How To Play Outside Linebacker

One of the more demanding and diverse positions in a defensive line is the outside linebacker.The variety of responsibilities is greater for linebackers due to the amount of space they are expected to cover.The single position of outside linebacker has resulted in a greater division of linebacker types.

Step 1: The strong side of the formation is where you should play.

The strong side of the formation is often referred to as the Sam.The strong side of an offense is the side where more players are lined up with the tight end.

Step 2: The lead blockers should be taken on.

The lead offensive blockers will try to hang up the defense and route the defensive line to make holes for running backs or tight ends.In addition to the rest of the defensive line, the Sam has to help close the gaps created by lead blockers.The hit and shed maneuver is one of the keys to taking on lead blockers.The correct stance requires the feet pointing forward just over shoulder-width apart, weight on the balls of feet, back straight, head up, and knees flexed.Make contact with the side of the foot.If you want to maintain balance, contact the blocker with the shoulder, forearm, or hand on the same side as the leading foot.Keep hips low and push upward on the blocker with the legs.By keeping the hips and stance low, the LB can keep his pads low so that he can disengage with the blocker and assess the next move for the play.The positioning to get under the pads and through the offensive blockers is very important for outside linebackers because the tackles and guards with whom they make contact often have different weight advantages.

Step 3: The running back should be contained.

If a quarterback calls a running play, he will give the ball to the running back who will try to find a hole in the defensive line.The Sam is supposed to plug a hole in the defensive line to stop the running back from getting through on the strong side.

Step 4: The tight end should be covered.

In addition to covering the running back in a rushing play, the Sam also needs to be able to cover the tight end who plays from the strong side of the offensive formation.Depending on the play, the tight end’s job can be to block the defensive line, make a hole for a running back, or get open when a quarterback doesn’t have time to complete.The Sam takes on the tight end in almost every play, so he has to quickly adapt to his role.If the tight end manages to get open as an outlet receiver and the quarterback completes a pass to him, it is the Sam’s job to tackle him as soon as the pass is completed.

Step 5: The running backs are covered.

The weak-side linebacker, commonly referred to as Will, is not a weaker player, simply playing from the less-covered side without having to worry about the tight end.Depending on the play, a running back who has been handed the ball may cut to the weaker side of the formation, in which case it is the Will’s job to tackle and halt progress.Wills are lighter and faster than middle and strong-side outside linebackers.While the other two are similar to hammers pounding the lead and secondary blockers, the Will’s job is to penetrate and make a play on the ball.

Step 6: It’s a good idea to prevent passes to running backs.

If a quarterback senses trouble before he can complete a longer pass, a running back or fullback may come out of the backfield to act as an outlet receiver.It is the Will’s job to cover the back to prevent a pass in these cases.

Step 7: Don’t let the quarterback get away with it.

Weak-side outside linebackers make their fair share of quarterback sacks because they are able to exploit holes created by the rest of the defensive line to attack the ball.