Y’all are in for a treat with this article. I’m going to peel back the layers about pass protection and help for offensive linemen, especially young ones, in pass protection. What it looks like, why it’s needed, and why not everyone does it.
I played in six different offenses with six different offensive line coaches. I’ve started games at left guard, right guard, and right tackle. I understand the goal of protection and the how, what, and why of scheming help. More than anything, when I was young, I was the guy who got the help.
This isn’t intended to knock anyone or prove a player is better than someone else. It’s too inform about the nuances of offensive line help and reiterate how confidence plays a huge role in the mindset of an offense lineman.
My first start in the NFL was in 2009 on Sunday Night Football against the Vikings. I was playing right tackle for the Panthers. We were 5-8, they were 11-2 with Brett Favre at quarterback.
My coaches were terrified of my ability to pass protect. We changed the entire game plan to help me. We put a tight end next to me to chip. We slid to the right more often. The right guard keep an eye out for me. We put in rollouts on third down.
We won the game. It was a blast. I played well. This is important to note here. I knew entering the game that I wasn’t going to be left on an island. I was confident that I’d have help when I needed it. The night before the game, I’m not thinking about the 30 plays I’ll be alone blocking Ray Edwards, just the 10 or so. Instead, I’m thinking about all the protections where I can set aggressive knowing I have help or set knowing the only rush that can beat me is the speed rush.
The idea of helping offensive lineman in pass protection is to either physically hit the rushing defensive end, distract him with the threat of contact, or slide protect to help a tackle. These are all built into a team’s offensive philosophy, if they choose to give help. It’s rarer now, but some teams design an offensive scheme around this concept of more help in protection.