Guest opinion: The important language of the NFL |

Guest opinion: The important language of the NFL

Karl Oelke
Staff Photo |

With the NFL regular season about to start, it’s time to brush up your football jargon. You know, the language of the game-callers and analysts who strive mightily to make the game come alive for you, with an increasingly abstruse vocabulary. So here’s a quick primer to elucidate your opening game experience.

First the offense. The basic principle of offense is you have to throw and catch. To do that, quarterbacks must move the team up and down the field and well recognize the defensive positions. It helps if they can be a Swiss Army knife and create offense with their legs, or in the parlance of some, hurt the defense with their legs and have great escapability in the pocket. They also need a huge arm, with arm talent and great vision, so they can go up top.

Running backs, the people the quarterback hands the ball to, must be explosive, make things happen in space, push the ball downfield, and run with authority (a lot like being explosive?). They also need to run downhill and refuse to yield. It also helps if the running back can provide elusiveness.

Don’t forget the often forgotten offensive linemen. They make running backs look good by creating soft holes in the defense.

Receivers, the people the quarterback throws the ball to (not hands it to), need, above all, big bodies so they can go up the ladder and find paydirt, which is where the stakes are. They can do that more effectively if they can peel off the end and stack the corner, but it’s not their fault if the ball is too tall. And the closer you get to the opponents’ end zone, the harder it gets, because square footage shrinks inside the 20.

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The defense has a different priority. Using both nickel and dime defenses, they must make their presence felt by showing pressure. To do that, they create a fast flow to the football and make sure tackles by finishing with physicality. Defensive tactics include setting an edge, walling off the inside, holding the point and collapsing the pocket. All that requires a high motor and keeping that motor running. Major highlights of defensive football are putting the ball on the ground and the pick six, which has nothing to do with a lottery or one’s abs.

And what do the coaches do? Theirs is the most important job. They have to unlock the keys to the game.

So there you have it, fans, your keys to understanding the game.

Karl Oelke, a New Castle resident, played second string football in high school and regularly worships at the altar of the NFL on Sundays.

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