Football is littered with specialized terminology. From shield punt formation to yankee concept, 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.
The B Gap is the space, or split, between the offensive guards and offensive tackles on either side of the offensive line. Gaps can be widened by blocks, used as holes or lanes by running backs, and/or targeted by defenders as an entry point to the backfield. As the play develops, so does the gap, either being filled with rushers and/or blockers, or expanding. Delayed blitzes exploit this space between players even as they move. Each specific gap is identified by a letter (A through D) on either side of center.
An interior defender or defenders – most commonly inside linebackers, defensive tackles and defensive ends – are responsible for the B gaps. Assigning gaps to each defender within a defensive front helps the defense account for each running lane on a rushing attempt. Gap assignments are also used to coordinate pass rushers and blitz schemes:
When running “off-tackle” teams are often targeting the B Gap, as in the play illustrated below:
On this play above, the right guard will pull to the left side, meeting the linebacker in the B Gap, with the running back following.
Pressure schemes are often based on the gap a team is looking to exploit, or overload. Meanwhile, offensive line protections are based on covering those gaps, and preventing defenders from using them to get upfield and disrupt rushing plays or the quarterback on passing plays:
Here, the Buffalo Bills place a pair of linebackers in the A Gap, threatening a double A Gap blitz and sugaring the A Gap. Meanwhile, their defensive tackles are lined up in the B Gaps in 3 technique (circled), while the defensive ends align in wide 9 technique, far outside the tackles, giving the defense six potential rushers.
Pressuring The Quarterback
This particular pressure scheme from the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to exploit the B gap no matter the pass protection call for the offensive line:
Out of a singleback set, running back Dion Lewis has his eyes locked on linebacker Ryan Shazier (#50) at the snap. Not seen in the video is quarterback Tom Brady designating Lawrence Timmons (#94) as the mike linebacker pre-snap, which informs the offensive line, in this case right guard Josh Kline (#67), that Timmons will be their responsibility to block if he rushes the passer.
Timmons and Shazier both rush the passer using a designed twist, crossing paths in order to exchange gap assignments. Lewis correctly reads the twist and arrives quickly to meet the defender in the once-vacated B gap. He delivers an effective block that secures time and a wide-open throwing lane for Brady.
The Baltimore Ravens forced an interception using the B Gap blitz:
Baltimore places three defenders outside of the right tackle and two more outside of the left tackle, with a single defensive lineman head-up on the center. The idea is to disguise both the attack point and the attacker. Here, the Ravens attack the B Gap between left guard and left tackle. And the attacker? Strong safety Matt Elam, who is not even in the picture. The result:
Elam forces a hurried throw from Mike Glennon, which is intercepted by Smith.
Running Through The B Gap
Playside linebacker Joe Walker (#35) diagnoses the play at the snap and bursts forward for the hole, but Jackson meets him and initiates contact. The block from the LG gives the running back enough of a hole. The RB identifies the crease, makes a quick cut in the backfield, and cuts through the B Gap for a nifty seven-yard gain, giving the offense second down and short yardage: