An arrangement of offensive players with the intent of keeping the defense from getting to the quarterback, therefore allowing him the time to complete an accurate pass downfield. Pass protection is usually comprised of the five offensive linemen, but may also include tight ends or running backs in certain situations.
Pass protection is an essential component in any passing play. In most situations, an effective pass protection scheme is to create a "pocket" around the quarterback, with the various pass protectors blocking defenders out and away from the pocket. Pass protection becomes more difficult the longer it must be maintained, as the defense has time to make a series of different moves to elude the blockers. The offensive linemen are the primary pass blockers, but teams that are having difficulty creating effective protection may choose to keep a running back or tight end back with the linemen. This can help the offensive line block a standard pass rush, but can also help guard against a blitz of extra pass rushers. Teams that have excellent pass protection will tend to be much better at passing plays.