Most defensive groups have two outside linebackers, strong side and weak side, who are in charge of controlling the outer portions of the opposing offensive formations. The particular responsibilities of outside linebackers are heavily dependent on the game scenario and the offensive configuration of the opposing team. However, some general duties usually fall to this position group include: breaking on the ball, filling running lanes, and making tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Outside linebackers are often asked to do a lot more than just rush the passer. They may be required to drop into coverage or even return punts if necessary. However, they should never be asked to do anything that would put them at risk of injury.
Outside linebackers are also typically the leaders of their defense. This is because they are responsible for getting their teammates ready for each play and directing them back onto the field if they are injured. Additionally, they will often call the appropriate coverages based on the opposing offense's actions throughout the game. All of these decisions must be made quickly while keeping in mind that the quarterback is about to hand the ball off or throw it forward. Outsides often make many of these decisions without help from their teammates, which means they can't waste any time making mistakes.
Finally, outside linebackers must bring energy to the field every week. This is especially important when there is a short turnaround between games.
Outside linebackers often play on one side of the defensive line. Depending on the offensive use of tight ends, they are also referred to as strongside or weakside linebackers. A strongside linebacker, or "sam linebacker," defends the tight end side of the offense when one is deployed. A weakside linebacker plays opposite the tight end when one is used by the offense.
Both players will usually cover the same area of the field during a game. Their responsibilities are to stop the run and rush the pass. Outside linebackers are typically larger than inside linebackers and can be effective bludgers. They may also have more opportunity for big plays because they are not as involved in the offense's running game as other defense players.
Outside linebackers are important parts of every defense and it is no surprise that many of them go on to have successful NFL careers. Here are five recent outside linebackers who have had such success they were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft: Paul Kruger (Steelers), Clay Matthews ( Packers ), Justin Houston (Texans), Kahlil Mack (Raiders), and Marcus Davenport (Bears)
Outside linebackers can come in any size or shape but most play between 240 and 260 pounds. Some early pioneers included Jim Otto, Kenny Lewis, and Andy Russell.
There are currently only nine teams who don't have an outside linebacker on their roster.
In man-to-man coverage, the strong side linebacker typically covers the tight end while the weak side linebacker covers the first player to come out of the offensive backfield, usually a running back. Three defensive linemen and four linebackers, two inside and two outside, make up a 3-4 defensive formation. While the roles of the linebackers are straightforward in this arrangement, the responsibilities of the strong and weak sides in a 3-4 defense are not as clear cut.
In most cases, the stronger player will be on the strong side. This means that he will have the opportunity to make more tackles and play more defense. The weaker player will generally be on the weak side. This means that he will have the opportunity to protect the field from opposition quarterbacks and receivers but will be able to defend against run plays with the strength of the position.
During times when coaches want to confuse an offense, they may move a strong side linebacker over to the weak side or use a smaller linebacker on that side of the field. Either way, both players will have similar opportunities to make stops behind the line of scrimmage. The main difference between the strong and weak sides is who has the opportunity to make plays downfield. The strong side linebacker can cover wide receivers or running backs coming out of the backfield, while the weak side linebacker would cover passing targets beyond the line of scrimmage.
In football, a linebacker is a member of the defense. Linebackers are in charge of stopping both runs and passes. They must be athletic enough to play the pass while also being large enough to halt the rushing onslaught. Linebackers are recognized as the defense's leaders and play-callers. Their responsibilities include making sure that their teammates are aware of what is going on with the offense and getting themselves into position to make plays.
The two main types of linebackers are the middle linebacker and the outside linebacker. Both have different roles to fill when playing on defense. The middle linebacker is in the center of the field and is tasked with stopping the run and taking on lead blockers. The outside linebacker is on the outside looking in and uses his speed and athleticism to stop passes and catch runners off guard. Both middle and outside linebackers can blitz or drop back into coverage depending on the situation.
Middle linebackers are usually larger than outside linebackers and can use their size to their advantage when making tackles. However, due to lack of space in the middle of the field, middle linebackers often need to make decisions quickly when players block below them. This requires them to have good instincts and cover skills.
Outside linebackers are usually smaller than middle linebackers and use their speed to their advantage when breaking up passes and making interceptions. They also use their agility to squeeze through small openings in order to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage.