Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, 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 C Gap is the space, or split, between the offensive tackles and tight ends, or area outside the tackles if no tight end is present. 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.
On defense, outside linebackers and/or defensive ends are most commonly responsible for the C gaps. Assigning gaps to each defender within a defensive front helps the defense account for each running lane on a rushing attempt:
Gap schemes rely on the execution of several key playside blocks in order to create the designated hole for the running back to hit. Against the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots have often swapped out a tight end for an extra offensive lineman as part of the one-back power scheme, such as on this play:
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With right guard Josh Kline (#67) pulling, center Ryan Wendell (#62) handles the one-on-one assignment against nose tackle Josh Chapman (#96), driving him to the ground and preventing the defender from making the play in the backfield. From there, left guard Dan Connolly (#63) and left tackle Nate Solder (#77) double team defensive tackle Arthur Jones (#97), while Cameron Fleming (#71) – the extra offensive lineman on the play – kicks out the edge defender.
This sequence opens up the C gap, allowing Kline to hit the first defender he sees in the hole – in this case, linebacker Jerrell Freeman (#50). Solder, meanwhile, slides off the double-team into the second level, chipping linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (#52) out of the way. The crisscrossing blocks from Kline and Solder clear a lane for running back LeGarrette Blount, who makes a cut and rumbles upfield for a first down gain.