Cut blocking

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In gridiron football, cut blocking is an offensive line technique that consists of an offensive player knocking a defensive player down by hitting his knees.[1] The technique, which was initially instilled by Bobb McKittrick, the offensive line coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1999,[2] is often criticized as being "dirty."[3] Additionally, it is often illegal for an offensive player to "cut" a defensive player already engaged with another offensive player. This is considered a "chop block." In the NCAA, cut blocking is allowed as long as the block is no more than five yards away from the line of scrimmage and it is inside the tackle box.[3]

Use in the NFL[edit]

McKittrick was credited as the first to implement cut blocking in his offensive line schemes as the offensive line coach of the 49ers. Les Steckel, the offensive line coach for the Houston Oilers from 1995 to 1999, used cut blocking techniques.[4] Mike Shanahan, the 49ers' offensive coordinator from 1992 to 1994, became the Denver Broncos' head coach in 1995, and brought Alex Gibbs along to become his offensive line coach. In the span from 1995 to 2003 in which Gibbs coached the team's offensive line and implemented the cut blocking technique, the Broncos won two Super Bowls (XXXII and XXXIII). Shanahan remained the Broncos' head coach until 2008, and Gibbs was hired by the Atlanta Falcons in 2004.[5] He implemented the technique in his three seasons with the Falcons before he was hired by Gary Kubiak, the offensive coordinator of the Broncos in his time there, to become the offensive line coach of the Houston Texans in 2008.[6]

In a Monday Night Football game between the Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals on October 25, 2004, offensive tackle George Foster of the Broncos legally used a cut block on defensive tackle Tony Williams of the Bengals, which resulted in a dislocation and fracture of Williams' ankle.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eskenazi, Gerald (January 25, 1995). "Super Bowl XXIX; Wherever The Ball Is, Watch Out For Seau". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  2. ^ Silver, Michael (October 26, 1998). "Dirty Dogs". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  3. ^ a b Grupp, John (September 19, 2009). "Pitt defenders prepare for Navy's cut blocking". Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2011-12-28. 
  4. ^ McClain, John (October 1, 1996). "Steelers' charges add fuel to fire/Oilers defend cut-blocking tactics". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  5. ^ "Falcons game rekindles cut blocking debate". Tribune-Review. October 20, 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  6. ^ Solomon, Jerome (November 6, 2011). "Cut-blocking is legal, but is it ethical?". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  7. ^ DiPaola, Jerry (October 27, 2004). "Notebook: Cowher intolerant of cut-blocking". Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2011-12-28.