What is Play Action in Football?

Play activity is a term that analysts and announcers frequently use to describe what’s happening on offense. What does a football action pass mean?

In a play-action pass, the quarterback appears to be passing the ball to the running back before actually making a pass. In order for the quarterback to pass the ball to an open receiver behind them, the running back fakes to make the defense believe it is a run play. We shall demonstrate the many forms of play action and their purposes for teams in this article.

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Engage in Football Play

Play-action passes are used by teams to keep the defense guessing. The way that play action is implemented can vary based on the coach’s plan. But first, you have to learn about running plays and pass plays in order to comprehend play action.

Running Play

When a quarterback in football accepts the snap from the center and passes it to a running back, it’s known as a running play. Since they make the defense devote linebackers and defensive linemen to the football, running plays are effective. Play action is a feature shared by all offenses that help them keep one step ahead of the opposition.

To stop the pass and the run, defenses need to be prepared. A good coach will usually divide the run-to-pass ratio by 60/40. Teams that run more passes than plays will frequently guess what will be run on each play. For example, if the team’s passing game is 80/20, the defense will nearly always drop its defensive backs and linebackers into pass coverage. The defense doesn’t have to ponder as much because the defensive lineman can commit to the pass with aggression.

Teams that split the ball 50/50 or even 60/40 force the defense to adjust and approach each play as a fresh one. The play-action pass works best in this situation. Teams will arrange play action in this manner. Should they possess a strong running strategy, the defense ought to allocate their resources toward the run.

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Why do football teams use play-action?

Linebackers and defensive backs have to react instead of anticipating when the team calls plays that are 60/40 or 50/50. This implies that the offense can find open receivers by throwing the ball to them and forcing all of the defensive players to commit to the run with a play-action pass.

The runs and the passes will appear exactly the same on a strong play-action pass team. This is done to fool the defensive backs and linebackers into believing it’s a run play, which allows players to find free space. Play-action passes allow a team to slow down the speed at which their linebackers play, which increases the effectiveness of rushing the football.

Starting with the quarterback putting the ball out as though he’s going to hand it off, an effective play-action fake begins. After the ball is snapped, the running back and the quarterback must both sell like it’s a run. The running back will pass protect after feigning to rush to the hole. Play-action passes can be run both from the spread and from the under center.

Play-Action Pass from under center

There are two ways to run play action passes: from under center and shotgun. Since the quarterback will see everything the same when running play action behind center, this might make the offense look more credible.

The quarterback might act in the same way as if he were passing the ball. The only thing that differs is that he will pull the ball back into his stomach to get ready to toss the football just before it is passed off.

In addition, without the ball in his hand, coaches may ask the quarterback to place his hand inside the running back’s abdomen. Because they won’t be able to see the football, the defense frequently falls for the fake.

The offense should be able to hit a huge play to an open passing option downfield if they have a strong run game. Because of this, the wide receiver must sprint off the football as quickly as possible to give the defense no idea whether it is a pass or a run.

Use the Spread to Play Action Pass

Shotgun play action functions similarly to under-center play action. Players will now be able to see just what they need to read downfield, which is the sole difference.

Using both hands, the quarterback will place the ball in the running back’s stomach. He will toss the ball down the field after carefully removing it from the running back’s stomach. The RPO, which we discuss here, was inspired by the play motion of a shotgun. QBs can now read coverage more easily when playing from a shotgun because they can maintain eye contact with the running back while deceiving him downfield.

In summary

The distinction between the run-pass option (RPO) and play-action pass should not be overlooked. We discussed the variations in this post. For a play-action pass to be effective, the running back and quarterback must both sell the run. The offensive team will be able to throw a crossing route behind the linebackers as a result, helping to bring them up. We hope you enjoyed reading about the play action pass. If so, you should definitely look at our Ultimate Football Guide. It will significantly raise your football IQ.

Wide receivers are open down the field thanks to these plays, which give the offense a tactical advantage over the opposition. In football, this strategy has been employed for more than 50 years and will be used going forward.

It’s one of the best offensive strategies for keeping the opposition honest and subdued. Since football is a game of ratios and patterns, one strategy to slow the opposition is to break the mould and trick them.

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Play-Action in Football FAQs

1) What distinguishes RPO from play action?

The way the offensive line blocks distinguishes RPO from play-action passes. A pass block is made by the offensive line during a play-action pass. The offensive line will block to create a run during an RPO. Even the most casual fan may find these plays puzzling at first glance.

2) In American football, what is a bootleg?

A bootleg play in American football is when the quarterback sprints behind the line of scrimmage with the ball towards either sideline. 

3) What advantages does play action offer?

There is no denying play action’s influence on pass productivity. It lowers the rate of pressure. It increases yards per attempt and projected points added every play. When used on early downs, it offers a significant advantage.


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