What Is The Mike In American Football? (Fun Facts!)

Last Updated on November 25, 2021 by

In the game of football, the middle linebacker on the defense of a team is called the Mile linebacker. One of the duties of the “Mike” is to align behind the defensive tackles, in the middle of the defense. The center or quarterback usually makes the call to help with the blocking strategy.

 When you’re watching a football game, you’ll notice the quarterback shouting out “53 is the Mike”. That’s mainly because it is quite important to know the Mike linebacker during a game. If you’re looking to know the meaning and the role of Mike in American football, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we are going to show you all you need to know about Mike.  

The “Mike” In American Football

Mike is a player in a football team who aligns behind the defensive tackles, in the middle of the defense and he’s normally known as the middle linebacker on defense. The defense play calls are called out by Mike as he leads the defense. He’s also nicknamed the quarterback of the defense. Luke Kuechly and Leighton Vander Esch are typical examples of top linebackers in the NFL. For the records, “Sam” and “Will are the two other linebacker positions in a football team. The Will is often referred to as the weak-side linebacker while Sam is known as the strong-side linebacker. 

Why Does The Quarterback Call Out The Mike On Offense?

The overall performance of the “Mike” on the field isn’t affected or influenced when he’s being called out by the center or quarterback of the opposition player. A quarterback must identify who is moving and doubling to the next level from the opposition team even though it is a run-blocking scheme. More of a reason why they normally say “53 is the Mike” is that it is easier to say than “53 in the middle”. 

Is The Quarterback The Only Player To Call Out The Mike?

Not really. We’ve seen other players in the team, like the center, call out Mike during a football game. Since the center’s main duty is to stabilize and adjust the protection of the defense, he may make the calls as well. Don’t be surprised when you see a center pointing at a player as he touches the ball. 

Let’s say, for instance, top players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are two professional football players who have been able to stabilize and adjust the protection of the defense. The offensive lineman of an opposition team can be put in the best position by an experienced and skilled player with an understanding of defensive concepts. When a team has a younger quarterback running the show, it will be a great balance to have a good center. 

Various Variations Of Calling Out The “Mike”

Just like we said above, not only do the centers make the call. Sometimes, quarterbacks shout a number and point to a player. Whosoever is designated as “the Mike” on the opposition team will be pointed at and the center or the quarterback will mention his number aloud: 53! 53!


We’ve made a list of the frequently asked questions and answers for a better insight into the middle linebacker and quarterback position. 

Is The Middle Linebacker The Hardest Position In Football? 

No! The cornerback is the most difficult position in the NFL team. Players in this position are normally strong, fast, minor in stature, and agile. 

Is The Quarterback The Safest Position In Football?

No! The Offensive line is the safest position in the NFL team because it isn’t targeted by any player. The only duty of players in the offensive line is to block

Types Of Linebacker 

There are four major types of linebackers in American football. Each type has its own duty and expectations on the field even if the basic duty of a linebacker is to tackle the offensive player with the ball. For you to have an insight into the complex world of the linebacker in American football, we’ve discussed in detail the four major types. 

True Linebacker: The true linebackers are the ones that line up in the traditional linebacker position located behind the defensive linemen. These players are aligned according to the call from the defense. They are normally four yards away from the line of scrimmage. 

Sam Linebacker: The Sam linebackers are the linebackers that secure the movements in the tight ends and line up directly across from the tight end. Their main duty is to disorganize the tight end’s release off the line of scrimmage as he attempts to run for a pass. He has to then make moves to balance the play. The linebacker does two things depending on the defensive call: moves away from the line of scrimmage and makes a pass drop or rushes the passer. Sam linebackers are usually lanky preferably 6’4” or taller. Their heights help them quickly see over the right end during the game. 

Willy Linebacker: The Willy linebacker is a weak-side linebacker with a more different task on the field. Depending on the defensive call, a Willy linebacker drops into coverage or rushing the passer. Generally, these linebackers are normally small in stature, and fast and nimble than other types of linebackers. 

Mike Linebacker: The Mike linebacker is very well sorted by every player who loves the game of American football. In a 4-3 defense, the Mike linebacker is also known as the middle linebacker and his main duty is to line up in the middle of the field at a position that is directly opposite to the center of the offense. Also, these players control the defense with directions and buzzes and make great tackles. His position at the middle of the defense makes him capable of stabilizing the quarterback and the running backs. 

Final Thoughts 

Just like we stated above, Mike is the middle linebacker playing as the quarterback of the defense. Mike mostly directs shifts and makes strategic changes according to the offensive movement of his team. We’ve reached the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good resources in your quest to know the meaning of Mike in American football. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks

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