The only players on the field who can block for their team are the offensive linemen.
Skilled players can also throw blocks, which can sometimes be just as powerful as a tackle if the defenders aren’t ready for it. When a problem pops up quickly and hard, it’s called a “crackback block.”
What is a “crackback block” in football?
In football, a crackback block is when an offensive player comes in from the sidelines to block a defensive player.
This makes it possible for the person with the ball to move forward again. In football, wide receivers and tight ends usually do a crackback block, but anyone can do it.
The crackback block is a fun and effective football play, but it is also one of the most dangerous.
Because of this, the football rules committee has banned many crackback block strategies. But we need to learn more about… before we can talk about it.
What Is a Crackback Block in Football?
So you can better understand what a crackback block is and how it works, let’s compare it to a regular block. A classic block is often done as soon as the ball is snapped.
A lineman or tight end will often stake out the line of scrimmage in case a defender comes after them.
A running back may also line up behind the offensive line to stop a second pass rusher or a player who got by the first blocker.
Crackback blocks don’t happen often near the line of scrimmage. They are used when the ball carrier has more room to run, like after a reception or when a run gets past the line of scrimmage and into the open field.
Line of scrimmage blocks are done more slowly than crackback blocks, which are done at full speed. There are big collisions, and defenders get knocked out of the game.
Defenses have less time to get ready for blocks that happen behind the line of scrimmage than for blocks that happen at the line of scrimmage. When defenders try to break through the offensive line, they know exactly who is in their way.
Still, a defender who is hot on the trail of the ball carrier on a big field will be focused on making the tackle and won’t be able to see an opponent coming from the side, ready to knock him out of the game.
To sum up, crackback blocks are different from normal line of scrimmage blocks because they often happen by accident. During a pass play, each receiver is given a certain route.
If a receiver sees a teammate grab the ball, he might skip his route and run toward the ball carrier in hopes of getting a chance to do a crackback block on a defender who isn’t ready.
When a crackback block is an option, it is usually the tight end or wide receiver who makes the play.
Still, crackback blocks aren’t always used to score goals. Crackback blocks happen on punts, kickoffs, and the return of interceptions. Take the following as an example of a crackback block:
- As part of a run play, the running back leaves the formation and heads down the left sideline. At the same time, a wide receiver runs down the left sideline and across the middle of the field. The receiver sees the outside linebacker cross the line of scrimmage to chase down the ballcarrier. The right-side defender is hit by the wide receiver, taking him out of the game before he can get to the ballcarrier. The person with the ball can now safely make the turn and keep running down the sideline.
- After getting a punt, the return man starts a break as soon as possible. When a defender on the other team starts to chase after the return man, a blocker on the receiving team sprints into the middle of the field and knocks him out of the game.
Crackback blocks are very strong, but they also carry a lot of danger.
Crackback blocks, which are a type of blindside block, cause one-third of all concussions that happen during punt return.
Most of the time, it is against the law to set a crackback block these days, but there are still a few exceptions.
Are Crackback Blocks Illegal in Football?
Most pro leagues have banned blindside blocks because they are dangerous. Some crackback blocks are still legal, but rule changes have made the vast majority of these moves illegal.
A crackback block is called a “peel back block” in the NFL rules, and it is illegal:
An attacking player can’t make first contact below the waist and to the side with an opponent if:
- As the defender moves back toward his own end zone, the blocker may sneak up on him from behind or from the side.
- The rules say that a block is legal when the blocker’s shoulder touches the front of the defender’s body.
Crackback Block Rule
Crackback blocks, which are like blindside blocks, are usually looked down upon. The rules for each division are spelled out below:
Crackback Block Youth Football Rule
As of the 2018 season, crackback blocks are no longer allowed in youth football. The NFHS rules committee says that a blindside block is when a player hits an opponent who is more likely to get hurt because of their “physical posture and level of attention.”
Any block on the blind side, including a “crackback,” costs 15 yards.
Crackback Block College Football Rule
This year, blindside blocks and crackback blocks are not allowed in college football. For each infraction, the team loses 15 yards.
During a crackback block, a targeting call could also be made if the player hits the head or neck with force. If a player is seen aiming at another player on purpose, they are immediately taken out of the game.
NFL Crackback Block Rule
In the NFL, crackback blocks are allowed, but the contact must happen between the shoulders and waist. It’s also against the rules for the blocker to be moving toward or parallel to his own end zone.
Before 2017, the NFL allowed contact below the waist or above the shoulders on crackback blocks that were made within two yards of the tackle box.
A FootballZebras.com video analysis shows a wide receiver who moves forward after the play and then cuts inside to block a defender with a crackback block.
What Is an Illegal Block in Football?
Besides the more common blindside block, there are other types of illegal blocks as well. Here are just a few examples:
- Block in the back: pushing/tackling a defender from behind
- Clipping: blocking an opponent below the waist from behind
- Chop block: blocking below the waist while a teammate engages the same defender above the waist
- Holding: grabbing a defender or pushing from behind to prevent him from tackling the ball carrier
- Hands to the facemask: pushing hands onto the opponent’s helmet or facemask.
The penalty for an illegal block is usually between 5 and 15 yards. A 15-yard penalty is given for a personal foul, which is what a blindside block is.
What Is a Blindside Block in Football?
The NFL says that a blindside block happens when “a player starts a block while moving toward or parallel to his own end line and makes contact with his opponent with his helmet, forearm, or shoulder.”
After a decision by club owners, blindside blocks will no longer be allowed in the NFL in 2019.
No matter how good you are, you can’t block from the side. The Playing Rules Oversight Panel said that the reason the NCAA banned blindside blocks was because they were too dangerous.
The NCAA has said that coaches can now focus on blocking basics that don’t involve hard contact to the blindside. This is true even though there is no exact way to block a player who has no defense.
The knowledge that high school rules officials have is about the same as that of the NCAA. To avoid physical contact, players can now focus on blocking with open hands instead of blindside blocks.
Why Are Blocks in the Back Illegal?
A block from behind is against the rules because it is like a blindside block, which is against the rules. In NFL terms, this is called a “block above the waist,” which is against the rules.
As seen on TV, the offensive player pushed the defender in the back, causing the defender to fall down, and the offensive player got called for a block in the back.
Clipping has the same effect as a quick kick to the backside. In both plays, you hit your opponent in the back, but a clip is a block with your lower body.
The penalty for blocking in the back is the same as the penalty for holding: you have to move ten yards away from where the offense happened. Now that blindside blocks are no longer allowed in football, crackback blocks happen less often.
There is a lot of physical contact in football already, but crackback blocks take it to a whole new level. It’s not necessary to do anything illegal or dangerous to keep the other team from catching up to the person carrying the ball.