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SHS: Offensive Tackle, The Enforcer

This is the conclusion of the Sweat Hog Series, the three-part series on the three offensive line positions for the casual football fan learning the difference. We conclude with offensive tackle.

To springboard right into this, offensive tackles are typically larger than offensive guards but more athletic than centers. This is for many reasons, but I will delve into the two primary ones in this article.

In most offensive run plays, a tackle is performing one of two blocks. Either a down block, where the tackle takes on a defensive player to his inside and shoves him away from the hole; or a kick-out block, where the tackle pushes a defensive end outside.

Down blocks require someone explosive who can move a defender out of the way- overpower him, if you will. Here is a look at Iso, a play that sometimes requires this.

Diagram of Iso play, courtesy of

Diagram of Iso play, courtesy of

The left tackle in this play (second circle from the left), executes a down block on the defensive tackle. It is imperative to the play’s success that he not only prevent any penetration into the backfield by the defender, but also that he push the player as far down the line as possible to open a lane for the running back to go through.

Now here is a different Iso concept.

A different Iso concept, picture from
A different Iso concept, picture from

On this play, the left tackle now performs a kick-out block. He engages the defensive end (“E” on the left of the diagram) and pushes him out of the whole using the superior size and strength tackles must possess.

The second major reason for a tackle to be taller is pass protection. He is typically going to be blocking a defensive end, and a tackle needs those long arms to cushion himself against a speed rusher. Along those lines, he needs the quickness to kick slide back fast enough to stop the player.

This concludes the Sweat Hog Series.

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