drop - into the drop (American football)

eleonb

Senior Member
Español, Chile
Hi,
I'm translating the American documentary film "Bombay Beach" into Spanish.

A high-school American football game is being played.
In an interruption (time-out?), the coach (according to the English transcription I received) tells the players: "Into the drop, by catching the ball".
And then the game is resumed: the teams are "formed", the quarterback gives the ball to a player close to him, this player runs very fast, and scores a touch-down.
(I hope this description makes sense, I don't know much about American football).

What does "drop" mean in that context?
Thanks!
Enrique.
 
  • losvedir

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Hmm.. I'm American and somewhat familiar with Football terminology, but I've never heard "drop" before.

    Also, "Into the drop, by catching the ball" doesn't make any sense to me. Is there more to the sentence that is missing?

    Possible terms I can think of that might be mistranslated would be "pocket", which is the space around the quarterback protected by his offensive linemen, or "hole" which is a space the offensive lineman try to create by pushing the defense to two sides, so the person with the ball can run through.
     

    eleonb

    Senior Member
    Español, Chile
    Thanks a lot, losvedir.
    I wouldn't be surprised if the transcription is wrong, because there is a lot of noise in that part.
    I just listened to it again, and maybe he says:
    "Pick the drop/job, I'll get you the ball".
    Does that make any sense? :(
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    "Into the drop, by catching the ball".
    That looks like the end of a sentence - we need the beginning to help us understand. Sometimes when the quarterback gets the ball from the center his steps backwards are counted and referred to as "a three step drop" or a "four step drop" as he "drops back" (into his own territory) relative to the line of scrimmage. Where he ends up is in"the pocket" surrounded/protected by his own team players.
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    As far as I know (and this site agrees), the "drop" is the action of the quarterback, after he has taken the snap (received the football from the center), in falling back several paces. This gives receivers time to run their routes while the offensive line protects the quarterback as he waits to throw a pass. So you might talk about a "five-step drop" when the quarterback only falls back five paces; a short drop tends to speed up the pace of offensive action since the quarterback must release the ball quickly before the pocket breaks down.

    That is a long way of saying: to my knowledge, the "drop" is an action, not a place where people can go. I really don't know what "Into the drop, by catching the ball" could mean. However, football play-calling often uses code language and very specialized jargon that varies from team to team, so it is possible that this was (or was written to simulate) generic "play-calling lingo."
     

    eleonb

    Senior Member
    Español, Chile
    Thanks a lot to all of you.

    I think it's very likely that the transcription is wrong.
    If any of you is kind enough to watch this short fragment, I uploaded it to YouTube, with the name "Into the drop"? (Bombay Beach)
    I know I can't post a YouTube link, but: can I just write the "code" of the video?
    <moderator note: No, you can't. Reference to YouTube removed. Please don't do this again.>
    If I can't, I'm truly sorry, dear moderators.

    Thanks again!
    E.
     
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    losvedir

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Thanks a lot to all of you.

    I think it's very likely that the transcription is wrong.
    If any of you is kind enough to watch this short fragment, I uploaded it to YouTube, with the name "Into the drop"? (Bombay Beach)
    I know I can't post a YouTube link, but: can I just write the "code" of the video?
    <moderator note: No, you can't. Reference to YouTube removed. Please don't do this again.>
    If I can't, I'm truly sorry, dear moderators.

    Thanks again!
    E.
    Ha, wow, that is really hard to hear. YouTube still says "3 Views", but I must have increased that by a hundred just now...

    My best guess at what he's saying is "... gonna go [with a] quick pitch left. We're gonna pitch you the ball...".

    A "pitch" is an two-handed underhand pass to the side. It's not very common, though, so I'm a little skeptical that's what he said. Does the rest of the clip show what actually happens in the play?

    If so, if what I'm saying is correct, what would happen is this: The quarterback gets the ball and almost immediately turns to his left and tosses it to the player next to him, who then runs. Note that he wouldn't "hand" the ball off to the player, but actually tosses it through the air. Also, the throw would use both hands starting low and coming up and out, rather than a quarterback's usual throw where the hand goes over the shoulder.

    Is that what happens? If not, then I'm at a loss as to what he's saying there. If you can upload the play that actually happens, that might help.
     
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    eleonb

    Senior Member
    Español, Chile
    Thanks a lot, losvedir.

    I just checked the play frame by frame (literally).

    There are only a few things I'm sure of:
    1. The important player of this play (and this scene) is CeeJay. He's one of the 3 main characters of this documentary film, and he dreams of succeeding in football and leave poverty behind.
    2. He runs with the ball (by the right side of his team, not the left), and scores.
    3. Given the position of the camera, I can't see the play very well. I can't see who gives him the ball. But before the play starts, he's the last man of his team (I can see the nº 7 on his back). Everybody else is "more forward" than him (sorry if that's as incorrect as it sounds to me). Does that mean he's the quarterback, who decided to run with the ball instead of giving it to another player?
    4. He's "wearing" a kind of white towel or handkerchief which hangs from his waist.
    5. Actually, I'm not even sure if the guy who says the sentence is the coach, or if this order is given to CeeJay or to some other player.

    By the way, football is just a "secondary ingredient" in the film, and the filmmaker is an Israeli woman (I hope nobody thinks I'm sexist or anti-American for suggesting that most women and non-American people don't know much about American football). It's even possible that she just put together 2 or 3 takes from different moments of the game, without worrying at all about being faithful to the essence and rules of this sport. After all, the important thing for the film is that CeeJay scored and proved to be a great player, which means that he can be optimistic about his future :)

    Thanks again!
    E.
     
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    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Yeah, that's extremely difficult to make out. I feel fairly confident that the last portion is "we gonna pitch the ball." Losvedir may well be right about the first haf; after two dozen listens it's sounding like "Go quick pitch left" to me.

    In the NFL (the American professional football league) jersey numbers 1-9 are reserved for quarterbacks, placekickers, and punters, although college and high school teams generally do not keep to a strict system of jersey number assignments. From the way you describe the play, then, #7 is either a quarterback who decided to run with the ball himself (called a quarterback keeper), or else he is a tailback (or halfback) or running back. In a typical running play, the quarterback takes the snap from the center and then hands it off or pitches it to the running back, whose job is to advance on the ground.
     
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