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The position of the quarterback in the I formation

The quarterback ( QB ), formerly known as blocking back ( BB ), is a playing position in the offensive team in American football and Canadian football .

A quarterback throwing a pass

The quarterback is the game designer and thus the head of the offense . He has to convey the next move, which was indicated by the coach or (more rarely these days) by the quarterback himself, to his team and then implement it. Even before and during the execution, a good quarterback must be able to adapt the planned move to the circumstances and the reactions of the opposing defense ( Audible ) and to choose the best option available to him.

The position of quarterback is the most prestigious on the football team and victory or defeat for the entire team is tied to his game in public.


After the snap , when the quarterback receives the ball from the player in front of him, the center , he will usually try to throw the ball or pass it to another player. He can also run with the ball and try to gain space himself (scrambling). If the quarterback is brought to the ground with the ball in hand by the opposing defense behind the Line of Scrimmage (LoS), the line where the play began, it is called a sack and the play ends with loss of space. But if he loses the ball before it is brought to the ground, this is a fumble , the ball is free and can be picked up by any player, including the opponents (fumble recovery).

The performance of a quarterback is difficult to describe in a comparable size. In statistics, particular emphasis is placed on the pass quality of a quarterback, which is summarized in the quarterback rating . In addition, of course, his ability to motivate and lead a team in critical situations is also required. A quarterback who is able to keep the reins in hand and lead his team to points in such situations is generally considered to be more valuable than a quarterback who has better stats but does not have this ability. Furthermore, the ability to avoid pressure from the defense and to gain space by scrambling can be just as helpful.

A quarterback needs a certain height because he has to look over his own offensive line or the opposing defensive line during the play . A favorable height is about 1.90 m ("six feet and three inches"), but smaller players such as For example, the 1.80 m tall Russell Wilson has the advantage of being on his feet faster. It is also important to have taker qualities in order not to lose the football after a quarterback sack .

Dual-threat quarterbacks

A so-called dual-threat quarterback ("doubly dangerous quarterback") has the skills and physical prerequisites not only to pass the ball, but also to run with it in order to gain space. This is especially necessary if the opposing defense flashes frequently and the quarterback has little time to throw a pass. In this case, a mobile quarterback is more likely to dodge or overrun the defenders. In addition, it makes the attack game less predictable.

Dual-threat quarterbacks tend to be more successful in college football than they are in the NFL, which is where the "option" move is used. The quarterback spontaneously decides whether to hand the ball to the running back and start running with it himself, or whether to throw the ball to the running back after he has started running. In this case, the defenders have to decide whether to either close the middle of the defensive line for the running back, cut off the quarterback's path or attack the running back next to the quarterback. According to the cover work of the defending team, the quarterback then has to select the most promising option in the shortest possible time. In addition, there are plays that aim to get the quarterback to start running with the ball, which was relatively rare in the NFL due to the risk of injury, apart from the quarterback sneak , especially in the early years. Exceptions were Steve Young and John Elway , who played together in five Super Bowls . For a few years now there have been significantly more dual-threat quarterbacks, starting with Michael Vick , who caused a stir in the early 2000s, but is no longer an exception. Active players classified as dual-threat quarterbacks include Russell Wilson , Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson .


In 1876 the American Intercollegiate Football Association first established uniform rules for American football. The number of players per team was set at 15 (reduced to eleven in 1880) and names were set for the player positions. In addition to the nine players on the rushing line, there were fullbacks, three quarterback, halfbacks and quarterbacks. However, this designation did not refer to the role, but to the local position. The ratio of the distance to the newly created line of scrimmage was used. The quarterback was therefore a quarter of the distance from the fullback to the line of scrimmage to the same.


Individual evidence

  1. NFL quarterbacks: Does height matter? , USA Today
  2. Holger Korber: Successful offense . Huddle Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-9811390-2-0 , pp. 16 .
  3. Holger Korber: Successful offense . Huddle Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-9811390-2-0 , pp. 13 f .

Web links

Wiktionary: Quarterback  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations