Max protection in football refers to plays in which the quarterback has seven or more blockers in front of him. Generally, max protection is going to include five offensive linemen as well as tight ends or running backs.
Max protection plays are often going to involve a tight end lining up on either end of the line of scrimmage. Tight ends are typically the best blockers on the field aside from the offensive lineman.
These seven blockers are going to provide pass blocking for the quarterback as he attempts to throw the ball.
Putting a tight end on either of the offensive line is also going to balance it. Oftentimes one tight end will line up on the line of scrimmage making the line unbalanced.
By placing tight ends on either side both sides of the line will be equally protected. If a team uses seven blockers in their max protect they are still going to have three receivers running routes.
This is still a fair number of receivers as quarterbacks don’t tend to have time to check out more than three reads on a play anyways.
Running backs and fullbacks may also be involved in these max protection plays though it is usually from the backfield. Instead of lining up on the line of scrimmage, these players will start a few yards back.
If a defender manages to make it through the offensive line the back will meet him in the pocket before he reaches the quarterback.
This sort of protection will buy the quarterback a lot of time to throw the ball.
Benefits Of Max Protection
Time to pass
The main benefit of max protection in football is that it allows the quarterback a lot of time to throw the football. Deeper routes run by wide receivers can take a few seconds before the quarterback can throw the ball.
These sorts of long-developing plays require that the quarterback has time in the pocket. By designating more players to block for the quarterback the offense will increase the chance that he is able to get the throw off in time.
Few Negative Plays
When playing with this level of protection it is quite rare that a negative play occurs. With all the blockers there is a small chance that the quarterback is taken down for a sack.
This means the quarterback is likely going to complete a pass or throw it incomplete. In other words, this formation presents the chance for big plays while keeping the risk of the play to a minimum.
Fewer Receiving Options
When more players are being asked to protect the quarterback that means they are being pulled from other duties. In most cases, these are going to be potential pass catchers being told to block.
This results in fewer options for the quarterback. Though most max protection plays will have three receivers some will have as little as two.
This is not always going to be a problem for the quarterback but it is going to give him fewer options to work with.
On top of having fewer options to throw to the quarterback may also find that these receivers are more likely to be covered.
When the offense is using max protection this does not necessarily mean that the defense is going to rush a lot of players.
What may happen is several defensive players covering only a few receivers. This may make it more difficult for these receivers to get open ultimately resulting in an incompletion for the quarterback.