What is “strong side” vs. “weak side” on defense in American football?


The strong safety lines up on the strong side - whichever side of the center has the most lineman on it (typically the tight end is the extra guy). If both sides have an equal amount of lineman (maybe a tight end on both sides of the line) the strong safety will typically line up across from whichever tight end they want to shut down in the passing game or whichever side they believe the run is going to go to.

Strong safety refers to the fact that the safety in that position is playing on the strong side of the field. Just like a strongside linebacker, the strong side of the field in man coverage is the side of the field where there are more lineman and where a play is designed to be run. A typical indicator is where the tight end lines up.

In man coverage, the strong safety has the obligation of covering the tight end down the field AND coming up to provide run support. In a man formation, he will typically line up closer to the line of scrimmage so he can pick up...

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46 Formation, original 4-3 base set

The 46 defense is an American football defensive formation, an eight men in the box defense, with six players along the line of scrimmage (4 playing line technique, 2 in a linebacker technique).[1] There are two players at linebacker depth playing linebacker technique, and then three defensive backs. The 46 defense was originally developed and popularized with the Chicago Bears by their defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan, who later became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

Unlike most defensive formations that take their names from the number of defensive linemen and linebackers on the field (i.e. the 4–3 defense has 4 linemen and 3 linebackers), the name "46" originally came from the jersey number of Doug Plank, who was a starting strong safety for the Bears when Ryan developed the defense, a role typically played in the formation as a surrogate linebacker.[2][3]


To stop...

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Battling a 3-4 front.

When facing a 3-4 front (three down linemen and four linebackers), the offense’s best strategy is to run weak side, or away from the tight end (which is always the strong side of any offensive formation).

One possible running play is called the weak-side lead. With this play, the defensive end (DE) usually attempts to control and push the offensive tackle (LT) inside toward the center of the line, leaving the linebacker behind him (OLB) to defend a lot of open area. The offense is in the I formation, and the fullback (FB) runs to the weak side and blocks the linebacker, shoving him inside. The left offensive tackle allows the defensive end to push him a little, letting the defender believe that he’s controlling the play. However, the offensive lineman then grabs the defender, containing him, and moves him out of the way to the right. The ball carrier should have a clear running lane after he hits the line of scrimmage. The preceding figure...

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There are nearly limitless defensive formations, but here are the most common 4-3- Four D-linemen, Three LB's, 4 DB's 3-4- Three D-Linemen, Four LB's, 4 DB's 4-4- Four D-linemen, Four LB's, 3 DB's 5-2- Five D-linemen, Two LB's, 4 DB's Nickel- Four D-linemen, Two LB's 5 DB's Dime- Four D-linemen, 1 LB, 6 DB's Quarter- Three D-linemen, 1 LB, 7 DB's There are nearly limitless defensive formations, but here are the most common 4-3- Four D-linemen, Three LB's, 4 DB's 3-4- Three D-Linemen, Four LB's, 4 DB's 4-4- Four D-linemen, Four LB's, 3 DB's 5-2- Five D-linemen, Two LB's, 4 DB's Nickel- Four D-linemen, Two LB's 5 DB's Dime- Four D-linemen, 1 LB, 6 DB's Quarter- Three D-linemen, 1 LB, 7 DB's

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In the following, "cover" refers to the "shell" that the defense rolls into after the snap of the ball, more specifically the number of defenders guarding the deep portion of the field.

Cover 1

Cover 1 schemes employ only one deep defender, usually a safety. Many underneath coverages paired with Cover 1 shells are strictly man-to-man with LBs and defensive backs each assigned a different offensive player to cover. By using only one deep defender in Cover 1, the other deep defender is free to blitz the quarterback or provide man-to-man pass coverage help.

Cover 1 schemes are usually very aggressive, preferring to proactively disrupt the offense by giving the quarterback little time to make a decision while collapsing the pocket quickly. This is the main advantage of Cover 1 schemes—the ability to blitz from various pre-snap formations while engaging in complex man-to-man coverage schemes post-snap. For example, a safety may blitz while a CB is locked in man...

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American football . rugby: tougher? - matador, Matador attempts to put this old international sports debate to rest. rugby and gridiron compete for my loyalty in september. tri nations winds up, american football. National football league —...

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The following is a list of common and historically significant formations in American football. In football, the formation describes how the players in a team are Offense. At the highest level of play in the NFL and NCAA, the one constant in all formations is the offensive line, consisting of the left and right tackle, left and For those looking for the complete NCAA Football 14 formations list for each playbook here it is. Note: use the search feature to find specific playbooks and The 2-2 formation is one of the basic formations in futsal. Players are positioned in a square. There are 2 defenders and 2 attackers. This formation is appropriate Linguistic gatekeeping is primarily exclusionary in purpose. It involves mostly a list of don’t’ s. Language gatekeepers typically do not engage in any systematic Swirled Crop: Crop circle formations are no longer just circles, they now come in different shapes, designs and pictograms. All real crop circle formations have bent Fascinating...

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The Giants employed a 6-1-4 basic formation when they shut out the Browns in 1950, but on many plays this became a 4-1-6 in reality, when the ball was snapped, because the ends dropped off the line to afford extraordinary coverage on passes, Steve Owen, My Kind of Football, 1952, p. 183

Early in the history of the NFL, teams stacked the defensive line of scrimmage with seven linemen, typically using a 7-diamond or the 7-2.[1] With the liberalization of the forward passing rules in 1933, the defenses began to evolve along with the offensive changes, and by the later 1930s, the standard defense in the NFL and college was the 6-2.[2][3] The successes of the T formation and the introduction of free substitution (abolishing the one-platoon system) in the 1940s led to the almost universal adoption by 1950 of the five-man line. There were two versions popular in the NFL. The 5-3 was an older defense that remained popular through the 1940s and early 1950s....

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Sporting Charts explains Strong Side - football

The strong side is the primary side for running plays. A tight end and fullback can give the offense two more blockers to take on the defense and create running lanes for the tailback. The rules that dictate where offensive players line up force an offense to have a certain number of players to be directly on the line of scrimmage, and this usually creates a strong side/weak side difference. The strong side can change before the snap depending on which players go in motion, as a tight end can switch from one side to the other. Defenses will respond to formations by rotating players toward the strong side, usually a linebacker or strong...

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In American football, the 4–4 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and four linebackers.

Originally seen as a passing defense against the spread, modern versions of the 4-4 are attacking defenses stocked with multiple blitz packages that can easily be concealed and altered.[1][2] The modern defense is based on speed, athleticism and intelligence rather than on size and strength. Versatility is key because players may have to change roles from one play to the next. A top priority of the 4–4 defense is stopping the run by keeping eight men close to the line of scrimmage. This also makes it difficult for the offense to identify where the pressure comes from when the defense blitzes.

4-4 front, Virginia Tech defense, G front.


Four man fronts are seen in the 1940s as ad hoc ways to deal with the "Bears" T, as the result of two linemen dropping off from the 6-2 of the time into short zones, and later as a...

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Learn how to use a weak side line up 4-4 defensive football formation with expert football tips from a former football player in this free video clip on playing defense.

Video transcription

Typically what is going to happen in a four-four front with your defensive lineman is you are always going to give them a gap that they are going to control. Now, a defensive end, you can line him up on what we call the outside shoulder of that offensive lineman, which means anything from the nose to the outside shoulder of that offensive lineman, that is what he is controlling right there. And in theory, he is going to drive into this offensive lineman, he is going to try to get to his heels, hold that piece of ground and not get moved from there, and control that position. Your next man, your tackle inside, you are probably going to give him what we call the A-gap, between the center and the left guard, you are going to line him up on the inside shoulder of this guard and you...

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O.K. I played DE strong side, so I sympathize. The strong side, technically, refers to the side with the tight end, assuming there is one. The weak side is frequently called "back side" today--its a motivational/pc thing.

Offenses can also go balanced, such as Ace Big or frequently in short yardage formations/situations, which means a tight end is on both ends. Furthermore, they used to commonly have a true strong side--i.e., one tackle and guard always went to the same side as the primary tight end. Today that is seldom seen. Interestingly, the University of Tennessee is going back to it. (Read SI's College Preview issue.) This means each play is really just one play as far as learning assignments go. If you are backside tackle, you only have to know the backside assignment. The weakness is that everyone knows which side of the ball you are more likely to pound it on. Every defensive coordinator has his rules for how to line up in accordance with these variations. Make sure to...

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A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in American football and Canadian football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage, behind the defensive linemen, and therefore "back up the line." Linebackers generally align themselves before the ball is snapped by standing upright in a "two point stance" (as opposed to the defensive linemen, who put one or two hands on the ground for a "three point stance" or "four point stance" before the ball is snapped).

The goal of the linebacker is to provide either extra run protection or extra pass protection based on the particular defensive play being executed. Another key play of the linebacker position is blitzing. A blitz occurs when a linebacker acts as an extra pass rusher running into any exposed gap. When a blitz is called by the defense, it is mainly to sack or hurry the opposing offense's quarterback.


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The strong side is the side where the Tight End is lined up. Usually the right side, to help the Right Tackle block and provide a check-down option to the Quarterback.

Now, the (a bit) more long explanation: The Football rules require the Offense to field seven players at the line prior to the snap. The whole (modern) offensive line have 5 players: two Tackles, two Guards and a Center.

Usually, the last two players are the Tight End and the Split End receiver. The Split End (sometimes called the "X" receiver) aligns on the line, "covering" one of the Tackles.

The Tight End does the same, but instead of lining far from the OL bunch, it lines directly besides one of the Tackles-- usually the Right Tackle. This gives the line an extra blocker, one that is also an eligible receiver.

The need to support the run defense and cover the TE made, at some point, Defensive Coordinations, recruit almost linebacker-sized Safeties and moving them closer to the line....

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The play of the linebacker position has captured the eye of NFL fans since the first days of the game. Even today, almost 100 years later, the position remains one of the more exciting positions in the game, but how many fans truly understand the differences between the three or four linebackers on the field at a time?

Football fans are smart individuals, but there is more to the game than the average fans sees on every down. In the "Football 101" series, you'll get a look at the assignments, plays and schemes that make the game of football so diverse, complicated and intricate. Today we'll take a look at the what the differences are between a weak-side, strong-side and middle linebacker in basic NFL schemes.

4-3 Defense

In a 4-3 defense there are three linebackers on the field in a base set. These are broken down into a weak-side, strong-side and middle linebacker. Where they line up on the field is based on which position they play.

A base...

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In American football, a 4–3 defense is a defensive alignment consisting of four down linemen and three linebackers. It is probably the most commonly used defense in modern American football and especially in the National Football League. NFL teams that use the 4–3 defense as of 2014 include the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and Denver Broncos. The Broncos returned to the 4-3 with ith the hiring of John Fox as head coach.

The invention of the 4–3 is often attributed to legendary coach Tom Landry, in the 1950s, while serving as the Defensive Coordinator of the New York Giants, as a way to stop Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown.[1] Others attribute the creation of the 4–3 to Chicago Bears Hall of Fame...

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Image showing a Tampa 2 defense. The dark green rectangles show zones.

Zone coverage (also referred to as a zone defense) is a defense scheme in American and Canadian football used to protect against the pass.

Zone coverage schemes require the linebackers and defensive backs to work together to cover certain areas of the field, making it difficult for the opposing quarterback to complete passes. Zone defenses will generally require linebackers to cover the short and midrange area in the middle of the field, in front of the safeties. In the case where one or two linebackers blitz, the remaining linebacker(s) expands his zone to cover the zone responsibilities of the vacating linebacker(s). Often, blitzing will leave larger holes in the pass defense, but it is a gamble the defensive coordinator wants to make to pressure the quarterback into a poor decision and hopefully an interception or at least an incompletion.

Coverage shells[edit]

In the...

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By Jobe Lewis

The weak side linebacker, or "Will" linebacker, is one of 3 linebackers on a standard defensive crew. Like the other two linebackers (Sam and Mike), he's primarily concerned with stopping the run. But, he quickly transitions into a pass defender as needed, and often ends up assigned to slot receivers, even more than the Sam. The will linebacker has to be quick and agile, and able to move laterally with the ball carrier to force the run inside, but because he lines up on the weak side of the formation, he is often pursuing the play as it goes away from him.


The will linebacker lines up five or six yards deep, and he usually splits the "B" gap on the weak side of the formation. This puts him in a nice position to stop the run if it comes his way, but also gets him leverage to be able to drop in coverage, or cover the back out of the backfield. If he has a slot receiver to his side, in most cases, he'll widen his alignment to be in...

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