A roll out in football refers to a play in which the quarterback exits the side of the pocket and begins to move laterally across the field towards the sideline.
In most cases, rollouts are going to be done in order to avoid pressure, buy time to throw, or make a throw to the sideline more accessible for the quarterback.
Rollouts are often done in bootleg plays, these plays intentionally include a rollout with the purpose of the quarterback throwing the ball from the area he is rolling out to.
It is only considered a rollout if the player leaving the pocket has the ability to throw the ball. If the running back is handed the ball in the pocket and then runs towards the sideline this is not considered a rollout.
Why Do Quarterbacks Roll Out?
Now that you understand what a roll out is in football it’s time to break down why quarterbacks do this in-game. Below we will cover some of the top reasons why you will often see quarterbacks rolling out of the pocket.
One of the main reasons that quarterbacks roll out of the pocket is because they are being pressured by the defensive line.
The defensive line will spend passing downs fighting through blocks of the offensive line in order to get to the quarterback. If the defensive lineman gets into the pocket the quarterback will have to escape the pressure.
Oftentimes this means escaping the pocket to the side and rolling out. This buys the quarterback more time to throw the ball and ensures the defense doesn’t come up with a sack on the quarterback.
Utilizing A Bootleg
Another reason that a quarterback may roll out in a football game is in order to use a bootleg. Bootleg plays intentionally get the quarterback to roll out of the pocket in order to give them more time to throw.
On these bootleg plays, the pass protection will be set up to allow the quarterback to roll out of the pocket without being pressured.
Once out of the pocket the quarterback will then make his throw.
In most cases, the bootleg will start with a fake running play. This will ideally pull the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage making a deep thrower more accessible for the quarterback.
Looking To Gain Yards With Their Feet
Another reason that quarterbacks roll out of the pocket is to gain yards by rushing. A large portion of the quarterback runs you will see occur after the quarterback leaves the side of the pocket.
On these plays, the quarterback can use the sideline to avoid contact when the rush is over. This is especially common on third downs when you may see the quarterback run up the sideline just past the first down marker.