We're at the end of our review of the defensive positions. It is truly right and just, proper and helpful towards an understanding of the modern defensive scheme that we end with the "nickel", a position that didn't really exist in the day.There were certain "monster man" schemes involving an exchange between the LB's and DB's but these were transitional, temporary arrangements, not a permanent assigment. Necessity is the mother of invention; opportunity is the father of achievement. The development of the passing game and the concomitant rise in the talent level of the QB's playing it was matched by the improvement in the physicality of the modern athlete to produce a player fast enough to cover, strong enough to stop, smart enough to choose between the two, and conditioned enough to do it all day,play after play.
Which led me to a startling conclusion-I really can't think of a Bronco from the day who would've been an obvious candidtate to play the position.Gary Rosolovich was an extremely nasty hitting CB and had serpentine body control but I can't see him rushing in the "gut". The obvious choices, the safeties, were as I said recently auxiliary CB's with the same limitation as Gary. Our LB's then we're larger and had great forward gears, not so much in reverse-but it wasn't needed. I even thought of Lonnie Hughes, an Irvin-style wideout and consummate athlete. But there was more of the ethereal than the evil to his frame, and nickel needs evil. No one comes to mind, but no one needed to: the game that was played, and especially the one our opponents tried to play against us, obviated the need for the nickel type.
And let's be honest-did anyone sense the talent level Ellis Powers displayed before he debouched forth in the position? Whoever says "yes" is bw-ing. Within the heart of that admission is the essence of this post: why the "nickel"?
Gen. Patton famously said (or rather quoted) "fixed defensive positions are a monument to the stupidity of mankind". What applies to the Maginot Line applies to the modern D. In the day, the pro set and matching 4-3 allowed for a more "settled" D approach with a Singletary or Taylor announcing adjustments at the last millisecond, literally being a field general. To be effective against the new offenses, the D must be tango, not waltz. Just as in the tango both dancers lead and ad lib in reference to, but not in consequnce of, the other's moves, so the new D must create the need for response in the offense, presenting a fluid front that does not simply confuse but creates a new dynamic which may make the offensive scheme irrelevant at the moment of execution and, at minimum, places an additional burden on the QB. It has been said that our modern fighter jets have become so complicated that they are becoming beyond the command of the pilots, even aided by computers. The "nickel" provides the same complexity in this setting.
In a short period we have seen our version of the nickel move from Power's excellent, but singular, virtuosity, to Venable's more intregal devastation. Ioane will be the synthesis, the player who takes the position to its full dominance in the hierarchy of the defense. Like the orchestral player who provides steady accompaniment and then steps out to soar in the highlighted passages, he will fulfill the next level in the dialectic of modern football and once again the Broncos will be in the vanguard.
ONWARD TO THE FUTURE MY OBNUG COMRADES!