Help with 7on7 Zone Defense: Linebacker Tips

21 06 2010

Hey I play middle linebacker in a 7 0n 7 flag football league in Florida. I was wondering if there is any techniques you could provide me with. Our team plays zone defense about 99% of the time. also occasionally we will go from having 3 linebackers/ 1 safety to having 2 linebackers/2 safeties so if you could also give me some tips on outside linebacker as well i would really appreciate it. Thanks  – D.J.

7on7 Flag Football Strategies

Make Sure to Spy a Quick QB


“With its prey transfixed on its brightly colored tail, the fire lizard strikes from the flank.”

– Observations of a Predator

One of the best strategies for a dynamic and effective defense is to keep the quarterback and the offense guessing.  As soon as they have pinned down your defensive formation, any quarterback with moderate talent can pick you apart.

You should develop two or three formations that the team is comfortable with – these would probably include a 3 linebacker set to stop the middle threat, a cover-2 formation with two safeties deep, and maybe even a prevent look with the deep field split up into thirds.  You can jump between the formations depending on the situation – 4th and long, you don’t want just one safety back.

But with just two or three formations, you can still give the offense dozens of different looks.  If you’re going to send two or three rushers, consider sending the safety and dropping a lineman, or blitzing a cornerback and filling his spot from the inside.  If your league allows blocking on the line, confusing the offensive linemen will translate directly into better pressure on the quarterback which means more rushed throws and more big plays.

There is no reason your defense needs to be set when the ball is snapped.  You can have guys shifting all over the filed. Backers showing blitz, safeties playing up off the line.  If you have decent athletes, they should be able to settle into their zones by the time the play develops.

One tip to keep in mind for an outside backer (depending on the rushing and scrambling rules of your league), is to make sure someone is covering the QB.  This is where it’s important to know your opponent – on some teams the QB scrambling is their primary weapon.  If you’re relying only on your rushers, and a quick QB gets outside, the defense will give up at least a 10, sometimes a 20 or more yard gain.

The Highland Tiger

7on7 Zone Defense Formation

The formation: Two defensive linemen, two backers, two cornerbacks and one deep safety.

The Rushers: As mentioned above, switching up the rushing will prove much more effective than just sending two guys up the middle.  Also, match the rushers to the offense.  Sometimes you don’t want your biggest guys on the line, sometimes you want your fastest.  Depending on the offense, the line or spying linebacker may be the place for your best athletes (this topic is discussed in more detail in the Defensive Handbook, packaged with all playbooks).

The Cornerbacks:  The corners will start out spread wide and only about 5-7 yards off the line.  They will defend against the quick out or flare into the flats.  But as the play progresses, they are going to drop deep and each cover 1/3 of the deep field.

The Linebackers: In addition to alternating their rush with the rushers, the backers will cover the short and short middle of the field.  Each one should pickup the QB rolling to his side.  They also cover releasing linemen (if eligible).  These guys have to work well together because if one steps up to cover a rolling QB, the other needs to pick up any holes behind him.  Also, as the cornerbacks drift deep, the linebackers will have to cover the flats.

Safety:  Safety should start about 10-15 yards deep in the middle of the field. He will have deep crosses or anything else behind the backers.  But keep in mind, on a long bomb down the sideline, the cornerbacks may be in a footrace, so the safety should get over and help.