I was reading through Felger's mailbag and came across his thoughts on the Pats offseason. Hey Felger Mailbag - CSNNE I know Felger claims to have some decent sources inside the Patriots organization (like with the AD Brinks truck story). I thought it could spark an interesting discussion. I'll believe it when I see it, like Felger said, but I've been hoping for a more "aggressive" scheme for a while. I've always preferred the cliche "penetrate and attack" defense (Rex Ryan, LeBeau, Jim Johnson etc.) to the cliche "read and react" defense of BB and Parcells. I just think that type of attacking defense is more conducive for defending in the modern pass-happy NFL. More and more teams are turning 1st and 2nd downs into passing downs as we've seen with an eye-popping 10 QB's throwing for over 4,000 yards this past season. Of course, I'm highly skeptical that BB will just abandon the defense that has won him 3 Super Bowls in 4 SB appearances this decade, but maybe there are some signs that this could be true. 1. Rex Ryan always says he needs corners to be able to "play on an island" to free up his front seven and safeties to wreak havoc on opponents. The Patriots have used two high draft picks in the last two years on physical/press corners who seem like they will excel in press man coverage (Butler, who has looked very promising at times and McCourty, who Rex Ryan supposedly "coveted" during the draft). They also re-signed Bodden to a multi-year deal, who was solid in press man last year. It's been a long time since we've seen a secondary with this much promise, and the old Patriots philosophy seemed to be that CB's weren't of the greatest importance because their dominant front 7 could make average/JAG corners look good. However, over the last 2 years, it seems like there has been a possible shift in philosophy with an emphasis on finding quality corners. I can't remember the last time the Patriots were this deep at corner, with Bodden, Butler, Wilhite, McCourty, and even Wheatley. Most feel Bodden was a steady presence last year, and Butler and McCourty seem to have the traits and the potential to be those guys who can "play on an island" at times. I even feel that Wilhite has the makings of a great slot corner and a pretty good #2 corner once he works on his ball skills. 2. Take a look at some of the defensive lineman Belichick has collected over the past couple of years. Wright, Pryor, D. Lewis, G. Warren have all been talked about as good penetrating interior rushers by Mike Reiss. Daryl Richard came from an aggressive 1-gap/penetrating scheme at Georgia Tech. There are still classic 2-gappers like Brace and Deaderick that have been taken too, and even Warren has been said to be someone who could be a 2-gap DE. Still, the addition of some more upfield/penetrating defensive lineman is something shouldn't be overlooked. 3. Looking at the safeties in a more aggressive scheme like the Ravens have had for years, they had one ball-hawking center fielder type in Ed Reed and one woodlayer/run stopper/blitzer at the other safety position. Guys like Rex Ryan and Jim Johnson have loved blitzing one of their safeties. Most feel Meriweather is that type of ball hawking center fielder. Patrick Chung was drafted in the second round and was called great box safety and an effective blitzer. We saw some flashes of that. One memory I recall is in the first Miami game when Chung blitzed and clocked Chad Henne but it was called back for leading with the helmet. 4. It's been reported numerous times that Belichick will take a more active role on defense. This could simply be because there are a ton of rookies and second year players and he wants to be front and center in helping develop these guys into reliable starters. But could it also be because Belichick is installing a different scheme/philosophy for the first time and he wants to make sure the defense is firing on all cylinders? It's possible. I think with a team like this, you should try to take advantage of their youth and athleticism and maybe try to up aggressiveness and be more dynamic. 5. The need for a "dominant force" at OLB has been talked about for years. Almost everyone feels this is a need that really has not been addressed. If you look at the Jets, they don't really have any studs at OLB. The pressure they created last year was more due to their scheme than their OLB's. When you look at what the Pats have at OLB, isn't it kind of similar to what the Jets had? They've pretty much got a bunch of average/solid guys, none of which are on the level of guys like Ware or Dumervil. Most teams do have some studs like Suggs, Woodley, Harrison, Dumervil, Ware, etc., but you can sometimes cover up for not having a dominant guy like that by employing an aggressive scheme. There is a lot of blitzing done by LB's in this scheme. Another addition, Spikes, was a pretty effective blitzer at Florida. Could we see some double-A-gap blitzes with Mayo and Spikes shooting gaps and trying to collapse the pocket? It may just be speculation or hopeful thinking, but at the very least, it's something to definitely think about. What are your thoughts on a potentially more aggressive defense? Do you expect to see one or do you have to see it to believe first? As you can probably tell, I'm pumped and cannot wait for opening day to come after that devastating Baltimore loss last year.