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American Football: The Defense and Special Teams

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In a rough game where the only goal is to get the ball to the other side, knowing how to play your role in the defense team is a must. Here are the key defense positions:

  1. Defensive End - They position themselves at each end of the defensive line to prevent offensive runs. Their main goal is to tackle the quarterback before he can pass it to any of his team members and prevent the halfback from passing through. Mess with these men and you’ll get broken bones.
  1. Defensive Tackle- These men together with the two defensive ends complete the lineup of the four man defense lineup. They are more popularly known as the nose tacklers as they are can almost touch noses with the offensive team’s center. Their primary role is to stop running plays at the middle of the line of scrimmage.
  1. Linebacker- The number of men that comprise this second line of defense varies according to the team’s defense strategy. The most common is a 4-3 defense which means the defense has one middle linebacker and two outside linebackers. These men are to stop offensive team from advancing. They should tackle the speedy Running and Full Back and the Tight End during short-yardage situations.
  1. Cornerback- These two players must prevent the wide receivers from getting passes from the quarterback. In order to do so, they must swat or catch the airborne ball.
  1. Safety- Considered as the hard hitters, they make up the last line of defense. There are two of them who aid the cornerbacks in pass coverage. The strong safety is generally much stronger and gives added defense against running plays. The free safety on the other hand is smaller and thus faster player who gives the team extra pass coverage.

Finally, although few points can be accomplished with the special teams, it is a great impact on how the offensive team can score. Here are the members of this specially drilled team:

Kick Returner- As their name suggests, they must kick the ball to return to their side of the field. Return kicks can be performed by cornerbacks and wide receivers.

Kicker- He is to kick the ball through the end zone and make a three-point field goal. If the team manages to get a touchdown, getting the ball through the end zone earns his team an extra point.

Holder- He is the backup quarterback who picks up the snap and places the ball at a good kicking position for an easy field goal.

Punter- He catches long snaps and kicks the ball as far back as the defense team’s field as possible.

Long Snapper- He is a specialized center who is an expert at making long snaps so that the holder and the punter can have a clear aim at field goals.

Punt Returner- He catches long snaps and brings it back to the other team’s end zone.

Gunner- This player is often double teamed by blockers as he interferes with the punt returner or kicker.

Upback- He helps defend the punter for a successful team punt. He often makes a great diversion in fake punt situations.

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American Football Tips for Beginners

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American football remains a crowd favorite no matter how rough and nasty it gets. The players alone already make the game so exciting. Some have brute strengths while others are so small you can’t believe they can run around the field like mice. Yet, no team can win the cup with pure strength and speed. Each of the players must possess agility, skills and of course- brilliant minds. The game sometimes gets too complex the spectators are utterly surprised at the outcome of events. The field lines alone can already get a newbie fan confused. But with these no-brainer beginner tips, good old American football can be understood with no sweat. Here’s how to get started:

The Basics. The game is started with a coin toss to determine who plays offense or defense. Each team should have eleven members. The composition of the offense and defense teams depends on the team’s strategy and the game situation. Like during short-yardage, the coach can choose to replace wide receivers with tight ends. If you notice the frequent change of players, that’s because each player is to perform a single special role. No one can play quarterback and offensive tackle at the same time. Thus, when the game plan changes so do the team players. Moreover, there is no limit in the number of substitutions which gives each team a chance to come up with different tactics.

The Teams. The offense will have four attempts (downs) to get the ball at least 10 yards towards the end zone. If the ball never advances after four downs or the offensive team manages to get a touchdown, the ball will change possessions.  The defense team will have to try its best to tackle and block the player carrying the ball. They must figure out when and where the snap will occur so that they could easily sack the quarterback.  However, as the other team is also equally able, a game of football becomes a chess-like team sport.

Scoring. Since football has its roots in the English rugby, the manner of scoring is almost the same. The touchdown is still the highest single score which is equal to six points. After a successful touchdown, the offense can gain extra points through a field goal where the ball is kicked at the opponent’s two-yard line. But if after the fourth down and a touchdown can’t be achieved, the offense can aim for a field goal which is equal to 3 points.

Quarters. Each quarter is equal to fifteen minutes. There is a 2-minute break at the end of the first and third quarters and a 12-minute break during half-time. If the teams are tied after initial playtime, they will be given a 15-minute overtime. The scores will go back to zero and the team that manages to get the most score wins.

See, football is easy like one, two and three. You can also try to read more about regulations and penalties. But in the meantime, why not get yourself a pizza and drink and have a grand time?