I thought I knew the rules of American NFL football but maybe this is a nuanced rule regarding false starts.

I know everyone on the offense needs to be set for 1 second/1 count before snapping. However, there are several instances in recent games where I see everyone on the offensive line appear to be set and motionless, then they turn around to hear the audible from the QB and/or pass signals along to other teammates and no false start is called.

I've also seen where the O-line is set and motionless but then the defense shifts late to show blitz and people on the O-line start pointing out the new blocking assignments; again, not getting penalized for a false start.

Then we have an example of a "typical" false start penalty where everyone is set and motionless, the QB is still barking signals but someone on the O-line then rocks back 1/2 an inch and gets flagged.

So now I'm curious why O-linemen seemingly set are allowed at times to turn around to clarify signals and not get penalized but other times those same O-linemen are set and motionless get penalized for the slightest movement? Am I missing something that's happening at the field level that the TV broadcast doesn't capture and show to viewers at home?

  • 3
    "I know everyone on the offense needs to be set for 1 second/1 count before snapping." That is not part of the rules per se, a false start is that defined by Rule 7.4.2.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 20:39
  • 2
    This is a great question. I thought I understood the rules but now reading the link provided by @PhilipKendall I see some gaps in my knowledge. Luckily, going by what I see on my TV screen there seems to be little dispute among the players and officials how the rule should be enforced. The center and guards routinely turn around or throw their arm out and I never see a complaint. There are arguments about who flinched first and whether your flinch caused my flinch, but not on those "turnaround" moments. It could be that "1 second" in the rules is actually officiated as a half-second.
    – jsf80238
    Commented Dec 26, 2023 at 21:57


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