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Did BB make a mistake bypassing Dunlap for Cunningham last year...

Discussion in 'Patriots Draft Talk' started by PatsFanStnfrd, Jun 22, 2011.

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  1. PatsFanStnfrd

    PatsFanStnfrd Rookie

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    Carlos Dunlap was the Bengals pick right behind the Pats selecting Jermaine Cunningham in round 2 of the 2010 draft. Dunlap had a terrific year masked by being on a terrible team. Dunlap was second among all rookies in QB sacks last year, narrowly second to Suh. An article on the Bengals website headlined "Reason for Optimism" points out:

    "Dunlap finished with 9.5 sacks to break the Bengals rookie mark of 8.5 that had been set by defensive end Justin Smith in 2001. Dunlap had more than three times as many sacks as his closest teammate—rookie defensive tackle Geno Atkins was second at 3.0—and Dunlap became the first rookie to lead the Bengals in sacks since 1990, when linebacker James Francis had 8.0."

    It goes on to say: "To be sure, Dunlap ended the season as the hottest pass rushing rookie in the NFL. He had 8.5 of his sacks over the last six games."

    Reason for optimism

    In short, Dunlap alone had nearly as many sacks as all of Pats OLB combined.

    So, while a lot of people bemoan BB missing out on Clay Matthews a few years ago, there has been understandably less focus on BB passing over Dunlap. IF memory serves right, Dunlap had several "attitude" marks against him. He was said to inconsistent in some Florida games (which college player isn't?). But he certainly had the measurables and the broader college record that BB could look to (unlike Matthews). In fact, numerous draft "experts" had Dunlap a potential Pats pick -- precisely because of his measurables, record and Pats need at DE/OLB. I also recognize that the jury is out on Cunningham. I also understand that the players performance varies with scheme. But that's why BB is there -- to coach someone like Dunlap to play in his scheme.

    Thus BB's pick of Cunningham -- and how he performs vs. Dunlap's performance going forward -- could be a defining one to watch in the long standing Pats search for an anchor pass rusher who can get the opposing QB.
  2. Oswlek

    Oswlek Rookie

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    Perhaps, but performance as a 4/3 end isn't easily transferrable to performance as a 3/4 OLB. It stands to reason that Dunlap is the better pass rusher because BB certainly would have used Jermaine more in sub rushing situations if he was a 10 sack talent. That said, Jermaine displayed a well rounded OLB game, which is a lot to say for any rookie, let alone a rookie who missed most of camp and all of the preseason.

    Time will tell, but I'm comfortable with the decision at the moment.
  3. Professor Frink

    Professor Frink Rookie

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    I don't think just looking at sacks (overrated stat IMO) is a fair way of evaluating the two players. How consistently can Dunlap set the edge? How comfortable is he in dropping back into coverage? Can he play standing up?

    I understand that he has more explosiveness, and perhaps he may be a better overall pass rusher, but that is only part of the equation.

    Right now all we know is both rookies preformed pretty well in their respective systems, and I bet both teams are pretty happy with their selections.
  4. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I was high on Dunlap in the draft, and very surprised that they took Cunningham instead. But BB got up close and personal with that whole Florida roster and presumably got frank assessments from their coaches, too.

    It could be that Dunlap's straight-line style athleticism didn't project well to the job here. Or it could be that Dunlap's character questions didn't project to the championship-caliber locker room that BB & Caserio have been so deliberately building. (Remember that Cunningham, not Dunlap, was a captain at Florida.)

    In either case, success in Cinci's 4-3 defense and locker room full of miscreants doesn't necessarily reflect on what Dunlap's value would have been with the Patriots.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  5. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'm trying to remember who it was that tried to impress BB by getting a sack, only to have BB ream him out for ignoring his responsibilities (the gist of BB's anger was that if they had tried to run the ball instead of pass, it would have been an almost certain huge gain/touchdown).
  6. E Belichick Unum

    E Belichick Unum Rookie

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    What are you doing, accusing BB of making a mistake? Why here at BBManLove.com, that is cause for virtual disembowelment with a used kicking tee or a rabid cat.

    For the record, the mantra here is:
    1) Sacks don't matter, if they did matter BB would have surely addessed the situation years ago.
    2) BB is always right, and when he is wrong it is because everybody else is wrong, not BB.
    3) Did I mention that sacks don't matter?
    4) It is a good thing that the nose tackle led the team in sacks last year, I mean, somebody had to do it and Brady wasn't available.
    5) BB the GM is infallable, while BB the coach is the best ever.
    and number
    6) BB never gets wet, he walks on water.

    And this is from a BB fan, a guy who had the audacity to question why BB didn't add a pass rusher, and between the BB ball sucking and the BB lollipoping I found out that I knew nothing about football, because I was told so in no uncertain terms.
  7. Oswlek

    Oswlek Rookie

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    Hyperbole much?

    Sacks don't matter?

    How exactly is pointing out that 10 sacks as a starter in Cincy doesn't tell us much about how he would have fared as part-time OLB here? Or is that pass rush bug up your arse buzz so loudly that you can't hear anything else?
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  8. Tasco

    Tasco Rookie

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    would love more info on that! never heard this happened!
  9. Sciz

    Sciz PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Success in one scheme does not imply hypothetical success in another.
  10. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I agree 100% with all these comments. The choice was between Dunlop and Cuinningham. There is no reason to question the choice that Belichick made.

  11. jsull87

    jsull87 Rookie

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    I understand that dunlap killed it the last half of last year. But sacks are just a small equasion to how an OLB plays for the pats. I am actually quite high on Cunningham as i went back during the offseason and watched all the tapes i had recorded of the games and i think he stood up really well in his rookie season. I think he is very solid vers the run and has good pass rush skills. He dropped well in the open field too. In saying that if you were a bengals fan you would also be very excited about dunlap's potential. I think both are good footballers but once again i like Cunningham for the Pats OLB
  12. ay-yo

    ay-yo Rookie

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    As others have said there's no guarantee that Dunlap would have had the success he had in Cinci over here.

    That said, I think Dunlap would have been put in more pass rushing situations than Cunningham was and as a result would have had more sucks, qb hits and / or hurries. There's also a possibility he would have been exposed in coverage more than Cunningham.
  13. Sciz

    Sciz PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    And according to Football Outsiders, Dunlap had 3 hits and 4 hurries in addition to his 9.5 sacks to Cunningham's 1 sack, 4 hits, and 17 hurries. That means they credited Cunningham with pressure more than Dunlap anyway, just not the "flashy" pressure.
  14. patsfan-1982

    patsfan-1982 Rookie

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    Dunlap may go on to be the next Julius Peppers and Cunningham may go on to be the next Pierre Woods, bottom line is Dunlap is not a OLB. the pats need it a every down edge seting OLB not a sub package 4-3DE

    a corvette is a better car then my suburban but i cant fit my family in it so what good is it to me ?
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  15. Oswlek

    Oswlek Rookie

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    Hey now, let's not go that far. I'm sure BB would be glad to have a big time pass rusher at 4/3 sub DE. I know I would. :cool:
  16. Defsoul

    Defsoul Rookie

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    Both Cunningham and Dunlap could become good players in the NFL. It doesn't always have to be black and white. They both could become pro bowl pass rushers, they also could do next to nothing from here on out.
  17. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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  18. PatsFanStnfrd

    PatsFanStnfrd Rookie

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    Performance (or results) is always a legitimate reason to question choice. I'm sure that when BB does self-scouting with his coaching/player development group talk about what-ifs and whys.

    As I mentioned in my OP, the jury is out on Cunningham. Dunlap seems to have performed very well -- demonstrating real value as an edge rusher. To me this even more than the miss on Matthews a few years ago will define how we judge BB's ability to draft pass rushers.

    The fact that BB generally makes good picks or is an excellent coach should not obscure mistakes or immunize him from criticism.
  19. PatsFanStnfrd

    PatsFanStnfrd Rookie

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    So?

    The whole art of the draft is projecting college players to play in your scheme. College schemes are vastly different than pro schemes. That is the whole nature of scouting -- and then coaching and player development. The most you can expect are player measurables suited to your system and a solid record. Dunlap had both. Getting the player to perform in your system is upto coaching.

    I'm sure BB carefully evaluated both Dunlap and Cunningham. He chose to pass over Dunlap who was widely picked to go round 1 or 2 to pick Cunningham was widely expected to be a 4th or 5th round pick. Cunningham might well vindicate his selection and more. Yet, Dunlap has already made his presence felt in a meaningful way. The fact that he has succeeded in a different system, does not mean he would not be a blazing success with the Pats. Especially under a great coach like BB.

    There are numerous threads on this website and elsewhere about the Pats missing on Matthews and others dedicated to lack of elite pass-rushers. I am simply suggesting passing Dunlap for Cunningham may be more of a defining moment in BB's ability to draft and develop pass rushers
  20. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Certainly, but this seems like a peculiar choice to jump on. Cunningham got off to a slow start because of injury but all signs through the course of the season looked very positive. He showed signs of developing into a complete linebacker. In other words, it appears that the Patriots finally spent a premium pick on an OLB, successfully.

    But now drafting him was a mistake because another rookie with different strengths and weaknesses, playing in a different system, put up more sacks? We're supposed to ignore the fact that Cunningham had more tackles, QB hurries, forced fumbles, etc. etc. etc. plus the fact that he was BB's first ever rookie starter at OLB and declare him a bad pick because of Dunlap's sack numbers? :confused:

    If you want to criticize BB & co. for not successfully developing an OLB before this, I'll gladly join the parade. But why slam the pick that finally bucked that ugly trend? Dunlap being good doesn't make Cunningham bad.
  21. jsull87

    jsull87 Rookie

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    ^ all that really needs to be said
  22. Off The Grid

    Off The Grid Rookie

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    Perfectly crafted Prose, sir. :cool:

    For the record, I think that Cunningham was a FAR better pick than Dunlap, who's character concerns were precisely what we don't want.

    I am very skeptical of whether or not he's got the passion, the perseverance, the love of the game, or the appreciation for team versus individual accolades, to consistently and persistently perform the wide range of duties that Cunningham is rapidly mastering. Furthermore, all the Reading + Reacting involved dictates that you need to command extraordinary Diagnostic Skills and Processing Speed to flourish as Flanker in the 34, something Coach B and Coach Meyer doubtlessly discussed at length, with regard to these two.

    And I would add that the Pick was either good or bad on the day it was made, on the merits of what we knew then, regardless of what the results turn out to be. If Dunlap sets the all time Sack record, it does not necessarily follow that passing on him for Cunningham was a mistake, or even anything less than an excellent move.

    Even so, I applaud your philosophy: Greatness ~ Coach B's ~ ought not translate to immunity from criticism.

    Even Coach B screws up, though I don't think this was one of those occasions.
  23. jeffbiologist

    jeffbiologist Rookie

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    Now I'm not putting the Bengals D in the hall of fame, but look at the stats. They were 15th in yds/gm with decent numbers getting off the field on 3rd. The Pats were 25th and horrible on 3rd! Considering how pathetic their offense was their defense didnt do too badly, Dunlap is part of that. They have lots of young players on D like we do and have to play both the Ravens and Steelers twice each. Cunningham is my binky, in college he was ALWAYS around the ball...same last year with those 17 pressures. The key for him is to FINISH, something he doesnt do well. It would help if there is pressure elsewhere but he is different than Dunlap because he doesnt take plays off. Truth is we could have used BOTH of them but maybe BB felt he couldnt set the edge as well in the 3-4.
  24. DaBruinz

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

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    How many times do people have to say that you can't compare an how a player does as a DE a 4-3 single gap defense to an OLB in a 3-4 Two Gap defense?

    Seriously. There are so many different things asked of the OLB in the BB defense in comparison to the Bengals defense it's not even remotely in the same ballpark. So WHY do it? It sure as hell doesn't make you look smarter than Belichick. And it doesn't even remotely make it look like you have a modicum of understanding of the differences between the two defenses.

    Your OP is an EPIC FAIL.
  25. DaBruinz

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

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    Seriously? You're smoking the same cheap garbage that the OP was..
  26. DaBruinz

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

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    Dunlap:
    10 Yard: 1.61
    20 Yard split : 2.69 (not to be confused with 20 yard shuttle)
    Vertical: 31 3/4"
    Broad Jump: 9'04

    40 games/ 15 starts. He left ranked 10th in Gator history with 19.5 sacks despite only starting 15 games over his career.

    Cunningham
    10 Yard:1.60
    20 Yard split:2.77
    Vertical: 35
    Broad Jump: 9'10"

    45 games. 38 Starts. Additionally tallied 34.0 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks, seven pass deflections, five forced fumbles, one interception and a fumble recovery during his tenure with the Gators

    So, do you really think that Cunningham is worse than Dunlap? I don't. I think that Cunningham is actually the more well rounded candidate and better fit for OLB for the Pats. Dunlap is a "Dwight Freeney" type DE. He does one thing well. Rush the passer. That's not the only thing the Pats ask of their OLBs.
  27. DaBruinz

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

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    HUH?? Cunningham was rated a HIGH of a mid 2 to a low of a top of the 5th round with the median being bottom of the 3rd. Where the hell do you get this "widely expected to be a 4th/5th round pick?

    There fact is that you are absolultely clueless as to how Dunlap would have done in the Pats scheme. However, if you'd bothered watching any of the games he played in, you'd know he stinks against the run. Period.

    As for the whole "getting a player to perform in your system, the player has to have the ABILITIES and mindset to do so. Clearly BB felt that Dunlap did NOT have those abilities and that Cunningham did.
  28. DaBruinz

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

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    Who said BB is immune to criticism? The least the OP could have done is actually have made a valid argument. He didn't He failed. He's talking about guys after their ROOKIE season when you shouldn't be evaluating them until year 3. He's also tried to compare a 3-4 Two Gap OLB to a 4-3 Pass Rushing Specialist. The OP also failed to acknowledge that BB worked both Dunlap and Cunningham out himself. He also failed to acknowledge the difference in the two players and the similarities or the fact that Cunninghame had been a starter for significantly longer than Dunlap. Heck, one could say that Dunlap benefitted from having Cunningham playing opposite him.

    The whole argument was poorly developed and lacked significant information to be able to develop an accurate opinion.
  29. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    It's a lot like the Clay Mathews argument. The schemes don't translate and once you give Mathews or Dunlap gap responsibility they're not as effective in the pass rush and they don't stack against the run and people would want them run out of town. If people wanted to second guess a player for me it would be not drafting Woodley who didn't fit the physical profile however I think most would agree he could play in this scheme. He can rush, drop in coverage and set the edge.

    I liked Woodly and Harris in that draft but if they didn't trade out and had selected one of them there's no Mayo plus some other players so it's really hard to complain.
  30. E Belichick Unum

    E Belichick Unum Rookie

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    Look, mamma raised ugly children, not dumb children. BB is a great coach, but even great coaches make mistakes. BB has not addressed the outside pass rush situation, he has tried a couple of times, but he has never given it the attention that IMO he should. He is the guy, I just a working stiff, but it doesn't mean that I can't see what is in front of me. This defense has to get pressure from the outside, because it is the only position that does not have other responsibilities in the passing game. TBC, Ninkovitch and Cunningham resulted in 9.5 sacks total last year, that isn't nealy enough.

    In the Jets playoff they had no sacks, no knockdowns and no hurries. That is a trifector that never should happen in a playoff game. When the games get big the great players get big also.The average players get little, as in 0/0/0 against the Jets.

    BTW, I smoke great stuff.
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