One other things teams can do is put a third safety on the field in place of a linebacker, which is something the Saints did a lot of last season during Rob Ryan’s first season as defensive coordinator.One of the things I thought we might start to see happen in response to this trend would be teams begin to feature a bit more of a power running game in their offense. This is one reason everybody is counting on Hall of Fame Running Back Mark Ingram to have a big year.
This wrinkle to the nickel defense was hailed as something new and exotic when the Saints began rolling it out last season, but it has been around since at least 1992 when Fitz Shurmur was forced to use safeties as linebackers due to injuries in his Arizona Cardinals defense. Shurmur took the wrinkle with him to Green Bay in 1993 and continued to use the package with success.
Known as the “Big Nickel,” many teams, such as the Saints, Chiefs, Patriots and Cardinals, use some variation of it. What’s the advantage?
“You got a guy that can also cover if you need to adjust,” Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “You can also fill in for the run game, too. So, just a ‘Big Nickel,’ really.”
This week's opponent Cleveland Browns have a pair of powerful young backs coming off a pretty good game in vs. Pittsburgh.
The NFL is a next man up league. Rookie Terrance West has found that out quickly in the early portion of his professional career.Prior to the draft this year, Sean Payton mentioned West a few times when discussing the players who piqued his interest.
On Wednesday, Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced running back Ben Tate will miss some time with a sprained knee. West has been chosen as Tate’s replacement in the starting lineup.
In his first-ever NFL game last Sunday, West gashed the Pittsburgh Steelers for 100 yards on 16 carries. Cleveland’s 183 total rushing yards were the most since November of 2010.
Flanking West will be fellow rookie
Isaiah Crowell, who has been flying off the fantasy football waiver wire. Crowell pounded two touchdowns into the end zone and ran with authority against Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s illustrious scheme.
For West, there was no sneaking up on the Saints, whose coach, Sean Payton, knows very well what the Browns' rookie can do. Payton, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, watched his alma mater give up 354 yards and five touchdowns to West last season.
"It was in the snow," West recalled. "It was the only game played that night. I think the Eagles were playing in the snow and (LeSean) McCoy had three touchdowns and ran in the snow for a whole bunch of yards, so I just looked at that game, and said, 'If he can get the job done, that's enough.'"
It probably won't be snowing in Cleveland on Sunday. That's a plus.