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. Pleasecontact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
A chip block is a quick-hitting block, most often executed by a running back or tight end before releasing into a route. This technique is typically used to target edge rushers in order to stall their jump off the snap and/or redirect their path away from the quarterback. Because the block is often unexpected by the defender, a quality chip can knock a pass rusher off balance, leaving the offensive lineman responsible in good position to finish the block.
The drawback of using a skill position player to chip block is that it delays the timing of his route and usually eliminates him as an initial receiving option for the quarterback.
Chip Away At Mack
The Denver Broncos rarely provided help for their offensive tackles against Oakland Raiders defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack – a questionable strategy that led to a five-sack game for the edge rusher. When they did provide aid in the form of an inline tight end on a chip block, quarterback Brock Osweiler saw slightly more time in the pocket.
On 2nd and 9 from the three-yard line late in the third quarter, the Denver quarterback avoids complete disaster in his own end zone thanks to a chip block on Mack at the line of scrimmage:
Tight end Virgil Green (#85) barely grazes Mack on the chip and release, but he does enough to slow down and widen the pass rusher’s path into the backfield. Although Mack is still able to bull rush right tackle Michael Schofield (#79) and constrict the pocket, Osweiler gains enough time to at least get rid of the ball and survive the down.
Getting Chippy With Watt
While dedicating two blockers to Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is a common strategy, it’s not a compromise that can be used in every situation. Downs, distances, and different defensive fronts dictate different tactics and scheme. One constant for the Indianapolis Colts, however, was using tight ends and running backs to chip Watt at almost every opportunity, providing at least partial help for the offensive line:
Indianapolis deploys a compressed formation that uses tight end Dwayne Allen in a tight slot alignment just outside of Watt. At the snap, instead of releasing straight into his route, Allen steps into Watt’s path and knocks the defender to the ground before running a seam pattern down the field. Watt quickly jumps to his feet only to face two offensive lineman.
When the opportunity arises due to formation and/or availability of a running back/tight end, disrupting Watt’s pass rush lane with a chip block can slow him down and give a boost to the offensive lineman assigned to take him on. The New England Patriots use that approach in the clip below in an effort to limit Watt’s “clean release” as a pass rusher:
Operating out of a split-back formation in shotgun, running back Brandon Bolden (#38) – from his offset position on Watt’s side – angles into the path of the defender off the snap, redirecting him into the right tackle with a quick body check. Knocked off his original pass rush landmark, Watt then immediately takes a second, much more powerful body blow from right guard Tre’ Jackson that plants him on the ground. On the opposite side, running back James White utilizes a chip block on defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, forcing the defender to the inside toward both the left tackle and guard who combine to easily drive the pass rusher wide of the quarterback.
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Brian Filipiak wrote this entry. Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Filipiak.
All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.