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Picture of Linebacker[edit]

In my opinion the picture in which a linebacker "surveys the field" adds nothing to the article. A picture of a ballsacker in formation would be more informative. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:01, 26 February 2010 (UTC)


Lawrence Taylor was never a MLB. He played OLB in a 3-4 defense and frequently rushed the passer as if he was a DE. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Cleanup needed[edit]

The article doesn't cite any sources and also gave the misleading impression that almost every team uses a strongside-weakside linebacker designation. Many teams (high school, college, pro) do not rotate the sides of their linebackers and keep them on one side (e.g. ROLB, LOLB). This is done as often times, pass rushers in particular, are more effectve from one side due to techniques and habits formed from playing on that side. Not to mention personal preferences. Also in a 3-4 the better pass rusher is almost always the ROLB and stays there even when the tight end lines up on that side. Quadzilla99 10:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

The role of strong and weak OLBs is incorrect. A Sam is more likely to be in coverage as they are lined up over the TE - would it make sense to cover the TE with a defender on the other side of the field? And the Will is usually the "cleanup" guy who comes in for the tackle (sometimes the MLB, as well) while other defenders take on blockers. Also worth mentioning is the use of the Mike in Tony Dungy's cover 2 as a deep zone defender, putting a premium on speed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:46, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

I would add that the comment about the OLB positions being bigger and slower in the 3/4 isn't true. While the "Jack" position is often a hybrid DE/LB so might be bigger and slower, usually the "Sam" position has a lot of pass coverage responsibility, and rarely has to take on blocks from interior lineman, so often they can be the smallest, yet quickest of the 4 positions.

Response to ^^^[edit]

ROLB, and LOLB were dubbed by the video game industry as an easier means for having players playing certain positions. From NFL down to Pop Warner, the outside linebackers move according to the strong side of the offensive formation. No team designates a guy left outside linebacker, or right outside linebacker.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

That's not true. Some teams, Virginia Tech, for example, rotate the defense based on where the ball is located between the hash marks, regardless of where the tight end is. We have an outside linebacker who lines up on the wide side of the field and two inside linebackers that line up inside the tackles. The NFL teams don't flip according to where the ball is because the ball is always in the center of the field. Some colleges, particularly heavy-blitzing teams, will flip to put their best blitzer on the quarterback's blind side.--B 23:27, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

It is also common to see teams designate a R/L for both inside and outside positions when playing against teams that typically don't have a strong/weak based offense (for example, 4 WR's with a single RB creates a completely balanced field).

The nomecalture for the linebackers is dependant on the team. I've heard the two middle linebackers referred to as Mike and Jack in the Patriots system. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:40, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

The statement that players in a 3-4 are slower than players in a 4-3 and therefore put more pressure on the DB's is false. The advantage of a 3-4 is that you can put more athletic players on the field and need less big guys. the basic tradeoff from a 4-3 to a 3-4 is that you substitute a large DT for a smaller and faster LB, making your front seven generally faster. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mike5011ad (talkcontribs) 03:43, 6 July 2010 (UTC)



The following appears to be original research, it is being reproduced as fact in many places and there is some indication it was not a "good faith" mistake.

There are several different designations of linebackers: strongside, middle, and weakside. Usually the strongside and weakside are combined under the title outside, and the middle is renamed inside. In many formations and systems, teams do not use the strong and weakside designations, and merely play their outside linebackers consistently on one side of the formation and designate them either right outside linebacker and left outside linebacker. These terms are abbreviated ROLB and LOLB when appearing in lineup cards.

Using the 3 major search engines for "linebacker" and variations thereof I find almost every reference to lead circularly back to this article or to dead links.
The information on this page is reproduced on many reference and/or high viability sites- such as Facebook.
While it's correct that there may some notable exceptions to a general Sam/Will/MIke/ set and designation. The point isn't well made.
1 - Among the obvious reasons for high school teams to use Utility players in multiple positions, strategy is not at the top there specific reasons why this is very uncommon in College / Pro teams (see North American Football)

2- Even if/when designated as R/L - It is still possible for them to be considered S/W relative to the play - the side of the ball - the coach - etc.

As stated a standard search found most every citation and link regarding the football position of linebacker to be circular back to this article... however I did find a couple of links clearly generalizing the position(s) in terms of S/M/W - These are professional coaches - so that should bear some weight. has some detailed information from Jobe Lewis who apparently played FS and LB at New Mexico State University - He became a columnist & HS coach.

SO ---> The single reference link offered as evidence that "MANY" teams reject the S/M/W system is not working at this time, and needs to be removed.
That link leads to a page which appears to have been part of a football 101 site that was part of
A look at the Internet archive shows many captures of the same information on that page and NOTHING about W/S sides "USUALLY" being combined into outside or middle being renamed to inside - quite the opposite in fact...
Take a look here

What is dubious is this whole page. There are are only 3 references - and the single online reference appears to have been made in "error" at best... I've shown that there is some more recent and credible online information available.

This needs to be revised or the questionable information verified.-- (talk) 22:46, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

4-4 defense[edit]

This section is both irrelevent to the page "linebacker" as well as innacurate. A 4-4 is only a situational defense used in goal line and short yardage situations. It shouldn't warrent its own heading under linebacker because linebacker play in this defense is the same as a 3-4 defense, with the only difference being an extra DT. It could be used in a page about defensive fronts, but not in a linebacker's article. Also the famed Saints defense that is being referenced was not a 4-4 defense, but rather a 3-4. The starters are listed on A base 4-4 defense is impractical for the NFL and major college because of the lack of defensive backs and the amount of passing involved. A 4-4 is commonly used in high school, however, and is often referred to as a split defense or an even defense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mike5011ad (talkcontribs) 21:32, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

46 defense[edit]

The 46 defense section fails to mention what the main deference in the defense is, specifically for the linebackers. What makes the defense different is that both outside linebackers play on the same side right next to each other. One is over the TE and one is to his outside. The DE's play 5 techniques, and the DT's are usually some mixture of NT and 3 techniques. All the pressure comes from the fact that you have all these possible blitzers to the strong side and you don't know which ones are coming. Look at some videos of the 85 bears on youtube and you'll see all the linebackers over the TE. This defense is rarely used in the NFL anymore because of the use of multiple sets, spread offenses, and motioning H-backs. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mike5011ad (talkcontribs) 21:56, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

Should the 46 in this section be written as 4-6 (spoken as "four-six")or is it spoken as "Forty Six"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:27, 23 October 2013 (UTC)


Does anyone know where the 'Mike', 'Sam' and 'Will' nicknames come from ?

It's something I've often wondered about (its what lead me to this page in fact) and would be nice to have that answered here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)

Mike = "Middle", "Sam" = "Strong side" (meaning he is on the side of the formation that has the tight end), "Will" = "weak side" (meaning he is on the side of the formation that does not have the tight end). --B (talk) 15:31, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

Middle = Inside?[edit]

The article says that inside linebacker is another name for the middle linebacker, but I don't think that's right. I think "inside" just means that he lines up inside the formation. So depending on how your defense works, you may have two interior linebackers and only the one outside linebacker. See File:Ball under center at VT.jpg for example - both the weakside linebacker (#11, the linebacker furthest to our left in this photo, called the "backer" position in Virginia Tech's defense) and the middle linebacker (#9) are called "inside linebackers" by Virginia Tech. The other linebacker (strongside linebacker all the way to our right) is the "whip". --B (talk) 15:31, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

The difference is in a 4-3, its the middle line backer, but in 3-4, there are two inside linebackers. SOXROX (talk) 22:38, 1 May 2011 (UTC)


Think this requires a history section with the picture of Schulz rather than in the opening, which can be more about the position as such. There is much dispute over the title "first linebacker" and I'm actually inclined to believe those who say Percy Given was first. Red Smith was playing linebacker in 1903, to put another dent in the Schulz story. Cake (talk) 08:36, 30 January 2015 (UTC)