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Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AndyJohnson, Jun 5, 2006.

  1. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I understand the concerns about Sullivan, but the potential is absolutely there. I remember the draft people saying he was better than Seymour. I know he has been a bust, but there is absolutely the chance he can reach his potential here.

    The depth we now have on the DL is scary.

    Seymour-Wilfork-Warren. Best starting unit in the NFL

    Green-Sullivan-Hill-Wright/Klecko/whoever/no one. Great depth.

    If we were to go to a 4-3, I would expect this:

    DT- Wilfork and Warren start backed up by Sullivan
    DE- Seymour and Green start backed up by Hill.

    the 7th DL will be able to play both spot. Vrabel and Colvin still can play DE on 3rd down.

    I have been one of those saying we are a 3-4 base team, BUT..............


    Look at the guys we have:

    The DL can play 3-4 or 4-3 equally. We would be big at DE, but who cares, we will be very good too.

    I think Wilfork, Hill, Green and Klecko if he stays are better suited for the 43.
    Everyone else is equal either way, depending on which 34 DE stays a 43 DE.

    Vrabel is equally good in either set. His ILB play last year is closer to a 43 OLB than a 34 OLB.
    Bruschi is equally effective in either set.
    Colvin is really the only guy who is 'built for the 34' but I saw a difference in his game last year where he became much more stout vs the run, playing stronger and relying less on only speed and quickness. He can still get his pass rush chances on 3rd down, and there is no reason we cannot rush 5 out of the 43 as easily as the 34.
    Beisel probably fits the 43 better than the 34. He started almost a full year at MLB in the KC 43.
    No one not listed above would have any impact on that decision, they would fit into it.

    Lets not forget that we won a SB in 2001 playing the 43.
    We stayed in it in 2002, then shifted to the 34 in 2003.
    It can be argued that it was personnell and not scheme driving that.

    I'm not saying Sullivan is a reason to switch schemes, but I can see his trade being a RESULT of a plan to switch schemes.

    When we switched to the 3-4, we had players like Hamilton, Ted Johnson, McGinest and Phifer. We wanted to get Seymour outside, and couldnt have in a 43, because we lacked DTs.
    The players on the 2002-2003 offseaosn roster WERE better suited to a 34, the players here are arguably as or more suited to a 43.

    One of the reasons BB switched, no doubt, was that it was a game planning advantage because few teams played it. Now, more teams play it. How many teams play 2gap 43? I cannot think of any. Wouldnt BB be reversing the tables out of the 3-4 as many teams now play it, and now offenses will figure it out, and be better prepared for it?

    Another aspect would be breaking the tendancies teams are prepared for by mixing in one gap schemes. That can be done much better in a 43.

    I think you can make a very strong case that there is a decent possibility that we may change our base to a 43.

    Those who will take the 'we are a 34 team' approach, please address:

    -Which players are better suited for 34 vs 43 (I think many are equally suited?
    -Why would BB have switched to a 43 in 2001?


    At the most basic level, our front 7 is designed to stop the run. Playing 2gap clearly says pass rush out of the base is a lesser concern. Given our roster, I think we would play the run better from a 4-3, and given that offenses must prepare equally to beat a 3-4, that advantage is going away.
  2. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It certainly makes for some great training camp intrigue. Can't wait for those first day reports to come in from Karen/Reiss. Hopefully I myself will be able to get down there...
  3. rookBoston

    rookBoston Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    AJ,
    You forgot to mention my 5-2 scheme. This is a goalline front, and something for us to try on first down against strong running teams with weak or inexperienced QBs (Baltimore, San Diego, Cleveland, Buffalo...).

    Warren - Sullivan - Wilfork - Seymour - Green
    Bruschi - Vrabel


    We even have the personnel run a 6-1 scheme, with 2nd rounder Marquise Hill as the 6th man. I dont think I've ever seen one played, because how many teams have a DL six players deep with that kind of size and athleticism across the board? With the pocket collapsing as quickly as a 6-1 would allow, the secondary can afford to play up tight and only need to stick with their man for a few seconds.

    And it doesn't diminish our ability to play our base 3-4, or even the now-famous 1-6 scheme where Seymour plays over the gaurd:

    Seymour
    Mincey - Vrabel - Bruschi - Beisel - Colvin - BantaCain


    The 1-6 isn't quite as dangerous on paper as it was in the days of McGinest - Vrabel - Bruschi - TJ - Colvin - Phifer... but it has potential. That formation was more about mental confusion than it was about power or finesse.
  4. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    First of all: YEAH, the Pats are absolutely stacked at D line. But your post brings up a couple of questions:

    Okay, question 1, how do you play a 2-gap 4-3? Are we just overlapping the gaps so 2 guys cover each interior gap, with the flexibility to change either or both of them over to edge rushers on any given down? Wait, this is actually getting a little exciting...

    Question 2 - do we really think the Pats are going to "go to" another "scheme" or is it more like the 65-35 mix in favor of the 3-4 becomes 50-50, or even 65-35 the other way? I mean, in retrospect we can say that BB went to emphasizing the 3-4, but it's the 2-gap scheme that's really the defining characteristic (which is why you need a Seymour to anchor it, and why 2 other first rounders sometimes look lost without him.)

    We can say this much for sure though: Having that much talent up front gives Bill Belichick something nobody else in the league can be very happy seeing him get: OPTIONS!

    Yet another "kid at christmas" moment... I cannot wait to see how this unfolds. I wouldn't be surprised to see them dropping linemen back in coverage in unconscious bizarro world counterpoint to blitz packages... Seymour can do it, for instance. Not a bad thing to have in the arsenal, with questions at LB. After all, on offense the draw play fakes the pass and establishes the run with the element of surprise, and the play action does the reverse. That kind of symmetry could provide a potent wrinkle if used more than "once in a while" on the passing downs (especially since the Pats have established they can get pressure with three linemen.)

    Eh, I only got 3 hours' sleep, then worked 12 straight. Forgive any mad rambling from me this evening.

    PFnV
  5. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Let's also not forget that Banta-Cain, Mincey, and Pierre Woods are all 4-3 DEs.

    I also don't believe BB will come out with some 65-35 or 50-50 scheme between the 3-4 and 4-3. It will be one or the other. Sure, there will be some of the 'other' mixed in sporadically, but nothing to consitute an integral facet of the scheme.

    Also, with this Sullivan trade, I believe far too many people are using it as leverage to propagate a change to the 4-3. It's minimal, at best, guys. I see it more of a tool to shop Bethel when there's still some return left. One of the remaining holes that was, and still will be, an open audition is the backup NT spot. Sullivan simply adds some more fuel to that fire.

    Like it or not, Sullivan is just another training camp body. He's as much on the bubble as Wright or Klecko.

    This team has been built since the coming of BB as a 3-4 team. That's how the Patriots have drafted and shopped the market. 2001 and 2002 were rebuilding years (with a preview of the rewards in 2001) where players like Pleasant, Hamilton, Mitchell, Lyle, Phifer, etc. came in to fill holes while the front seven was rebuilt. That started with Seymour, and continued on with the drafting of Warren, Wilfork, Hill, Green, Banta-Cain, and Claridge. It just so happened that the best scheme to fit the rebuilding period with the veteran 'filler' players was the 4-3. The only such player that has stuck around is Vrabel.

    Now, as perennial Super-Bowl contenders, Belichick has achieved his goal of a drool-inducing 3-4 scheme. Belichick anticipated the loss of McGinest but did not expect nor want Beisel to be thrown into the fire so early. I see his intention as wanting to adjust Beisel into a 3-4 LB, while developing Claridge while he was 'injured.' We also might have witnessed a glimpse into the future with Banta-Cain seeing a good amount of time in the season finale. Mincey will be another project that will hopefully continue to bring propserity to the scheme in the coming years.

    Again, this trade only adds negligible "stackedness" to the DL. The Patriots are no more closer to being a 4-3 team than they were yesterday. In order to have annual success, new pieces need to be phased in. Sullivan is just another project - a piece of the puzzle that will need to work to make the team just like the player next to him.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2006
  6. patsox23

    patsox23 Rookie

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    Interesting take, as always, aj. You're the first person who's made a compelling case for this idea. I feel sort of sheepish for having taken on so many making the same suggestion, and I'm still not sure I agree (until I see it), but you certainly make a strong case for the possibility. Thanks.
  7. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Good post Andy. However, I believe that the Pats trading for Sullivan and drafting LeKevan Smith almost certainly means the end of the line for Klecko and possibly Wright. Santonio Thomas still has practice squad potential as does Wright for that matter.

    I think that Sullivan allows the Patriots more flexibility in showing different fronts IF he can step up. And that seems to be a big if.

    However, I have to disagree as to whether the Players we have are more suited to the 4-3. While the Pats have the linemen for the 4-3, their LBs are suited for the 3-4. Bruschi hasn't had the speed to cover sideline to sideline since prior to the 2002 season. And this was mentioned by Belichick in Patriot Reign.

    Anyhow, Training Camp will be interesting.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2006
  8. bucky

    bucky Rookie

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    I don't agree with this notion that our DL can play 34 or 43 "equally". Just because a lot of the players could play the scheme, doesn't mean it's the best use of their talents.

    Of the players you mentioned, I agree that Green is better suited for the 43. Klecko is better suited as a 1-gap 43 DT, but that's irrelevant because (a) we're not switching philosophies completely and (b) Klecko isn't a rotation player anyway.

    As for Wilfork, I'm not sure it makes a difference. He was pretty good at the nose the last half of last year. Now, let's look at the rest of the players:

    Colvin - before his injury, he was best playing on the LOS, but could play off as well. Since the injury, I still think it's a stretch for him to play off the LOS. Let's assume in the 43 he plays SAM LB and plays on the LOS 60% of the time. But it may be more realistic for him to be the RDE in a 43. If that were the case, the switch to 43 would be inconsequential as far as the presonnel on the field.

    Bruschi - doesn't matter.

    Vrabel - with Colving at SAM, Vrabel would switch to the WIL, which is basically equivalent to his position as an ILB in the 34. However, his best position is still as OLB in the 34 and in the ideal scenario that's where he would play.

    Warren - Let's assume Ty will do equally well as a 43 DT.

    Seymour - this is where your contention gets hairy. Could Seymour play DE in a 43? Yes he could. Is it his best position? Very very doubtful. His best 43 position is probably at DT and I would argue that his best NFL position is exactly the one he plays right now.

    Sullivan - ironically, the guy who triggered this entire post has no track record to suggest that he's capable of playing DT in the 43 defense.

    So in summary, if your DL is Seymour-Wilfork-Warren-Green, you're putting Seymour, Colvin and Vrabel in less than their best positions. My question is - why? What are you accomplishing? If your DL is Colvin-Wilfork-Warren-Seymour, you're changing your scheme, again playing Seymour out of ideal position, and still not solving the problem of getting the DL depth on the field.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2006
  9. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    All good points.
    Response to a few:

    -You can 2 gap from a 43 just as well as a 34. Typically yuo slide one of the DT over the C anyway. Think of it this way for alignment. Take your 34 and replace one ILB with a DT. DEs are still over the Ts. The differences are that you are stouter vs the run this way, but do not have the 4th rusher playing in space. (As an OLB you read and react then rush, as a DL you engage, read and react, rush.
    -This is why I say there isn't much of a difference for the players. Which guy in the front 7 has truly different duties? The primary change is you do not have an ILB taking on a G, but also do not have yuor 4th rusher coming from outside.


    I disagree that Bruschi isnt suited to the 43. Our 2 gap 43 is not a defense that needs a sideline to sideline MLB. The requirements are very similar to a 34 ILB.

    Again, with the DL , I dont know why a 43 woud change anything. Seymour plays 2 gap on the T in the 34, and will play 2gap on the T in the 43.

    Again, it comes down to 2 differences IN THE TYPICAL BASE D.
    1) Remove an ILB and insert a DT. Alignment is unchanged otherwise.
    2) The 'new DT" becomes the 4th pass rusher.
    Strenghten one area, weaken another.

    There is one other large difference however.
    Stunts, blitzes, and schemes.
    Out of the base, which is the same alignment (but for DT vs ILB) we will not play straight up 2 gap cover 2 every down. We will play 1 gap at times, blitz, stunt or twist the DL, etc, etc. This is a huge consideration because the vanilla package, IMO, is irrelevant whether its 34 or 43. The fit of the personell is more pertinent to when we do not play vanilla.

    I think that up until now, the talent dictated that we could disguise, blitz, stunt, etc better from a 34. That is now debatable.

    One further concern. Injuries. Which are you more comfortable with:
    A 43 with 2 of our DL injured?
    A 34 with 2 of our LB injured?

    I think the depth at DL suggests we could handle injuries better from a 43.

    Again, I am not predicting or endorsing a switch.
    Absolutely BB prefers a 34 all things equal. The point I am making is that preference is not huge, there isnt a big difference in a BB 34 vs a BB 43, and the factors in place (depth, teams switching to 34---dont discount this, BB certainly is concerned that our opponents have a half a dozen other 34 teams to prepare for----personell, etc) make it so I would not be surprised.
    Chances are we stay status quo, but I would not be surprised at all with a switch to a 43.
  10. Lloyd_Christmas

    Lloyd_Christmas I can delete my own crap! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    BB has been mixing 3-4 and 4-3 from the beginning. BOTH are intregral parts of our defense. Having guys that can play OLB and DE allows you to disguise the true formation. This has been one of the defining aspects of our defense.

    We may play more 4-3 this year, but I am certain that there will be a significant amount of 3-4 played as well. I definitely do not see evidence in the past that BB will play one or the other, but not both. History shows us the opposite. He will play a significant portion of both and keep the QB wondering what the formation truly is.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2006
  11. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    We have played almost no 43 the last 3 years.
    The only time we have played 4 DL is in nickel/dime packages, aside from a couple of games here and there (Oakland last year comes to mind) where we shifted to it.
    I would say since 2003, the mix between 34 and 43 has been about 95% to 5%.
  12. bucky

    bucky Rookie

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    Yes, we toyed with the 43 at the beginning of last year and the results were very poor. Then we scrapped it. That's just another reason why I don't see it happening. Boy, there are lots of reasons to think we wont' be playing much 43.
  13. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I dont know if I would call using a 43 in the first game and doing it effectively (it worked better than the 34 vs the Raiders) 'toying with it'. I don't know if I would call staying with our base D that best fit our personell 'scrapping' another scheme.

    There is no question in 2005 the 34 best fit us.
    McGinest was clearly more effective as a 34 OLB than a 43 DE. He is no longer here.
    With Seymour injured we had zero depth on the DL. We would have played McG-Warren-Wilfork-Green
    and the backups would have been Hill, who had yet to really even play in the league, a rookie, and Klecko.
    Bruschi was out, so there wasnt really anyone to play MLB. Chad Brown was in the mix, and he wouldnt fit a 43 anywhere.

    While I am not endorsing or predicting a change, it is plain as day that the personell on this team is better suited for it if we did switch to a 43 than it was in September of 05.

    Again, BB will play the defense that best uses his personell. If his decision is that the players and depth are better if he uses a DT over the G instead of an ILB, thats what he will do. It isnt far fethced at all.

    Of course we are still talking about 50% of the snaps. Its either 3-3 or 4-2 (nickel) or 3-2, 4-1 (dime) the rest of the time.

    If you look at the 6 best front 7 players----those who will be on the field almost every down then say which other player AND THEIR DEPTH would make the best 7th player, the decision is a real one for BB to make. Of course he already has, we just dont know what it is.
  14. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Remi Ayodele - Rookie, UDFA
    Kader Drame - Rookie, UDFA
    Jarvis Green - Veteran, 3rd down specialist
    Marquise Hill - Veteran, benchwarmer
    Dan Klecko - Veteran, Utility Player
    Richard Seymour - Veteran, Starter
    Le Kevin Smith - Rookie, 6th round comp pick
    Johnathan Sullivan - Veteran, TBD
    Santonio Thomas - Veteran, Worked onto the roster from Practice Squad
    Ty Warren - Veteran, Starter
    Vince Wilfork - Veteran, Starter
    Mike Wright - Veteran, Utility Player

    Practice Squad Eligible: Ayodele, Drame, Smith, Thomas

    Starters: Seymour, Warren, Wilfork, Green (by virtue of his Specialist rating)

    This leaves the four fan question marks:

    Klecko: Why do we assume he is in the DL mix? For all we know BB had him inactive at the end of last season while he was losing weight again and was taking practice reps away from the DL...TE...OLB...ILB...SS...who knows, this is Klecko and BB after all.

    Wright: Played all three DL positions at one time or another and was servicable, he also played Special Teams because he is fast for a DL. This is a larger version of Klecko...which isn't a bad thing to me.

    Hill: I'll agree with those who question why he didn't play ahead of some others, and it does seem as if he was a bit fragile last season. That said, I think he was solid, if unspectacular, when he played in place of Seymour and Green.

    Sullivan: Interesting pick-up, when I broke down the New Orleans plays he was the DL who stood out to me MANKINSHANDLING well, Mankins. I don't recall another DL all season giving Mankins the same level of trouble Sullivan did. If he can continue to improve on the play he demonstrated last season, and turn around his conditioning and attitude, Vince needs to watch over his shoulder. If not, cheap experiment and there's always Klecko.

    4-3, 3-4, 5-2, 11-0, have been talked about by the same suspects, the defense isn't changing it's spots that I can see. We have some excellent pre-season injury depth and strong competition for each spot on the team, including Practice Squad. I wouldn't be surprised if Klecko and Wright took reps at OLB, or for that matter SS. We'll see if there are any new twists next week at Veteran's mini-camp, until then, you have to appreciate the competition Pioli has brought in at every position, except QB and P. And all us folks worried about Wilfork having back-up.....:rolleyes:
  15. shakadave

    shakadave Rookie

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    This is a key piece, I believe. Willie may have been the one person on our D who could dictate what sort of D we ought to be playing.

    Meanwhile, I'm real leery of picking a defensive scheme based on who we have on the roster. One or two injuries (and IIRC, we've had one or two injuries in recent years) and the logic for such a move is gone. Better to pick the scheme, then acquire players accordingly.
  16. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    re

    AJ, I think this is a great guess.

    We have 3 good LB's, and are loaded at DL.
    The current personnel seems to be best suited for 4-3.

    We played 3-4 the past few years because it made sense with McGinest, Bruschi, Vrabel, Ted Johnson, and Phifer, and because we our DL wasn't as talented or as deep.

    .
  17. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    So, lets forget what Belichick said in Patriot Reign. Lets ignore the fact that he said our LBs, WHICH INCLUDED BRUSCHI, weren't fast enough to play the MLB position and that we needed more speed there. We are now 4 years removed from that. Players tend to slow down when they get older. Not speed up.

    Sorry, but the Pats LBs don't have the speed needed for the 4-3 on a regular basis. The sooner people start realizing this the sooner we can stop with the speculation.
  18. bucky

    bucky Rookie

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    That's not how I remember it. I seem to recall that the 43 wasn't effective at all in the first few games we used it. And since we stopped using it, I would say "scrapping" is as good a term as anything else.


    I'm not sure it's that "clear" because the way Willie played DE was pretty much the same way he played OLB. I agree Willie's best position wasn't a DE in a 43, but my point here is that the way he played it, it didn't make much difference.

    So what's different about the DL this year? McG isn't even here. So what happens if Seymour is hurt. Oh, wait a second, the great Jonathan Sullivan is here to solve all our DT depth problems! Yeah, right!

    This is exactly the point. Whether you play a 43 or a 34 depends less on your DL than on the LBs. Vrabel and Colvin are both best suited as 34 OLBs.


    What we're really arguing about here is taking out your 4th LB - let's assume it's Beisel - and replacing him with your 4th best DL - which is Green. And while I certainly agree that Green has proven to be more effective than Beisel, I don't see the difference as being big enough to move 3 of your best players - Seymour, Colvin and Vrabel - out of their best positions and sacrifice the schematic advantages of being in a base 34.
  19. ilduce06410

    ilduce06410 Rookie

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    willie ray created a lot of choices

    i'd have to catalogue the defensive sets they used last year, but IMHO the DL rotation was pretty clear. last year it was seymour wilfork warren green colvin mcginest. on a depth chart i'd have listed willie ray as a LB as well. the rest of the DLs were essentially faceless, carry-out-the-assignment players.

    IMHO the patriots basic defense was 3-4 last year, but for the majority of the snaps they were in a anything-anything formation. they do almost anything from any set. it seemed to me that it was gonna be 4-3 this year, but in the end it doesn't matter. what matters is how well they do in that kaliedoscope D, and does sullivan give them another 1st-rate player for the rotation?
  20. Ochmed Jones

    Ochmed Jones Rookie

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    A 2 gap 4-3????? That's so funny it's ridiculous.

    I don't see our current LB staff capable of handling the 4-3 full time. Brucshi is NOT a 4-3 MLB. In coverage he works best when the field is cut in half. His instincts are impeccable, but still not enough to help him to allow him to play the 4-3 FT.

    If we use the 4-3, it would be best used in sub packages.

    Finally, if we went to a 4-3 (hopefully not a 2 gap 4-3) and Seymour played inside, his numbers would be off the chain. It would take 2 or more guys to stop him on every play. He would dominate the NFL from the DT slot like only a very few have ever done.

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