Did The Green Bay Packers Win Their Football Game Yesterday Coaching Outside Linebackers

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Coaching Outside Linebackers

The most difficult position on the field for most defenses is outside linebacker. In a typical 8-man formation, such as a 3-5-3 or 4-2-5 defense, these players have dual responsibilities.

Responsibility

The outside linebacker is primarily responsible for containing the run, forcing the ball carrier to turn back inside on edge runs. He can force the ball carrier to bubble and work laterally, which can help in pursuit.

Another responsibility of the OLB is to cover the flat on the pass. Typically, 8-man fronts are running Cover 3 as base coverage.

Most defensive coordinators use a mixture of zone and man coverage. The OLB will usually be locked on the #2 receiver to his side in Cover 1 or Cover 0, the slot or tight end. When a player is locked in man coverage, he cannot be considered part of the run defense.

Alignment

The outside linebacker’s alignment will depend on your defense and his ability. Typically, he will be 3-5 yards outside the end man on the line of scrimmage (EMOLS) and 2-5 yards from the line of scrimmage (LOS).

If #2 is the receiver, the OLB usually uses peak alignment, 5 yards from the ball and halfway between the EMOLS and the slot. Depending on the team and the slot’s abilities, you can choose to align him closer to the slot to block the pass or tighten up the EMOLS to help in the run game.

Keys and reactions

The OLB’s primary key for high-hat, low-hat reads is EMOLS, a tackle or tight end. The high hat, meaning the OT’s helmet pops up as the pass is set, tells him the play is passed and he should go flat (but this will be determined by the coverage call). On a low hat read, when the OT comes out with a flat back, he is assuming a run. The OLB should be looking to run unless he reads a definite high hat pass.

You can help OLB with his reading by studying the EMOLS film he is reading. Different teams use different techniques for pass and run blocking.

After receiving a low hat read, the OLB checks his secondary key – the running back. He needs to attack the run properly by reading the run block and the backfield action:

EMOLS hard down block inside, RB YOU: Attack the line of scrimmage to replace where EMOLS left off. Expect a kick-out block from the RB or pulling guard. Take it with your inner hand, keeping the outer arms and legs free and the shoulders square to the line. Compress the running lane inside and be ready to bounce the ball carrier’s tackle outside.

EMOLS DRIVE YOU BLOCK THE DEFENSIVE END, RB: Move up and inside, but don’t close all the way to the line of scrimmage. Maintain outside leverage until the RB declares inside, then fold to make the tackle. If it bounces out, box the play.

EMOLS GET TO YOU, RB QUICK FLOW TO YOU: Attack the line of scrimmage but keep your width. If you have a #2 receiver, you can either beat him to the point of attack or decide whether to beat his block. If you want to beat his block, go through him, take him back and work outside of him to contain the play.

EMOLS ZONE OR REACH AWAY FROM YOU, BACKFIELD FLOW AWAY: Keep your depth, fold inside to stack the defensive end. Check counter, reverse, bootleg action and get ready to work back. Do not pass the defensive end until the ball is away from you.

Play Action Pass can put a lot of stress on your backers. If the OLB reads the run, he should attack as he is the first player to run. But once he senses the pass, usually through a secondary key action, he must close it to return to his pass coverage area. Never stop playing!

Coaching the outside linebackers

The individual techniques required for an OLB are the same as any defensive player. They must read and react to their keys, beat blocks, make tackles, drop passes and cause turnovers. All these skills should be worked into a collection of 5 daily drills if time permits. Add other exercises to work on your weaknesses.

Group work is critical to understanding the outside linebacker role. He will work with safeties, corners, defensive ends and inside linebackers. Set up group drills each week that allow him to see his role in the defense with each of these groups. Make sure the group drills are consistent with the opponent you will be facing that week.

Understand that offensive coordinators will select you at outside linebacker. They are players who are easily thrown into conflict. Offensive schemes will try to frustrate him and keep him guessing.

Your outside linebackers will make mistakes! Coach them to trust their keys, play physical and always run the football to play the best OLB.

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