What is a blitz in football?

Football blitzes are simple to define.

Simply described, it’s a defensive play called with the intention of rushing the quarterback with more defenders than blockers.

For instance, if there are 5 offensive linemen blocking on a play, a blitz would be a play with 6 guys rushing the quarterback.

It’s really simple to define, isn’t it?

However, just because a blitz is a simple idea to grasp doesn’t mean that it is simple to carry out well. There are actually a few different blitz varieties, as well as a few different blitz call-out scenarios. A skilled defensive coach will be aware of the ideal circumstances for calling a blitz and which blitz to use in that instance.

The defense is taking a chance when they call a blitz.

By rushing an additional attacker, fewer defenders will drop into pass coverage or be available to assist if a runner manages to get past the blitzes. Blitzing allows the defense to increase pressure on the offense at the line of scrimmage while forgoing more conservative play.

Here are some reasons why you would wish to perform a blitz and some examples of the types you can use: 

The Blitz’s Objective

There are other reasons to conduct a blitz besides applying pressure on a quarterback, despite what you might believe.

There are four major justifications for a defense to use a blitz.

As follows:

  • To halt a run outside
  • Preventing an inside run
  • To provide middle-range pressure directly to a quarterback
  • To apply direct outside pressure on a quarterback

Coaches can create different blitz packages to achieve different goals for various game circumstances.

On the first down, a blitz can be called to force an incomplete throw or a lost-yardage situation, making it difficult for the offense to advance the ball.

On third down, a blitz can be used to cause a sack or an incomplete pass, forcing the offense to punt.

A shrewd defensive coach can keep the offense continuously attempting to forecast where more pressure is from by mixing up who players blitz and where the pressure is coming from.

The various types of blitzes

Both zone defenses and man-to-man defenses are capable of withstanding blitzes.

In zone blitzes, a zone coverage strategy will be used for the pass coverage behind the rushing defenders. As a result, the entire defense will be in charge of guarding a certain portion of the field rather than a single attacking player.

  • Interior Linebacker Blitz

The additional pressure in this blitz will be applied directly up the middle. Between the center and one of the offensive guards, the Mike linebacker will sprint through one of the A gaps.

Either the Sam or Will linebacker will rush through the other A gap to apply more pressure. This puts a tonne of pressure directly up the offensive line’s middle.

The two blitzing linebackers create a 4-on-3 situation with the two offensive guards, the center, and the defensive tackles addition to the defensive tackles.

  • Blitz outside linebacker

With this blitz plan, the offense will be attacked from the outside of the line. In this play, the Mike linebacker will also pressure the quarterback.

This time, however, he will make his attack through the B gap between the offensive guard and offensive tackle on one side of the field.

The linebacker on the same side of the field will then rush the offensive tackle’s outside corner to the C gap. All of the pressure will be placed on the offensive protection system’s outside edge as a result. On that side of the field, the offensive guard and offensive tackle must cover for three or even four rushing defenders: the defensive tackle, defensive end, Mike, and either Sam or Will. 

  •  Blitz with two outside linebackers

One fast change to the outside blitz would be to rush the quarterback with both outside linebackers while Mike drops back into pass coverage.

The offensive tackles on both sides of the field would be under more strain as a result. With these blitzes, some NFL defenses will even send a defensive tackle or defensive end back into pass coverage, asking them to act as a sort of substitute linebacker. The complexity of that might be a little much for youth football teams, though.

  • Subsequent Blitz

Rushing one of the auxiliary players is the final popular blitz tactic. It is intended to put more pressure on the quarterback and induce a hurried throw if the defense chooses to blitz a cornerback.

The goal of a cornerback’s blitz is to simply force the quarterback out of his comfort zone because they frequently struggle to make good tackles. The objective may be to make a sack or stop a running play in its tracks if the defense chooses to blitz a safety. Safeties are superior tacklers, so when a defense blitzes them, they may strive for more than simply getting the quarterback out of the pocket.


Football defensive coaches may employ a blitz as a tactic to put more pressure on the offense. However, both passing and running plays can be done in this manner. Not all blitzes aim to sack the quarterback. By applying more pressure to the inside or outside of the offense — and by asking different players to blitz — defensive coaches can also call various types of blitzes.

Blitz in Football FAQs

1) In football, why is it referred to as a blitz?

When the Germans were fighting in England during World War II, the name was most frequently used. In order to describe the additional pressure and “lightning” they would bring to the field when they rushed the extra defenders on a particular play, defensive coaches appropriated a portion of that phrase, the “blitz.”

2) In football, when should you blitz?

On the first down, a blitz can be called to force an incomplete throw or a lost-yardage situation, making it difficult for the offense to advance the ball. On third down, a blitz can be used to cause a sack or an incomplete pass, forcing the offense to punt.

3) How do a rush and blitz vary from one another?

Any rush in which the quarterback is targeted by more than four defenders is referred to as a blitz. In addition, blitzes are made to attack from all directions on the field, for example, a linebacker down the middle or a cornerback who is not in coverage. The most dangerous type of pass rush is the blitz, which is also the most effective.

4) Describe the zero blitz

Zero blitz, often known as zero blitzes (American football) a defensive strategy that uses person-to-person coverage, a strong pass rush, and no deep defenders.

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