AskDefine | Define quarterback

Dictionary Definition



1 (football) the person who plays quarterback [syn: signal caller, field general]
2 the position of the football player in the backfield who directs the offensive play of his team; "quarterback is the most important position on the team" [syn: signal caller, field general] v : play the quarterback

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. an offensive back whose primary job is to pass the ball in a play

Extensive Definition

Quarterback (QB) is a position in American and Canadian football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the center, in the middle of the offensive line. Quarterbacks are the leaders of the offensive team, responsible for calling the play in the huddle. They initiate almost all plays by receiving the ball from the center, although occasionally teams will use a "direct snap" to another offensive player. Once the quarterback receives the snap, he can run with the ball, hand the ball to another player or attempt a forward pass.
At most levels, but especially at the college and professional level, the quarterback role is one of the most visible and important roles on the team. The quarterback touches the ball on nearly every offensive play and has a great deal of responsibility both in calling plays and making decisions during the play. While there is liberal substitution at most positions in football based on the play call and to minimize player fatigue, most quarterbacks are on the field for every offensive play leaving only for injury or when the game's outcome is no longer in doubt. Quarterbacks are frequently chosen early in the NFL Draft and often receive much more lucrative contracts than other positions. As of 2008, players in this position have won more Super Bowl MVP awards (22 of 42) than players at any other position combined.

Special tactics

If quarterbacks are uncomfortable with the formation the defense is using, they may call an audible to change their play. For example, if a quarterback receives the call to execute a running play, but notices the defense is ready to blitz, the quarterback may want to change the play. In order to do this, the quarterback will yell a special code, like “Blue 42” or “Texas 29”, which informs the offense to switch to a specific play or formation.
Also, quarterbacks can "spike," or throw the football at the ground, in order to stop the official game clock. For example, if a team is down by a field goal with only seconds remaining, a quarterback may spike the ball in order to prevent the game clock from running out. This usually allows the field goal unit to come onto the field, or attempt a final "Hail Mary pass". However, if a team is winning, a quarterback can keep the clock running by kneeling after the snap. This is normally done when the opposing team has no timeouts and there is little time left in the game, as it allows a team to burn up the remaining time on the clock without risking a turnover or injury.

Changing roles

Calling the plays

Traditionally, quarterbacks have been responsible for calling the team’s offensive plays based on the defense’s formation, or game situation. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts calls all, or nearly all, of his team's plays using his no-huddle offense. In order to choose the proper play, quarterbacks will often spend time rehearsing and studying pre-arranged plays during their team’s practice sessions. The actual play starts with a “snap”, an action where the offense’s center lineman gives the ball to the quarterback. A quarterback who receives the ball has the option either to throw it to a receiver, to hand it to a running back or to keep the ball in an attempt to run or “scramble” past the defense.
In recent years, the rise of offensive coordinators has promoted a partiality towards a scripted game plan. The offensive coordinators and coaches will usually give the quarterback information via a built-in headphone in the helmet as to what to do before the play. Quarterbacks are allowed to hear, but not talk to, their coaches until there are fifteen seconds left on the play clock. The quarterback will then relay the information to teammates and execute the plays. When the players are set in a formation, the quarterback will start the play by calling out a code word, a number or a combination thereof.

Dual threat quarterbacks

With the rise of several blitz heavy defensive schemes and increasingly quicker and faster defensive players, the importance of a mobile quarterback has been redefined. While arm power, accuracy, and pocket presence are still the most important quarterback virtues, the ability to elude or run past defenders creates an additional threat that allows greater flexibility in the team's passing and running game. Typically, a quarterback with exceptional quickness will be used in an option offense, which allows the quarterback to either hand the ball off, run it himself, or pitch it to the running back following him at a distance of three yards outside and one yard behind. This type of offense forces defenders to commit to either the running back up the middle, the quarterback around the end, or the running back trailing the quarterback. It is then that the quarterback has the "option" to identify which matchup is most favorable to the offense as the play unfolds and exploit that defensive weakness. In the college game, many schools employ several plays that are designed for the quarterback to run with the ball. This is much less common in professional football, except for a quarterback sneak, but there is still an emphasis on being mobile enough to escape a heavy pass rush.

Jersey numbers

Although college and high school quarterbacks may choose any number for their jersey number, numbers 1-19 are by far the most common. In the NFL, quarterbacks are limited to numbers 1 through 19.


External links

quarterback in Catalan: Quarterback
quarterback in German: Quarterback
quarterback in Spanish: Mariscal de campo (fútbol americano)
quarterback in French: Quarterback
quarterback in Italian: Quarterback
quarterback in Hungarian: Quarterback
quarterback in Dutch: Quarterback
quarterback in Norwegian: Quarterback
quarterback in Polish: Quarterback
quarterback in Portuguese: Quarterback
quarterback in Russian: Квотербек
quarterback in Simple English: Quarterback
quarterback in Finnish: Pelinrakentaja
quarterback in Swedish: Quarterback
quarterback in Thai: ควอร์เตอร์แบ็ก
quarterback in Chinese: 四分衛

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

amateur athlete, archer, athlete, ballplayer, baseballer, baseman, batter, battery, be responsible for, blocking back, boss, bowman, call the signals, captain, carry on, catcher, center, chaperon, coach, command, competitor, conduct, control, cricketer, defensive lineman, direct, end, engineer, footballer, games-player, gamester, govern, guard, handle, head, head up, infielder, jock, jumper, lead, lead on, lineman, make the rules, manage, maneuver, manipulate, mastermind, offensive lineman, officer, order, outfield, outfielder, overlook, oversee, player, poloist, prescribe, professional athlete, pugilist, pull the strings, racer, regulate, run, skater, skipper, sport, sportsman, superintend, survey, tackle, tailback, take command, take the lead, toxophilite, wingback, wrestler
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