Nick Saban on Bill Belichick’s Hybrid/Subpackage Defenders: “Star” and “Money”

Good stuff from Saban on the history of Belichick’s hybrid or subpackage defenders, “Star” and “Money”:

If the video doesn’t start there automatically, jump to the 5:30 mark. Hat tip to reader Corey.

  • How many people are atop the coverage? Corners always lie, safeties tell the truth. The top of the coverage still has to be sound, and hybrid defenders are less likely to be pure cover types. If the hybrid is a safety, use motion to make him more predictable(most of the Steelers playoff losses of recent teams would motion enough to force their great hybrid Troy P into middle coverage deep and then bait him with a crosser).

    If the hybrid is more of a lineman, throw. He may have more help on the seam but if it is a concept and he squeezes wrongly someone else comes open. The same reason you use motion, the overload target usually ends up motioned to slot where he can challenge seams. They are huge liabilities in the flat, usually you need motion or some kind of run action fake to expose that.

    If the hybrid is more of a backer still try and test his run integrity. The pass count is up top. The run count is on the ball. Four or less down linemen, test their run fits. Is he a straight line type, does his pad level stay consistent on movement, can he square up after trying to ,mirror a back laterally?

    Five or more on the ball, pass to the flat or use quicks(outside slant, pop pass, stick).

    Where you see BillB. work it now, is trying to blur the actual assignment and technique. Everyone slow plays the ball outside of their best pass rusher. That way he can have a pass count up top and still slow you on runs and screen actions meant to control the ball under their coverage. A hybrid can slow play it on a run and still trail a screen in a way to give them someone at the point.

    The numbers can say run count but a hybrid can hide that actual count. Then you go to spread so the extra guy works that seam and they have changed the run count without really having to change a lot in personnel, or even if they do. Constant game of cat and mouse.

  • RobDX

    I am not sure about safeties always lying. I have seen many safeties drop like they would blitz (and then the Star on the other side blitz) and play the SAM backer and chip the TE, or follow a slot guy like a star CB.

  • 45buckshot

    thanks for posting this, that helps a lot. Ohio State has a Star player too, and a Leo (hybrid end, LB). i was always wondering what was the difference between nickel and Star.

  • NoHuddleAirRaidForTheWin


  • majesty95

    I’m still confused. He said “star” was essentially “Sam” and “money” was “will”. Does that mean that star replaces Sam and money replaces will when going to nickel or dime? If so, he said money needs to be better in run support and covering tight end. Would that traditionally be Sam’s responsibility?