Off-Season Pre-view: Part 2 (DEFENSE)
Patriots Defense Off-season Preview.
Previously, I had posted off-season previews on ESPN. These would review the current state of the team and where I thought the team would be going with their off-season moves.
NT – Vince Wilfork, Michael Wright, - Dan Klecko,– I listed Klecko here because I couldn’t figure out where else to put him. I think the Pats could still try and move him inside, but there may not be a place on the team for him anymore.
Vince had a bad start to the year, but corrected his technique by lining up farther off the line. Doing so forced him to hold the gaps and stop trying to collapse the pocket and taking himself out of position on runs. Michael Wright was average in spot duty. The Pats could bring in a veteran like Grady Jackson or they could let Wright continue to develop. Santonio Thomas could return for another stint on the Practice squad. I’m not sure the Pats will look for a NT in the draft, but Haloti Ngata or Babatunde Oshinowo.
DE – Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Jarvis Green, Marquise Hill: Seymour had a second year where he strained his MCL. It could have been that he didn't have enough time to let his previous strain heal. He was a monster for us when he was in there. Getting him signed to a contract extension is of the utmost imperative, after the CBA is extended. Ty Warren quietly went about his business at LDE. He was a great run stuffer, but he disappeared the same time that Wilfork did. He needs to step it up a notch next season.
Jarvis Green had an off-season. Rumors have it that he played the entire year with a bum shoulder that he hurt in TC. It would explain why he seemed to disappear when we needed him to step up.
Marquise Hill is still a project. However, there is good news. He saw several series against Denver, particularly on the goal line packages. Next year is his make or break year. I don't see the Patriots adding a 3-4 DE to their rotation as I expect Hill and Green to step up and push for spots.
OLB – Rosie Colvin, Tully Banta-Cain, Willie McGinest, - Vrabel, Bruschi and Chad Brown can all play here as well. Colvin returned to his 2003 form as the season went along. However, Willie is getting older and TBC hasn’t yet shown he can play the position with any regularity. I see a DE/OLB type player being drafted by the Pats. Someone like Tamba Hali, Mathias Kiwanuka, or Stanley McGlover.
ILB - Ted Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Mike Vrabel, Chad Brown, Ryan Claridge, Monty Beisel–
The unexpected retirement of Ted Johnson, Bruschi’s stroke, Vrabel’s pre-season injury and Claridge’s TC injury left the Pats scrambling to find someone to man the ILB position. Izzo wasn’t the best special teamer by far and the Special Teams coverage units were average this year. I though Izzo was gone last year, but he got to stick around. Speculation amongst us fans is that Chad Brown won’t be back. That could be the case if the Pats take another ILB during this very deep LB draft. Someone like Kai Parham or Spencer Havener, Tim Dobbins
CB - Ty Poole, Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Ellis Hobbs, Duane Starks Most people have written off Ty Poole after comments he made last season and because of BB’s almost inexplicable timing of putting Poole onto the IR. A LOT of people think that Duane Starks is gone because of his play. However, if the shoulder injury he had was as bad as reported, he is more likely than not going to restructure his contract and be kept around. Chad Scott did ok in spot duty until a shoulder injury put him out. Hank Poteat returned and seemed to do ok. Randall Gay should return and put Samuel for a starting job. I hear people clamoring for a “play-maker” here, but this draft is not that deep at CB and neither is free agency. Those of you clamoring for Antonio Cromartie, shouldn’t we wait for him to be declared phyisically able before investing ANY sort of draft pick in him? The guy tore his ACL last July. Guys who I think could interest the Pats include: Ashton Youboty, Anwar Phillips, Jonathan Joseph, Will Blackmon, and Marcus Maxey. Potential Free agent signings: Nate Clements, Jerry Azumah, and Juran Bolden.
Safety - Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson, Guss Scott, James Sanders- Rodney is a big question mark because of his injury. Reports before and after his surgery have me thinking that it was not as bad as first reported (3 completely torn ligaments), especially since he was supposedly doing REHAB prior to the surgery. Wilson looked lost at times and tried to do too much. His poor play led to many people blaming Starks for some of the long plays the Pats gave up, though Wilson was the one truly out of position. BB seems to be very high on Guss Scott while Rodney was signing the praises of James Sanders. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pats bring back Michael Stone who held his on in spot starting duty and was a special teams ace. Artrell Hawkins also held his own as the veteran in the secondary once he got here. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned either. The Patriots have 4 picks in the 1st 3 rounds and they could, potentially, take either a corner or a safety to help the team out. Many people are already clamoring for guys like Darnell Bing, Michael Huff, Bernard Pollard and Greg Blue. My question is which one of them has experience calling out defensive changes in the secondary and was a proven leader on their team. Potential free agent signings include: Tank Williams, Adrian Wilson, Lance Schulters, Adam Archuleta, Dexter Jackson, and Will Demps
Great work, thanks for the effort!
I do disagree about Huff. He's regarded as an extremely intelligent player with a high football IQ and can play any position in the secondary. Schulters scares me. My Dolphin supporting friends hope he goes bye bye. I also remember him being toasted in the 2003 divisional by Bethel. Safety is my biggest area of concern given Rodney's age and injury situation and the fact we know next to nothing about James Sanders and the oft injured Guss Scott.
I don't think Poole will be back but you make some good points about Starks. I don't think he's a very good player anymore, but an argument can be made he deserves more time to prove that while 100 percent healthy.
Poole is gone. He'll retire, he doesn't even want to play.
Roman Harper fits the bill for a guy who could potentially call coverages as a rookie. Interesting, Patriots style player.
I didn't make a judgement on Huff. That is why I asked the question about which one could call plays.
I think you are probably correct about Poole. I left him there because he is, still, technically, under contract.
Thanks for the feedback.
Poole has been on the IR for years now and cutting him saves the team about $2 mil on the cap. And Starks may not have been 100% healthy, but his 2006 salary (new money) is something like $3.5 mil. No way he stays for that.
I'll be fine with Samuel, Hobbs, Gay, Poteat, Chad Scott and a mid round rookie (rounds 3-4) at CB. Oh yeah, add Hawkins to that list. He's more of a CB than a safety anyway.
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