Football is littered with specialized terminology. From spin move to X receiver, 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 E Gap is the theoretical space, or alley, farther outside the tight end (if present) than the D gap but often to the inside of a wide receiver aligned closed to the formation. The offensive strategy of adding additional gaps through compressed, or bunch, formations or with the use of a blocking fullback can force a defense to account for more running lanes than usual.
On defense, outside linebackers, 9 technique defensive ends, and/or defensive backs are most commonly responsible for the E 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.
Defenses especially need to account for the E gap when facing a read-option quarterback who fakes an inside handoff and keeps the ball for a run toward the outside, using his nearby wide receiver as a blocker:
The Carolina Panthers fake the inside handoff and quarterback Cam Newton keeps the ball on a designed run through the E gap. The wide receivers release as if running patterns, but check back over their shoulders instead of breaking. When they see Newton past the line of scrimmage, they begin blocking. Slot receiver Kevin Norwood (#81) blocks out Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson (#25) before Jackson can recognize the run and fill the E gap. This opens a lane for Newton to rumble for a 19-yard gain.