A lot has been made of the Patriots change in defensive scheme this season, and some would say for good reason. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been a strict two-gap 3-4 defense for most of his coaching career.
This season, however, it seems the Patriots defense will be undergoing a bit of a makeover.
As showcased so far in the early part of the 2011 season, the Pats have played in a defensive style that is unfamiliar to many in Patriots Nation. The four-man front has played is attack mode in both pre-season games against the Jaguars and Buccaneers.
So yes, the 4-3 defense is a different look, but will this change have a positive or negative effect on the defense?
Reigning MVP and three time Super Bowl winning quarterback, Tom Brady, sure likes what he has seen so far; He mentioned as much on his weekly appearance on WEEI visiting withÂ John Dennis and Gerry Callahan -
“I love to see that,” said Brady. Â “From another quarterbackâ€™s perspective, to stand there on the sidelines and watch them attack the quarterback â€” force them into quick decisions, force them into throws that you donâ€™t want to make but have to make because you donâ€™t have time to see the coverages â€” thatâ€™s good for any defensive football team.â€ť
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo should be able to flourish in New England’s new defensive system. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
As for defensive leader Jerod Mayo, he also had something to say on the Pats new style of play. When heÂ spoke to reporters in the locker room recently, he touched on what Belichick seemed to be implementing.
â€ťWeâ€™re a very multiple defense,” said Mayo, who is heading into his 4th NFL season. Â “One week we may come out with pressure and the next week we may come back with sitting back in coverage. So you never know, and I think thatâ€™s a good quality of this defenseâ€¦ It changes every week and Iâ€™m very excited how it started off. You never know what Coach Belichick is coming up with in his office.â€ť
Now with the team switching to 4-3, how “will” Jerod Mayo make a difference this season? The answer is in the question.
Throughout Mayo’s three-year career, he has played as a 3 – 4 middle linebacker. After this new defensive scheme Belichick and the Patriots coaching staff have seemed to use so far in the pre-season, he has now switched to outside linebacker in this system.
The “Will” linebacker, otherwise known as the weak-side linebacker, must be the fastest of the three at the position because he is often the one called into pass coverage. Mayo has displayed his athleticism and quickness thus far in the early stages of is career. Other responsibilities include chasing the play from the backside, so the ability to maneuver through traffic is a necessity for the Will linebacker.
I believe Mayo can flourish in this position and from the looks of some of his play so far, it seems Patriots fans have reason to be optimistic as well.
I am excited to see the fourth-year linebacker in his new role. Â I also believe he can have great success, and the move should improve his play-making ability. Even though Mayo has been regarded as one of the NFL’s best linebacker’s for the past few seasons, he has often been criticized for not making enough stand-out plays such as interceptions, sacks and forced fumbles.
Last season, Mayo had 175 combined tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble. In my opinion, you should see an increase in the play-making statistics, but a slight decrease in the tackles. In any case, expect to see the defensive captain and play caller around the football often when he is on the field.
For now we can only speculate, but we will see when the Patriots take the field on Monday night in Miami.
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