PDA

View Full Version : Nickle and Dime packages



AZBronco
04-07-2013, 07:10 PM
I'm a diehard Broncos fan, daily lurker here, and virtually non existent poster. My knowledge of football is limited, but I love the game. My question is related to the nickle and dime packages that I hear about. My understanding is this has to do with the number of DB's on the field. With the nickle, five DB's are present, and in dime packages there are 6 DB's... is this correct? Also, in these packages, who/what position is replaced? I presume it's a LB'er. I also hear people talk about the advantages of certain LB'ers being on the field in these packages. So, when are these packages used and what are characteristics you look for when in LB'ers that will be playing in these packages.
One more quick question... what is our "base package" which we'll be playing out of most of the time?

Thanks for helping me understand the game better!!

MOtorboat
04-07-2013, 07:58 PM
You are correct.

A "nickel" package has five defensive backs, typically three cornerbacks and two safeties and a "dime" package has six defensive backs, typically four cornerbacks and two safeties.

Typically, teams remove one linebacker in a nickel package and two linebackers in a dime package. However, since drafting Von Miller, Denver has removed a defensive tackle in nickel packages and shifted Miller to defensive end. In dime packages, Denver has removed both a defensive tackle and a defensive end, or a defensive tackle and a linebacker so that Miller could again be utilized to rush the passer.

Denver's base package is a 4-3, with four defensive lineman (two defensive tackles and two defensive ends) and three linebackers. That said, in the past five years many teams' "base" packages are nickel packages.

Joel
04-07-2013, 08:24 PM
Denver runs a 4-3 base:

Two big defensive tackles to stop runs, especially inside. Ideally a huge nosetackle clogs the middle alongside a smaller more agile undertackle with some pass rushing ability. Sadly, Denver hasn't had a decent NT since... Keith Traylor? Yick.... Anyway, we've basically run with two UTs most of the last decade, much to the frustration of fans and delight of opposing runners.

Defensive ends are just that, and usually slightly faster, more agile and smaller than DTs since they must stop outside runs and rush the QB more. The RIGHT DE (opposite the LEFT offensive tackle) is usually a pass specialist and often trades size for speed because he's coming at the blindside of right-handed QBs and most teams therefore put their best pass blocker at left tackle. The LEFT DE is usually the bigger one and better against the run, because he faces an additional run blocker (the tight end.)

The tight ends side of the offensive line is the "strong side," and the outside LB playing there the "strong side LB," often nicknamed "Sam" (for SLB.) Like the LDE, he's usually bigger and better against the run, sometimes at the expense of pass coverage skills. Our Von Miller is uncommonly (though not exceptionally) light for a Sam and valued most for pass rushing (though he's gotten pretty good in run stopping, too.) Sam is usually the first to go in nickel/dime sets, because he's weakest in coverage, but Miller instead often replaces our LDE (Robert Ayers) because most LDEs (including Ayers) don't blitz any better than UTs.

On the other side is the "weak side LB," or Will (WLB,) who typically faces no tight ends as BLOCKERS, but must often cover them as RECEIVERS as they cross the formation. Consequently, Wills are often the lightest yet fastest LBs; our DJ Williams (now with the Bears) made a career covering Pro Bowl receving TEs like Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzales and Dallas Clark, but fans often criticized him for being dragged downfield on tackles. His successor Wesley Woodyard is nearly 15 lbs. lighter (229, not much more than many safeties,) but excellent in coverage.

In the middle is the middle LB (naturally) AKA Mike (MLB.) 4-3 Mikes must do many things very well. They must be solid run stoppers both outside and up the middle in case the defensive linemen are all blocked or the outside linebackers overmatched. Yet they must also cover tight ends, running backs and even slot wide receivers in the middle of the field. Finally, and least often, Mikes ideally have at least minimal pass rushing ability if only to prevent QBs running on them. Their position and versatility makes veteran Mikes "defensive QB," responsible for reading plays at the line and responding with defensive audibles.

Typically, nickelbacks replace Sam and dimebacks Will. Unfortunately, Denver hasn't had a good Mike since injury ended the great Al Wilsons career. Our current Mikes are either the awful Joe Mays or untried youngsters (though we did get another young free agent with some playing experience this year.) In particular, our Mikes have been weak in coverage, a liability in dime; Mays was so bad veteran Keith Brooking took his job a month into last season; he can QB a D well, but no longer has the speed to cover good receivers, so we usually replaced HIM with a dimeback and used Will (Woodyard) in coverage.

I think that covers everything, and apologies if too much of that was stuff you already knew. Apologies also for any errors or oversights, but I'm sure someone will be along to correct all glaring ones soon. ;)

Jaded
04-07-2013, 10:21 PM
Did anybody explain why they use Nickel and Dimes?

Joel
04-07-2013, 11:21 PM
Did anybody explain why they use Nickel and Dimes?
Er, not explicitly, though it was implied by statements like "A 'nickel' package has five defensive backs, typically three cornerbacks and two safeties and a 'dime' package has six defensive backs, typically four cornerbacks and two safeties." and "our Mikes have been weak in coverage, a liability in dime."

But, yeah, good point: Nickels are typically used in likely passing situations, like when offenses deploy a third primary receiver (e.g. a slot recevier or a TE known to be a poor blocker.) Dimes are used in almost CERTAIN passing situations, like when an offense goes with 4 or 5 wide receivers. They're more vulnerable to runs, dimes especially so, because they trade linebacker size for defensive back speed.

AZBronco
04-07-2013, 11:40 PM
Thank you gentlemen!
It seems that we would want LB's with good lateral movement and fluidity, especially against the more frequent receiving TE's. So with the bigger bodies we recently signed, Knighton, at DT does this lessen the need for a MLB. I know ideally we would have a top MLB, but with the growing trend toward a pass happy offense wouldn't a DL or DB make more sense in the early rounds of this years draft? We seem to have some decent LB's that, though smaller, move to the ball pretty quickly.
.... I guess I just need to pay more attention to the game, mute the tv, and listen to the radio broadcast.
Either way, thanks for the detailed explanations!

Joel
04-08-2013, 02:47 AM
Woodyards our only LB with proven coverage ability. Miller's really a 3-4 OLB (whole other animal) pressed into service as a 4-3 Sam because he's just that good but, while a lethal rusher and respectable run stopper, he's not a coverage man (though he did get a pick six on the Bucs last year.) At Mike, everyone says Nate Irving's our guy, but we started Keith Brooking and his 37 year old legs most of last year, and before that Joe Mays, who's pitiful in coverage, so right now I don't think we have a Mike. Haven't since '06; starting DJ there in '07 proved that. :tsk:

Right now we have a 229 lb. Will who's great in coverage but a bit small for the run, and a 237 lb. Sam who plays bigger than his weight racking up sacks and tackles, but isn't a coverage LB. Oh, and a huge question mark at MLB, the defensive QB who should combine both Sam and Wills best attributes. That's not to say we don't need DBs; I feel good about our CBs (Champ, Chris Harris, Rodger-Cromartie and Tony Carter are a solid dime package) but the only safety I have any faith in is Mike Adams, who's 32 and a FA again next year. That problem's solution is more obvious; I just don't want to drag that debate in here. ;)

We've got an OK nickel and solid dime as long as everyone stays healthy and Rahim Moore doesn't let guys get behind him for playoff Hail Marys, but even with the added bulk at DT I worry about our BASE D. It's got a gaping hole right at its heart because I've yet to see a Broncos MLB who plays the pass AND run equally well.

aulaza
04-09-2013, 04:58 AM
MLB's who are excellent run and pass defenders don't fall out of the sky. I think you are being a bit overly harsh on some guys. They may not be world beaters but you can't expect a team full of all pros.

Joel
04-09-2013, 06:31 AM
You're right they're hard to find, but so are top tier QBs, and we don't settle for second best (or worse) there, because QB's too important. So are defensive QBs. Finding OLBs and DEs who do nothing but rack up sacks is easier than finding MLBs who shut down runners AND receivers as well as picking up a handful of sacks each year. The former may sell tickets and draw media coverage, but the latter win championships.

aulaza
04-09-2013, 07:32 AM
Yeah, thats true and that kind of a guy would make our defense the best in the league in my opinion. I'm not sure that guy is available right now but I guess we'll see. Here is what I think though. Our base defense should be fine against the run - I think the MLB's we have are fine vs run. Equally, given our strength in depth at corner our nickel and dime look good vs pass. The trouble will come against dual threat offences who can exploit the weaknesses of our personel. NE scares me because of the dual threat that Gronk and AHern represent. This is where this kind of MLB would be great to have.

Personnel wise, do you think we'll see more of Trevathan this year on passing downs? In nickel, whoever the MLB is will be a liability in pass coverage, so having Trevathan and Woodyard could be a nice combination. But I guess then we're back to the situation where teams may exploit the lack of size and may start running on that package with success. Do you think that package could stop the run well enough, given the size at DT, against 3WR formations and the like?

In Dime I guess we would still have a 4 man front mostly? If not then I would have thought we should have WW and Trevathan as LB's in dime?

Joel
04-09-2013, 10:48 AM
Yeah, thats true and that kind of a guy would make our defense the best in the league in my opinion. I'm not sure that guy is available right now but I guess we'll see. Here is what I think though. Our base defense should be fine against the run - I think the MLB's we have are fine vs run. Equally, given our strength in depth at corner our nickel and dime look good vs pass. The trouble will come against dual threat offences who can exploit the weaknesses of our personel. NE scares me because of the dual threat that Gronk and AHern represent. This is where this kind of MLB would be great to have.
I don't follow college, so can't say what's in the draft, but our resident college fans say this years MLB crop is pretty weak. The good news, if there is any, is most or all should still be there at our #29 pick; the bad news is none may be WORTH a #29 pick. Here's a recent rating from a Mile High Report blogger; take it for what it's worth: http://www.milehighreport.com/2013/1/22/3903636/2013-nfl-draft-inside-linebacker-production-ratio-denver-broncos

The complexities of leading defenses make immediately dominating all phases of the game as unlikely for MLBs as for QBs, IMHO. In that respect I hope people who expect Nate Irving to finally show up in his third year are right. We did add Stewart Bradley, easily our biggest MLB (he has 20+ lbs. on the rest,) and scuttlebutt says he's the likely starter, but it's hard to be sure what we got. Folks say the Cards 3-4 had no place for a MLB the last two years, but a star MLB can capably start at any 3-4 LB spot, even OLB. A preseason injury cost him all of 2009, so we have just his first two years in Phillys 4-3 plus 2010 to evaluate.

I share your expectation our MLBs and base 4-3 will play the run well, provided the free agent DTs we added are as good as advertised. However, I also share your concerns about passing personnel mismatches, especially against teams that pass on early downs (which is becoming ever more popular.) Woodyard's a solid Will, but Miller at Sam may be better in coverage than ANY of our Mikes, which is a little scary.

I WOULD be confident in our nickel and dime if our many great CBs were complemented by more than one reliable safety (Mike Adams.) It does no good to have Champ, Rodgers-Cromartie, Harris and Carter shut down everything short and in the middle of the field if guys like Torrey Smith just sprint past them to find Rahim Moore way out of position on deep balls. That's not an issue for a front seven issue thread though. ;)


Personnel wise, do you think we'll see more of Trevathan this year on passing downs? In nickel, whoever the MLB is will be a liability in pass coverage, so having Trevathan and Woodyard could be a nice combination. But I guess then we're back to the situation where teams may exploit the lack of size and may start running on that package with success. Do you think that package could stop the run well enough, given the size at DT, against 3WR formations and the like?
Depending how our unknowns at Mike play out, the season may turn on the answer to that question. Last year we DID use Trevathan with Woodyard a lot in nickel, and one of them in dime, which we probably will again unless we've finally found a legit Mike. Yet at 232 and 229 lbs., respectively, that almost invites teams to run, and I frankly doubt that nickel set could stop runs effectively or consistently, especially since our DTs and DEs also get lighter but quicker in nickel (in the case of swapping Ayers for Miller, ~35 lbs. lighter.)

Yet a team playing a Will in dime and TWO Wills in nickel pretty much concedes it has NO Mike worthy of the name. Until/unless that problem's solved our D remains in trouble whether or not our nickel runstops.

When I really look at our defense the past few years I think it's significantly overperformed. We had massive unfillable holes in the center all the way from the line of scrimmage to the endzone, yet somehow managed to win the division twice even with 2011s erratic offense. Nothing at DT, nothing at MLB and nothing at FS, but the rest of our guys prevented opponents putting up 40 pts/game: Wow.


In Dime I guess we would still have a 4 man front mostly? If not then I would have thought we should have WW and Trevathan as LB's in dime?
As I recall, we frequently put one on the field in dime and BOTH in nickel last year, but I don't expect a 3-3-5, no, not unless it's 3rd and 25 and we're up by 20 with 5:00 left. Even then the seldom seen "quarter D" might be better; Moore MIGHT be serviceable as a 7th DB. Our dime will likely use the same front four as last year (excepting Doom, obviously.) It should be noted, however, only Vickerson and Wolfe stayed on the field in those sets (and Wolfe moved from DE to DT.)

Speaking of Vickerson, he could be interesting to watch this year. I wondered how he emerged from obscurity to become a solid starting DT last year, but this bloggers post from last years training camp might explain it: http://broncotalk.net/2012/05/37017/broncos-news/kevin-vickerson-adds-50-pounds-of-muscle/ If Vickerson's to be believed, his weight went UP 50 lbs. and body fat DOWN 15%. He LITERALLY got a lot leaner and meaner, which probably required some big adjustments; if he's used to playing at that size now, he could be a terror.

claymore
04-09-2013, 10:53 AM
I keep thinking this is about weed. :mad:

BroncoJoe
04-09-2013, 01:33 PM
I keep thinking this is about weed. :mad:

Read through any of Joel's posts, and you'll wish you were high.

claymore
04-09-2013, 03:50 PM
Read through any of Joel's posts, and you'll wish you were high.

I only read posts 2 sentences or less.