We’re wrapping up basic Football 101 with a little glossary of some positions, penalties and other terms you might hear during a game, just so you have a little familiarity with them. This is not even close to being all-inclusive! Football has more rules than reasons I can usually conjure up for why I need another trip to the craft store – and really, that’s a lot! Let’s cover just some of the positions, lingo and the dreaded penalties!
In my oh-so-humble and female focused opinion, penalties are one the HARDEST things to grasp in football. Yes, some of them are pretty straightforward but others…I kind of think they are open to interpretation by the referees. To make things even more complicated, the refs are not always consistent with how they call things in any one game. Really, ask any super fan of the game– I’ll bet my precious craft room they’ll have a lot to say on the topic of refs and penalties!
A penalty is only a penalty if a player gets caught. If you’re watching a game, chances are good you’ll see all kinds of “penalties” that never get called – either a ref didn’t see it, the ref didn’t believe it was a penalty or the ref chose not to call the penalty. As you become more familiar with the game, you’ll do a lot of screaming because of penalties – which is really all part of the fun of football!
A ref “throws the flag” to indicate a penalty. When watching on television, the head referee will announce what the penalty is, how many yards the team who committed the penalty will be “penalized”, and the number of the player that committed the penalty. There are offensive, defensive and special teams’ penalties.
Some of the penalties you will usually hear throughout a football game:
Holding – Holding can be called against either the offense or the defense. Holding is when any player uses his hands to control another player. Holding penalties for the offense is 10-yards. For the defense, it’s called illegal use of hands and is a 5 yard penalty with an automatic 1st down.
Block in the back – This is an illegal way of blocking, when a player shoves another player in the back. This penalty is usually against the team that controls the ball. This penalty is 10 yards.
False start – This is an offensive penalty and is called when an offensive player moves before the ball is snapped. The ball is “snapped” (transferred from the center to the quarterback) when an offensive play starts. The penalty is 5 yards.
Delay of game – The offense has 25 seconds to snap the ball from the time the ref sets the ball on the ground between plays. If they don’t snap the ball within 25 seconds, they are penalized 5 yards.
Personal foul, unnecessary roughness – There are so many different personal fouls. Let’s just say this foul results in a 15 yard penalty and an automatic 1st down. The ref will announce what the penalty is specifically for and against which player.
Pass interference, offense – When the offensive receiver uses his hands to push the defensive player away to give the offensive player the advantage to catch the ball. This penalty is 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Pass interference, defense – When the defensive player uses his hands or body to obstruct the offensive player from running or catching the ball while the ball is in the air. This penalty results in the offensive team getting the ball at the spot of the foul and an automatic 1st down.
The list of penalties is by no means all-inclusive; I would probably still be writing until NEXT Super Bowl if I tried to include them all…well, that’s totally an exaggeration, though not by much!!
Some Football Lingo
We’ve covered a lot of terms over two days! Here are a few more that you will hear and become familiar with the more football you watch.
Incomplete Pass – Pass thrown by the quarterback that the receiver did not catch. The receiver must have full control of the ball throughout the catch, including when the player hits the ground, and he must be inbounds, or it is an incomplete pass. NOTE: After many years of football, I STILL question calls on whether or not a pass was completed or not, and I suspect I am not alone!
Completed Pass – Pass thrown by the quarterback that is caught by the receiver.
Play action – When the offensive team “fakes” a running play and the quarterback keeps the ball and throws a pass.
Head coach “red flag” challenge – Each head coach is allowed two challenges per game. The throws a red flag on the field from the sidelines to indicate he is challenging the ref’s call on the field of play.
Play is under review – Some plays are under review to check if a correct call was made on the field of play. Certain plays are not reviewable.
Too many players on the field – As we talked about earlier in Football 101, there are 11 players on offense and 11 on defense. Throughout a “possession,” (the team driving the ball on offense) there are substitutions on both offense and defense. They have a specific period of time to make those substitutions. If there are more than 11 players on the field, this penalty is called for 5 yards.
Coaches and Player Positions
There are a lot of people on the sidelines for each team and involved in the game. You’ll want to know and will probably hear the most about the head coach, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator and the special teams coach.
On most teams, the offensive coordinator is responsible for developing the strategy and calling the plays for the offense. The defensive coordinator develops the strategy for the defense. The special teams coach is responsible for the work of the special teams, including kickoff and kickoff returns, punts, punt returns, and the field goal and extra point kicking units.
The head coach is “the boss of everyone.” (smiles)
This year’s Super Bowl matches up two head coach brothers. John Harbaugh is the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. Jim Harbaugh is the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
I’m not going to get into every position and it’s role, but some of the positions on offense include, Quarterback, Runningback, Halfback, Fullback, Tight End, Linemen and Wide Receivers. Some positions on the defense include Defensive Line, Linebackers, Cornerbacks and Safety(s). Both offensive and defensive players can also be a part of special teams.
The quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens is Joe Flacco and the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers is Colin Kaepernick.
Well, my dear friends, I truly hope our little Football 101 series helped just a little bit in your basic understanding of the game! There are tons of resources online to learn more about football but over the years, I’ve found the best way to learn is to watch the game, ask questions and just have fun! One word of caution – don’t be a Leonard! If you ever watch The Big Bang Theory, (love that show!) there’s an episode where Leonard, who is SO not a football fan, learns all about the game to impress Penny and her friends. During the game, Leonard talks incessantly, explaining all of the rules to show off his new-found knowledge. It’s hilarious but….don’t do that! You can drop a few of your new pearls of football wisdom during the commercial breaks during a regular game – because we HAVE to watch the Super Bowl commercials!
Our celebration of Super Bowl week continues tomorrow, (hopefully!) with a fast, easy little necklace you can put together to show pride for YOUR team! I’d love to hear if you have found this Football 101 series helpful!!! Thank you so much for your visit today!
4 days until Super Bowl Sunday!