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The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints linebacker Craig Robertson is one of those players who keeps finding his way onto the field. Undrafted in 2011 out of North Texas, he spent his first NFL season on Cleveland’s practice squad before getting a chance to become ...

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Old 05-16-2018, 09:10 PM   #1
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Saints linebacker Craig Robertson is one of those players who keeps finding his way onto the field. Undrafted in 2011 out of North Texas, he spent his first NFL season on Cleveland’s practice squad before getting a chance to become a situational backup and special teamer in 2012. He started three games for the Browns in 2012 and then 61 of his next 73 games, including 27 of 31 since signing with the Saints in ’16. Initially a safety in college, Robertson is a finesse linebacker with speed, though he’d never be confused for Deion Jones or Telvin Smith.

Guys like Robertson must play faster than their athleticism. That demands an aptitude for diagnosing plays. We think of this as reading and reacting, but for a linebacker, much of the game takes place before the snap, at the line of scrimmage. Watching his 2017 game against the Rams, Robertson showed me how he sniffs out plays before the snap.



Craig Robertson: We knew when Tavon Austin was in the backfield, he had his small book of plays that he ran. The tight end’s stance [Tyler Higbee] gave a lot of those plays away. Right here, his feet are even. On other plays, his feet will be kind of staggered, but not much. It was a slight but telling difference. Our defensive ends would look at his feet and make certain calls off it.

Andy Benoit: So the defensive ends knew that “even feet” meant a split-zone block, where Higbee would work back across the formation and block the opposite edge defender?

Robertson: Yeah. But the Rams would pass from this look, too. [Right defensive end Cam Jordan] knew that Higbee, from this stance, would be chip-blocking him [if it’s a pass]. That’s why Jordan widened his pass rush initially.

The result: Todd Gurley was stopped for a 1-yard gain.



Robertson: Here WR Cooper Kupp is at No. 3. [This is football-speak for saying Kupp is the third widest-aligned receiver on his side of the field. The widest guy, Austin, is No. 1. The second widest guy, Josh Reynolds, is No. 2.] Being at No. 3 and up on the line of scrimmage, with the two outside guys off the ball, we know Kupp won’t run a route to the flat. [Visualize it: if Kupp did run to the flat, his route would collide with any route that Austin or Reynolds ran, unless they both also ran flat routes, which would be a nonsensical play design.] So Kupp will run either a Corner route, a Go route or an Over route. [All are routes that go vertical off the snap.]

Of course, with more limited route options from this alignment, the defense must be on higher alert for a run play, especially given it was second-and-1. Indeed, it was a misdirection toss to Todd Gurley.

Robertson: I thought Gurley was going to cut inside. I bounced outside first [correctly], but I peeked back. I needed to just get outside all the way.

The result: A five-yard gain for Gurley.

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Old 05-17-2018, 12:30 AM   #2
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

It's great they are studying,diagnosing and finding tells on players but why are they broadcasting this info?
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Old 05-17-2018, 11:04 AM   #3
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

Just goes to show how important film study, comprehension, and intelligence can be on gameday. I always felt this was one of the advantages Vilma had over stronger, faster linebackers.
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Old 05-17-2018, 01:45 PM   #4
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

Remember how Joe Federspiel would take the running back that went in motion and the other team ran where he wasn't?
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:31 PM   #5
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

And most of us can’t even watch football without spilling queso dip on ourselves, let alone diagnose what play is coming in real-time just by looking at how the TE is standing.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:49 AM   #6
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

Originally Posted by turbo_dog View Post
Just goes to show how important film study, comprehension, and intelligence can be on gameday. I always felt this was one of the advantages Vilma had over stronger, faster linebackers.
Preparation is essential to winning......whether it's the weight room, film room or time spent with the play book.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:17 PM   #7
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

With what Robertson and Thomas Davis, have done in this league, don't understand why more teams don't draft big strong safeties and convert 'em to 4-3 OLBers...
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:26 PM   #8
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Re: The Secrets of a Linebacker - Craig Robertson

Originally Posted by jeanpierre View Post
With what Robertson and Thomas Davis, have done in this league, don't understand why more teams don't draft big strong safeties and convert 'em to 4-3 OLBers...
Yep.

I remember former Bronco coach Kubiak say ... " YOU USED TO HAVE A BIG MIKE LINEBACKER WHO WOULD BEAT THE HELL OUT OF YOU. NOW IT MIGHT BE FOUR WIDE ON FIRST DOWN. YOU NEED GUYS WHO CAN RUN".
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