Offense Formation Diagram NFL.International


The aim of the offense is to move the ball downfield and over the opposition’s goal line to score a touchdown. If they can’t get it over the goal line but have got it close enough, the team can attempt a field goal. The offensive players are:

Quarterback (QB) – The main man on offense. He is the one who calls the plays in the huddle before each play or at the line of scrimmage by shouting instructions to his team-mates using their own secret code. He gets the ball passed to him by the Center (C) at the start of the play (the snap). He then he either gives it to the Running Back (RB) via a handoff, known as a “running play”, or he throws it downfield to one of his receivers for a longer yardage gain which is known as a “passing play”.

Trevor Siemian playing for the Denver Broncos

QB Trevor Siemian ready to take the ‘snap’ from his Center (C) for the Denver Broncos.


Running Back (RB) – He lines up a few yards behind the Quarterback and can be used in a few ways on any given play. As his name suggests, he is responsible for running at, through, over or round the defense after the QB gives the ball to him if they have decided to do a running play. On a passing play he either helps block the defense to prevent them getting to the QB, or he tries to run into an open area of the field where the QB can pass the ball forward to him as he would a Wide Receiver (WR). These guys have to be quick, strong and durable.

Eddie Lacy Running Back of Greenbay Packers

RB Eddie Lacy running through the hole created by his blockers for the Green Bay Packers


Fullback (FB) – This position isn’t seen much in the NFL these days as the league has evolved into more of a pass first affair. More often you will see an extra Tight End (TE) or Wide Receiver (WR) in the formation to improve the passing game. When the Fullback is in the game, it is usually to add extra blocking power on running plays as he will lead the RB ‘through the hole’ opened up by the offensive linemen.

NFL Fullback Vontae Leech

FB Vonta Leach looking for someone to block as he leads his RB, Arian Foster, up the field.


Wide Receiver (WR) – These are usually the quickest players on the offense. The are responsible for running up the field, on a set ‘pattern’ or ‘route’, to try to get ‘open’ so that the QB can pass the ball to them with a forward pass. They are only allowed to pass the ball forward once per play.

NFL Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals

WR Larry Fitzgerald making a spectacular catch for the Arizona Cardinals.


Tight End (TE) – This position has become more important and involved within the offense over recent years. This is another position where there is sometimes an extra one added to the formation instead of one of the WR’s or RB’s. Tight Ends could be described as being a cross between a Wide Receiver and Offensive Lineman. Their role is to either ‘go out for a pass’ like a WR or stay and block the defensive players for the RB to gain yards during a running play or stop them getting to the QB whilst he’s trying to find an open receiver to pass to on a passing play.

NFL Tight End Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots

TE Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.


Offensive Line (C, G and T) – The offensive line is comprised of 5 players whose roles are to block the defense. On running plays they try to move the defensive players out of the way so that the ball carrier (usually the Running Back) can gain yards and get closer to the opponent’s end zone. On passing plays they form a ‘pocket’ around the Quarterback (QB) to protect him and give him time to find a receiver for him to throw to. Offensive Linemen are some of the biggest and strongest players on an American Football team. This unit is made up of 1 Center (C), 2 Guards (G) and 2 Tackles (T).

New England Patriot's offensive line and Tom Brady

The offensive line unit of the New England Patriots and their legendary Quarterback (QB), Tom Brady, ready to take the ‘snap’.