ITP Glossary: Running the Arc

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From Banjo Coverage to Honey Hole, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Running the Arc

The arc is an imaginary circular path from where an edge defender lines up in his pre-snap stance to where the quarterback will eventually settle in the pocket. Runningthe arc occurs when an edge defender attacks with an outside pass rush, bursting upfield and around the opposing tackles frame and into the pocket.


In the play below, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett runs the arc to the Nevada quarterback:

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Garrett’s explosiveness and natural athleticism allow him to climb the arc and turn a tight corner to the quarterback, evading the left tackle’s efforts to keep him at bay. There are a lot of elements to being successful at the top of the arc as a pass rusher, but having Garrett’s flexibility and quickness is always helpful.

Of course, while an edge defenders goal is to run the arc to reach the quarterback, the opposing offensive tackle is intent on keeping that defender from succeeding along the same plane. Heres an example of Florida State left tackle Roderick Johnson failing to do so against Louisville defensive end Devonte Fields this past season:

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Johnson has the athleticism to move up and down the arc with ease, but lacks the footwork and hand placement to always do so efficiently. Against explosive pass rushers like Fields, defending the edge becomes as much about technique as anything else.

If you want to see an offensive tackle who moves along the arc extremely well, look no further than former Mississippi tackle Laremy Tunsil, who wards off this Garrett pass rush with brilliant technique at the top of the arc. Here, the first-round draft pick displays quick feet and efficient footwork to prevent the sack:

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Click here for more Glossary entries. Follow us @ITPylon.

Jon Ledyard wrote this entry. Follow Jon on Twitter @LedyardNFLDraft.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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