offensive line

What Does the Offensive Tackle Do in Football?

In football, each position on the field has a specific role and responsibility. One of the key positions is the offensive tackle (OT), which plays a crucial role in protecting the quarterback and creating opportunities for the offense to advance the ball.

Here we look at what the offensive tackle does in football, examining their responsibilities, techniques, and importance to the team’s success.

The Role of the Offensive Tackle

The offensive tackle is a position found on both sides of the offensive line.

They are typically the largest and strongest players on the team, responsible for protecting the quarterback from defensive players attempting to sack or tackle them.

The offensive tackle also plays a vital role in creating running lanes for the running back to gain yardage.

Let’s look deeper into their specific responsibilities.

Pass Protection

One of the primary responsibilities of the offensive tackle is pass protection.

When the quarterback drops back to pass, the offensive tackle must prevent defensive players, particularly defensive ends and linebackers, from reaching the quarterback.

They use a combination of strength, technique, and agility to keep the pass rushers at bay.

Key techniques used by offensive tackles in pass protection include:

  • Kick Slide: The offensive tackle takes a step back with one foot while keeping their body square to the line of scrimmage. This technique allows them to maintain balance and quickly react to any pass rush moves by the defender.
  • Punch: As the defender approaches, the offensive tackle extends their arms and delivers a powerful punch to disrupt the defender’s momentum and prevent them from getting past.
  • Anchor: If the defender manages to get past the initial punch, the offensive tackle must quickly establish a strong base and anchor themselves to prevent the defender from pushing them back into the quarterback.

By executing these techniques effectively, the offensive tackle provides the quarterback with a clean pocket to throw from, allowing them to make accurate passes and avoid sacks.

Run Blocking

In addition to pass protection, offensive tackles play a crucial role in run blocking.

Their primary objective is to create running lanes for the running back by engaging with and blocking defensive players.

This requires a combination of strength, technique, and the ability to quickly read the defense.

When run blocking, offensive tackles use various techniques, including:

  • Drive Block: The offensive tackle aggressively engages with the defender, driving them backward and creating space for the running back to run through.
  • Reach Block: In this technique, the offensive tackle quickly moves laterally to block a defender who is lined up outside of them, allowing the running back to cut inside.
  • Combo Block: Sometimes, the offensive tackle will work in tandem with another offensive lineman to double-team a defender before one of them moves on to block a linebacker or safety.

By effectively executing these run-blocking techniques, offensive tackles open up opportunities for the running back to gain significant yardage and move the chains.

Offensive Line Drills – Getting into a Proper O-Line Stance

The Importance of Offensive Tackles

The offensive tackle position is of utmost importance in football due to several reasons:

Protecting the Quarterback

The quarterback is often considered the most important player on the field, as they are responsible for leading the offense and making critical decisions.

The offensive tackle’s primary role is to protect the quarterback from being sacked or hit by defensive players.

By providing a clean pocket, offensive tackles allow the quarterback to focus on reading the defense and making accurate throws, increasing the team’s chances of success.

Creating Running Opportunities

Offensive tackles are instrumental in creating running opportunities for the team’s running backs.

By effectively blocking defensive players, they open up running lanes and allow the running back to gain yardage.

A strong running game not only helps control the clock but also keeps the defense guessing, making it easier for the offense to execute their game plan.

Neutralizing Elite Pass Rushers

Defensive ends and linebackers often possess exceptional speed and agility, making them formidable pass rushers.

Offensive tackles, with their size and strength, are tasked with neutralizing these elite pass rushers.

By successfully blocking them, offensive tackles prevent them from disrupting the passing game and putting pressure on the quarterback.

Skills and Abilities Required of Offensive Tackles

Offensive tackles require a unique set of skills and abilities to excel in their position.

Here are some of the key skills and abilities required of offensive tackles:

Pass Blocking

Offensive tackles must have exceptional pass-blocking skills to protect the quarterback from incoming pass rushers.

This involves having quick feet, agility, and the ability to maintain a strong anchor to withstand powerful bull rushes.

Run Blocking

Offensive tackles need to be proficient in run blocking to create running lanes for the ball carrier.

They must possess strength, leverage, and technique to engage with defensive linemen and drive them off the line of scrimmage.

Footwork and Agility

Good footwork is crucial for offensive tackles to effectively move laterally and mirror the movements of pass rushers.

Quick and nimble footwork helps them maintain proper positioning and prevent defenders from getting around them.

Strength and Power

Offensive tackles must have the strength and power to match up against powerful defensive linemen.

They should be able to deliver forceful initial punches, sustain blocks, and generate movement at the line of scrimmage.

Balance and Body Control

Maintaining balance and body control is essential for offensive tackles to stay on their feet and sustain blocks.

They need to be able to adjust to sudden changes in direction, recover from initial missteps, and anchor against bull rushes.

Technique and Hand Placement

Proper technique and hand placement are critical for offensive tackles to gain leverage and control over defenders.

They need to use their hands effectively to engage with defenders, control their movements, and steer them away from the quarterback or running back.

Awareness and Vision

Offensive tackles must have excellent field vision and awareness to identify incoming pass rushers, stunts, and blitzes.

They need to make split-second decisions to react and adjust their blocking assignments accordingly.

Football Intelligence

Offensive tackles need a deep understanding of the game, including offensive schemes, defensive alignments, and the tendencies of opposing players.

They must recognize different defensive formations and adjust their blocking accordingly.

Endurance and Conditioning

Offensive tackles often play every offensive snap and face physically demanding matchups against strong and agile defenders.

They need to have the endurance and conditioning to maintain a high level of performance throughout the game.

Mental Toughness

Offensive tackles face constant pressure and scrutiny, as they are responsible for protecting the blindside of the quarterback.

They must possess mental toughness to handle the physicality of the position, bounce back from mistakes, and maintain focus and composure under pressure.

Overall, offensive tackles require a combination of physical attributes, technical skills, mental acuity, and athleticism to excel in their position.

They serve as a critical pillar of the offensive line, ensuring the success of the passing and running game while protecting the quarterback’s blindside.

FAQs – What Does the Offensive Tackle Do in Football?

1. What are the main responsibilities of an offensive tackle?

The main responsibilities of an offensive tackle include pass protection, run blocking, and creating opportunities for the offense to advance the ball.

2. How do offensive tackles protect the quarterback?

Offensive tackles protect the quarterback by using techniques such as kick sliding, punching, and anchoring to prevent defensive players from reaching the quarterback.

3. What techniques do offensive tackles use in run blocking?

Offensive tackles use techniques such as drive blocking, reach blocking, and combo blocking to create running lanes for the running back.

4. Why are offensive tackles important in football?

Offensive tackles are important because they protect the quarterback, create running opportunities, and neutralize elite pass rushers.

5. Can offensive tackles play on both sides of the offensive line?

Yes, offensive tackles can play on both the left and right sides of the offensive line, depending on the team’s strategy and the quarterback’s handedness.

6. What physical attributes are important for an offensive tackle?

An offensive tackle should have size, strength, agility, and good footwork to effectively execute their responsibilities.

7. How do offensive tackles communicate with other offensive linemen?

Offensive tackles communicate with other offensive linemen through verbal cues, hand signals, and pre-determined blocking schemes.

8. Can offensive tackles catch passes in football?

While it is rare, offensive tackles can occasionally be used as eligible receivers in certain trick plays or goal-line situations.

9. Are offensive tackles involved in special teams?

Offensive tackles are typically not involved in special teams, as their primary focus is on the offensive line.

10. Can offensive tackles switch positions during a game?

In certain situations, offensive tackles may switch positions during a game due to injuries or strategic adjustments made by the coaching staff.

11. Do offensive tackles have specific matchups with defensive players?

Yes, offensive tackles are often matched up against defensive ends or outside linebackers who are known for their pass-rushing abilities.

12. How do offensive tackles prepare for games?

Offensive tackles prepare for games by studying film of their opponents, analyzing their tendencies, and practicing their techniques and footwork.

13. Can offensive tackles score touchdowns?

While it is extremely rare, offensive tackles can score touchdowns if they recover a fumble or catch a lateral pass during a play.

14. Are offensive tackles eligible to be drafted in the NFL?

Yes, offensive tackles are eligible to be drafted in the NFL, and they are often highly sought after due to their importance in protecting the quarterback.

15. Can offensive tackles play other positions on the offensive line?

While offensive tackles are primarily trained for their specific position, they can sometimes play other positions on the offensive line if needed, such as guard or center.


The offensive tackle is a critical position in football, responsible for protecting the quarterback and creating running opportunities for the offense.

Through pass protection and run blocking techniques, offensive tackles play a vital role in the team’s success.

Their ability to neutralize elite pass rushers, communicate with other offensive linemen, and execute their responsibilities with precision makes them indispensable to the team’s offensive strategy.

Understanding the role and importance of offensive tackles provides valuable insights into the intricacies of the game and the dynamics of the offensive line.

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