What Is Pass Protection In Football?

The game of football is filled with confusing slang and terminology, one phrase that often leaves fans asking questions is pass protection.

Pass protection in football refers to the assignment of protecting the quarterback from defenders so he has time to make a pass. Pass protection generally features five offensive linemen but can include tight ends and running backs as well.

Before a play starts offensive players will be alerted as to whether or not they will be in pass protection.

When in pass protection the idea is to create a clean pocket for the quarterback. When defenders rush the quarterback they are going to come into the offensive backfield.

The offensive line will work to build a wall that does not allow players through or around. The area within this curved wall is referred to as the pocket.

When protecting the quarterback offensive lineman will slowly move backwards throughout the play. This makes it more difficult for the defender to get around and allows the lineman to some wiggle room if they are being pushed back.

In most levels of football, these blocks are supposed to be held for only a few seconds. This will allow the quarterback enough time to throw the pass downfield to one of his receivers.

If you want to learn about different ways that pass protection is done you may want to read our guide explaining max protection in football.

What Positions Play Pass Protection?

Now that you understand what pass protection is in football you may be wondering what positions tend to play this role.

Offensive Lineman

Offensive linemen as we mentioned earlier are the players most involved in pass protection. When the quarterback is throwing the ball there are going to be at least five offensive linemen on the field protecting them.

The offensive linemen are the players relied upon to give the quarterback a clear area to throw the ball.

These players will have to take on defensive ends and defensive tackles for the most part. Pass protection versus some of the strongest players on the defense is quite difficult which is why linemen tend to be so heavy.

Running Backs

Running back is another position in which the player may be asked to play pass protection. Instead of playing on the line of scrimmage running backs will generally line up in the backfield on these snaps.

When a defender finds a way through or around the offensive line the running back is tasked with stopping him from getting to the quarterback.

This is a difficult task for the running back as the players are often already in the pocket by the time the back sees them.

Though it is important that running backs are able to make a block in this situation as it can often be the determining factor in the quarterback being sacked.

Tight Ends

Another position that often helps in pass protection are tight ends. Tight ends are a hybrid between a lineman and a wide receiver making them capable of blocking opponents.

When protecting the quarterback these players will usually line up on the end of the offensive line.

On some occasions, tight ends will be asked to stay in the backfield and operate as an extra offensive lineman. Though on other plays they will only be asked to complete a chip block.

A chip block is a quick block made to start the play before a receiver runs his route.

These chip blocks are usually laid on the defensive end making it much easier for the tackle to stifle his pass rush.

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