This isn’t Star Wars or Vampires vs. Werewolves.
It is one of the most intriguing trends in professional football. The resurgence of the hybrid player.
In the modern chess game played by head coaches and coordinators across the league, versatility is precious. Hybrid players are valuable because it allows the play-callers to disguise their coverages. Personnel changes are a key for the offense and any ambiguity a defense can foster is helpful in confusing the offense.
For the podcast this week, we hit the top tweeners in a look at nickel linebacker / safety hybrids. NFL.com’s Matt Harmon joins us as well, to talk receiver perception. Here you go.
There’s a hole in that Nickel
Those that follow the Chiefs should recognize the importance of these players. Since coming to Kansas City, Bob Sutton has made the hybrid a core component of the Chiefs defense. Sutton relies on having three safeties on the field that can handle more than one role. Two of those safeties must be able to come down into the box. With Eric Berry under the franchise tag, one of them is on board.
The other is a question mark. Husain Abdullah’s retirement leaves a hole in the nickel defense and a significant one. Abdullah had become the key contributor next to Derrick Johnson when the defense shifts to a four-man front. So much so, that Johnson himself highlighted just how much Abdullah will be missed in the nickel (and dime) schemes that Sutton loves to run.
Next: Sutton's World