Add a fifth back, you have a nickel D
Posted: Wednesday January 26, 2000 02:39 PM
Don't know a first down from a touchdown? We'll help you become an expert before Sunday's game. Send your questions to Football 101, and check back each day for answers.
What is the difference between the following: nickel defense, 5-2 defense, 4-3 defense, 3-4 defense?
-- Jeff, Kansas City, Mo.
A team is in the nickel defense when they bring five defensive backs into the game. Defensive coordinators will bring in a fifth, or nickel back, on passing situations -- usually a third down, or on first and second down with a long way to go.
The 5-2, 4-3 and 3-4 simply relates to the number of defensive linemen and the number of linebackers on the field at the same time. The 5-2 means you have five linemen and two linebackers, the 4-3 means four linemen and three linebackers, etc ....
How do the refs decide where the ball is placed after a run? If a player is tackled after a run, is the ball spotted at the point of tackle, or where his feet are, or wherever he might stretch out to?
-- Jeff from Omemee, Ontario, Canada
The ball is spotted where the linesman and umpire agree the ball was when the runner's forward progress is stopped, he goes out of bounds, or his knee hits the ground.
What is a "quick kick"? Is it allowed? Why isn't it used?
-- HL Hendershot, Cumberland, Md.
The quick kick is indeed allowed. It is a surprise punt, used by the offensive team to get out of a hole and gain better field position. The goal is to pin a team back by not allowing them to field the ball with their punt-return team.
What does the term "play action" mean?
-- Bob Heeth, Nashville, Tenn.
Play action is a move by the offensive team to deceive the defense and take advantage of the defense's aggressiveness. By faking a running play, the offense forces the other team's linebackers and defensive backs to move up toward the line of scrimmage. That allows the offense's receivers to gain separation and get open for a pass. The key to effective play action is a team's ability to run the football. If there is no threat of a team running the ball, there is no reason for the defense to buy the fake.
The ability to "sell" the defense on the fake is another important, and difficult, facet of effective play action
How can you recognize a nickel back? What differentiates him from a linebacker dropping into coverage?
-- Curtis Lanoue, St. Louis, Mo.
Very simply, a nickel back is a fifth defensive back.
What does a tight end do?
-- Rick Reasor, Tampa, Fla.
The tight end plays two roles. He's an offensive lineman who also acts as a receiver. He lines up at the end of the line, in tight next to the tackle (thus the name, tight end). The tight end must be able to block on running plays, but is also an eligible receiver. Whichever side of the line of scrimmage the tight end is on is called the "strong side" of the offense.
How many men can an offense have in motion at the same time?
-- Ben Mann, Bethesda, Md.
The offense can only have one man in motion at a time, and he must move parallel to the line of scrimmage. Frequently offensive linemen will shift. But they must reset for at least one second before the ball is snapped.
After a player scores, I've noticed that they throw the ball at the ground very hard. My brother told me that if the ball bounces off the ground higher than the player's helmet, that player's team receives one more point -- the extra point. Is this true?
-- Denise, Tampa, Fla.
Sorry, Denise, it looks like your brother's been pulling your leg. You don't get any points for throwing down the ball after a touchdown (called a "spike"). Players might give each other points for style, but the team doesn't benefit beyond the six points for the score. After every touchdown, however, the offense is allowed to try for an extra point They can kick the ball through the uprights for one point, or run or pass the ball into the end zone for two points.
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