What is a PBU in Football? Pros & Cons of PBU AND More!


What is a PBU in football? The world of football is filled with jargon that can baffle even seasoned fans. One term that often pops up is PBU.

This article delves into the intricacies of a PBU, explaining its significance and how it affects the game’s dynamics. Understanding this term will not only enhance your football lexicon but will also give you a deeper appreciation of the defensive strategies employed on the field.

What is a PBU in Football?: Positions That Get PBUs

What is a PBU in Football?

A Pass Break Up (PBU) is a defensive play in football where a defender successfully thwarts a pass attempt, preventing the receiver from completing the catch. It showcases a defensive player’s skill in reading the quarterback’s intentions and reacting swiftly to disrupt the offensive play. PBUs are crucial in halting the opposing team’s momentum and are a key statistic in evaluating a defender’s performance. Here are some other statics that are common in American Football:


In football, TD stands for Touchdown, which is a scoring event worth six points. It occurs when a player carries the ball into the opposing team’s end zone or catches the ball while in the end zone.


The Quarterback (QB) is arguably the most pivotal position in football. As the leader of the offense, the QB calls the plays, orchestrates the team on the field, and is responsible for passing the ball to receivers or handing it off to running backs.


The Running Back (RB) is a versatile and vital player on the offensive team. Tasked with running the ball, catching passes, and blocking, RBs must exhibit speed, agility, and toughness.

What Is The Other Name For Pass Break Up?

Pass Break Up can be referred to by several other terms, each emphasizing the action of preventing a successful pass. ‘A pass knockdown,’ ‘pass breakup,’ ‘pass defense,’ and ‘pass defended’ all capture the essence of this defensive move, underscoring the physical and strategic elements of disrupting the passing game.

What Constitutes a PBU?

A PBU is constituted by a defender’s action that causes an incompletion in football. This could be a swat, hit, or any contact that prevents the receiver from securing the ball. Timing and positioning are crucial, as the defender must intervene without committing a penalty, making the PBU a skillful and calculated defensive play.

Does a Dropped Interception Count As A Pass Breakup?

A dropped interception could count as a pass breakup if the defender successfully prevents the receiver from making the catch, despite not securing the interception.

Positions That Get PBUs

Positions That Get PBUs

In football, certain defensive positions are more likely to record Pass Break Ups (PBUs) due to their roles and responsibilities on the field. These positions include players in the secondary, linebackers, defensive tackles, and safeties. Each position has a unique impact on the passing game and contributes to preventing completions by the offense.


Players in the secondary, such as cornerbacks, are often on the frontline in pass coverage. They are tasked with shadowing receivers, disrupting routes, and have the speed and agility to break up passes, making them prime candidates for recording PBUs.


Linebackers operate in the middle range of the field and can get PBUs by reading the quarterback’s eyes and jumping routes. Their ability to drop back into coverage or rush the passer puts them in positions where they can disrupt passing lanes. Agility workouts are crucial for burst and explosive techniques where you sudden change of direction is crucial.

Defensive Tackles:

Though not typically known for their pass coverage, defensive tackles can record PBUs by batting down short throws at the line of scrimmage. Their tall frame and extended arms allow them to obstruct the quarterback’s vision and the trajectory of the ball.


Safeties are the last line of defense and have a comprehensive view of the field, allowing them to anticipate the quarterback’s moves. They excel at providing deep coverage and can make crucial PBUs by closing in quickly on deep throws or coming up in support against shorter passes.

PBU in Football

Pros of PBU:

  • Immediate Impact: A PBU stops an offensive play instantly, which can be critical in high-stakes moments.
  • Defensive Skill Indicator: Reflects a player’s ability to read and react to plays, showcasing their defensive acumen.
  • Momentum Shift: Successful PBUs can shift game momentum, deflate the opposing offense, and energize the defense.

Cons of PBU:

  • Incomplete Metric: Doesn’t measure a defender’s influence on unattempted passes due to their coverage skills.
  • No Ball Possession: Unlike interceptions, PBUs don’t result in a change of possession.
  • Potential for Penalties: Aggressively attempting a PBU can sometimes lead to penalties, giving the offense an advantage.

Are PBUs A Useful Tool For Measuring Cornerback Quality?

PBUs can be a useful metric for assessing a cornerback’s quality as they directly reflect a player’s ability to prevent receptions. However, they should be considered alongside other factors, such as the types of receivers faced and the defensive scheme, as they don’t account for all aspects of cornerback play.


In football statistics, PBU stands for Pass Break Up, a play where a defender prevents a reception by knocking down or otherwise interfering with the ball.

A pass interception occurs when a defensive player catches a ball intended for the offensive team, gaining possession for their team.

This record can vary, but it’s held by individuals who have had long, successful careers as defensive backs, showcasing consistent ability to disrupt passes.

Yes, an interception is considered a pass defended because it involves a defender preventing the completion of a pass.


So what is a PBU in football? The PBU is an essential component of football like COMB, offering a glimpse into the effectiveness of a defense’s pass coverage. While it’s a significant stat, it’s important to consider it within the broader context of a player’s overall performance and the defensive strategy employed by the team.

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