The linebacker and in particular the middle linebacker (MLB) or mike as they are often referred as are thought to be the quarterback of the defence. The main reason for this is that they are the players who typically receive the play calls from the sideline and give them to the defence in the huddle. It will also normally be down to the linebackers to make any defensive adjustments or audibles based on the offense they see in front of them.
On a lot of teams you will also find that the middle linebackers are the inspirational leaders for their team and there is no better example of this than Mr Ray Lewis. I don't know about you guys and girls but every time I watch the clip below from the start of Madden 13 I get goosebumps!
The main responsibilities of the middle linebacker aside from play calling is to stop the run first and then if needed drop back into pass coverage. During the game at least one middle linebacker will never leave the field of play when his team is on defence regardless of the formation being played.
Now we move onto the outside linebacker (OLB) which is split into right and left sides. The strongside linebacker plays on the right hand side of the field if you were facing the offense and the weakside linebacker plays on the left hand side of the field. In this 3-4 defence the outside linebacker is often used as the extra pass rusher and so you may also find them lining up on the line of scrimmage.
In previous years linebackers used to specialise in either run stopping or coverage however with the evolvement of the league and its tendency towards passing, you will find that the linebackers have to be quick from sideline to sideline as well as strong tacklers.
Now we move onto our examples, so sit back relax and enjoy the clips:
MIDDLE LINEBACKER (MLB)
Mr Ray Lewis
Parental Advisory Warning due to the lyrics of the backing track
Parental Advisory Warning due to Mr Tate's vocabulary