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Football Illustrated Special Collector’s Edition

The Road to Hall of Fame Inside:   Wide Receiver Tips   Top Ten Hall of Fame Leading Lifetime Recievers


Wide Receiver W

ide Receivers­­­ —They’re the good hands people that every NFL quarterback need s to succeed. They’ve got that rare combination of speed, strength and grace.We had a chance to speak with a couple of Hall of Famers and this is what they said. “They’ve got to have big-play ability,” said Moon, one of three panelists enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with Berry and Houston. “They have to have toughness. They have to be able to get off man-for-man, bump-andrun at the line of scrimmage. And they have to be able to make the big play at the right time.”

The Keys To Success For High School Coaches Your passing game starts with the ability of your football wide receivers to get separation from their defenders. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest quarterback in the world if his receivers can’t give him a window to throw to. The first step is to teach your wide receivers how to get off the line. If the defenders are pressing and bumping at the line, the receiver must know how to beat the pressure. Begin by teaching fakes. The most basic is the “head bob”. This is

where the football wide receiver moves his head to one side while getting his body moving straight or to the other side. A good shoulder fake can spice this move up. Since defensive backs will eventually pick up on a repeated fake, teach your receivers to mix things up with doublefakes (fake one way, then the other, then move beyond the defensive back).Football wide receivers must also be taught how to use their hands to gain separation. Teach the “rip” and “swim” techniques. If cutting left, teach them to use the right arm to “ri p” up through the cornerback’s arms. For the “swim” technique, teach your wide receivers to bring the inside arm up and over the corner’s arms to knock the arms downward.

straight line charge, you can also have your football receivers use an S-shape weave to get open. Have them run quickly at the defensive back to get close, then “curve” around him to gain separation.

Once off the line, good route running is obviously an important skill to develop. One way to help your football wide receivers get open is to have them run hard to a specific spot, get control (possibly use a fake here) and make the cut. Plant the foot away from the direction of the cut, make the cut and then accelerate into the cut. Teach your players the importance of getting the defensive back moving backwards and then cutting away from them.Besides the

Pro Football Hall of Fame Top 10 - Leading Lifetime Receivers Rank

Player

Yards

Avg.

TD

1

JERRY RICE

22,466

14.8

194

2

Cris Carter

13,899

12.9

130

3

Tim Brown

14,734

13.8

99

4

Andre Reed

13,198

13.9

87

5

Art Monk

12,721

13.5

68

6

Irving Fryar

12,785

15.0

84

7

Larry Centers

6,797

8.2

28

8

Steve Largent

13,089

16.0

100

9

Shannon Sharpe

10,060

12.3

62

10

Henry Ellard

13,777

16.9

65

1

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Against man-to-man coverage, learning the art of good cuts and making those cuts at the right time will be extremely important to the success of your wide receivers. Against zone coverage, it’s a bit different. Since the defensive backs are defending an area, the football receivers won’t need to use their fakes quite as much since they just need to find the holes in the zone.

“They’ve got to have big-play

ability. They have to have toughness. They have to be able to get off man-for-man, bump-

One often over-looked area where you can give your players an advantage is in your scouting of the opposition. Don’t underestimate the importance of exploiting how your players match up to the other guys. Figure out how you can game-plan how to get your best or fastest receiver matched up against the opposition’s weakest or slowest defensive back.

and-run at the line of scrimmage. And they have to be able

Wide Receiver Tips

to make the big play at the

1) The eyes are the key to successfully catching the football. Focus on the ball all the way into the hands, concentrating on the tip.

right time.

2) The best hand position is with the thumbs in where the thumbs and forefingers of each hand are almost touching.

3)

If the pass is low or over-thrown, hold the hands with the little fingers in and the thumbs out.

4) Focus on catching the football at the end.

If you try to catch it at the middle of the ball, you’re likely to see it pass right through the hands.

— Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon

5) Catch with your hands, not the body. 6)

Know your routes inside and out.

7) Practice against defenders, not just “pitch & catch” sessions with the quarterback alone. 8) As you come out of your route, snap your head back toward the quarterback quickly. 9) Work on wide receiver drills that develop your hand-eye coordination and reflexes.

Develop a quick burst in your release off the line.

13) Develop good fakes like the “head bob” and “head & shoulder” fake.

10) Control the football before trying to run

14) Develop the ability to separate yourself from the defensive back.

11) Work on your blocking skills so you don’t hold or clip the defender.

15) Always catch the football at its highest point.

with it.

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12)

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Offensive Lineman The Importance of Football Offensive Line Drills

E

very football team that wants to succeed has to have an effective offense.  While it’s often said that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships, no team is going to win if they don’t score points.  And no team is going to be able to score points if they don’t have a good offensive line.  That’s why it’s so important for every team to practice football offensive line drills. There are two ways to move the ball on offense: running and passing.  Both of these rely on the offensive line doing its job. When passing the ball the offensive line has to protect the quarterback and when running the ball the offensive line has to block the opposing defense so that their running back can gain yardage. If there is a break down on the offensive line – if one or more offensive linemen fail to block correctly – then the offense will probably lose yardage.  If this happens too often the offense won’t be able to score any points. The main way to prevent offensive line breakdowns is to practice football offensive line drills as often as possible.  There are actually many different drills that can be done to help offensive linemen work on their blocking techniques.

One of the offensive line passing drills that help offensive linemen learn to protect the quarterback involves an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, and cones that form a rectangle three yards wide and five yards long. The defensive lineman gets into his stance at the top of the five yards. The offensive lineman lines up, in his stance, inside the rectangle across from the defender. When the offensive lineman moves, the defender must try to get past him to the end of the five yards. However, the defensive player must stay within the three yard width of the rectangle. It’s the job of the offensive lineman to keep the defensive lineman away from the back of the rectangle. The drill lasts for ten seconds unless the defender reaches the goal before time expires. This is just one example of very effective offensive line drills that every team should practice. There are many other drills that will help with pass protection and run

blocking. Most of these drills help an offensive lineman with his footwork, hand positioning, and his ability to gain leverage on the opponent. Offensive linemen need good footwork so that they can get in front of their opponent to block him correctly. They need good hand positioning because the hands can either help push a defender away (on a running play) or the hands can help keep a defender away from the quarterback (on a passing play).  Finally, leverage is important because whichever player has leverage during a block, that player will be able to drive the other player back. This is a very important part of the play. No player wants to be the one who is backing up while engaged in a block. On every football team the offense is important because if a team can’t score points they won’t win games. Whether the offense chooses to run or pass the ball, they will only be successful if the offensive line performs well. That’s why it’s so important for the offensive line to practice football offensive line drills. It’s these drills that will make the linemen better so that the offense can score points and the team can win football games.

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Quarterback The Leader of a Football Team Some people say that being a quarterback doesn’t take much. Well, the person who says that couldn’t know too much about football. Some may see the position as just throwing or handing off. Sorry, but that is totally wrong. What happens when you walk up to the line of scrimmage and see there is a linebacker filling the hole where the play was meant to go? Would you have the sense to call out an audible so the play could run effectively? Say you were dropping back to pass and the number one receiver was covered like a blanket would you have enough reaction time to find your other receivers?

The quarterback must be the brightest player on the field. He has to learn not just one position but several. He must know what the backs are doing, what routes the receivers are running, and what type of blocking the linemen are doing. This is the most pressure-packed position since the quarterback is responsible for the entire offense. When a play is messed up, most of the blame is put on the quarterback. If a receiver runs the wrong pattern and an interception occurs, the blame is once again put on the quarterback. Even with all the pressure and responsibility, the quarterback will once in a while make a fantastic play and everyone will look upon him as the hero of the game. But after that, it is back to being sacked by 300-pound linemen, the coach’s voice bellowing in his ear and the fans being mad at him for throwing a bad pass (that really wasn’t his fault). The quarterback has become, without a doubt, the most important member of each team, and he determines his team’s success. People like Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Sonny Jurgensen, Terry Bradshaw,

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Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana all revolutionized what it takes to be a quarterback in the top league in the NFL.

Tips For Quarterbacks 1. Be a Leader: Leaders are players who make good decisions on and off the field. They motivate their fellow teammates to give their all. They are passionate. When two players have nearly equal skills, coaches will always give the opportunity to the player with stronger leadership. Aside from statistics, college and NFL scouts look for prospects with an incredible work ethic and good character.   2. Keep Your Throwing Elbow Up: One of the most common habits of untrained quarterbacks is to drop the elbow of the throwing arm. This causes the ball to be thrown “side

arm”. Throwing the ball side arm creates tremendous torque on the elbow joint and makes it more difficult to throw the ball with accuracy. Work to keep the elbow above the shoulder through the release.  3. Practice Accuracy: Accuracy should be your number one goal with every throw. Regardless of whether you’re warming up or throwing the long ball, always strive for a precise target to reach the player. Practice drills, which test and improve your accuracy for all types of throws.   4. Quick Feet: Jumping rope, carioca, quick footwork and drills, which improve foot speed, are essential for quarterbacks. Footwork is the foundation of a solid drop, very important.   5. Strengthen the Core: The secret to a strong ball is not only a strong arm, but also core strength. Activities which enhance the strength of the abs, abliques, hips and gluts will help put velocity on your ball. Quarterbacks can improve the explosive strength of these muscles by combining medicine or weighted balls with throws, rotations and ab work. 6. Good Attitude: Respect your coaches and fellow teammates. While privately you may not agree with your coaches approach, never openly challenge his technique. Remain positive. Use body language that says you’re a winner, alert and open to constructive criticism. A player with a good attitude and outstanding work ethic will always have a better opportunity to start.

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Running

T

he halfback or tailback position is one of the more glamorous positions on the field, as it is often integral in both the passing and running attack. A well-rounded halfback is commonly viewed as a requirement for a team’s success. He is responsible for carrying the ball on the majority of running plays, and may frequently be used as a receiver on short passing plays. In today’s game, an effective halfback must have a superior blend of both quickness and agility as a runner, as well as sure hands and shrewd vision upfield as a receiver.

More and more quarterbacks depend on halfbacks as a dump-off receiver when primary targets downfield are covered. Occasionally, they line up as additional wide receivers. When not serving either of these functions, the primary responsibility of a halfback is to aid the offensive linemen in blocking, either to protect the quarterback or another player carrying the football. On some rare occasions, running backs are used to pass the ball on a halfback option play or halfback pass. No position in American football can perform his duties successfully without the help of other players. Like the wide receiver, who generally cannot make big plays without the quarterback passing to him (with the exception of the end-around or a reverse), the running back nearly always needs good blocking from the offensive line to successfully gain yardage.

Also, a running back will generally have more rushing attempts than a receiver will have receptions, which is mainly because a receiver must catch a pass to obtain a reception, while a running back usually takes a direct handoff or short pitch from the quarterback before registering a rushing attempt.

Note that the difference between halfback and tailback is simply the position of the player in the team’s offensive formation. The halfback lines up approximately half-way between the line of scrimmage and the fullback (similarly, quarterbacks line up a quarter of the distance between the line of scrimmage and the fullback). Because the halfback is usually the team’s main ball carrier (while the fullback is primarily a blocker), many coaches see fit to position the halfback behind the fullback (at the “tail end” of the formation). In this case, the halfback becomes a tailback.

Running Back Tips 1) In your stance, position your feet a bit closer together than a lineman would. 2) Work at being close to full speed on the first step out of your stance. 3) Create the correct “cradle” for accepting handoffs: Elbow closest to quarterback up, other elbow down near the waist. 4) Keep your eyes straight ahead and watching the line, not the ball. 5) After the handoff, cradle the football with both hands to avoid a fumble if contact is made immediately. 6) Once you put the football in one hand, place it securely in the fingers with the index and middle fingers gripped around the nose. Squeeze the ball into the body with the elbow and arm. 7) Develop the ability to hit the hole with a burst. No “happy feet” or hesitation.

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8) Keep the

shoulders down and the butt low for proper leverage.

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Back 9) Explode through the hole. Keep the knees up and the feet moving constantly.

10) Once in the clear, position the ball in the arm closest to the sideline. You can allow the ball to move slightly away from the body, but squeeze it right back while in traffic.

“I want to be re-

membered as the guy who gave his all whenever he was on the field.

­— Walter Payton

11) On contact, the ball should be covered

with both hands to ward off the defense’s attempts to pry it away.

Hall of Fame Running Back Walter Payton, the Chicago Bears’ first-round choice and the fourth player selected in the 1975 National Football League Draft, developed into a superstar of unusual dimensions during his 13-season NFL tenure from 1975 to 1987, all of which he spent with the Chicago Bears.

Future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson

“I always think I

can get better. I’m never satisfied. That’s why I keep working.

The 5-10, 200-pound running back who one game against Minnesota (1977), 77 games with more than 100 yards rushing, and 110 rushing touchdowns. Payton had 4,368 combined net attempts and accounted for 21,803 combined net yard. He also scored an impressive 750 points on 125 touchdowns. Not many players do that.

Rushing

Receiving

Year

Team

Yards

Avg.

TD

Yards

Avg.

TD

2009

San Diego Chargers

22,466

14.8

194

154

7.7

0

2008

San Diego Chargers

13,899

12.9

130

426

8.2

1

2007

San Diego Chargers

14,734

13.8

99

475

7.9

3

2006

San Diego Chargers

13,198

13.9

87

508

9.1

3

2005

San Diego Chargers

12,721

13.5

68

370

7.3

2

2004

San Diego Chargers

12,785

15.0

84

441

8.3

1

2003

San Diego Chargers

6,797

8.2

28

725

7.3

4

2002

San Diego Chargers

13,089

16.0

100

489

6.2

1

2001

San Diego Chargers

10,060

12.3

62

367

6.2

0

13,777

16.9

65

3,955

7.5

15

TOTAL

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Payton won the NFC rushing title five straight years from 1976 to 1980. He also led the NFC with 96 points in 1977 and won the NFL kickoff return championship in his rookie 1975 campaign. He was named both All-Pro and All-NFC seven times and played in nine Pro Bowl games. Payton was selected as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1977 and 1985, the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1977 and 1985 and the NFC Most Valuable Player in 1977. An amazing runner, Walter rushed for more than 1,000 yards 10 of his 13 seasons. Payton’s 492 career pass receptions for 4,538 yards and 15 touchdowns contributed to his exceptional combined net yard totals. Extremely durable, Payton missed one game in his rookie campaign and then played in 186 consecutive games.

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