So Goes the Offensive Line, So Goes the Offense


By Jerry Campbell

This presentation is designed to take you through the early begins of the great game of football and how offensive line play and the rules that govern got it has evolved in how we coach it today. My manual will introduce terms, definitions, technique and drills which will give you a foundation for which to build your Offensive line fundamentals. The blocking schemes included in this manual are built around the use of zone and man blocking schemes as well as dropback and sprint out passing game protections. A few coaches I meet, say why zone blocking over man blocking rules! This manual will explore both zone and man blocking rules and concepts for the running game with implementation of pass protection schemes and alerts.

I have had the great pleasure to have coached in several different states in this country with each state with its own influences. I have found through my experience that trying to gain advantages by controlling the number of defenders a defense puts in the box can be done by formations, motion and type of offensive philosophy you use that influences the type of blocking schemes that a coach might consider implementing into his offensive approach.

Coaching football is a very complex task. Football is a game that requires physical strength and great psychological conditioning. Thus, a successful offensive line coach must understand about factors contributing to the development of physical strength and football athleticism his linemen possess and the understanding the physical demands interior linemen face. Football is a team sport therefore, an offensive line coach needs to know how to manipulate the psychological factors, which influence individuals to interact for a common goal (moving the football and scoring). Since football is a game of movement, the coach must understand the physical mechanics of blocking with extended arms, hands and forearms which involve zone blocking as well as man rule schemes that contribute to quick body movement. Because football is a game of physical body contact, an offensive line coach needs to know how to create practice and playing conditions that offer the greatest success and safety for his players. Do not force a player to learn a certain technique or skill that he physically cannot do.

Inasmuch as football involves many physical skills in the offensive line, it is necessary for a coach to understand the physical limitations that some players have. It is as important for a coach to understand the techniques for success, as it is to build the size and strength of his players. Only coach what you know how to fix versus worst case scenario.

As we all know for the most part offensive linemen are perhaps the least publicized but, play the most difficult position in football. It is hard to convince some players who are suited to play up front offensively but prefer playing in the defensive line that great stress is applied more today than in the past because of the need to play players with advanced skills such as speed and strength. Therefore, it behooves all coaches to develop a basic philosophy about offensive line play in general and about interior offensive football players.

As an offensive line coach, we must be able to convince our offensive linemen that their job is as important as any other part of the game, and he must constantly stress the value of the offensive line. As line coaches we must be able to talk to our players in a positive fashion about offensive line play a term that I use is to remind our offensive linemen is " So Goes the Offensive Line So, Goes the Offense." What needs to be instilled into an offense and especially your offensive line is the feeling that whenever we get the ball we will score, and we can score only if the offensive line does their job. As I have already mentioned one of my number 1 goals going into a game is to make sure we get a first down on any first offensive series in the first and second half of a football game, this builds confidence in fact that we can move the ball on our opponent.

Coaches must also develop an approach to the game in terms of the kind of football he wants his team to play. Coaches can use either the simple method and try and keep the offensive plays and line blocking to a minimum or he can use a variety of offensive series and blocking schemes. The one answer coaches search for constantly, what is the best play or method of blocking? It usually appears that every coach has a favorite play or blocking style depending upon his philosophy and the type of players he has on his squad. But there is no unanimity as to what the best way is so, only coach what you know how to fix versus worst case scenario. I never underestimate what our athletes can do if I as their coach have a systematic way to teach them thus, I know they will have a systematic way to learn. So, it becomes obvious that a coach must have a variety of ways of doing things and must present his own patterns for the offensive Line.

The First Football Game Looked More Like Soccer: If you think that the 1869 rules made the game look more like a soccer match than a football game, you are right. The rules by which Rutgers played were based on the 1863 London Football Association’s rules. Gridiron football developed by combining these rules with rugby football rules to evolve into the collegiate football games we see today.

Tags: coaching

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