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Engaging Linebackers: Moving to the Second Level

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Engaging Linebackers: Moving to the Second Level


In the game of football, mastering the art of engaging linebackers at the second level is crucial for the success of both run and pass plays. This article aims to provide players and coaches with a thorough understanding of advanced techniques to effectively reach and engage linebackers, ensuring dominance in the trenches and beyond.

Understanding the Second Level

The second level in football refers to the area occupied by linebackers and defensive backs. In run plays, offensive linemen must move past the defensive line to block at this level, while in pass plays, skill players often need to engage linebackers for successful route execution and yard gains.

Key Terms:

  • Second Level: The area 3-5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • Linebackers: Defensive players who are responsible for stopping the run and covering receivers.
  • Reach Block: A technique where an offensive lineman moves laterally to block a defender.
  • Combo Block: A double-team block where one blocker moves to the second level after securing the initial block.

Techniques for Run Plays

  1. Initial Stance and Explosion:

    • Stance: Start with a balanced stance to ensure a quick first step.
    • Explosion: Fire out low with powerful leg drive, aiming to gain leverage.
  2. Targeting the Linebacker:

    • Identify the linebacker's alignment pre-snap.
    • Use quick feet and agility to get to his position.
  3. Engage and Sustain:

    • Angle of Attack: Approach at an angle to cut off the linebacker's path.
    • Hand Placement: Focus on striking the breastplate or numbers.
    • Drive: Maintain leg churn and push until the running back is through.
Key ActionsDescription
StanceBalanced, weight on the balls of feet
ExplosionQuick, low, and powerful fire out
TargetingPre-snap identification, quick feet to position
EngageAttack angle, proper hand placement
SustainLeg churn, consistency in block until play concludes

Techniques for Pass Plays

  1. Recognize Defensive Structure:

    • Read the defensive alignment post-snap.
    • Understand linebacker assignments (coverage, blitz, or zone drops).
  2. Release and Route Running:

    • Utilize a quick release off the line.
    • Execute sharp cuts and maintain eye contact with the quarterback.
  3. Engagement During Pass Route:

    • For tight ends and running backs: Chip block the linebacker before slipping into the route.
    • Wide receivers may use a "rub" technique to disrupt coverage.
  4. Creating Separation:

    • Use head fakes or shoulder dips to create separation.
    • Accelerate out of cuts to maintain a clear path.
Key ActionsDescription
RecognitionPost-snap read, understand linebacker roles
ReleaseQuick off the line, sharp cuts
EngagementChip block, rub techniques
SeparationHead fakes, shoulder dips, acceleration out of cuts

Coaching Wisdom

  • Drills:

    • Use cone drills to simulate second-level engagement scenarios.
    • Implement half-line drills focusing on reach blocks and angle blocks.
    • Practice live 7-on-7 scrimmages to refine engagement techniques in dynamic settings.
  • Film Study:

    • Review game footage focusing on linebacker's tendencies and positioning.
    • Emphasize successful engagement examples to highlight proper techniques.


Mastering the techniques of moving to the second level and engaging linebackers is vital for any offensive unit's success. By combining player knowledge and coaching insights, teams can improve their execution of both run and pass plays, ultimately controlling the game's tempo and gaining an edge over their opponents.

Engage well, block smart, and always keep your eyes on the prize—dominating the second level is a game-changer!

Stay Tuned for more insightful articles on mastering your game, from line play to skill positions and everything in between!