The offensive linemen are probably the most important and least appreciated group of players on the field. They are absolutely essential to everything that happens on offense! Without a solid offensive line, a team will have a hard time getting any points on the board.
We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s show you who these guys are and where they line up on the field.
Ok, so the offense is on the bottom portion of this graphic, and the orange circles are the offensive linemen.
The offensive line is composed of five players:
The Center (C) is the guy who snaps the ball to the quarterback. He is found in the center (see what they did there?) of the five man offensive line. It’s important to know who the center is because he handles the ball on every play and is usually a key to the whole offensive system. He has to communicate flawlessly with the quarterback so he can communicate play calls and alterations with the rest of the offensive line.
The Left Tackle (LT) is the guy next to the left guard. This is the player who protects the quarterback’s “blind side” – the side his back is toward – if he’s a right-handed passer. The left tackle is extremely important if you want your quarterback to be standing upright for the majority of the game.
The Right Guard (RG) is the guy to the right of the center – and just as a side note, I usually remember guards and tackles positions by remembering that they progress alphabetically from inside out: center > guards > tackles. He has a similar job description to the left guard, a combination of agility and run blocking.
Collectively, these five players form the offensive line. Why are they so important? And what does it have to do with scoring?
First, they protect the quarterback. If there wasn’t an offensive line, the quarterback would be steamrolled every time he touched the ball. There would be no protection, no time for wide receivers to run down the field, no time for the quarterback to make reads and throw passes for touchdowns.
Second, the offensive line also plays a huge role in the running game. Remember how we talked about holes? The spaces in the offensive line where running backs run through? The offensive line opens up those holes as “running lanes” for running back to go through. Without lanes to go through, the running game would be a lot less effective. No running game means no run yardage gained, which means new downs will be a whole lot harder to come by.
For guys who don’t get a lot of credit, the offensive line sure does a lot on the field.