Simple Pass Protection


I would like to talk today about building pass protections, and the two that I think are the most sound for high school, middle school, and youth football.  Again the fundamentals required to protect the passer are every bit as important as the schematics.  The offensive line is the hardest position to play on the field in my opinion.  The schemes involved should be easy to understand with simple rules.

We try to use two basic protections when we throw the ball. We use a full slide with the offensive line, which means the offensive line will all move one gap in the same direction.  The running backs are responsible for the edges of the offensive line.  This is generally the protection we will use when we are throwing our quick game.  We want to secure the A and B gaps inside and force any pressure to come from wider gaps. Because we are getting rid of the ball relatively quick we need to make sure there is no inside pressure.  The offensive line and running backs are both very aggressive in nature and we want to keep defenders hands down. We will also use a version of this protection in our play action passing game and generally keep 7 men in protection.  The play action version will not be as aggressive but we would like to keep a low pad demeanor to sell the run action.  It tends to look like a gap run scheme when we execute it correctly so it helps create more space in our passing game with linebackers fitting their run gaps.

When we are throwing 5 step or drop back combinations we use a half slide protection.  This means one side of the line will be man blocking and the other side will create a "zone side".  That does not mean a "zone" scheme like the run concept, it means we will be pass protecting areas instead of men.  The general rule for this protection is the first uncovered lineman on the man side will start the turn towards the zone side.  That is the easiest description or rule you can give your oline to handle multiple fronts.  Generally speaking your center, and guards will be a little firmer then your tackles.  You are trying to develop a pocket for the QB to feel comfortable in.  The tackles are usually working wide rushers, and you would like them up the field behind the QB.  You want the interior of the pocket to be firm so the QB does not feel like he has people in his lap.  With that being said you must train your QB to make throws under duress.  Very rarely will there be perfectly clean throws for the QB.  He must learn to manipulate the pocket with his feet and find throwing lanes.  He must also learn to make short step and no step throws in traffic.  Remember incompletions are always better than sacks if you want to stay on schedule with your down and distance.

When using half slide protection, the QB's, RB'S and WR's are also part of the protection.  Their role is understanding the "HOT" part of the protection, which is where the ball goes if the defense brings one more defender then we can account for.  Sometimes we have to account for rushers by throwing quick, hot routes if that defender rushes the passer.  The QB is always accountable for who these defenders are and must be trained to understand his protections better than everyone else on the team.  Keep in mind teams will only come after the QB with additional rushers if they feel like they can get to him.  Sending extra rushers compromises the defenses coverages, so they need to feel like they can get home if they add rushers to their scheme.

Some other things that can help the QB are varying the launch points, which are the areas the ball will be released from.  Sprint outs and waggles are effective ways to change the launch point.  Keep in mind your protections need to be simple enough for your players to execute.  You do not need a different protection for every front the defense shows.  The more protections you have at the lower levels of football, the more breakdowns you will have.  I hope this helps you keep your QB upright and complete more passes.


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