What Is A Sam Linebacker – Football Terminology

A sam linebacker is an alternative name for a strong side linebacker. A strong side linebacker lines up on the side of the offense that contains the most personnel, this is typically the side the has the tight end.

A Sam linebacker will often be tasked with tackling the running back. This is because it is common for the running back to run towards the strong side of the formation.

What Are The Sam Linebackers Responsibilities?

The sam linebacker has many responsibilities that include both run support and coverage ability. As we stated earlier it is common for teams to run towards the strong side of their formation.

This means the sam linebacker will be responsible for tackling the running back and filling his gap. Since they play on the strong side they will often have to shed the block of a fullback or tight end on running plays.

Sam linebackers will also have to play pass coverage on short zones in both the cover 2 and cover 3 defenses. These are small zones but still require versatility and speed from the linebacker.

On some occasions, the sam linebacker will play man coverage. This is typically against opposing tight ends but can also include slot receivers depending on the other teams formation.

As the NFL trasitions more and more to passing game, coverage responsibilities have increased for these linebackers. This has be met with faster linebackers playing this position as opposed to the bigger thumper linebackers which are more effective in stopping the run.

Sam Will Linebacker Difference?

The difference between a Sam and Will linebacker is that one plays the weak side while the other plays the strong side.

The strongside as we stated previously in our article is the side of the offense which has more players.

Most often the strong side is determined by the tight end. As you know the offensive line has five players on it. With the center playing in the middle this makes for two players on either side of the line.

Once the tight end joins the line he will make three players on one side of the line and two on the other. If the tight end has joined the right side of the line then the right is the strong side.

At this point, the Sam linebacker will line up on the side of the line with the linebacker. While the Will linebacker will line up on the weak side which only has two players.

Where Does Sam Linebacker Lineup?

The Sam linebacker lines up on whichever side of the line has more players. This means you will almost always lineup across from the tight end if they are using one in their formation.

It is important to remember that this linebacker does not always line up on the same side of the field. As the strong side of the formation changes from play to play this linebacker will have to move with it.

If you are wondering which side to line up as a strong side linebacker you can simply count the offensive line. Whichever side has more personnel is the side that you want to line up against.

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