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Clues to next year's defensive scheme

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Fencer, Apr 28, 2012.

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  1. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    1. BB's old 3-4 scheme is played out. As he observes, it's a passing league. Also, the advantages the scheme had in terms of availability of personnel are long gone, as many other teams pursue similar approaches.

    2. BB has been drafting for speed for years -- really since after the Polian rule changes. This is a marked contrast to before, when he sacrificed speed to get everything else he wanted.

    3. As per the frequently linked Grantland article, the Patriots evolved last year to a system that hybridized 1-gapping and 2-gapping on the same downs. This change was, IMO, predetermined the moment they acquired Haynesworth, a move that made no sense if they were going to play a purist 2-gap system.

    4. The year ago offseason was BB's best chance for tinkering for years, given the labor strife and hence delay in teaching. More precisely, it was his best chance for thinking about how to tinker; implementing what he came up with was a whole other matter, given the compressed off-season time.

    Now, however, he has a full off-season to teach.

    5. BB is acting as his own DC, but it's not for in-game play-calling reasons.

    6. The roster BB is putting together this offseason doesn't really make sense from a classic 2-gap 3-4 perspective: Who's the WOLB? Who are the two DEs?

    7. The roster BB is putting together this offseason also doesn't make sense from a classic 1-gap 4-3 perspective: Wilfork would have to be retrained as a 1-gapper. Mayo would have to be the Will. Who exactly are the DEs, and how much confidence do we have in them?

    8. BB has had huge success from time to time as a mad scientist, most dramatically by reintroducing the spread offense to the league, then pivoting to a 2-TE scheme.

    Conclusion 1: BB is planning a seriously innovative scheme for the base defense.

    9. BB has been very open that passing-down sub packages are even more important than the base defense now.

    10. The Pats have been terrible defending passing downs in recent years.

    Conclusion 2: BB is planning to shake up his passing-down schemes as well.
  2. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Have contended this for a while, BB is morphing a defense into something that defies traditional definition... lots of moving parts, that are interchangeable and will give offenses fits...

    Huge infusion of youth, football smarts, speed and versatility in the past three years..
  3. patsfan13

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    Bingo, we have BINGO!

    BB is trying to figure out the next stage of D to stop the current O's under the Polian rules.

    Also the flexibility to match up with any opponent and have the personal to play situational football in any situation.

    Very exciting time.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  4. SONS_OF_BELICHICK

    SONS_OF_BELICHICK Rookie

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    Bring the house :)
  5. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    Great post.

    The picks this year certainly signal a shift. We're no longer interested in traditional 34DEs who are stout against the run as a priority. We just took two guys who project more as 43DEs, but can also probably project to elephant (Jones) and OLB (Bequette). We took an LB who can play anywhere in any scheme (Hightower). But Belichick isn't worried about filling his traditional roles anymore.

    He wants to kill the quarterback on 3rd down now. It's that simple. He never wants to see Eli Manning go the length of the field on this team to close a game with the ease in which he did this past February. That makes two of us.
  6. fair catch fryar

    fair catch fryar Rookie

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    I am an amateur at this and I find this very informative for me. Well done Fencer. Thanks.
  7. fair catch fryar

    fair catch fryar Rookie

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    Indeed! I'm praying that the stars align for this season and we see a defense for all time emerge. I do believe the best way to prolong Brady's career in NE and increasing the years of success that NE has had is by building the D.
  8. Big-T

    Big-T On the Roster

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    Could it be possible BB is planning his own version of the Giants "NASCAR package"?

    So far he's brought in Trevor Scott and drafted Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower and Jake Bequette who all have played DE in some form (Hightower in nickel packages) add to this players already on the roster, there's a healthy dose of 4-3 defensive ends to pick from.

    3rd & long, get 4 defensive ends on the field...not only does it improve the pass rush but it gives the likes of Wilfork & Deaderick more time to rest so they will be fresher in the 4th quarter.
  9. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    3-4 teams have won 5 of the last 10 Super Bowls.

    3-4 teams have won 2 of the last 5 Super Bowls.

    BB has been cracking out exotic defenses for decades.

    BB has been using less base and more sub for years.

    I don't really see much here which runs counter to that.


    Time will tell, though.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  10. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    Thanks for the kind words!

    Upon review, I have a specific idea for a scheme element -- double-SAM.

    The idea is this:

    • BB has always liked LBs who could jam TEs at the line.
    • As the importance of TEs goes up, so does the importance of this skill.
    • Generally, the league is moving back to timing-disruption -- i.e. press-oriented -- pass defenses.
    • TEs can be flipped to either side of the line, put in motion, whatever.
    • Ninkovich has become good at hand combat. Jones is said to excel at it. Hightower is projected to SAM or something SAM-like.
    In a 4-3 that could make Spikes a reserve, but he'd effectively be backing up all three LB positions (with Mayo kicking outside if an OLB were hurt). (Unless Jones can handle the role.) In a 3-4 he'd play. In short yardage, it's a given that he plays.

    In the nickel the line-up might be something like:

    Jones - Wilfork - Pryor - Carter
    Mayo-Hightower
    5 DBs

    with Hightower making sure to be up on the line if there's a TE on his side.
  11. patfanken

    patfanken On the Roster

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    Good stuff Fencer. I think BB is always a tinkerer. I think the injuries in the secondary (Dowling, Boddin, Barrett, and Chung for half the season) the lack of interior pass rushers (Wright and Pryor) and the general inexperience of the entire defense FORCED him to be very vanilla for the 2nd year in a row.

    However adding Gregory and Wilson plus getting Barrett and Dowling back, and the continuing development of McCourty, Arrington and Moore solidifies the secondary. Now add to that Fanene, Scot, Jones, and Hightower to the more standard 2 gappers like Wilfolk, Love, Deadrick, and Brace on the DL and Bill now has the skill set mix that will allow him to be VERY creative. Now he can realistically game plan being a 3-4 zone, 2 gapping team one week, and come out looking like Rex Ryan's 4-6 the next,

    OK that's my take. Sorry but I have to get back to ranting about Tayvon Wilson and the bad second round trade. ;)
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  12. TB146

    TB146 Rookie

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    The Pats 2006 season was fairly successful, but hindered by the likes of Reche Caldwell at WR, and BB reacted by picking up Moss, Welker, etc and rewriting the Offensive history books. The 2011 season was largely successful, but hindered by a patchwork defense, and BB seems to be reacting by picking up major pieces to rewrite the defense. I know the parallel isn't exact, and they don't necessarily need to rewrite defensive records, but I do see a major shift in philosophy. If it's half as successful as the Offensive overhaul was in 07, the Pats are going to be hard to beat.
  13. patsfaninpa

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    Fanene is a pretty good pass rusher. I think he will come in on passing downs at DT. Rotate Deaderick and Vince at the other DT spot. I have our starters right now as Deaderick at RDE, K. Love at NG and V. Wilfork at LDE. Really thought we needed a two gapper. Maybe, Marcus Harrison can become a player and allows us to keep Vince at NG.

    Starters
    LDE Wilfork
    NG K. Love
    RDE Deaderick
    LOLB Ninko
    ILB Mayo
    ILB Spikes
    ROLB Hightower
    CB Arrington
    FS Gregory or Wilson
    SS Chung
    CB McCourty

    4-2-5
    LDE Chandler Jones or Bequette
    DT Wilfork/Deaderick
    DT Fanene
    RDE Hightower
    LB Mayo
    LB Ninko
    CB McCourty
    FS Gregory or Wilson
    SS Chung
    CB Dowling
    Nickel Arrington
  14. Palm Beach Pats Fan

    Palm Beach Pats Fan Rookie

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    The D you spend the most amount of time playing is in reality your "base" defense.

    Nickel is our base defense.

    The debate is over the preferred nickel alignment: 3-3-5, 2-4-5, 4-2-5, etc.

    and does the 5 have a "big nickel" DB alignment, and when do you go dime?

    The Jets and Ravens are the only opponents that really call for having a base 3-4 at any time.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
  15. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The other side of the coin, if only Devils Advocate in some cases:

    The 34 is arguably a better pass D scheme than 43 becuase you are able to disuguise the 4th rusher as well as have more creative blitzes.
    Most of the best pass rush and pass defense Ds are 34 teams.
    We just drafted 3 front 7 guys who have 34 skillsets.

    In the secondary yes, but I don't see a trend of drafting speed in the front 7 at all. Spikes is slow. Hightower is a behemoth. Jones is a 266 lb DE/OLB who many think will reach 280. Cunningham is not a speed LB.
    I think you are backward on this one.

    Its a long shot to say that he chose a scheme based on Haynesworth who was a parttime player (I think he average 15 snaps a game) before being unceremonisously cut.
    BB is on record as saying the shift to the 43 was predicated on it being easier to install in a shortened camp. By seasons end we were back to the 34.


    But in his own words he chose a system based in simplicity.


    ;quote]Now, however, he has a full off-season to teach.

    5. BB is acting as his own DC, but it's not for in-game play-calling reasons.[/quote]
    We really do not know if that is the case. He just hasn't named one, as he has done in the past on offense. That didn't mean he was the OC, it means he shared the coordinator duties (which are vastly more than a position coach has) among coaches instead of assigning all to just one.

    I see it the other way. In a 43 where are the DTs other than VW?
    The personell issue is interesting, because truly BB acquires players who are interchangable.
    If you look at the roster and lineup, the 34 DL become LDE-DT-DT when you move to a 43. The other 43 DE was an OLB in the 34. The LBs from the 34 adjust over a man to the 43.
    If you look at an X and O diagram bewteen our 34 and 43 you are essentially shift the DL in one direction and the LBs in the other and calling one OLB a DE.
    As far as WOLB, we have never played a S and W OLB in the 34. They play L or R, and that is a basic tenant of BB defensive philosophy. If you try to play S and W the offense can exploit you and flip that script.
    The OLb candidates now for a 34 are Jones,Hightower, Ninko, Cunningham, Bequette, Carter, Silvestro.
    I could be argued the biggest focus of the draft was to improve the 34 OLB spot.

    VS doesn't need to be retrained to play 1 gap.
    We would use Fanene and Deaderick at LDE and all of the 34 OLB/43 DE guys (including as many think Carter coming back) as RDE.
    Mayo played Will last year.

    He has been remarkably true for a very long time to his philosophy of defense.
    I don't see mad scientist at alll. I see a coach who saw the GOAT at QB and evolved his offense to feature him.

    At this stage of the NFL how innovative can you be? I don't think BB, the football historian, who admittedly copies things from as far back as the 40s in game planning is going to chuck it and try something no one has.

    This is an entirely different topic than 34 or 43.

    Passing downs happen a lot, we have struggled somewhat in passing downs = dramatic shakeup seems to be quite a stretch.

    I don't think there are clues to read. Figuring out BBs intnetions from a string of unrealated decision that we try to cull a reasoning for has never been successful.

    I agree that BB is open to whatever scheme will win the personell he has, but given that the shift to a 43 was reactionary to the circumstances, that it didn't work out, and that the personell is being acquired in the mold of 2 gap 34 with a 4 man front in sub packages made up of 2 guys inside that are DEs in the 34 and 2 guys outside that are OLbs in the 34, I don't see much change going on here.

    Interesting topic that can be looked at many different ways, and really adds up to guessing at why he did what he did with numerous conflicting potential explanations.
    I guess we see when we see.
  16. UofApatsfan

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    I agree with basically all of it, but parts of this post I particularly agree with:
    Thank you! Unless you're a team like the Giants and you have Tuck, Osi, JPP, Tollefson, etc. making it so the offense is still gonna struggle to handle pressure even when they know where it's coming from, the 3-4 is the better defense at generating pressure with confusion/disguise.


    Once again, I couldn't agree more. This team doesn't have the speed at LB a 4-3 defense generally requires. It's greatest asset at linebacker is size. Given one of the biggest reasons Hightower was a 1st round prospect is because of the fact he was the leader and play caller of one of college football's most complex 3-4 schemes, Belichick wouldn't use such a high pick on him if he planned on moving away from a base 3-4. It seemed to be like Belichick wanted a more complete SILB who's more versatile than Spikes on passing downs with potential to line up at 3-4 OLB as well.

    Another thing people keep forgetting. Switching to the 4-3 wasn't a long drawn out process, BB did it because of the lockout, and it didn't last. He never made any long term commitment to a 4-3. Drafting guys like Spikes, Cunningham, Jones, Hightower, etc. in recent years is much more a long term commitment to 3-4.
  17. BBass

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    After watching the draft do you see any possibilty that Belichick is moving to unique scheme. With the league becoming so passing based I can envision something of a light 3-4 or full time 2-5 look. It would look something like this,

    LDE - Deaderick, Faraene
    NT - Wilfolk, Love, Pryor
    RDE/Hybride - Jones, Baquette, Scott
    LOLB - Nincovich, Carter
    WILB - Mayo, Carpenter
    SILB - Spikes, Fletcher
    ROLB - Hightower, Cunningham

    Seems like the length and spead at RDE/Hybride could be really disruptive. Any thoughts?
  18. BBass

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    And 3 downs the LDE comes off the field and the LOLB shifts down to there spot and it moves to a light 3-3.
  19. AndyJohnson

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    I cannot imagine we will play a 265-275 lb player as a 34 DE. That is really position that is 90% 43 DT and 10% 43 DE.
    They need to 2 gap 300lb OTs, and will just get swallowed up, and lose their pass rush strengths by the responsibliites of the position.
    Move those guys to OLB and put a 300 lber at DE and you are on to something.
  20. rookBoston

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    I do agree that something is cooking in Foxboro. The talent that BB has brought onto the squad is a bit unexpected, and there is definitely something to be inferred. But, Fencer, even tho I agree with your conclusion, I'm not sure you have all the facts right.

    The pro game is changing, no question. But I dont agree 3-4 is played out. Some of the best defenses are running 3-4.

    This is not really true. BB still seems devoted to bigger, slower players. Spikes is not a burner, for example. And cutting Guyton really took the only pure speed guy from the LB unit. In this draft class, his choice of Hightower and Jones is not about speed, but strength and shedding blocks. Both of those players show hallmark 2-gap skills.

    And yet, BB released Haynesworth because he could not adapt to the scheme. So, really, should we conclude that BB is embracing 1-gap?

    Well, not sure this is true. The 3-4 line would be Deaderick - Wilfork - Love with Ninkovich/Jones/Scott, Spikes, Mayo, Carpenter/Hightower. In fact, I would argue that Jones and Hightower are selections that help BB get BACK to the 3-4 that he was forced to abandon because his LB talent was too thin last year. With Jones he finally has someone who can play the Elephant again. Either Mayo or Hightower can play Will. In fact, what may be fun is to disguise which of them is the Will... see if the QB can make it out.

    Again, I don't think this is true. The 4-3 line would be something like Fanene - Wilfork - Love/Brace - Carter/Bequette with Hightower/Carpenter, Spikes, Mayo as backers.

    I don't think the distinguishing characteristic of this defensive front is that it is neither 3-4 nor 4-3... the unique thing is that the players give BB to run either scheme or both.

    BB has always been pushing the limits of the scheme. The only thing that's new is that he has a higher caliber pool of talent to draw from.
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