What Is A Will Linebacker – Football Terminology

A Will linebacker is another name for a weakside linebacker. A weakside linebacker lines up on the side of the offensive line that has fewer players. This is most often the side that does not feature the tight end.

The Will linebacker can also be referred to as the backside or “buck” linebacker. It is common that this linebacker is faster than the Mike, and Sam linebackers as it is most likely he will play in pass coverage.

What Are A Will Linebackers Responsibilities?

When playing run defense the Will is expected to protect the B gap on the weak side of the formation. As we covered earlier the weak side is the side of the formation which has fewer players.

The B gap refers to the gap between the guard and the tackle. If the running back chooses to go through this hole it is the will linebacker’s responsibility to stop this run.

It is important that the Will contains the run.

The positioning of the Will linebacker on the field also sets him up to play some pass coverage in the slot. This can be a short zone that he must cover or it can be man coverage versus a slot receiver.

In most situations where a slot receiver lines up you will find the Will linebacker will more closer to the sideline in order to match up with the slot receiver.

Where Does Will Linebacker Lineup?

As we stated earlier a Will lines up on the weak side of the offensive line. This is the side of the line that has a fewer number of players.

You will typically lineup a few steps back from the defensive end in front of you. You will often have the defensive ends outside shoulder about even with your inside shoulder.

This is a typical line up for a 4-3 defense but your positioning may be different for many reasons. One example could be a slot receiver on your side of the formation causing you to move your positioning wider.

Why Are Linebackers Called Mike, Will And Sam?

The explanation of these linebacker’s names is actually quite simple. These names are simply shorter terms that players can use to identify these positions quickly.

The mike is the middle linebacker because it starts with the letter “m”. The Will is the weakside linebacker because it starts with “w”. And the Sam is the strongside linebacker that because it starts with an “s”.

Who Should Play Weakside Linebacker?

If you want to play on the weakside you must be fast, smart, and have good tackling skills. You are not expected to be the biggest backer at this position but you still need to be able to tackle the ball carrier when he comes into your gap.

Speed is important for this position as it allows you to set the edge ensuring the runner does not get outside you. Speed is also important because the weak side is the backer with the most responsible for coverage.

You will sometimes be tasked with one on one coverage as a weakside linebacker so you will need the speed to keep up with a tight end, running back, and sometimes a slot receiver.

That’s all on will linebackers to learn more about weak side of the field responsibilities check the weakside defensive end positional breakdown or our guide to understanding what makes a side strong or weak.

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