make a bad throw.

This can be done by forcing the quarterback to throw on the run which is noticeably more difficult. Or force him to throw the ball away if he believes he is about to be sacked. These plays do not result in a loss of yards but they do result in a loss of down without any yards gained.

Turnover Potential

One more aspect of the sack the benefits the defense is the increased chance of turnovers on these plays. The most likely turnover to happens on these plays is a sack fumble. Quarterbacks are the most likely players on the offense to fumble when tackled.

By bringing multiple defenders to hit the quarterback you are increasing the odds a turnover is generated. Pressuring the quarterback to make difficult throws can also increase the odds of an interception occurring.


Exposed In Coverage

One negative aspect of calling a blitz in football is that you are going to be more vulnerable in coverage. The reasoning for this is simple. If you send more players after the quarterback you are going to have fewer players covering the receivers.

Though you will pressure the quarterback to throw the ball quickly you will find the opposing teams receivers will have an easier time getting open.

Screens And Draws

Screens and draws are both plays that are especially effective against a blitz. This is because both these plays involve delays that encourage pass rushers to get closer to the quarterback ultimately pulling them out of position.

A screen play for example will allow several pass rushers right through to the quarterback. Once they are close, the quarterback will toss the ball overtop of them into the wide-open space made by the defenders moving towards the quarterback.

In other words, the blitz may allow several offensive players to get past the majority of your defense by baiting them into your backfield. These plays can cause serious issues as the ball carriers are often accompanied by blockers downfield.

Why Is It Called A Blitz

The term blitz in football originated from the second world war. The German forces used the word blitzkrieg which translates to “lightning war” in english.

This term was used to describe the incredible speed and surprise tactics of the German Military. This is similar to the surprise the quarterback will feel when several players blitz on defense.

How Do You Spot A Blitz

The best way to determine if a blitz is coming is by using a hard count. A hard count in football refers to using fake audibles in order to read the defense or get them to hop offside.

A hard count uses audibles that will trick the defense into believing the play is about to start. If you are using a hardcount to identify a blitz you will realize that several players will reveal their intentions if the hard count is used effectively.

When a defensive player that is blitzing hears the hard count he will likely jump towards the line of scrimmage. This will show you which players have the intention of blitzing you on the next play. Keep in mind some players may see right through your hard count and not buy the fake.

Difference Between A Blitz And A Pass Rush

The difference between a blitz and a pass rush is that a pass rush involves any number of rushers. While a blitz refers to a pass rush that has a larger number of pass rushers than usual.

If you rush three players this is certainly not a blitz but those three players are still pass rushing. In short, a pass rush can refer to the action of any players rushing the quarterback while a blitz refers to a large number of players rushing the quarterback.

football blitzes

What Positions Tend To Blitz The Quarterback?

The majority of the defensive line is going to rush the quarterback each play. For this reason, these players are almost always going to be included in a blitz. But since additionally rushers are needed for a blitz other positions must rush the quarterback as well.

Below we are going to cover which positions are going to join in when a blitz is called.


One of the positions most likely to join in on a blitz towards the quarterback is linebackers. Aside from the defensive line, these players are going to line up closest to the quarterback.

In most cases, they will be waiting a few yards down the field in order to stop the run and short passes.

On a blitz, these players will take off towards the quarterback in an attempt to find a hole in his offensive line.

In these situations, a screen pass or draw play that gets the ball carriers behind the linebacker can result in a big gain of yards.

Though due to most linebackers quality pass-rushing skills these players can often get home to the quarterback.


Another position often used to blitz the quarterback is the safety. Safeties are often used to prevent deep passes from being completed down the field. They also will stay close to the line of scrimmage if they are committing to stopping the opponents rushing attack.

When blitzing the safety will creep closer to the line of scrimmage from the defensive backfield prior to the snap.

Once the ball is snapped this player will run full speed towards the quarterback. Oftentimes this extra attacker will be unblocked giving him a free shot on the quarterback.

Though when a safety blitzes this usually means the defense is vulnerable in pass coverage. If the blitz is not able to put pressure on the quarterback then the offense may have a chance to complete a deep pass.


The final position which occasionally joins in on the blitz is cornerback. These players are primarily used in pass coverage and typically line up against the wide receiver.

Since these players match up against the wide receiver they are usually near the sideline. this allows them to blitz from a location the quarterback is not expecting.

Oftentimes a cornerback coming from the side of the quarterback can go unnoticed result in an easy sack and a potential fumble.

Though when the corner blitzes his receiver needs to be passed off to another defender. This ultimately leaves one fewer player in pass coverage. If the corner is not able to bring the quarterback down he may have a chance to complete an easy throw.

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