Willie Anderson of Bengals, Jonathan Ogden of ravens, and other specialists give advice on how to keep QB standing. With often anonymous members, an offensive line combines the mind with the muscle, to fight the defensive linesmen chasing the quarterback.
A strange profession. The better they are, the less they know them. The better they do their homework, the less their names are heard.
Several offensive line players and NFL coaches recently debated the specialty, sometimes ungrateful, of protecting the launcher.
“One of the most important keys to protecting the pass is your breath,” reveals the Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl Tackle, WILLIE ANDERSON. “Young players sometimes go to the hit line and while the quarterback is screaming ‘ Set, hut! ‘ are holding their breath. That can lead to a direct hit that usually results in your defeat in that play. ”
“I learned in time,” continues Anderson, “that you need to have a strong heart, but at the same time maintain a normal breathing. In the pass blocking, you must be strong in your heart and be relaxed at the same time. The more relaxed you are, the more you can have fluid movements and stay with your man. ”
The Jacksonville Jaguars have “been with their man” pretty well in the last two campaign, especially in third try and 10 or more yards to go, a typical pass move. The Jaguars are one of seven teams that allowed three or fewer catches in that particular situation since the beginning of 2004.
The other six teams in this select group are the Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Kansas City chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts.
“The point at which we put greater emphasis is on knowing who to block,” says the Jaguars offensive line coach, PAUL BOUDREAU. “You must be sure to take the right steps. Not everyone is blessed with the talent of the lineage of a WILLIE ROAF, who can block at ease. You always have to make sure you’re in the right position.”
“The fort is important,” says the Baltimore Ravens tackle, eight times present in the Pro Bowl, JONATHAN OGDEN. “But the first priority is to meet your opponent. If you know your opponent and what he likes to do, and you try to take that away from him, forcing to make other moves, then half the battle will be won. ” Ogden adds that repetitions of basic movements are more important than learning new tricks.
Among the most important quarterbacks in the NFL are the two-time Pro Bowl DWIGHT FREENEY, from the Indianapolis Colts. It is that regularity of which Ogden speaks what Freeney sees in his most formidable adversaries: “Consistency in protection is what the best linemen do not deny, beyond what I do.”
The offensive line of and the assistant coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, former guard of Washington and the Pro Bowl, RUSS GRIMM also puts the emphasis on remembering the basic movements. “It is important for linemen to focus on their technique,” he reflects. “They have to pay attention to the small things, like their footwork, with the desire to improve their pass protection.”
Finally, Anderson, of Cincinnati, reveals a trick to be taken into account by those who play on the offensive line:
“I focus on the inner half of the man in front of me,” he explains. “Coaches call that having big eyes. You keep those big eyes focused on their inner number, the number on your right, because that’s the part of it that will tell you where it will move. If you are going to make a move out, or you will try to pass beating strong.”