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How To Watch Football on TV

How to Watch Football on Television

New football fans should learn how to watch football on tv, so your veteran NFL fanatics won’t instantly figure out you’re a newbie. To enjoy football games, you need to know the terminology and basic concepts of the game. You also have to master rudimentary offensive and defensive strategy concepts. Football isn’t rocket science and we here at Football Babble can teach you everything I just covered in 20 minutes time.

After you learn the football basics, we’ll give you some watching tips to know what to look for that other football fans are searching for. Watching a televised football and being able to analyze and criticize the action is when football viewing becomes fun.

Football Basics – Learn the Football Penalties

First, learn the positions and basic terms of football. Two sections of our static website can help you get a good head start towards learning these things. Learning the “Football Positions” allows you to follow your friends’ and the broadcasters’ discussion topics without having to ask a bunch of beginning questions. Along with the terms, we also discuss the duties of each player.

Also, we have a growing set of “Football Terms“. This section isn’t complete, but it continues to grow. You’ll find good information on each concept discussed, along with examples of each.

Football Basics – Learn the Football Terms

Learning the penalties of football helps you understand why a flag was thrown and whether that penalty flag should have been thrown by the officials. Most of the penalties in football have to do with gaining an illegal advantage on a play with some underhanded technique or by putting another player in danger with the wrong kind of physical play. You can read about football positions and penalties by visiting our discussion of “Football Rules and Gameplay“.

Football Strategy

Next, we cover some of the basic football strategy concepts that have been used throughout the history of college and pro football, as well as the cutting edge theories that are used in competitive football today. We have sections on “Football Offense Basics” and “Football Defense Basics“, which covers the most popular offensive schemes and the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Analyzing TV Football

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to watch the NFL and NCAA on television. Football comes down to a series of factors, any of which might be the most important factor in the game. As I mentioned before, football can be analyzed by asking yourself a series of questions. Here’s the list of questions you should ask yourself.

Does one team have a dramatic physical edge over the other team?

Sometimes, one team is too strong or fast or skilled for the other team. Sometimes, one player takes over the game and the other team is simply physically overmatched. This usually happens in blowouts. Even in close games, most teams have one or two players who are “difference makers”, but these can even out when teams are playing a close game. Maybe one quarterback is too accurate for the other defense to stop consistently, or one running back simply runs over the defense.

But what we are talking here is a dominant edge on one side of the game. Ask yourself whether one team looks too fast for the other team, either by getting big plays in the passing game or swarming to the ball on defense. Or maybe one team is just physically too strong or big for the other, creating huge holes on offense and blowing the defense off the line, or simply stuffing everything at the line of scrimmage.

Winning the line of scrimmage is the best way to dominate a game. Football has its stars, but if one team is dominating the line of scrimmage, star skill position players can be neutralized.

Is One Team Getting a Big Pass Rush?

The best way to neutralize the skills of a quarterback and his receivers is to get a pass rush. If the passer doesn’t have time to set his feet, look down the field and find an open receiver, he is going to be less effective. The pass rush cannot be overrated in a football game, so see whether the quarterback on both teams are getting time to set up and step into a throw. If they look like they’re running for their lives, that’s notable in football.

Does one team blitz a lot?

Coaches disagree on what a blitz is. The traditional definition of a blitz is when a defense rushes more than 4 defenders; that is, you send more than 4 players after the quarterback. Some modern coaches consider a blitz to be more than 5 players. In either case, when one team consistently is sending a bunch of players after the QB, that is important to note.

Blitzing can completely disrupt offenses. At the same time, the best quarterbacks prefer to see blitzes. That means there is single coverage down the field, so big plays can happen. Blitzes tend to be pivotal, by stuffing offenses or opening up big plays.

The best defenses get pressure on the quarterback with only 4 players. This allows the defense to rush the quarterback, while disrupting routes with 7 defenders in the pass routes.

Does one team have to sell out to stop the run?

Also, stopping the run is extremely important. Try to figure out if a defense is able to stop the run with only their “front seven”. The front 7 is the linebackers and linemen. This is easy to determine.

Just before the snap of the ball, imagine a box along the line of scrimmage that contains the defensive players along the front line, as well as five yards back from the line of scrimmage (where the ball is on the field). Notice if the defense is dropping an extra player into this imaginary box just before the snap.

On a run play, if a defense is sending a defensive back near the line of scrimmage, this is a sign that the defense isn’t confident in stopping the run with their front seven. While this helps stuff run plays, it also opens up big plays downfield.

Analyze How Many Defenders are Near the Ball

So analyzing football on tv tends to be about analyzing how the defense is playing, and a good idea of how the game is evolving is simply counting how many defenders are near the snap of the ball. Those teams that have 8 or more players near the ball, or who are sending 5 or more players to rush the quarterback, are making risky plays and may not be confident in stopping the defense “straight up”.

There are exceptions. Learn how a team plays. The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets are famous for blitzing all the time. These defenses tend to cause big turnovers and sacks, while they have yet to end up in the Superbowl too many times in the last 10 years. If you take the Rex Ryan defense that is now being used by the Jets, but has been with the Baltimore Ravens the past several years, you’ll notice that these teams are usually dangerous opponents, but they have one Superbowl appearance to show for their play, while no Superbowl titles over the last ten years (the Ravens won in the late 90s, but that was pre-Ryan and the defense blitzed a lot less than Rex Ryan does).

This isn’t to criticize Rex Ryan. He may have that breakthrough this year and should have a chance for years to come. But I mean to say that blitzing is a dramatic action and tends to catch up with a defense. Being able to count the number of defenders near the snap of the ball gives you an idea of how the game is going.

Turnovers and Penalties

Also, keeping track of which team makes the most mistakes is a good gauge of who will win a football game. The stats show a huge advantage goes to those teams who get the most turnovers in a game. One reason the Eagles and Jets blitz as a standard strategy is to put pressure on the quarterbacks and receivers, assuming they will make a mistake and cause a turnover.

Turnovers are a huge momentum swing, especially if the defense scores points. Even if they do, the change in field position will cause both teams to play the game differently than they were a minute before. This usually keeps the offense from scoring when they were in position, or it gives the opposing offense a short field and therefore a much better chance to score.

Watching Football on Television

So you can learn a lot watching football on tv by determining whether one team has a huge physical advantage, determining which team is having to allot more players to a certain task and keeping track of which team makes the most mistakes.

Big plays are huge, too, much in the same way that turnovers affect a game. A big play either changes field position or gives a team an unexpected score. It can be demoralizing if one team has to work 10 to 12 play drives down the field, if the other team can move the same distance in one play.

Time of Possession

Time of possession can be key, too. If one team controls the ball for twice the time the other one does, that teams can slowly wear down the opposing defense. That’s another reason turnovers are so important, because it can affect time of possession. Of course, this is where big plays can be tricky. If one team goes on a 12 play drive to score a TD and the other gets a TD in 2 plays, the long term advantage might go to the methodical team. But since it’s harder to execute plays properly for 12 plays instead of 2, usually the team with the big plays is going to build a lead. Penalties are a bane for methodical offenses, because a penalty means that a running team will be in a 2nd-and-long or 3rd-and-long situation, forcing them to throw it. Eventually, the drive comes to a halt.

This means that monitoring the score is huge, though obvious. The team that’s currently ahead tends to be able to dictate play, because the other team has more limited options (especially late in the game). No one factor is the sole factor to look for on tv football, from turnovers to penalties to time of possession to big plays to who is blitzing more or who has the fastest player. But when analyzing football on tv, one of these factors is sure to have a huge role in the game. So keep in mind each and know how to watch football on tv for each of these factors, because you’ll understand what’s going on better and be able to enjoy the games with your friends more completely.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 18th, 2010 at 5:32 pmand is filed under College Football, Football, NFL. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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