ITP Glossary: Squib Kick

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From bird dogging to wide 9 technique, 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.

Squib Kick

Squib kicks are sometimes used by kickoff coverage units to avoid a dangerous returner or a big play, especially at the end of a half or game. Rather than maximizing hang time and distance, squib kicks are low line drives, typically eight to ten feet off the ground, that bounce after 30-40 yards and then ricochet unpredictably. Thus, the ball must be fielded by members of the return team – players not necessarily out there for their hands, speed, or agility – and if they fail, the ball takes significantly longer to reach the returner. The squib kick inherently concedes some yardage, with the opposing team generally starting between the 30 and 40-yard lines, but takes away much of the potential for a big play.

The primary goal of a squib kick is either: 1) to lower the risk of a big play at a critical time; or 2) to avoid kicking to a dangerous returner.

San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak used the strategy throughout San Diego’s 2014 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens and Jacoby Jones:Chargers-Kickoff-1

The Chargers set up in 5×5 kickoff formation as Novak approaches the ball (circled in blue). Novak strikes closer to the midpoint of the football than usual, looking for a line drive:Chargers-Kickoff-2

The ball sails over the first line of Baltimore players, bouncing for the first time near the Ravens’ 35-yard line. Then, the ball bounces unpredictably:Chargers-Kickoff-3

The second line whiffs on grabbing the ball cleanly, giving the Chargers kickoff coverage team more time to get downfield. Finally, Jones retrieves the ball at the 17-yard line:Chargers-Kickoff-4

By this time, the San Diego coverage unit is nearly on top of Jones, resulting in a modest return, but containing the explosive returner.

While the squib kick strategy is usually successful, it can lead to some unexpectedly exciting moments as well:

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Chuck Zodda contributed to this entry.

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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.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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