NFL Jargon Quiz

By: Nathan Chandler

Which players often execute "stunts"?

In an effort to confuse blockers, defensive linemen often shift position just before a play begins, a ploy called stunting. Offensive linemen need good technique and communication to thwart the effects of stunting.

What's a "dime package"?

In obvious passing situations, a defense will often switch to a dime package. The dime is a defensive scheme that uses six defensive backs, all chasing potential receivers.

What's the name for a designed play that disintegrates into chaos?

Sometimes the offense screws up or the defense blows up their plans. Either way, a carefully orchestrated play that falls apart is called a broken play.

Which player might execute a "bull rush"?

Defensive linemen who discard fancy techniques and simply push straight towards the ball carrier are performing a bull rush. A bull rush is all about power and strength.

What's a "bomb"?

When a quarterback throw a long pass downfield, it's called a bomb. A "Hail Mary" is a desperation bomb heaved at the end of a game when the offense needs a miraculous score to tie or win a game.

When does "Black Monday" traditionally take place?

The day after the final regular season game is often called Black Monday. That's because underperforming head coaches are often fired on this day -- and more often than not, it seems like those coaches are immediately hired by other teams.

How does one "ice" a place kicker?

Defending teams will often call a timeout just before a kicker attempts a field goal in an effort to "ice" him. The idea is to make him overthink (and hopefully miss) the field goal.

A highly regarded college player who doesn't meet expectations in the NFL is called what?

Many great college players just aren't cut out for the big leagues. Those that can't make the leap to the NFL are called busts.

The "red zone" begins how far from an opponent's goal line?

The red zone is the area that begins 20 yards from an opponent's goal line. Offenses with a high red zone scoring percentage are effcient at making the most of their scoring opportunities.

What does it mean if a player has a "high motor"?

Players with a high motor have incredible energy, and they don't tire easily. They will relentlessly pursue their tasks throughout the game in spite of the other team's efforts to stop them.

Which player is obsessed with the "coffin corner"?

Punters aim their kicks for the "coffin corner," the corner of the field near the goal line. The hope is to pin the opposing team deep in its own territory.

A "chip shot" applies to which part of the game?

A short field goal attempt is a chip shot, one that every professional kicker should make with regularity. Those that don't quickly find themselves wearing street clothes.

When is a team most likely to attempt a "squib" kick?

If the winning team is clinging to a lead at the end of a half, they'll often purposely kick a short kickoff, a "squib" kick. Squib kicks often minimize the return team's odds of a long return or score.

Why is the football field sometimes called the "gridiron"?

A gridiron is essentially a rectangular cast iron skillet or metal grate with regular parallel bars that's used for cooking food. A football field looks a lot like a gridiron, thus the nickname.

Players who are which position sometimes "hear footsteps"?

Quarterbacks who "hear footsteps" are imagining pocket pressure where there is none, often causing them to scamper or throw the ball out of bounds. QBs who have been hit hard many times are more likely to hear footsteps out of fear.

On which type of play do "gunners" have the greatest impact?

When a team kicks off or punts, the gunners are the guys blazing down the field in a straight line in hopes of tackling the return man as quickly as possible. The best gunners are fast, strong and fearless.

If a quarterback throws a pass "underneath," how long is the pass?

Short passes thrown just past the defensive line -- but short of the linebackers and defensive backs -- are often called underneath passes. Ball control offenses frequently use underneath passes as part of their game plan.

The term "gunslinger" is used to describe a few players at which position?

Quarterbacks like former NFL star Brett Favre are sometimes called gunslingers. They are high-risk, high-reward QBs who often attempt difficult throws, to either the delight or chagrin of fans and coaches.

What's a "pooch punt"?

Sometimes punters are instructed to purposely kick a short punt. This is often done in hopes of limiting the return team's ability to run back a punt for a long gain or score.

A "screen" would happen during which aspect of a football game?

On a screen pass, the quarterback throws a short pass to a receiver or running back, who has extra blockers ahead of him. Screen passes are often effective in long yardage situations where the defense is stretched across the field.

A player at which position might display "alligator arms"?

Wide receivers sometimes fail to extend their arms to catch passes, instead keeping their arms close to their bodies (thus the name alligator arms). This is a frequent tendency for WRs who perceive that they are about to be hit hard by defensive players.

A "pick six" is a result of which event?

When a defensive player grabs an interception and returns it for a touchdown, it's a "pick six." Legendary defensive back Rod Woodson holds the career record for pick sixes, with 12.

A "ball control" offense is predicated on which philosophy?

A so-called ball control offense stresses low-risk plays with few turnovers, minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on defensive vulnerabilities. Ball control offenses are sometimes boring to watch, but executed properly they can win many games.

Which player is most responsible for the "snap"?

The center is the player that "snaps" the ball to the quarterback at the beginning of each play. The snap is something that's practiced every week, simply because bungled snaps result in wasted plays and turnovers.

A "hard count" often results in which penalty?

A savvy quarterback will often attempt to lure the defense into jumping offsides before the ball is snapped. Some quarterbacks change the tone or volume of their voices (or bob their heads) to trick defenses.

A player at which position might try to use a "swim move"?

Defensive ends use an arm-over motion, sort of like a freestyle swimming stroke, in order to get past blockers. The best defensive ends combine a variety of techniques to disrupt plays.

Which player is NOT part of a "shotgun" snap?

In a so-called shotgun snap, the center executes a longer-than-normal snap to the quarterback, who stands a few yards back from the line of scrimmage. A shotgun snap is often useful when the offense expects a full-out blitz from the defense.

What's a "horse collar"?

A horse collar is a penalty in which one player tackles another by the back of his collar. This type of tackling is prohibited because it can easily result in a severe injury.

Which player would be responsible for the most important aspect of a "bootleg"?

On a bootleg play, the quarterback fakes a handoff and then runs to towards a sideline. He'll either pass the ball or run it himself. Bootlegs are especially effective for teams that have a fast, mobile quarterback.

Which team unit would execute a "wildcat"?

In a wildcat offensive scheme, during a shotgun snap, the center may give the ball to either the quarterback or running back. The wildcat can help keep defenses on their heels.

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About This Quiz

American football is packed with obscure slang to help coaches and players communicate more efficiently. How much do you know about NFL jargon? Take this quiz and find out!

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