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Dick LeBeau Talks Big Nickel – Says He Looks At Worilds & Carter As The Same


Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was asked about the use of the Big Nickel package that he broke out in the Sunday win over the New York Jets that featured 4 defensive linemen, 2 inside linebackers and 5 defensive backs.

LeBeau was asked specifically what his theory behind using it was and why he chose to use it Sunday.

“Well, we’ve always got an eye for down the road and make sure we’ve got enough packages in place,” said LeBeau. “When we get thin at any one position, as we are right now at the outside linebacker position, we need to make sure we’ve got enough defenses that if we lose a guy or two on a Sunday, that we’ve got something to go to. They did a good job and they’re getting a few snaps in practice. It’s just about making sure that we’ve got enough people at enough spots to get through a 16-game season.”

LeBeau continued on talking about the defense. “They did a good job, and their getting a few snaps in practice, but its just making sure that we\’ve got enough people at enough spots to go through a 16 game season.”

LeBeau was also asked about young linebackers Jason Worilds and Chris Carter and if chooses between the two based on packages or by rotation.

“I look at them as a singular person,” said LeBeau. “We’re going to need them both. They’re both working hard. I think they’re both the same man really. That’s good for us.”

While I was hoping we would get a little more clarity as to why LeBeau used the Big Nickel on Sunday, it is apparent that he wanted to keep his reasoning vague. His response almost made it seem like it was used 5 times on Sunday just as practice for later on in the year, but we all know that there is more to it than that.

Head coach Mike Tomlin gave a better response on Tuesday when he said that the Big Nickel provides versatility for them and allows the defense to match up from a personnel standpoint in the secondary with skill, but also to maintain their big body presence up front against the run. In summation, Tomlin said that it is used against teams that want to try to establish a run game presence with multiple wideouts on the field.

The response that LeBeau gave about Worilds and Carter being the same person was pretty vague, but being as they have both seen most of their snaps at the same position with James Harrison sidelined, you can see where he is coming from with his response.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Bob Francis

    The current issue of ESPN the Magazine has an interesting infographic on what they call Cover 7, which looks a lot like the Big Nickel – 4 linemen, 2 LBs, and 5 DBs. They talk about it as an antidote for 12 offensive packages (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR).

  • TJimmy

    This package (along with Polamalu playing the run so heavily this year and last) is a symptom of a lower quality D-line play ever since we lost Aaron Smith, and now with Keisel & Hampton showing some age.

  • JayBirdDC

    I’m still surprised that McClendon only played 8 snaps in the Jets game.

  • Ahmad

    After LeBeau’s explanation, I understand his reasoning behind bringing Woodley off the field in this package. It’s all about versatility. The Steelers could have really used this package last year when Woodley and Harrison were out. Also give credit to LeBeau for finding an answer to teams spreading the Steelers out to beat them. You can’t fool LeBeau for long.

  • Pete

    Cortez Allen’s take on the Big Nickel was that teams try to get the Steelers into a Nickel package and then run against them. He said the Big Nickel is LeBeau’s answer (or one of his answers) to that strategy.

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