The quarterback is one vs. 11.
As you learn the game and become enthralled with the human chess match unfolding right in front of your eyes, you will become even more enamored as you understand each position and its role. Televised games will most certainly focus on the ball carrier. The most important position on the field touches the ball on almost every single play. That position is the quarterback.
The quarterback plays offense and receives the snap from an offensive lineman called the center. The quarterback is the play caller in the huddle. He will rattle off a play that tells everyone on offense what to do. He is the leader of the team.
As he readies for the snap he barks out a cadence or snap count which tells the center when to snap the ball. It will sound something like this… “red 88, red 88, set, hut, hut”.
Once the ball is snapped, all 11 players proceed to execute their assignment. On a running play, the quarterback will hand the ball to an eligible ball carrier. There are many types of actions the quarterback takes to hand off the ball. On pass plays the quarterback throws the ball to one of five eligible targets. He must avoid the rush, see the field, know his assignment and progression of who to look for and why, then deliver the ball accurately in approximately 3 seconds.
For the most part, every other position comes down to a one-on-one matchup between an offensive and defensive player. The quarterback on the other hand is one versus 11. He has to be aware of all 11 defenders. The quarterback position is the most cerebral of all the positions on the field.
All positions of offense and defense require an incredible amount of knowledge of their position. The quarterback, to be at his best, must know the assignments of all of his offensive players.
From a physical standpoint, the quarterback is usually a taller player from 6’2″ to 6’7″ on average. It is not a requirement but it is advantageous. There are some extremely successful quarterbacks in the NFL who have been under 6 foot 2.
The quarterback doesn’t have to be fast, but must be quick in the pocket avoiding rushers and getting his feet ready to throw. He must have great pocket presence. He must be aware of the pass rushers with his eyes looking downfield to his receivers. He must have outstanding field vision and anticipation to effectively and accurately throw the ball.
The quarterback must have a strong arm like a pitcher in baseball, but must deliver it much more quickly. The quarterback’s throwing motion must be compact. The longer the quarterback’s motion is, the easier it is for defenders to react. The more pace or speed the quarterback can put on the ball the better. He has to be capable of throwing the ball long 50 yards or more and also delivering touch passes on short throws 15 yards or less. There are very few athletes in the world capable of performing at this high level. That is one of the reasons it is the most important and intriguing of the positions to watch.
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