Football is littered with specialized terminology. From pooch kick to bird dogging, 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.
Sugar The A Gap
To sugar the A gap is to line up one or two linebackers in the A gaps – between guard and center – and feint an A gap blitz pre-snap, before dropping into coverage. This creates confusion for the quarterback and the offensive line, as they must alter their blocking schemes to account for the potential blitzers.
On 4th-and-5, Carolina Panthers linebackers Thomas Davis (#58) and Shaq Thompson (#54) align on either side of Houston Texans center Ben Jones (#60) to show a double A-gap blitz, or sugar the A gap, pre-snap. Neither player rushes the quarterback, but Jones has to account for them, which makes him late to help when Kyle Love (#93) swims past the left guard. Love gets pressure on quarterback Ryan Mallett (#15), forcing a quick throw to Jonathan Grimes (#41). Thompson “clicks and closes” and drills Grimes well short of the first down, forcing a turnover on downs.
Sugaring the A gaps tests the range of the linebackers, as they must show blitz at the line and then move into a sound coverage position after the snap. The tactic can backfire if the linebackers end up out of position to make a play, leaving the defensive vulnerable.
On 3rd and 6 the Texans sugar the A gaps, lining up linebacker John Simon (#51) and safety Eddie Pleasant (#35) in the middle of the line of scrimmage as if to blitz. Both drop into coverage, however. Simon has responsibility for Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (#87), lined up in the left slot. He has a lot of ground to cover, and Kelce runs a quick out, taking him farther away from Simon. It’s an easy completion, and Kelce dodges the linebacker and picks up yards after the catch, and a key first down.
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All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.