A double team block in football refers to a play in which two offensive players have the assignment of blocking a single defensive player. Double team blocks are legal in football so long as they are not done on a kickoff outside of the setup zone.
Double team blocks are often executed by the offensive line in order to protect the quarterback. It is common for the defense to rush three or four players toward the quarterback on any given passing play.
Since there are five offensive linemen protecting the quarterback, one or two of these pass rushers is likely to face a double team.
It is most common for players in the middle of the defensive line to be on the receiving end of double team blocks.
In most cases, this is going to be a defensive tackle or nose tackle. These players are typically the largest players on the field which makes the double team blocks necessary to move or stop them.
On most pass rushing plays the offensive tackles are going to take on the defensive end one on one on the outside of the formation. This leaves the center and the two guards to hand the one or two defensive tackles in the middle of the offensive line.
For this reason, it is usually a guard and a center that is going to be blocking a defensive tackle when it comes to double team blocks.
The legality of double team blocks in football
Now that you know what double team blocks are in football we are going to break down some of the rules involved in these plays. Below we will cover two different rules that change your double team block from legal to illegal.
The chop block
A chop block is one type of double team block that offenses need to avoid if they do not want to get a penalty.
A chop block in football involves one player engaging a defensive player above the waist with a block and a second player proceeding to “chop” the player by blocking him below the waist.
It does not matter whether the high or low block occurs first a penalty will be called either way. Blocking a player low and high at the same time is always going to result in a chop block penalty so long as the officials see it.
The reason a chop block is illegal is due to player safety. A player being blocked both low and high by two different players can be a dangerous play.
Before this rule was introduced in the NFL players were coming down with injuries when blocked in this manner.
Illegal double team block
The other way in which a double team block can earn a penalty in the NFL is via an illegal double team block.
Before this rule was added to the NFL rulebook teams would for a wedge on kickoffs in order to block for the kick returner.
A wedge includes several large blockers holding hands and moving down the field together. Unfortunately, this resulted in many injuries as players attempted to use their bodies to break through the wedge.
To avoid this happening the NFL implemented the illegal double team block rule. This rule states that on kickoffs two players can not block a single player unless it is within fifteen yards from the kickoff location.
The first fifteen yards from the line of scrimmage do not present too much danger because the players are not travelling very fast.
Though if a player on the kick return team performs a double team block close to their own endzone they are going to earn an illegal double team block penalty.