Football season is right around the corner and for most that means watching your favorite team play again. However, for everyone else who isn’t a football fan, their only idea of what the NFL is about is the Super Bowl. For everyone that has always wanted to get into football but has never had the chance, this is the article for you. Today, I’ll be breaking down the basic rules of the game and summarizing all you need to know as a new fan. 

Basic Rules

Let’s start off by going over the basic rules and terms of the game. The object of the game is to outscore your opponent by moving the ball past the opposing goal line for a touchdown, or by kicking the ball through the opposing goalposts for a field goal. Teams can move the ball down the field in one of two ways. They can either run the ball or throw/pass the ball to move the football down the field and score. 

The Offense is the players on the team tasked with scoring, while the defense is supposed to stop them. A defense can successfully stop the offense by doing one of two things. They can either stop them from advancing 10 yards to the first down line 4 times, which forces a turnover of the ball. The other option is a player-caused turnover like a fumble (Player loses control of the ball), interception (Defense catches the ball thrown by the QB), or a safety (Offensive player is tackled/sacked in the end zone).

Diagram of what a standard NFL Offense and Defense looks like

Position Breakdown

As shown in the diagram above, football is a 11v11 sport with many different positions. Each position has a specific job on the field, but most teams don’t stick to traditional matchups. The Offensive Line’s job (Yellow) is to protect their Quarterback (Black) from the Defensive Line (Light Blue). To move the ball down the field the QB can pass to his Wide Receivers (Dark Blue), Tight End(s) (Orange), or Runningback(s) (Red). On the defensive side of the ball, the Cornerbacks (Gray) are usually responsible for covering the WRs, while the Safeties (Green) cover both WRs and TEs. A good offense scores many points and exploits the defense’s weaknesses to succeed. A good defense stops the offense from getting first downs and advancing further down the field, while also having the chance to force turnovers. 

Coaching & Team Building

For offenses and defenses to succeed, you not only need talented players but also good coaching. The best coaching staffs design their offensive plays to suit their players and create mismatches against the defense. Coaching can help improve a unit, but can also hurt one. Even if you have great players on your roster, bad coaching can significantly hold a team back. Team building is another aspect of football that is important, especially when it comes to acquiring players. Teams can acquire players in one of three ways; they can draft them out of college, trade draft picks for them, or sign them as free agents. 

Favorite Players

One of the best aspects of football in my opinion is the players. Most NFL fans have a favorite player, whether that be on their favorite team or not. You can start following a player as soon as they get drafted, and end up seeing the highs, lows, and eventual end to their career. Superstars like Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Donald, Tom Brady, and TJ Watt make following the league exciting. The players’ energy and commitment to the game give fans a great experience no matter where you watch from.

In all, NFL Football is the most popular sport in the US for a reason. Football can be as complicated or as simple as you want to be. Once you pick one of the 32 teams to follow, you’ve now become an NFL fan. The ultimate goal as a fan is to see your team win the Super Bowl, and one of the worst things that can happen is your team having the #1 overall pick in the draft. Whether you’ve been watching football your whole life, or will just start this year, we all come together as fans of the same game. This article is the first half of this series, so be on the lookout as I dive deeper into types of plays, rules, and fantasy football.

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