Friday, December 31, 2010

Green Bay Packers Nickel & Psycho Packages

More and more teams are now utilizing pass rush personnel groups with only 1 or 2 defensive linemen on the field. Dom Capers' Packers defense has generated a great deal of pressure this season with these types of hybrid personnel groups. The Nickel concept allows the Packers to rush 4 and drop 7 with two edge rushers that have speed and athleticism. Teams like the Packers that base out of a 3-4 concept often want both OLB's (typically the best pass rushers in a 3-4 scheme) rushing the QB and a 4 man rush. This specialized personnel group allows for both OLB's to stay in the game and for a Nickel secondary to be on the field by only utilizing 2 down linemen. The Packers can be seen here rushing 4 in a traditional 4 man pass rush with 2 Rush LB's as the defensive ends. The versatility of this personnel is that you can bring 4 rushers from a blitz look.

In this pressure the Packers show a 5 man rush pre-snap with a LB walked up on the left. However, the right Rush LB drops out. The coverage is a Cover 3 concept with a 4 man rush. Video can be seen here.

This package isn't limited to only 4 man rush pressure. The 5 man rush package can give the defense well designed blitzes coupled with skilled players dropping into coverage.
The Packers use an overload blitz concept with Cover 3 Fire Zone behind it to create a 5 man pass rush. The hybrid personnel allows the Nickel to rush the QB and not have any true defensive linemen drop into coverage. Video can be seen here.

This type of personnel also makes overload blitzes like Dick Lebeau's Triple Inside Fire Zone and Safety Gut Fire Zone (both utilize 2 dropping DE's) more realistic pressure options.

The Packers also have a 1 down lineman (Psycho) package from their odd front. The pressure possibilities from this package are basically endless.

Here the Packers shuffle the Right Rush LB down and have him long stick to the opposite side of the center. The blitz is a variation of the NCAA blitz with all 3 linebackers rushing on the same side. The Nose loops for contain opposite the blitz while the Left Rush LB drops to the 3RH. The coverage is a traditional Cover 3 Fire Zone with a dime personnel secondary. Video can be seen here.

With offenses continuing to put more speed at the skill positions and spread the field I believe defenses will continue to develop answers like the psycho package to match up. More information on this trend is available on Brophy's Blog in a post here. Also more information about Dom Capers and his defense can be seen in his 1997 Carolina Panthers playbook.


  1. Great job, glad you're back to posting again!

  2. Psycho is the Packers' 1-5-5. The 2-4-5 is their standard nickle package and doesn't have a specific name beyond that.

    Otherwise, awesome!

  3. I have taken some heat from posters like Anonymous (and several e-mailers)that have made it clear the Psycho package only refers to the the 1 down linemen set. So now that the article has proper nomenclature you Cheeseheads can get back to drinking and shooting off fireworks until the Superbowl. :)