Patriots set trend with 'Big Nickel'

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
9:30
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In a piece now posted on CBSSports.com, Pat Kirwan writes on one of the big trends in the NFL, which has been sparked by the Patriots. It's the "Big Nickel."

"It's not new and was made popular by Bill Belichick a number of years ago, but oddly, it's Belichick's offense that is causing teams to study it closely," Kirwan writes.

"Just about every defense in the NFL has studied the Patriots' Hybrid 12 personnel package (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) to determine how many problems those two tight ends can create. Aaron Hernandez can line up as a wide receiver, a slot receiver, an inline tight end, a wing, a fullback or even a running back. Rob Gronkowski can line up as an inline tight end, a slot or a wing. No matter what defensive personnel is on the field, the Patriots can make you feel like you are in the wrong one. Play base personnel with a front seven and four defensive backs and they spread you out in a four-wide look. Play nickel defense with an extra cornerback subbing for a linebacker in the front seven, and they condense the set and run right at you. It's a problem, and defenses are studying the Big Nickel concept for an answer."

The "Big Nickel" is a three-safety package, and it might have been what the Patriots had in mind when they selected Illinois defensive back Tavon Wilson in the second round of the draft.

To read Kirwan's piece, CLICK HERE.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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