The pocket in football refers to the small area of the field protected by the offensive lineman that allows the quarterback to throw. The pocket is not a set location on the field but rather a moving location that changes based on how the play unfolds.
How The Pocket Effects The Rules
In the game of football, safety has become a major concern. New rules have been put in year after year to improve the safety of the players on the field. The position with the most rules protecting them is the quarterback.
While in the pocket the quarterback has several rules in place that can protect him from injury. Though once the quarterback leaves the pocket he loses several of these protections. This is because when leaving the pocket the quarterback is seen as more of a ball carrier than a quarterback.
The One-Step Rule
The one-step rule is the first rule change that we are going to go over. When a quarterback throws the ball he can only take one step after the throw before being hit. If the quarterback takes multiple steps after throwing and is hit, it is considered a late hit.
This will result in a fifteen yard penalty for roughing the passer. Though once a quarterback leaves the pocket this rule no longer applies.
This means if your quarterback is throwing the ball out of the pocket he can be hit later than if he hadn’t.
Low hits is another penalized act when done in the pocket. When quarterbacks are tackled below their knee this is considered illegal. This penalty also results in a fifteen-yard personal foul.
Though if you quarterback is out of the pocket he no longer has the protection of a low hit penalty.
Intentional grounding is not a safety-based rule but it does change whether the quarterback leaves the pocket.
A quarterback is able to throw the ball out of bounds and take a loss of zero yards on any given play. But in order for him to do it legally he must meet two criteria.
The ball must be past the line of scrimmage and the quarterback must be out of the pocket. If the quarterback throws the ball away from inside the tackle box then he will receive an intentional grounding penalty.
In order to complete this legally, the quarterback will have to “escape” the rush and move towards the sideline and throw the ball away.
Related Football Terms And What They Mean
There are several football slangs that include this term. We are going to break down several of these terms and explain what they mean.
A pocket passer in football refers to a quarterback the prefers to throw from the comfort of the tackle box. These quarterbacks rarely run with the ball and rely on football IQ and arm strength over raw athleticism.
This type of quarterback is the opposite of a mobile quarterback.
Stepping Up In The Pocket
This term refers to a quarterback that moves closer to the line of scrimmage due to the pressure on him. When a quarterback steps up in the pocket it is typically becuase the defensive ends are pressuring him form the outisde.
If a defensive ends tries to rush around a offensive tackle he will often come at the quarterback from behind. In those moments the quarterback must step forward in order to find more open space.
This term in football refers to the quarterback’s awareness of what is happening around him. When a quarterback has this presence he is able to sense when pressuring is coming. Quarterbacks with a good presence are able to accurately move in the tackle box despite pressure from the defense.