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Intro to Pass Protection - For Us Junkies

+28 HS
Buckeye_Wizard's picture
October 2, 2019 at 5:15pm

There are times when I wonder if there are any other people like me.  I like to continue to learn the strategy and the mechanics of the game.  It gives me interesting things for which to pay attention while watching football. 

This post is an introduction to the most basic pass protections used in today's game.  There is no way to cover every aspect of pass protection in a single post, but you may find something here that interests you.  Perhaps it will give you another thing to enjoy about the game.

Since the explosion of the passing game and the spread offense, pass protection has become one of the most important parts of the game since teams are throwing the ball so often.  Most of the time, the QB is responsible for setting the protection for the called play.  You may recall, while watching football, that the QB will shout something like "#55 is the Mike."  Essentially, the QB is saying, "Since there are multiple LBs, I have identified which LB is the Mike and which LB (or multiple LBs) is not the Mike. Now, based on our protection, we are all on the same page as to who is to block whom if they blitz."

There are two things to consider in pass protection:

  1. How many offensive players are dedicated to protecting?
  2. How will the players work in unison to block the maximum number of defenders?

Most teams have the following protection packages:

  • 5 Man Protection (All Five Linemen)
  • 6 Man Protection (5 OLs + RB or TE)
  • 7 Man Protection (5 OLs + usually RB & TE)
  • 8 Man Protection (5 OLs + usually 1-RB & 2-TEs)

The two most basic protection schemes are "Slide" and "BOB."  BOB stands for "Big On Big" and we will see an example of "BOB" protection later.  Since "Slide" protection is a little easier to understand, let's start there.

Here is an example of 5 Man/Slide Protection against TSUN last year.

There is a lot of good stuff going on in this little 10 second clip.

  • Every play has a "call side" and a "back side."  In most cases, the "call side" is side of the field where the QB will look for his primary target. 
  • Slide protection was designed to allow an OL (although not always a lineman) to block an edge defender one on one protecting the QB's "back side."  The remaining OLs "slide" to the "call side" to block all the other defenders as they twist and blitz.
  • Notice that the LT (#75 Thayer Munford) is isolated on the DE and the remaining OLs slide to their right to block four on-coming defenders.
  • Bonus - You can see Haskins setting the protection pre-snap when he gets close to communicate with the OLs.

Here is an example of 7 Man/Slide Protection.  Notice how they all step in unison...good stuff!

This is a little easier to see the "slide" from the linemen to the "call side."  The TE and RB are responsible for protecting the "back side."

Next is an example of 6 Man/BOB protection.  You can tell it is BOB protection because it looks like the line splits in half at the snap.

As previously stated, "BOB" stands for Big On Big.  That is, you want your big OLs to block their big DLs. The "BOB" scheme is designed so that the five OLs will block the four DLs and the Mike LB.  In this protection, it is imperative that everyone identifies the same Mike LB.

The center, guard and tackle will generally block the "call side" which includes the Mike LB.  In the example above, the "call side" is the offensive left side.

The "back side" is protected by the other guard, tackle and a RB.  The linemen are responsible for the DLs and the RB will pick up any other defender that shows.

So this is a simplified and quick explanation of a few protection schemes.  

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