Author Topic: Outside Linebacker Play  (Read 8881 times)

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Offline JrTitan

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Outside Linebacker Play
« on: March 21, 2010, 08:47:16 PM »
The outside linebackers are called Sam (strong) and Rover (weak).  The Sam linebacker is typically your best defender.  The Rover can be a fourth linebacker or strong safety type of player.  The Sam linebacker determines the strength of the front with a “Sam Right” or “Sam Left” call.  The strong side is the declared to the tight end side.  We use the following progression to declare formation strength:
  • Tight End
  • One receiver side (if the offense has no TE)
  • Short side (if two TEs),
  • QB throwing hand (if two TEs)
The Sam linebacker aligns on the inside eye of the tight end (7 technique).  If the tight end widens more than six feet (i.e., takes a “nasty” split), he changes position with the strong end and aligns in a wide 9 technique head up the tight end.  If there is no tight end, he aligns three yards off and outside the tackle.   By having the strong end in a 9 technique and Sam in 7 technique, the defense can exert an extreme amount of pressure on the sweep, off-tackle and option plays. Sam is responsible for the C gap on runs towards him, on run away he should sink his hips and cross key the far back checking for counter and reverse.  When he is certain that he is not threatened by these plays, he should sink back and pursue down the line checking for cutback

Sam has two primary keys.  The tight end is his pressure key and the near back is his visual key.  Sam is focused on the action of the tight end prior to and at the snap to determine run or pass.  If Sam feels any pressure from the tight end he reads run and reacts to the near back, blocking scheme and ball level.  If the TE releases on a pass route, Sam drops to the flat zone when in base coverage (See diagram below).

When he is in a 7 technique, Sam uses a two point stance with his outside foot staggered back in a heel to toe relationship splitting the crotch of the tight end.  His hips should be sunk into a quarter squat position with his hands positioned slightly outside of his knees with palms facing inside. His weight should be slightly on the balls of his feet so that the heels clear the ground.  At the snap, Sam takes a power step (read step) with his outside foot rotating and pivoting on his inside leg.  He shoots the heels of his hands to the top of the numbers of the tight end.  On contact, explode the hips into the tight end and try to get extension.  Sam needs to flatten any inside release of the tight end down the line of scrimmage clogging the C gap.  Sam’s objective is to trap the tight end on the line of scrimmage and keep him off the inside linebackers until he diagnoses the play:
  • If the tight end down blocks and near back attacks the defensive end, Sam squeezes the tight end over to D gap staying square, keeping inside arm free, controlling C gap and locate ball. (Figure 1.a)
  • If the tight end blocks out, Sam should look immediately inside for kick out block by the near back or interior lineman.  If the near back goes away, cross key far back and look for interior line coming inside out. On all kick out blocks, Sam attacks block with his inside shoulder maintaining proper leverage keeping outside leg and arm free and bend to the football. (Figure 1.b and 1.c)
  • Sam’s normal option responsibility is the pitch.  If Sam is being base blocked or hooked by the tight end and the backfield action is dive option, Sam contains the pitch laterally using a 45° pursuit angle to the pitch.  However, if the tight end blocks out and the backfield action is dive option, Sam must react back inside and play the QB by attacking the mesh as described earlier.  Against option teams, we will switch pitch and quarterback responsibilities with the end and Sam with the use of various “x” and blood stunts.  See defensive end play thread for further discussion.

By jrtitan at 2009-04-18

Rover is the weak side linebacker.  Rover can be a fourth linebacker or a defensive back strong safety type of player.  He needs to be a versatile player since he needs to play both run and pass.  He needs to be able to match up on slot receivers in space and take on a lead blocker when aligned in a 7 technique in double tight ends.  His alignment is dependent on the offense’s formation as well as down and distance:
  • 2x1 pro formation – 3x3 off of weak tackle and no wider than half the distance between the split end and tackle
  • Slot (> 5 yards from tackle and > 2 yards inside X) – split the difference between slot back and tackle 4 yards off the ball (walk alignment)
  • Tight slot (< 5 yards from tackle) –inside eye of slot 3 yards off the ball
  • Wide/Twin (within 2 yards of X) – split difference between the slot and tackle at a depth of 4 yards (walk alignment)
  • Trips –inside eye of #2 receiver
  • Double TE – 7 technique (inside eye on TE away from Sam)
  • In certain pass situations (e.g., 3rd and long) – 4x4 off the offensive tackle walk and no wider than half the distance between a slot or X receiver
Rover reads the near back (usually the tailback if in an I formation or halfback if in wing-t or split backs)  through the tackle.  Rover reads the tackle for a run pass read.  In addition to a high hat – low hat read, Rover can also focus on the near hip of the tackle.  If the near hip disappears, read run.  If the hip retreats, read pass.  If the near hip moves outside and near back leads outside, read sweep or another outside play.   Versus the run Rover is responsible for the D Gap, and he should close it down from the outside in. He must not pursue inside until he is certain the play is not bouncing outside.  Versus the run away, he should sink his hips and cross key the far back checking for counter and reverse.  When he is certain that he is not threatened by these plays, he should take a cut-off pursuit angle and look for cutback.  If option shows, he has the pitch back.  On pass plays he is responsible for the flat.

Rover must tell the end who has contain by giving him a YOU, ME, or GONE (or no call):
  • YOU:  weak end has contain and widens off the shoulder of the tackle and Rover fills inside,
  • ME:  Rover has contain, and the weak end can play the off-tackle C gap tougher.
  • GONE or no call:  weak end has contain and widens off the shoulder of the tackle and should expect no support from Rover.
Rover uses a two point stance with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and the outside foot slightly staggered back.  Weight is evenly distributed on the balls of the feet so that the heels clear the ground. Legs should be in a squat position by getting good flexion in the hips, knees, and ankles.  The back is flat and flexed at the hip driving the shoulders slightly forward and over the feet.  Head up and eyes open looking at his near back key.  At the snap:
  • Take read step with outside foot towards D gap an be prepared to play the quick slant
  • Once the play side tackle tips the play, Rover reads the action of the near back. The direction of the play is determined by the ball and the near back
  • Pick up backfield action, blocking scheme and level of the ball
  • Must be aware of the crack block by the split end.  Work up field quickly to avoid the block.
Rovers keys and reactions are very similar to the strong defensive end.
  • If the near back’s release is inside out or inside, Rover must hold his ground to see if the play is going to hit inside the tackle or bounce outside.  Do not come up over the line of scrimmage if the play hits to the inside.  If the play hits inside, fill outside in and maintain outside leverage.  If the play bounces outside, come up and make the play.
  • If the near back releases outside, Rover checks the QB’s release (ball level).  If the QB releases deep toward the outside, hands off, or pitches the ball, Rover reads sweep and immediately forces D gap and takes on any lead blocker with his inside shoulder keeping outside leg and arm free.
  • If the near back releases outside and the QB stays on the line of scrimmage, Rover reads option and attacks the QB’s lane playing QB to pitch using a feather technique unless otherwise instructed by game plan.  He should keep his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage as he shuffles down the line of scrimmage delaying the QBs keep or pitch read.  Make the QB keep the ball and close down inside.  If the QB pitches accelerate out to the pitch.  As he skates down the line of scrimmage, he should remain approximately one yard and half outside and yard and half below the QB.
  • On flow away, Rover is responsible for any misdirection play back his side.  He should sink his hips and begin a slow back pedal checking for 5 yards cross keying the far back until before he gets into his pursuit angle.  He should think systematically:  counter, throwback, bootleg and then reverse or screens to the backside.
  • If near back sets for pass, drop to the flat or coverage called.

By jrtitan at 2009-04-18

Download the full playbook for more detail.


See archive for further discussion http://dumcoach.com/viewthread.php?tid=3819
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 07:36:46 PM by JrTitan »
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Offline coachnick

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Re: Outside Linebacker Play
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 10:29:50 AM »
does sam have flat in cover 3 with a te?

Offline budfos

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Re: Outside Linebacker Play
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2010, 12:22:30 PM »
Yes.  That would be the biggest weakness in the defense, imo is the strong side flats, but that is also why Sam is supposed to be your best football player.

Offline wilrun2

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Re: Outside Linebacker Play
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2010, 03:40:47 PM »
I'm converting my defense to this type of scheme next season. I was curious about the 7 tech covering the flat in Cover 3 as opposed to the 8 or 80 tech. What is the reason for it other than the ability level of the position. I would think you'd rather have fast ball pressure on the QB's throwing arm from the 7 tech. Thanks
« Last Edit: October 28, 2010, 03:55:41 PM by wilrun2 »

Offline JrTitan

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Re: Outside Linebacker Play
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2010, 05:52:59 PM »
I'm converting my defense to this type of scheme next season. I was curious about the 7 tech covering the flat in Cover 3 as opposed to the 8 or 80 tech. What is the reason for it other than the ability level of the position. I would think you'd rather have fast ball pressure on the QB's throwing arm from the 7 tech. Thanks

I like it because the 8/wide 9 only has contain responsibility with no coverge duties.  He is aligned on air and can get immediate pressure of the edge if you like that style.  Some coaches will cock the DE and have in attack on a path to the shoulder of the near back which can create real havoc if you have that type of player.  The 7 tech covering the strong flat is a little odd, but nobody has been able to make a living doing that against us.  When it is a definite passing situation, we regularly switch the end and OLB.  Lots of different ways to play it.
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Offline coachnick

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Re: Outside Linebacker Play
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2010, 08:41:45 AM »
do you think Calande's 46 gambler and your split 4-4 are a good team?

Offline JrTitan

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Re: Outside Linebacker Play
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2010, 09:48:52 AM »
do you think Calande's 46 gambler and your split 4-4 are a good team?

Most Split 4-4s, 4-2-5, etc. have a bear coverage package and vice versa.  The techniques taught are very similar and complimentary.  The obvious differences being driven by the coverage played.  So the answer would be "yes".
"They call it coaching but it is teaching...You do not just tell them...you show them the reasons"

"You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

“…you have no bad habits to break...We either coach it or are allowing allowing it to happen.”