20

June

Packers Could Go “Psycho” With Linebacker Talent

Dom Capers

Dom Capers might just go "Psycho" this year.

There has been some chatter recently about undrafted rookie Dezman Moses and the eyebrow-raising attention he has received from fellow defensive players. Though yet to put on “the pads,” the Packers linebacker has created quite a stir among fans, who have been desperately waiting for some good news when it comes to the team’s defensive front. One tangent to this story, however, is what it could mean for the “return” of the so-called “Psycho” package.

For those not in the know, the Psycho is a nickel package employed by Dom Capers in Green Bay’s defensive scheme. It is a 1-5-5 formation, meaning there are one defensive lineman, five linebackers, and five defensive backs on the field. The idea is to create confusion among the quarterback, the offensive line, and any backs responsible for picking up the blitz.

By overloading the line and creating some pre-snap movement, the defense makes it hard for the offense to set their protections. It also gives the opposing coaches something extra to plan for during the week.

(This blog post at Blitzology does a nice job of highlighting the pass rushing flexibility of the Packers’ nickel packages, including the Psycho.)

Dom Capers’ use of the Psycho package dates back to his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1999-2000), but he first unveiled it with the Green Bay Packers in 2009. They had immediate success against the Chicago Bears that December, creating chaos for Jay Cutler and keeping their offense off-balance.  Of course, just like any play, the more it’s used, the less effective it becomes.

“The more you do it, the more people start to identify — they see who you’re rushing and who you’re dropping,” Capers said in 2010. “You have to have the ability to change those things up.”

Which brings us back to our point . . . Could a rise in linebacker talent mean a return to fame for Green Bay’s Psycho defense?

To be clear, the Psycho package didn’t actually go away at all, as the Packers did use it last year. In going from their base 2-4-5 nickel set, it really only means replacing one of the lineman with a linebacker. Last season, inside linebacker D.J. Smith was the extra player, while Jarius Wynn became their lone defensive lineman.

But it lacked the punch of previous years.