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In American football, a bootleg play is a play in which the quarterback runs with the ball in the direction of either sideline behind the line of scrimmage. This can be accompanied by a play action, or fake hand off of the ball to a running back running the opposite direction.
The quarterback can be accompanied by an offensive lineman to block for him, or run without a blocker, which is known as a naked bootleg or waggle. More complex versions involve multiple offensive linemen moving with the quarterback to block and multiple false hand offs; one such variation is known as a rollout. After escaping the area behind the offensive line, the quarterback may either throw a pass downfield or run with the ball himself to gain yardage.
A bootleg is called to confuse the defense, by moving the quarterback away from where they expect him to be, directly behind the center. The quarterback's motion may also attract the attention of the defensive backs, allowing one of the receivers to become uncovered. The play is typically used by teams with mobile quarterbacks, such as Steve Young,Randall Cunningham and Russell Wilson.
Additional variations can be combined with bootleg plays. In the West Coast offense variant designed around quarterback Michael Vick, counter techniques combined with play action bootleg plays served to provide several types of simultaneous misdirection which caused defensive players to freeze after often misjudging the intended direction of the play. These techniques, along with Vick's unusual athleticism, slow down and isolate defenders and provide extra space and time for the quarterback to survey the field and/or run the ball.
The bootleg and its variants have become more common in recent years as the rules have been changed to permit a quarterback to avoid a sack by throwing the ball away once they are outside the "tackle box". Since the quarterback in a bootleg usually sets up to throw well outside the tackles, if he/she is in danger of taking a sack he/she can throw the ball safely out of bounds without risking an intentional grounding penalty.
The name comes from the fact that on a play action the quarterback often hides the ball from the defense by his thigh to make the run look more convincing. This is similar to the way bootleggers would hide whiskey in their trousers during Prohibition.
Pop Warner is given credit for inventing the bootleg play.
The quarterback, colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes. When the QB is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, it is called a sack.
In gridiron football, a lineman is a player who specializes in play at the line of scrimmage. The linemen of the team currently in possession of the ball are the offensive line, while linemen on the opposing team are the defensive line. A number of NFL rules specifically address restrictions and requirements for the offensive line, whose job is to help protect the quarterback from getting sacked for a loss, or worse, fumbling. The defensive line is covered by the same rules that apply to all defensive players. Linemen are usually the largest players on the field in both height and weight, since their positions usually require less running and more strength than skill positions.
In gridiron football, a sack occurs when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage before he can throw a forward pass, when the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage in the "pocket" and his intent is unclear, or when a passer runs out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage due to defensive pressure. This often occurs if the opposing team's defensive line, linebackers or defensive backs are able to apply pass pressure to quickly get past blocking players of the offensive team, or if the quarterback is unable to find a back to hand the ball off to or an available eligible receiver to catch the ball, allowing the defense a longer opportunity to tackle the quarterback.
A screen pass is a play in gridiron football consisting of a short pass to a receiver who is protected by a screen of blockers. During a screen pass, a number of things happen concurrently in order to fool the defense into thinking a long pass is being thrown, when in fact the pass is merely a short one, just beyond the defensive linemen. Screens are usually deployed against aggressive defenses that rush the passer. Because screens invite the defense to rush the quarterback, they are designed to leave fewer defensemen behind the rushers to stop the play.
In gridiron football, blitzing is a tactic used by the defense to disrupt pass attempts by the offense. During a blitz, a higher than usual number of defensive players will rush the opposing quarterback, in an attempt either to tackle him or force him to hurry his pass attempt.
Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.
An option offense is a style of offense in American football that is predominantly based on a running play. However, instead of a specific play in mind, the offense has several "options" of how to proceed. Based on the defense, the quarterback may hand off to a fullback up the middle (dive), hold on to the ball and run himself to either side of the field (keep), or pitch the ball to a trailing running back (pitch). Option offenses have traditionally relied heavily upon running plays, though modern option offenses now incorporate some passing plays called the Run-Pass Option or RPOs. Because they are run-based, option offenses are very effective in managing the game clock, giving the opposing team less time to score and keeping the option team's defense from tiring. However, this also means that when the option team is losing near the end of the game, and needs to score quickly, it is at a disadvantage. These schemes rely on timing, deception, and split-second decision-making under pressure, which, in turn, require precise execution and discipline.
The 46 defense is an American football defensive formation, an eight men in the box defense, with six players along the line of scrimmage. There are two players at linebacker depth playing linebacker technique, and then three defensive backs. The 46 defense was originally developed and popularized with the Chicago Bears by their defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who later became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.
Center (C) is a position in gridiron football. The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense. The center is also the player who passes the ball between his legs to the quarterback at the start of each play.
In American football, blocking or interference involves legal movements in which one player obstructs another player's path with their body. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players from tackling the ball carrier, or to protect a quarterback who is attempting to pass, hand off or run the ball. Offensive linemen and fullbacks tend to do the most blocking, although wide receivers are often asked to help block on running plays and halfbacks may be asked to help block on passing plays, while tight ends perform pass blocking and run blocking if they are not running routes to receive passes. Overall, blocking is a skill that virtually every football player may be required to do at some point, even defensive players in the event of a turnover.
A sweep is a running play in American football where a running back takes a pitch or handoff from the quarterback and starts running parallel to the line of scrimmage, allowing for the offensive linemen and fullback to get in front of him to block defenders before he turns upfield. The play is run farther outside than an off tackle play. Variants of the sweep involve the quarterback or a wide receiver running with the ball, rather than a running back.
Single set back is an offensive base formation in American Football which requires only one running back lined up about five yards behind the quarterback. There are many variations on single back formations including two tight ends and two wide receivers, one tight end/three wide receivers, etc. The running back can line up directly behind the quarterback or offset either the weak side or the strong side.
The passing pocket, or the pocket, is a term used in American football to describe the area in the backfield created on a passing play where the offensive line forms a wall of protection around the quarterback. This allows him adequate time to find an open receiver and to pass the ball. The offensive line will drop back slightly, creating a U-shaped protected area for the quarterback to find an open receiver and pass the ball.
A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or trickeration, is a play in gridiron football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but also to maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.
The flexbone formation It is an offensive formation in American football that includes a quarterback, five offensive linemen, three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers. The flexbone formation is a predominant turnover formation derived from the wishbone formation and it features a quarterback under center with a fullback lined up directly behind the quarterback. There are two smaller running backs called slotbacks aligned behind the line of scrimmage on each side of the offensive line. The slotbacks are sometimes incorrectly referred to as wingbacks. But in order to be a wingback, there must be a guard, tackle and tight end all on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage and then the wingback off the line of scrimmage.
The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.
In American football a play is a close to the ground "plan of action" or "strategy" used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in their playbook.
The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.
Buck-lateral is an American football play or a series of plays used in the Single-wing formation. Since the Single-Wing formation lost prominence by 1950, the football play referred to as the Buck-lateral is almost gone from football's vocabulary. However, prior to this time, the buck-lateral play gave fullbacks the option to run, lateral, or hand-off the ball to another player. Running the buck-lateral required an offensive scheme that needed the fullback to possess many specialized skills, as opposed to today's fullback who mainly blocks and carries the ball infrequently.