ITP Glossary: Jam

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From 1 technique to onside kick, 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.


A jam is a collision forced by the defender with a receiver coming off the line of scrimmage, intended to disrupt the path and/or timing of his assigned route. In the NFL a jam can only occur legally when the receiver is contact is within five yards of the line of scrimmage; otherwise the defender risks being penalized for illegal contact. However, in college such contact is allowed anywhere on the field provided the defender is in front of the receiver (rather than behind or next to him) and a pass must not be in the air. Also called a “bump” or “chuck”, it is the primary basis of bump-and-run and press man coverage.The-Tony-Gonzalez-Treatment-Mayo-Collins

Future NFL Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons is lined up in the slot. And he will not be getting the ball, as the New England Patriots have assigned two linebackers – Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo – to jam his release from the line. Notice that Gonzalez’s route begins just outside the 10 yard line. To remove one of the best red zone pass catchers in NFL history, the Patriots made sure to deliver a jam at the line that prevented him from even getting out into a pattern.

In this example, the San Diego Chargers have tight end Antonio Gates lined up in a tight slot to the right of quarterback Philip Rivers. The Patriots Rob Ninkovich is aligned in wide 9 technique, to the inside shoulder of Gates. Off the snap, Ninkovich will first jab step with his left foot, getting square with Gates, and then deliver a quick jam:


The tight end releases quickly to the inside where Rivers hits him for a short completion. The Patriots are happy to funnel Gates inside, where two linebackers waited in short zone coverage to make the tackle after a 4-yard gain.

Before the snap, defenders planning to execute a jam typically start square to the receiver in a low, balanced “chair” stance. This lets them react whether the receiver attempts to release to the inside or outside. Any steps they take must be short and quick to stay balanced and ready to move in any direction. Once the receiver makes his move, they try to hit his chest or shoulder with their “off hand” – away from the receiver’s release. From there, the defender must be prepared to turn and run with the man, continue to jam him within the chuck area, or drop into his assigned spot in zone coverage.

The defender assigned to jam a receiver in press man coverage has to complete the task, or it can look like this:Jordy-Nelson-26-yard-touchdown-against-Fletcher

Once again, we use this clip to highlight how allowing a free release can be disastrous. Bradley Fletcher doesn’t get a jam on Jordy Nelson, and, well, you know.

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Dave Archibald wrote this entry. Follow Dave on Twitter @davearchie.

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