Are there microphones in NFL helmets

American football: rules and everything important at a glance



American Football, Rules: The Pre-Snap Penalties

Pre-Snap Penalties: Before a play even develops, there are some things that both teams can do wrong. Mostly to the great incomprehension of their coaches, as Raiders coach Jack Del Rio recently explained: "The pre-snap penalties are those with which I have very little patience. We as a team should not tolerate that. These penalties have to go as far as they can going to be eliminated. "

Let's start with the offense: Before each snap, the offense must have at least seven players on the line of scrimmage (not necessarily all in the vicinity of the ball). Any player (other than the player taking the snap) who is not on the line of scrimmage must line up at least one yard behind it.

In addition, no offensive player may make a sudden movement after taking up his supposed position and thus give the impression that the play has started. That would be a "false start". In general, each of the eleven offense players must stand completely still for at least one second directly before the snap - apart from one player who is allowed to move parallel to the line of scrimmage or backwards (but not forwards).

If he violates this and moves towards the line of scrimmage without stopping again, we have an "illegal motion". If several players move at the same time and do not come to a complete stop before the snap, one speaks of an "illegal shift". This results in a 5 yard penalty and a repetition of the down. Moving players before the snap can upset the defense, especially if they are targeting and a receiver is suddenly on the other side of the offensive line.

American football, rules: other important terms

Offside, encroachment, neutral zone infraction: But even the defense can make mistakes before the snap, which can end up costly. We are primarily talking about three things: Offside, Encroachment and Neutral Zone Infraction. All three mean similar things, but have subtle differences.

Sequentially. Offside will be whistled if a defender has already crossed the line of scrimmage when the snap occurs. Encroachment means that a defender touches an offense player before the snap. Finally, Neutral Zone Infraction is punished if a defense player crosses the line of scrimmage before the snap and thus provokes the false start of an offense player.

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While violations are only penalized with a 5-yard penalty, the consequences can be much more far-reaching for the defense: If the quarterback succeeds with a hard count (to put it simply: the quarterback's attempt to fake the snap primarily with words) To provoke an offside penalty and then immediately get the ball, he has a so-called "free play".

He can throw a long pass without risk, as the offense simply accepts the 5-yard penalty in the event of an interception and still remains in possession of the ball. The defense, like the offense, must also be attentive to possible substitutions between two plays: Twelve players on the court or in the huddle are, unsurprisingly, forbidden and can still be punished after a move that has actually been completed.

(In) Eligible Receiver: But let's assume that everything went correctly before the snap and a legal move begins: In the few seconds that a play lasts, there are again rule violations lurking everywhere. A first example technically starts before the snap: The question of an eligible receiver, or in other words: which player is allowed to catch a pass that is thrown forward?

Such a pass catcher does not have to be a wide receiver, tight end or running back: The offense can also register an additional offensive lineman as an eligible - but must inform the referees beforehand, who then announce this via the microphone. If the ball is then thrown forward, only eligible receivers are allowed to catch the pass. Otherwise there is an "illegal touching" foul. The players who are not registered as receivers are also not allowed to cross the neutral zone when passing forward before the throw takes place. A violation against this means an "Ineligible Receiver Downfield" foul.

Holding and Pass Interference: There are primarily two penalties on a passing play that are heard most frequently from the referees during an NFL broadcast: Holding and Pass Interference. Both fouls can be committed by both offense and defense. On the offensive, it usually affects the offensive line, either in run blocking or in pass protection. It's about how you block your opponent and try to stop him.

Holding it, as the name of the offense suggests, instead of pushing it away will result in a 10 yard penalty and a repetition of the down. Defensively, a "holding" foul is called when a defender holds an offensive player who is not in possession of the ball - but there is a slight restriction: As long as the offensive player is no further than five yards from the line of scrimmage, Defenders may use their hands to at least throw the opponent out of rhythm. But they are not allowed to hold on to him here either.

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This type of defense can be seen especially in aggressive secondaries, such as that of the Seattle Seahawks, who want to play physically and disrupt the timing of an offense early on. As soon as this 5-yard zone is left, however, special caution applies: If a defender prevents a receiver from catching the ball after the throw before it reaches it, there is a "pass interference" penalty. It is one of the many rules that favor the passing game, because teams can try long passes on fast receivers - and speculate that the defender will make a mistake.

The hard consequence in this case: The next play begins at the point where the foul was committed - that can also be 30 or 40 yards. The offense can also collect a pass interference penalty using the rule - with the difference that the foul can take place before the throw itself, for example if the offensive player pushes his opponent out of the way in order to gain space. The currently biggest rule debate concerns the moment after and the question: What actually is a catch?

In theory, we speak of a catch when a receiver catches the ball, gets both feet (or one knee / elbow) on the ground within the playing field and never loses control of the ball. But it gets exciting when the receiver drops the ball or loses control. The officials then have to judge at their discretion whether he has held the ball long enough to go from pass catcher to ball carrier. Exactly this question of discretion is causing a lot of confusion this season, most recently at Golden Tates' touchdown for the Detroit Lions against the Chicago Bears. A clear definition that covers all eventualities is difficult to find.

American football rules: what does the quarterback do?

And the quarterback? The quarterback himself can also be at the center of a foul, positive or negative. If, for example, shortly after the snap, he is under strong pressure and throws the ball on the floor within his pocket (i.e. the space because the O-line clears him), this can be punished - provided there was no eligible receiver nearby ( "Intentional Grounding"). You can already see that there is room for interpretation here.

Conversely, the defense must always be careful with the pass rush and must not rush blindly towards the quarterback. If he has fired his pass and a defender still runs at full speed (a step in the direction of QB after the pass is allowed) into him, there is a "roughing-the-passer" penalty. Means 15 yards and a first down for the offense.

Incidentally, the kicker with field goal or punt is also under the same special protection. If a defender runs into the kicker's leg after the ball is gone and without touching it, there is also a 15-yard penalty including a new first down ("roughing the kicker"). If he "only" runs into the other leg, there is a 5-yard penalty and the fourth down is played again ("Running into the Kicker").

Another unnecessary, but also frequent, penalty is the "personal foul", also punished with 15 yards. This can affect the offense as well as the defense and includes any kind of unnecessary or exaggerated severity, for example: A player has already run over the touchline and is still being tackled, or a player is held by his helmet grille ("facemask"). Unsportsmanlike behavior such as provoking an opponent or excessive cheers are also included here. Unsportsmanlike conduct can also be whistled against a player (or coach) standing on the sidelines.

Page 1: The basics of an NFL game and the mystery of "time"

Page 2: Before the snap and in play - who can do what wrong and when?