Football Pass Rush

What is a Pass Rush in Football?

A pass rush in football is when defenders attempt to tackle or disrupt the quarterback before he can throw the ball on a passing play. The ultimate goal of a good pass rush is to sack the quarterback, which usually leads to a large loss of yardage. Putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback can also lead to poorly thrown balls, resulting in possible interceptions.

Standard Pass Rush

The pass rush on an average passing play will feature three or four defenders coming at the quarterback. These lineman use tactics such as bull rushing or outside speed runs to get past their offensive counterparts. The key to a good pass rush is limiting the amount of time the quarterback has. Not only does this make it harder for the offense, but it’s also easier for their defensive teammates in coverage.

If there is a long distance to go to reach a first down, it is common for defenses to only have three pass rushers so they can have an extra person in coverage.


A blitz is any rush where more than four defenders are tasked with getting at the quarterback. Blitzes are also designed to attack from all over the field, such as a linebacker down the middle or a cornerback out of coverage.

Blitzing is the most effective form of pass rush, but it also comes with the most risk. Blitzes lead to the most fumbles and interceptions, because the QB has much less time to throw the ball. Since there are less defenders to cover the receiver, it also allows for bigger plays if a pass can be completed successfully.

Notable Pass Rushers

  • Bruce Smith
  • Kevin Greene
  • Khalil Mack
  • Lawrence Taylor
  • Michael Strahan
  • Reggie White
  • Richard Dent
  • Von Miller