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Offensive line analysis: point of attack in the running game

In football, the game is won and lost in the trenches. All success or lack thereof starts with the linemen. So I thought I would offer up my understanding of some of the terminology for offensive linemen. In my last post, I talked about "point of attack" and how it applies in the passing game. Now I will explain the same premise in the running game, which will serve as a great segue into my next post regarding "levels" of the defense.

But for now, it's "point of attack" in the running game. Let's start with run-side blocking for outside runs. The tackle has to be athletic enough to do what is called a "reach block." A defensive end has to maintain containment or set the edge, so the tackle must get outside of the defensive end, allowing the other pulling guard to kick out the linebacker, creating a running lane for the runner. The run-side guard has to block down on that defensive tackle to prevent a free run into the backfield. The center has to hurry to the second level to try to block the inside linebacker.

Offensive minds understand that most run plays are spilled by some and boxed by others to buy time for your tackler, which is your inside linebacker. Again, the other guard is pulling to the run side to kick out the outside linebacker. The back-side tackle checks the back side before climbing to the next level looking for work.

Inside runs are a bit different. In these cases, the run-side tackle will try to get inside of the defensive end to push him out; the guard will grab and try to push the tackle inside. The center will help the run-side guard before climbing to the next level to look for work. The back-side tackle is jumping inside of the defensive end.

These are some of the "points of attack" in the running game. I'm trying to condense these into one blog post for you guys. Next up will be "levels" and how it applies to the o-line.

By LaVar Arrington  |  September 3, 2010; 6:57 PM ET
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Next: Offensive line breakdown: levels of the defense


I'm sorry but LaVar Arrington was never a "star." I remember when he came to a school, wearing a hat in violation of the "no hat policy." Of course, it was turned bill backward. He picked one of the punks out of the audience to sit with him. That punk is/was in prison and LaVar is making money on a non reputation as a football player.

Posted by: mortified469 | September 3, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Save it dude. I just want to hear an educated post about the o-line which is the most important position on the field. Lavar is giving us something we haven't had in these posts... Real knowledge of whats going on in the trenches.

Posted by: pstrboy | September 3, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Trench Williams seems to be just the type of player that can negotiate the "reach block."

Outside of the rookie first round pick, however, I can't discern any Redskins capable of extending into the second level of the opposing defense looking for the type of work that makes a running game click.

Lavar, do you also see what I see -- an offensive line that simply doesn't push people off the line of scrimmage and maintain blocks downfield?

It's been lacking for years and my fear is that one rookie alone won't make enough of a difference for us in 2010, putting more pressure on a passing game which has yet to define itself.

Posted by: Chia_Pet | September 3, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Peeps tend to look at the QB and the RB for reasons why the offense ain't gellin'

Thanks Lavar for helping us understand that football is a game of nuance.

Need to look deeper indeed -- looking forward to more insight on the subject sir...

Posted by: Chia_Pet | September 3, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

This is pretty helpful. I never played football, so a lot of times, it's unclear why a play worked or didn't work, and this will give me a better idea of what to look for.

The only thing I would suggest is that it would be helpful to have some explanations of some of the terminology, which is over my head. "Spilled by some, boxed by others"? I can guess what that means, but it would be better if it was explained.

Posted by: bucky_katt | September 3, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

LaVar, this is exactly what fans need to better understand play. Your concise explanations remind me of long-ago coaching I had that really needs updating. Well Done!!

Posted by: paco73 | September 3, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I get the "point of attack" thing but I'm not sure I get the "zone blocking " thing. I keep hearing the Shanny employs zone blocking but it's hard for me to see how it's different from other schemes.

Posted by: robert48 | September 4, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I played o line and we were taught to step with the foot on the side the play is going. This would place your back towards the runner and u between the runner and defender. Lavar, why don't we c this technique more on the pro level?

Posted by: whodatskins | September 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I played o line and we were taught to step with the foot on the side the play is going. This would place your back towards the runner and u between the runner and defender. Lavar, why don't we c this technique more on the pro level?

Posted by: whodatskins | September 5, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

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