Offensive Line Basics Part II: Run Blocking and The Colts Line

Justin JavanCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18:  Linebacker Willie McGinest #55 and teammate Richard Seymour #93 of the New England Patriots sack quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts as offensive lineman Rick DeMulling #64 blocks in the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

To understand why the Colts are ranked 29th in the league running the ball, you have to understand the basics of run blocking.

When you have a Pro-Bowl running back on your team, and an explosive backup running back as your No. 2, and you can only average around 3.8 yards a carry, then something is wrong with your offensive line.

Before I go any further here is the link to the diagrams that show the different techniques discussed in this article:

The Basics:

For the most part, the way offensive lineman run block is different than from the way they pass block, although there is some overlap in the two different styles of blocking.

The biggest trait the two styles of blocking have in common is aggressiveness.

An offensive lineman should always strive to be more physical than his opponent; if not, then he will lose the battle every time.

One of the first things an offensive lineman must learn, the thing that run blocking is all about, is he must be able to “to blow the defender off the ball.”

An offensive lineman should hit the defender with such force that he actually pushes him back towards his own goal line.

Next time you see a running play that goes for big yards, you will see an offensive lineman who pushed the defenders out of the way, creating huge running lanes for the ball carrier.

This is why run blocking is usually taught before pass blocking; coaches want players to develop that physical and mental aggressiveness so critical to playing on the offensive line. Once this trait is developed, it carries over to pass blocking.

An offensive lineman has a lot to learn about different ways to frustrate and defeat a defensive lineman; however, before he learns the techniques and blocks necessary to do this, he must master the key to success: He needs to be able to move with great quickness on the snap count.

From that one single skill all others flow. It’s what makes some great while others wallow in mediocrity.

Defensive linemen learn to react. They key off the movement of the ball and the movement of the offensive lineman.

While a defensive lineman is reactive, an offensive lineman has the luxury of being proactive.

That’s why quickness, at the snap of the ball, is so important. If executed properly, it gives the lineman an advantage over his counterpart on the other side.

If the snap count is not anticipated, then that advantage is squandered, and it increases the chances that the offensive player will get beat.

The Different Types of Blocks:

Drive Blocking:

The drive block is the most basic block an offensive lineman can make, and is usually the first taught.

A drive block occurs when the defensive lineman is lined up directly in front of the offensive lineman on the line of scrimmage.

On the drive block the lineman has two goals: 1) Drive the defender back toward his own goal line. 2) He must keep the same relative position between the defender and the ball carrier.

Since both linemen are so close to each other, there is very little room for error on this type of block.

The lineman must be in a good stance, anticipating the snap count, and burst off the line when the ball is snapped; all his focus must be on his target—the opposing defender.

Hook Blocking:

Hook Blocking is used when the defensive lineman is playing an outside, or inside technique, relative to the offensive lineman.

For example, if the defensive lineman is lined up in a five technique, then he is lined up to the outside of the right guard.

On the other hand, if he were to line up in a four technique, then he is lined up to the inside of the right guard.

Since the defender is no longer in front of the guard a drive block will not work.

Ideally, the lineman would still like to push the defender back toward his own goal line; however, in this scenario it is pretty hard to do.

Instead, the lineman attacks the defender at an angle, pushing him laterally down the line of scrimmage.

At the same time, he must make sure he is preventing the defender from penetrating the backfield.

Angle Blocking:

Angle blocking is the most difficult to explain.

In this scenario the defender is actually lined up directly in front of another lineman.

He can be either to the left or the right of the lineman that is actually supposed to block him.

To make this as simple as possible, let’s say the NT is lined up directly in front of the center. Instead of the center using a drive block on him, the right guard is going to come at him from an angle, at full speed, and block him.

Meanwhile, the center is going to angle block the defensive lineman lined up over the left guard, or right guard, depending on the play.

Like the hook block, the lineman must prevent penetration into the backfield, and make sure that he attacks the side of the defender's body that is exposed to him.

This is a watered down version of a complicated blocking scheme.

Hopefully, you get the basic gist of it.

These are some of the most basic blocks.

Please see the slide show I put together to get a better understanding of what I am talking about.

In Part Two of run blocking, I will discuss some of the more complicated run blocks used.


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