Let’s say you are a casual football fan who doesn’t really understand how football strategy works. Chris Brown explains the purpose of every offensive scheme in two paragraphs:
With 11 players to each side, every play — but particularly run plays — often comes down to how the offense does or does not account for one or two particular defenders. In the modern NFL, if all of an offense’s players block their counterparts on a running play, the defense will have two defenders unaccounted for: The counterpart for the running back carrying the ball and the counterpart for the quarterback, who most likely has handed the ball off. Good quarterbacks like Peyton Manning seek to control their counterpart by faking a play-action pass, so that a deep safety must stand in the middle of the field.
But the ballcarrier still has a counterpart. NFL offenses work extremely hard to dictate who that guy will be — with motion, different blocking schemes, and even using wide receivers to block interior defenders — but at some point the math is the math. Until the quarterback is a threat, the math will always work against the offense. But spread coaches, without subjecting their quarterbacks to undue brutality, have learned to change the calculus.
That’s from an article on how the New York Jets will use Tim Tebow, but if you understand those two paragraphs, you will understand more about football than most people who watch it all day every Sunday.