In American football, a counter run is a running play that starts in one direction but ends in the other direction. Typically, the running back will take a step in the opposite direction of the play, only to get the handoff in the other direction.  Weak side linemen will sometimes pull and lead the back downfield (sometimes called a counter trap), but not necessarily. The play is designed to get the defense to flow away from the action for a few steps, allowing better blocking angles for the offensive line, and more room for the running back. The purpose of the counter run is to keep defenses honest and prevent them from easily being able to pursue the play aggressively. It is most effective against defenses that tend to overpursue and can be used on its own to potentially produce a big running play against defenses that get out of position and fail to stay home.
The most popular variation on the counter is the counter trey. This play is designed for the offensive team to feign rushing one way, then attack the defense in the opposite direction. In a counter trey right, the center, right guard, and right tackle block left as if the play is going left, with the right tackle leaving the last defensive player on the line of scrimmage unblocked. The left guard and left tackle are pulling or turning, and running to the right parallel with the line of scrimmage. The left guard will block the last defensive player on the line of scrimmage and the tackle will cut underneath him and block the first defender in the hole.
The running back takes an initial step to the left, then cuts back to the right, receives the handoff from the quarterback, and runs off the hip of the pulling guard, with the pulling tackle leading him through the hole created by the pulling guard kicking out the last man on the line of scrimmage. The counter trey requires quick, athletic linemen for good execution.
Many teams have run this play, but it first became well-known when run by the Washington Commanders in the 1980s and the early 1990s, which they modeled from the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  In particular, guard Russ Grimm and tackle Joe Jacoby would open up massive holes for John Riggins, George Rogers, and Earnest Byner.
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.
A linebacker is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They represent the "middle ground" of defenders, playing closer to the line of scrimmage than do the defensive backs, but farther back than do the defensive linemen.
A draw play, or simply draw for short, is a type of American football play. The draw is a running play disguised as a passing play. It is the opposite of a play-action pass, which is a passing play disguised as a running play. The play is often used in long yardage situations.
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.
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 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.
A formation in football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. There are both offensive and defensive formations and there are many formations in both categories. Sometimes, formations are referred to as packages.
In sports, a starting lineup is an official list of the set of players who will participate in the event when the game begins. The players in the starting lineup are commonly referred to as starters, whereas the others are substitutes or bench players.
In gridiron football, a guard (G), otherwise known as an offensive guard (OG), is a player who lines up between the center and the tackles on the offensive line of a football team on the line of scrimmage used primarily for blocking. Right guards (RG) is the term for the guards on the right of the offensive line, while left guards (LG) are on the left side. Guards are to the right or left of the center.
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.
In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position". Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions", meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the jobs that the players are doing.
Tackle is a playing position in gridiron football. Historically, in the one-platoon system prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a tackle played on both offense and defense. In the modern system of specialized units, offensive tackle and defensive tackle are separate positions, and the stand-alone term "tackle" refers to the offensive tackle position only. The offensive tackle is a position on the offensive line, left and right. Like other offensive linemen, their job is to block: to physically keep defenders away from the offensive player who has the football and enable him to advance the football and eventually score a touchdown. The term "tackle" is a vestige of an earlier era of football in which the same players played both offense and defense.
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 a playbook.
In American football, a "power run" is a running play used out of a variety of offensive formations using two backs.
In American football, the 3–4 defense is a common defensive alignment consisting of three down linemen and four linebackers. It is a called a "base defense" because it is the default defensive alignment used on "base downs". However, defenses will readily switch to other defensive alignments as circumstances change. Alternatively, some defenses use a 4–3 defense.
In American football, a 4–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and three linebackers. It is called a "base defense" because it is the default defensive alignment used on "base downs". However, defenses will readily switch to other defensive alignments as circumstances change. Alternatively, some defenses use a 3–4 defense.
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.
A defensive tackle (DT) is a position in American football that will typically line up on the line of scrimmage, opposite one of the offensive guards, however he may also line up opposite one of the tackles. Defensive tackles are typically the largest and strongest of the defensive players. Depending on a team's individual defensive scheme, a defensive tackle may be called upon to fill several different roles. These roles may include merely holding the point of attack by refusing to be moved, or penetrating a certain gap between offensive linemen to break up a play in the opponent's backfield. If a defensive tackle reads a pass play, his primary responsibility is to pursue the quarterback, or simply knock the pass down at the line if it is within arm's reach. Other responsibilities of the defensive tackle may be to pursue the screen pass or drop into coverage in a zone blitz scheme. In a traditional 4–3 defense, there is no nose tackle. Instead there is a left and right defensive tackle. Some teams, especially in the National Football League (NFL), have a nose tackle in this scheme, but most of them do not.
Pulling is when a blocking player in American football leaves his usual spot in order to pick up another assignment on the opposite side of the field, running behind the other offensive linemen, to sprint out in front of a running back and engage a defensive player beyond the initial width of the offensive line.
The Packers sweep, also known as the Lombardi sweep, is an American football play popularized by Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The Packers sweep is based on the sweep, a football play that involves a back taking a handoff and running parallel to the line of scrimmage before turning upfield behind lead blockers. The play became noteworthy due to its extensive use by the Packers in the 1960s, when the team won five National Football League (NFL) Championships, as well as the first two Super Bowls. Lombardi used the play as the foundation on which the rest of the team's offensive game plan was built. The dominance of the play, as well as the sustained success of Lombardi's teams in the 1960s, solidified the Packers sweep's reputation as one of the most famous football plays in history.