Linebacker Strength Calls | JDFB Quick Clinic 241

On this week’s JDFB Quick Clinic, I answered a question about strength calls. The focus of the discussion is on Linebacker strength calls.

The question came as a response to the Football Coaching Podcast episode on strength calls. That was back in Season 7, Episode 8.

Listen to this podcast episode to hear the full question and answer. It includes a good discussion on outside linebacker or overhang safety strength calls, too.

Passing Strength vs Run Strength

Before we get to the linebacker strength calls, I need to talk about strength calls in general. We use a run strength and a passing strength.

The strategy is valuable if you use split field coverages. You set the defensive front to the run strength. The secondary aligns based on passing strength.

If you run a basic Cover 3, there is no value in this. Even some coaches running split field coverages have decided it over complicated things.

Our strength rules for run strength are:

  1. Tight End
  2. Most receivers
  3. Wide side
  4. Left (most OC’s are right handed)

There is only one change for passing strength:

  1. Most receivers
  2. Tight End
  3. Wide side
  4. Left

The split comes into play with formations like I-Twins and Trips Closed when you have a nub tight end.

Alignment to Twins Formation with linebacker strength call to passing strength. If you assume the ball will be run to the Tight End more often, he is out of position.

The Question About Linebacker Strength Calls

Let’s get to the question on the podcast. At least, one part of the question. A coach brings up an alternate way of calling strength.

The rules are…

  • Defensive Line aligns to the run strength (this is a 4-2-5 Defense with a “G” Front)
  • Linebackers align to the passing strength. We’ll come back to this.
  • Overhang Safeties align based on wide side. No problem there.
  • Cornerbacks don’t switch sides. They play left and right. We do that too.

The Free Safety in a single high safety defense has to move to the passing strength. That’s a given. I do not know if this coach is running split field coverages or not.

It’s that linebacker alignment that bothered me. Linebackers should always align to the run strength. That’s assuming the strong side ILB is your best run stopper.

Why Do We Use Strength Calls?

Strength calls serve a purpose. It’s not about getting lined up. It is about putting your players in the best positions for success.

You identify your top players as your strong side defenders.

The 3-technique strong defensive tackle is your stud. The war daddy. The run stopper. He goes to the run strength.

Your strong safety or strong side OLB can make tackles in space. It makes sense to put him to the wide side. When we put him to the passing strength, it’s not because he is a great pass defender. It is beacuse we know the Free Safety will be there with him.

The strong side Inside Linebacker is the leader of the defense. At least in our world he is. He’s the Mike Linebacker. The one NFL Quarterbacks are screaming about before every snap.

If he’s the baddest dude in the valley, why would you want to put him to the passing strength? He didn’t get that job because of his coverage skills.

The Mike Linebacker is the center piece of every defense. He may not be the best player. He may not be the most important player. But he is the one everyone sees. He is the leader.

The Mike Linebacker should always align to the run strength.

Where To Go From Here…

Listen to this episode of the JDFB Quick Clinic using the audio player at the top of the page. Or use this link for iTunes.

For more on strength calls, listen to my podcast from Season 7 Episode 8: Strength Calls.

Finally, check out the December 2019 web clinic Calling the Strength for Defensive Advantage. This is an in-depth look at everything you need to know to use strength calls to win. You can find that in the Web Clinic Archives as part of JDFB Coaching Systems.

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