A field judge or FJ in football is an official that lines up roughly twenty yards past the line of scrimmage on one of the sidelines. This official is mainly tasked will calling penalties in his or her area of the field.
A field judge is also one of the two officials responsible for standing underneath the uprights to determine if field goals/ extra points were converted successfully or not.
Common calls made by a field judge include:
- Pass Interference
- Incomplete Passes
- Illegal Blocks Downfield
Read on to learn about all the specific responsibilities of a field judge in different facets of the game.
Every Down Responsibilities
On each down the field judge is responsible for watching the widest receiver that is closest to his sideline. The FJ will also keep an eye on the defender covering this receiver.
The field judge also has the duty of counting defensive players on the turf. If this official notices there are too many players on the field he will throw a flag before the play.
On each down the FJ must assess if it is a running or passing play. This is because these different plays involve different penalties to look out for.
On a passing down the field judge will keep a close eye on the wide receiver closest to his sideline. The field judge will watch this receiver run his route in order to determine if he was interfered with.
If this receiver was illegally contacted or interfered with the FJ is responsible for throwing the flag.
Additionally, when a pass is thrown near the sideline of the Field judge he will call whether or not the pass was complete. The FJ also calls whether or not a receiver was in bounds when a catch is made near his sideline.
On running downs, the FJ will also watch the nearest wide receiver and defensive back. Though on these plays the FJ will be watching for penalties such as illegal use of hands or holding.
If the runner travels near the sidelines in the field judges area he will call whether the ball carrier ran out of bounds or not.
Special Teams Responsibilities
On special teams the FJ is responsible for watching blocks on punts. A call will be made if the FJ spots any holding or illegal blocks taking place.
This official is also responsible for signalling a scored or missed field goal. They stand underneath the upright alongside the back judge.
When it comes to the positioning you will find this official twenty yards past the line of scrimmage on the same side of the turf as the line judge.
The FJ always lines up on the sideline unless there is a field goal or extra points attempt.