The linebacker in the center The "Mike," or middle linebacker on defense, is the guy who frequently lines in the middle of the defense, behind the defensive tackles. The Mike linebacker is sometimes referred to as the defense's "quarterback." This guy is frequently the defensive focal point. He decides when to blitz and when not to, he calls the appropriate coverage based on the offense's offensive formation, and he makes sure that his teammates are aware of what type of look they are facing. In general, the Mike is a very vocal leader who commands the respect of his teammates.
The Mike is usually one of the largest players on the defense, which means that he has the responsibility of taking out the opponent's best running back any time the team puts him there. Because of this, Mikes are often called "battlors" by coaches and fans. However, they do more than just battle - they make key decisions in crucial moments of the game. They call the defenses' plays during the game, and they can also get involved in the offense as well. Although they don't handle the ball, Mikes are important members of the defense because they lead by example and teach others how to play too.
Some teams have a single Mike while others have two. The single-minded focus on stopping the run leads many teams to only have one true Mike, although several strong linebackers may be used in certain packages or situations.
Before the snap, every quarterback acts like a traffic cop, directing traffic this way and that. You'll almost always see him gesture to a linebacker right before the ball is snapped, naming that player by number and referring to him as the "Mike," shorthand for middle linebacker. Then he'll point to one of his wide receivers and tell him where to go after the signal call.
The quarterback is giving orders to the other players on the field. The Mike is supposed to be the leader of the defense, so it's no surprise that he usually has the biggest role on the team. But there are other positions that need to be filled too; the Mike isn't the only person with authority over their group. On most teams, there's at least one other linebacker who can make calls during game situations. There might also be defensive backs or even linemen who can issue orders if the situation requires it. All of these people are referred to as "Mikes."
In addition to being able to call out the number of each player, the quarterback should know the names of the offensive line members too. That way he can tell which one to give the ball to (usually the one on the left), and which one not to give the ball to (usually the one on the right).
Overall, knowing the names of all the players on the field is very important.
The middle linebacker provides coverage for both the run and the pass. When the quarterback points to the mike, he is signaling to the offensive line where the "count" begins. If a blitz or stunt occurs, the offensive line must recognize who they are blocking. Likewise, if the quarterback wants to change the play at the line of scrimmage, he will signal the mike.
LB is one of the most important positions on any football team because they can have a huge impact on any given play. A LB can take away the option pitch to the RB, force the quarterback into an errant throw, or make a diving interception. The role of middle linebacker is very different from that of other linebackers. While all linebackers are expected to be strong tacklers, the middle linebacker is also responsible for covering receivers deep downfield and making sure no one gets through behind him.
Middle linebackers are usually large men who can tackle, but they also need to be smart and disciplined. They should always keep an eye on the field around them, looking for signs of a free runner. They should also pay attention to which players on the offense are catching the ball so they can relay this information back to their teammates.
Middle linebackers lead by example; they don't just tell their teammates where to go and what action to take, they show them by playing the position well.