The quarterback is a player on the offense who is the team's most valuable player. The quarterback starts with the ball on every play and can choose to pass the ball, hand it off to a running back, or run with it himself for a quarterback sneak.
The quarterback along with other backs are located in the offensive backfield.
A football down is one of four plays at the line of scrimmage the offense gets to advance the ball.
After the snap, the quarterback can:
- Pass the ball to a receiver
- Hand the ball off to a running back
- Run with the ball for a quarterback sneak
On a passing play the quarterback scans the field for an open receiver and then throws the ball to the receiver. It's a completion if the pass is caught. The pass is incomplete if the ball is dropped or thrown out of bounds.
The pocket is an area on the field created by the offensive line to protect the quarterback from being sacked. The pocket gives quarterbacks time to scan the field to find an open receiver to pass to.
On a running play the quarterback hands the ball to a running back to run with. This is called a hand off.
Quarterback sneaks can be planned or happen if a player on the defense breaks through the pocket. In the second case, the quarterback is trying to avoid a sack. Quarterback sneaks are risky plays since the quarterback is at risk of being tackled and injured.