American football is a sport known for its complexity, with each position on the field requiring a specific set of skills and responsibilities. The offensive guard position is no exception, and understanding its role is crucial for anyone looking to grasp the game's intricacies.
In this article, we will discuss what an offensive guard is, their responsibilities, what makes a great one, and some of the most famous NFL offensive guards.
The offensive guard is a position on the offensive line in American football. There are two offensive guards on the field, one on each side of the center, between the right and left tackle - referred to as the right guard (RG) and the left guard (LG). As one of the offensive linemen, they are key to the success of the offense.
What are their responsibilities?
Pass blocking: Offensive guards are responsible for protecting the quarterback from oncoming pass rushers attacking from the defensive linemen and other defensive players. They must use their bodies to keep defenders away from the quarterback and prevent them from disrupting the passing play once the center snaps the ball.
Run blocking: Offensive guards are responsible for opening up holes for running backs on run plays. They must work in unison with the rest of the offensive line to create running lanes for the quarterback and running back, so that they can gain yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Pulling: Offensive guards may also be required to "pull" or move laterally across the field to block defenders in a different position. This requires quickness, agility, and the ability to read the defense and adjust on the fly.
Communication: Offensive guards must communicate effectively with the rest of the offensive line, including the center and offensive tackles, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and executing their blocking assignments correctly.
What makes a great offensive guard?
As with most positions in football, an offensive guard must possess a variety of different skills in order to be great. They include:
Strength: Guards need to be physically strong to hold their ground against a powerful defensive line. They should have the strength to push defenders back, create running lanes, and provide a solid barrier to protect the quarterback.
Technique: Guards must have excellent technique to execute their blocking assignments effectively. This includes footwork, hand placement, leverage, and body positioning. A great offensive guard knows how to use his body and leverage to gain the upper hand against a defensive lineman.
Agility: Guards should have the agility to move quickly laterally and pull across the field to block defenders in different positions. They should be able to change direction quickly and react to changes in the defense.
Intelligence: Guards need to have a high football IQ to understand the offensive playbook and recognize defensive formations. They should be able to identify potential threats and adjust their blocking assignments accordingly - as they may need to switch their blocking from a defensive end to a defensive tackle in a split second. A great offensive guard is also a leader and can communicate effectively with the rest of the offensive line.
Famous NFL Guards:
Larry Allen: Allen played for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers from 1994 to 2007. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler, a seven-time All-Pro, and a member of the 1990s All-Decade Team. Allen was known for his incredible strength and was considered one of the most dominant offensive linemen in NFL history.
John Hannah: Hannah played for the New England Patriots from 1973 to 1985. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, a 10-time All-Pro, and a member of the 1970s and 1980s All-Decade Teams. Hannah was known for his toughness and work ethic and is widely considered one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time.
Alan Faneca: Faneca played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals from 1998 to 2010. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, a six-time All-Pro, and a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team. Faneca was known for his durability and versatility and helped lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in 2005.
Steve Hutchinson: Hutchinson played for the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans from 2001 to 2012. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a five-time All-Pro, and a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team. Hutchinson was known for his size, strength, and technique and was a key contributor to the Seahawks' Super Bowl run in 2005.
Will Shields: Shields played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1993 to 2006. He was a 12-time Pro Bowler, a nine-time All-Pro, and a member of the 2000s All-Decade Team. Shields was known for his durability and consistency and was considered one of the best offensive linemen of his era. He helped lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl appearance in 1994.