Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Mike, where are you?
"Mike. Mike. 54, Mike.". If you have ever watched any NFL game for more than 5 minutes and paid a little attention to all the yelling going on the field, you must have heard the word "Mike" from the QB. If QB happened to be Peyton Manning, the yelling is accompanied by lot of hand signaling and weird calls "x alpha, z 52.." but one thing you can clearly hear is "mike..MIKE 54".
Who is Mike and why is every QB in the league looking for him? Mike is the Middle Linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, there are 4 linemen who are lined against the 5 offensive linemen. It looks something like the pic in upper right hand corner. "O" represents the offensive linemen and "X" represents Defensive linemen. You can see that defensive linemen is one short compared to offensive linemen. In early days of NFL, there were 5 D-linemen but a change was made and one guy was taken out and moved back. This guy was able to go from 3 point to 2 point stance and watch the whole offensive field. He was able to see the whole offensive unit and call the plays for defense. We know this position as Middle Linebacker, also known as Mike.
Here is the mike; every QB is looking for. Why is mike so important, one might ask? Well, we know Mike is the signal caller and also he is the one who will run towards the linemen and try to block the the running game or do a blitz. If QB can identity the Mike, he can alert his offensive linemen and they know who to block when the ball is snapped. It is not always easy to identify mike, his duty is of middle linebacker but he might be using a decoy to fool the QB. That is why QBs study the film to find where mike is.