The beginning of the reverse
The comments to this point have presupposed reasonable honesty on the part of the offense. Yet some Of the best football is built on deceit, so the spectator should be as wary as a poker player on an ocean liner. The play above illustrates the oldest and most classic deception of all: the reverse. The play is designed to look like a standard running play to the right—the blocker (6) flowing in that direction and the quarterback (1) handing off to the left halfback (2), who starts a normal sweep around end. As the play begins to develop in that fashion, the right end (3) and the right guard (4) suddenly start a move in the opposite direction, moving laterally to the left behind the line of scrimmage, and the right wing-back (5), having stepped forward as if to go downfield, reverses to the left, taking the ball from the left halfback (2) as they pass. Warning: always keep an eye out for this counterflow of blockers in the opposite direction from that in which the play is moving.
The beginning of the pass pattern
As soon as it becomes obvious that a pass pocket is being formed (see p. 48) and a pass play is coming, it is time to shift one's attention to the potential receivers—their attempts to break free and the counterattempts to restrain and guard them. In almost all pass situations at least one offensive end (3) will be split. Usually the linebacker on that side (1), double-teaming with the defensive end (2), will shove him off balance in hopes of upsetting the timing of the pass. However, the real pleasure in watching the pass pattern form comes later when the two, three or four receivers get downfield and start their deceptive tactics. The deep men will run at three-quarter speed, hoping a sudden burst will get them beyond the defenders. Those expecting the short pass will feint one way, then cut in the opposite direction. Some will run flat-out, then stop abruptly. Some will cut sharply for the sidelines. There is a feeling of triumph for the spectator who knows how the receiver shook his defender.
The red dog, or blitz
One of the more exciting—and dangerous—defensive gambits to look for in a pass situation is the red dog, or blitz. It is normally performed by the linebackers (see diagram) such as the back (1) who has been playing head-up on the split end as if to block him before the latter starts downfield. Just before the ball is snapped this linebacker will jig sideways a few steps toward the center of the line. The minute he sees the snap of the ball he sprints for the quarterback, hoping to dump him well behind the line before the blockers can form their pocket. This individuality can easily backfire if the offense is alert. The man who red dogs has abandoned his post, leaving it exposed for the flat pass in that zone. Or, if the quarterback has the versatility to run, he may sidestep the red dogger and start out on his own, picking up some running yardage in the unprotected area.