A long hard look at our defense

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by KillEM, Dec 2, 2008.

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  1. KillEM

    KillEM Banned

    DE - Richard Seymour - Still playing great. Having one of his best years ever. I don't know how anyone can say he's not as good as he used to be. Look at his numbers this year. He will probably beat his career high for sacks and tackles! The only "dominant" player on our DLine.

    DE - Ty Warren - Solid. Great against the run. Young and locked up in a long term contract. Nothing to worry about here as long as there's no serious injuries.

    NT - Vince Wilfork - Playing his best football ever. We all know a good NT is hard to come by. Wilfork is young and has done everything that's been asked of him. He's the #1 priority when it comes to re-signing players.

    OLB - Adalius Thomas - Not as good as we thought he would be. Thomas has been decent, but nothing special. When he was healthy, he stood out among the linebackers this year as he was the only guy who could get any pressure on the QBs. Even then, his pass rush was just average. Not sure if he was worth the big price tag that came with him. He looked a lot better in Baltimore's defense, probably because he was surrounded by one of the best D's in the league. The positive is that when the older guys (Bruschi,Vrabel,Rodney) are gone, AD will still be here to provide veteran leadership and maturity to an otherwise young defense.

    ILB - Jerod mayo - I'm impressed. Will most likely win DROY honors. He's had some ups and downs this year, but he's a solid Linebacker and will keep improving. Look at his game against the NYJets if you question his potential. I thought he was too much of a reach at #10 but he's turned out to be a great pick. Barring any serious injury, Mayo will be a cornerstone to our defense for the next 10 years. I am surprised how quickly he's picked up the playbook and asserted himself in the defense.

    ILB - Tedy Bruschi - Not the same player he used to be. Will probably finish up his contract next year as a back-up to Gary Guyton, and then retire. Nice career as he was a key player in our Dynasty era. Guyton has quickly replaced him. At this point in his career, Bruschi provides good depth and veteran leadership.

    ILB - Gary Guyton - See above. An UDFA Rookie who has come in and played a lot of reps in BB's defense. That's unheard of. He has great athletic ability and brings energy to our defense. I like what I've seen so far. He's made some minor rookie mistakes but nothing that won't be corrected with time.

    OLB - Mike Vrabel - He had a Pro Bowl season last year, but he's quickly declined. Last year he had 12.5 sacks, this year he only has 3. Vrabel's also getting a lot more assisted tackles and less solo tackles. I admire his experience, but he's probably the weakest link in our front 7 right now, considering how important OLB is in the 34 scheme. His pass rush is next to nothing, and one of the main reasons our defense can't stop 3rd downs or prevent TD's in the red zone.

    OLB - Pierre Woods - I can't believe he's starting. Woods should be a career special teamer and 3rd string OLB. He looks like a rookie out there, despite being in the system for quite awhile now.

    S - Brandon Meriweather - I'm happy to see he's improved his hands and made some big INT's this year. The only play maker and big hitter in our secondary right now. His INT's all came at crucial points in the game which helped us pull away for the win. He would probably be better at FS than SS. Some Tight Ends are too big for him to cover. Still, he's all over the place and seems to be in on every play. Has a lot of potential and will keep getting better.

    S - James Sanders - Below average. Limited. Has been responsible for some big plays at costly times (see: end of the game, week 1 vs. KC). I don't feel safe with him as our starting Safety and last line of defense. We will most likely re-sign him since we don't have any one to replace him yet, but I hope we draft a Safety in this years draft to eventually take his starting job in a couple years.

    S - Rodney Harrison - On his last legs. Old and becoming injury prone. Slow but still solid against the run. Playing more like a LB in recent years. Potential retirement after this year. He only comes back next year if he feels the Pats could win a SB next year with a healthy Brady. Either way, he has 1 year left in him at most. Brings a nasty demeanor to the D that we've missed since his injury.

    CB - Ellis Hobbs - Shouldn't be a #1 CB. Has been torched a few too many times this year. He's alright and would look a lot better if the front 7 could put pressure on the QB. Good kick returner.

    CB - Deltha ONeal - Up and down, but overall terrible. Gets picked on by opposing QBs. I see why the Bengals cut him now. Needs to be upgraded ASAP. Looks like he's simply going through the motions these days. He's slowed down and receivers are consistently getting a couple steps on him.

    Pros: DLine. Young ILBs who are exceeding expectations.
    Cons: Secondary. Lack of pass rush. Unbalanced Age. After the 3 vets retire, we are left with a bunch of young, inexperienced players on defense, with no one but AD and the DLine to bring maturity, discipline, and leadership.
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    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  2. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    I disagree with the Adalus Thomas, assessment he is well above decent.. he has played several positions, and just about every down up to his injury.. he could cover the TE, contain the run and could be in a three point stance in certain situations.. in a team defense, stats mean little.

    Same for Vrabel, he is quiet leader, and he has less stats as our D backfield flat out sucks.. you cannot let him loose, at the expense of the a receiving back or TE.

    As much as I like Guyton and Mayo, they have been either out of position, having coverage issues or missing some tackles lately.. both need to add some bulk.. they are very good.. but not ready for Canton yet. They will be outstanding.. but right now they are very good rookies.

    The Defensive backfield, needs to be blown up.. this whole area with the exception of Wilhite, Wheatly and Merriweather needs to hit the road.. W & W are given a bye as they are still unknown quantities at this point.

    There is also a tendency to look at numbers, and in this Team D we often do not know what the players assignment in each weeks game plan. Seymour is having a good year, because he is fairly healthy.. conversely, Warren has been hurt.. have heard after a game, in which Seymour did not even show up in the box score, BB say that Seymour had one of his best games.. in a 3-4, it is not about stats on the D line.. it is about clogging lanes, containment and collapsing pockets.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  3. BritPat

    BritPat In the Starting Line-Up

    #54 Jersey

    Just a point about Adalius (I too disagree with your assessment, although I think the rest is pretty spot on) - I've seen Ravens fans complaining that although the D is still great, they are missing him rushing the passer and having him able to drop back and play inside. I think many were hoping Jarret Johnson would plug any gaps AD left - and he hasn't.
  4. BritPat

    BritPat In the Starting Line-Up

    #54 Jersey

    And our D's failings start and end with the pass rush.

    I've made this point in the Draft forum, and I'll say it again - we need better pass rush, through hell or high water. Our OLB's have combined for the princely sum of NINE sacks this year.

    Joey fecking Porter has 14.5 on his own.

    It's not acceptable.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  5. PJM

    PJM On the Roster

    Good post. BB's system is based on the front seven and considers the DBs as lower value. The main problem this year has been injury, age and decline in the linebackers.

    I thought Thomas was looking very strong at the time he was injured.
    The D-Line is well balanced and has had a good season overall. Mayo is spectacular and Guyton is impressive - remember they are not playing cover-2, this system is hard to learn. Mayo will improve, especially on pass coverage.

    Bruschi, Vrabel and Harrison are in decline. I don't know if we will see Rodney again. Vrabel might have another good year left but he is on the way down and I don't expect Bruschi to improve (it's a miracle he is playing at all).

    I think we really need to find an elite safety to replace Harrison, to boost Sanders and Merriwether, and a top CB so Hobbs can go back to being a no. 2. A solid ILB wouldn't hurt. The upside is that there is a lot of elite talent in the front 7 so a few solid pros could make a big difference.

    PATSYLICIOUS Pro Bowl Player

    #12 Jersey

    Good read and fair evaluations. This defense could be dominant in 2 years if we're able to address weaknesses at CB2/SS/OLB. Hobbs isn't a #1 corner but Asante wasn't either (yet) in '04 and opposite him was Randall Gay. If our front 7 is set CB isn't a major need. Priorities should be OLB, get a legit stopgap CB until Wheatley can stay on the field, and resign Sanders while trying to upgrade him at the same time. Assuming we extend Wilfork, we seem set everywhere else.
  7. BradyManny

    BradyManny Pro Bowl Player

    Nice post, but I have to take one major objection:

    Couldn't disagree more. Adalius was having a Pro Bowl year before he went down. He was the best pass rusher on the team & the most versatile player on defense. He was the reason they were able to get away with bringing Mayo & Guyton along. He was dropping into coverage quite a bit to make up for the youth, and as the season went along, he was given the opportunity to rush more. But, having an OLB with that size and speed who can cover well is a pretty nice weapon.

    How can you call his pass rush "average" when he had 5 sacks in 10 games when he was only pass rushing in a limited role? For the first few games of the season, he was only pass rushing a handful of snaps a game, and still getting sacks. Due to the trouble in the secondary and the easing in of Mayo and Guyton, both AD and Vrabel have not exactly been unleashed this season.

    Adalius was more than earning his paycheck.

    Aside from Brady obviously, AD is the biggest loss on the team. Just consider that since he's been out the team has given up 34, 28, and 33 points.

    With Adalius: 16 PPG against
    Without Adalius: 31.7 PPG against

    Please tell me you don't think that's just circumstance.

    Aside from that, I agree with your assessments and I think your appreciation of the DL is spot on.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  8. satz

    satz 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    I disagree on certain things

    AD was the a monster and him and vrabel got pressure turned on. seymour and ad on one side was quite effective

    Woods is playing is first year so he is rookie unless you count sitting on the bench as NFL experience. comparing him to guyton or mayo who are pure LB in college and play their natural position is dumb. woods is a DE in collage.Also , you cannot blame every thing on him as in goal line and red zone guyton,mayo,tedy and vrabel are in their not woods.

    Sanders - I do not know what game you watch but he in their covering TE and run support. He is a very good at SS and is a solid tackler. i do not understand if you want to draft a 200 LB SS as sanders is 225 LB in a 4-3 he is LB size. he is not going to be a coverage guy at that size. last year we played merriweather at SS and got him dinged up as he is around 200 LB. you cannot ask him to take on gaurds and TE coming off the line in run blocking.
    He actually does a good job against TE`s. when they send him deep and ask mayo or guyton cover them is when we are having issues [keller]
  9. Leave No Doubt

    Leave No Doubt PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Good post Kill :) AD's assessment is the only point I'd disagree with and for all the reasons already stated here.

    I also think they miss Rodney's experience back there. He may not have his old speed but he could make reads with the best of them and would have those rookies in their places ready to make plays. I wish he was still back there; now that the rookies have some game time under their belts his input and presence would be such an asset right now:(
  10. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    #12 Jersey


    DL is in very good shape, pending future free agency.

    ILB is in good shape. I think Bruschi will willingly play as a backup for as long as he can contribute. He preaches about checking one's ego at the door all the time; I think he will listen to himself and do the same thing.

    At OLB we have one excellent starter (currently injured) and one good but declining one (was an All Pro VERY recently). Depth is very questionable, and a great situational pass rusher would be very good to have.

    At CB we have one perfectly decent #2, a promising rookie or two, and JAGs. A Darrell Revis kind of draft pick would be very nice, if it were to work out.

    A S we have one good emerging starter in Meriweather and one poor starter/excellent backup in Sanders. Something should be done. But I'm a bit stumped. Rodney Harrison in his prime was one of the few safeties in the history of the world who could play as anything from a no-apologies LB to a no-apologies CB.
  11. Spiral

    Spiral PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    LB in the Belichick defense is a developmental position. Even someone like Mayo has struggled at times, particularly in pass defense. For this defense to be better in 2010 and beyond, there needs to be room on the roster for a couple of rookie LBs next year. Assuming the Pats can somehow get a 2nd for Cassel, that would give them 6 picks in the first three rounds. If BB/SP decide that the back seven of this defense needs to be rebuilt, then they need to clear some roster spots. Bruschi, Vrabel and Izzo can't be taking up those roster spots in 2009.
  12. JSn

    JSn Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    You simply HAVE to factor Rodney into this. The pass rush and run stop, multiple look action he offered until he went down contributed to those numbers as well.

    I agree, AD is probably the biggest factor, because it alters game-plans, but I think Rodney's absence from the accounting is major as well.
  13. dhamz

    dhamz In the Starting Line-Up

    What really is lacking in this defense right now more than anything are playmakers in the back 8. Part of forcing a team to drive the long field and not giving up big plays is it creates more opportunity to make plays on defense and stop them. No one is stepping up and making that sack, forcing that fumble, making the INT.

    Who makes the plays on the current D? Vrabel and Bruschi and Rodney before his injury just aren't that type of player anymore. No one in the secondary qualifies. Mayo looks like he will be that kind of guy but he is a rookie and as one would expect he isn't quite there yet. Thomas made plays before he went out but he was really the only one.

    If you think back to the 2003-2004 defenses you had Vrabel, Bruschi, Harrison, Willie Mac, and Law (later Asante) back there. All those guys made a lot of big plays during those seasons. You forget until you go back and watch those old Pats/Colts games or other big games how many of the big stops the Pats D made came in the Red Zone.
  14. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    #12 Jersey

    I was thinking the same thing. We had the takeaway kings. And McGinest was amazing for being HOF-quality in the clutch, but merely good the rest of the time.
  15. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    Overall a good assessment, but I disagree with a few things and have a few additional comments:

    1.) Like others in this thread, you definitely missed the mark on AD's assessment. I think he was giving the Pats everything we were hoping for this year. Last year, I give him a mulligan since he was playing out of position for most of the year.
    2.) I have actually been disapointed in Meriweather's hitting and tackling. In fact, I would say it has been a week point for him over the last month. Personally, I would like them to experiment with him at CB again because I think that may be his more natural position.
    3.) I think Sanders has been solid playing close to the line on run downs, but is not a coverage safety.
    4.) Woods isn't as bad as you make him. I agree he isn't a starter, but he could be a good situational player though.
  16. ditto on thomas........he's actually had to do many more different things since coming here than he was penciled to do........which has affected the perception of what he was originally meant to do........

    the rest is spot on
  17. mike_usagisan

    mike_usagisan Practice Squad Player

    I agree with this assesment. While Meriweather hits hard, he also lets the player get a few more yards after the first hit.

    Wasn't he the one who hit the Jet on 3rd and 15, before the first-down line, but let the receiver get the yardage after the hit?
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  18. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    That was Meriweather. I felt he wasn't sure where the first down marker actually was and played a little too deep and didn't engage Keller until it was close enough to the first down marker that his momentum would push him over the line.
  19. mike_usagisan

    mike_usagisan Practice Squad Player

    I don't want to judge Meriweather on the one play, because the guy can hit and he's getting better at interceptions, but it often seems like he's just a yard off from where the play is happening or lets it go a yard too far. That might be the coverage he's been told to be in, though.
  20. nepatz11

    nepatz11 On the Game Day Roster

    I agree with a lot of what you said but not Adalius Thomas. I think he was playing excellent late last year and this year until he go thurt. Plus he played on 99% of our defensive snaps. And whatevber defensive struggles we have had have been amplified since he got hurt.
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