Before you hit the bar, it helps to know a little about the game, how it starts, and what they are trying to achieve. The offense is where you can watch for the strategic plays and learn lessons in planning that apply as easily to your career as they do on the football field.
Starting the game
Before each game, the captains from each team and the referee meet at the center of the field for the coin toss. The winner of the coin toss has the option of starting the game by kicking the ball to the other team or receiving the kickoff from the other team.
The game begins when one of the teams kicks off to the other. The receiving team must catch the ball and try to advance it as far forward toward the kicking team as possible.
The play ends when the player with the ball is knocked to the ground (tackled), runs out of bounds, or makes it all the way to the kicking team’s end zone (touchdown). The spot where the kick returner was tackled becomes the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is a term for the place the ball is spotted before a play is run.
Once this starting point is established, the offensive squad of the receiving team will come in and try to move the ball toward the opposition’s end zone.
The offense is the team that has possession of the ball and is trying to score by moving the football down the field towards the end zone. There are two ways to move the football: running or passing. The offensive team has four attempts, or chances, to move the ball ten yards. These attempts are called downs.
Once the ball has moved ten yards or more from the starting point of play, the team gets four new downs to try to move the ball another ten yards. If the ball doesn’t move ten yards forward in four downs, the other team gets possession of the ball (the offense also has the option of kicking – punting – the ball to the other team on the fourth down).
There are two ways to score points while on the offensive side of the ball. One is to kick the ball through the goal posts at the back of the other team’s end zone, which is called a field goal, and the other is to run or throw the ball into the end zone, which is called a touchdown.
A field goal is worth three points and a touchdown is worth 6 points. Immediately following a touchdown, the team gets to attempt a kick for an extra point. This is similar to a very short field goal. Following the kick, the possession of the ball moves to the other team.
The offensive team has several players in different key positions:
The quarterback is the team leader who really gets the offense moving. He is the only player that touches the ball on every offensive play, regardless of running or passing strategy. He throws the ball for a pass or hands it off for a running play. Sometimes the quarterback will even run with the ball himself. Quarterbacks don’t have to be large, but most have magnetic personalities and display clear leadership qualities.
This position is mostly used to catch passes from the quarterback. They don’t need to be big, but they definitely need to be fast. Jerry Rice is probably one of the most famous wide receivers in football and he could certainly teach the energizer bunny a thing or two about staying power.
It’s a dangerous job, but someone’s gotta do it! Running backs take the hand off from the quarterback and run as far as they can before getting tackled by the thugs on the other team’s defense. Their goal is to gain yardage and they take a beating doing it.
These guys are crucial to a good running game. They can run like a running back, or block for the running back, giving him a chance to get further down the field. Just like the running back, these guys take a pounding.
To clear up a common female misperception, this position has nothing to do with the fit of the uniform. Tight ends are multitalented players who block, catch passes and provide protection for the quarterback.
There are usually five players on the offensive line. The typical offensive line has a center in the middle who hands the ball through his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play. There are two guards, one on each side of the center, and two tackles who play on the outer edges of the offensive line and are usually the biggest players.
The offensive line’s mission is to block for the running back on a running play or protect the quarterback from the defense on a passing play. These are the big guys on the offensive team who usually weigh in at around 300 pounds.