ITP Glossary: Climbing The Pocket

The language of football is often confusing: play callsalignmentstechniques, and concepts litter the commentary and writing about the game. Inside the Pylon wants to aid everyone in developing a deeper understanding of the game, so our glossary entries will offer clear explanations and video examples to that end. We hope we can help you to enrich your experiences with the game of football.

Climbing The Pocket

A quarterback’s ability in the pocket to avoid pressure: moving with quick steps either forward or laterally, while under pressure from rushers, keeping his eyes on his receivers, and trusting the offensive line.

“In the face of outside pressure, you need to move forward, stepping up into the pocket. It’s an unnatural reaction, but you have to do it. The outside rushers’ momentum will carry them right past you if you step up.” – Joe Montana


Mark Schofield writes:

Former UCLA Bruin and current Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley is in the shotgun, awaiting both the snap and USC Trojans/New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams. At the snap, Williams uses a speed rush to get up the field and into the offensive backfield, forcing Hundley to make a decision. Many young quarterbacks try and escape pressure by vacating the pocket toward the sideline, but that would lead right into Williams’ hands. Instead, the quarterback moves forward, stepping up into the pocket. Watch as Williams’ momentum carries him right past Hundley, just as Montana predicted:

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The New England Patriotsthird scoring drive in Super Bowl XLIX has an excellent illustration of what Montana says about climbing the pocket:



The Seattle Seahawks rush four, starting both defensive ends in a wide 9 alignment, well outside the tackles. Off the snap, both head up field, where running back Shane Vereen assists right tackle Sebastian Vollmer with Michael Bennett, while left tackle Nate Solder engages Bruce Irvin. Brady completes his drop, hops once, and then takes several steps up in the pocket to avoid all of Seattle’s rushers:


Stepping into the throw, he keeps his eyes down field and finds Julian Edelman for a key third down conversion:

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The ITP Glossary is curated by Mark Brown. Others contributing to this entry are Jake Vincent and Mark Schofield.

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Inside The Pylon covers the NFL and college football, reviewing the film, breaking down matchups, and looking at the issues, on and off the field.

One thought on “ITP Glossary: Climbing The Pocket

  1. To be an effective successful quarterback in the NFL one must stay in the pocket and climb the pocket when the pressure is on. Hopefully Johnny Manziel, Tyrod Taylor and other scrambling quarterbacks can start climbing the pocket.

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