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How important is having a backup NT?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by mgteich, Jun 23, 2010.

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  1. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    How important is having a backup NT and rate our current roster candidates in terms of current skills and potential?

    I have seen several posts saying that Pryor is a best choice for this roster spot. I strongly disagree.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  2. DaBruinz

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

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    Pryor isn't a NT.. He's a bigger (in weight) version of Jarvis Green. A 3rd down pass rushing specialist..
  3. Ian

    Ian Administrator Staff Member

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    I think after watching the Buffalo game again last year when Wilfork was out, it's definitely very important. Obviously we've heard positive things regarding Brace, but it would be nice to see someone step up when camp starts.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  4. tombonneau

    tombonneau Rookie

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    To spin off my post of Brace as a surprise cut, I'd argue that the question isn't how important is a backup NT, but rather how important is *competent* backup NT. If you don't have a legit backup and VW goes down, I think the team shifts to a 4-3 if there is no one in the fold who can fill that role. Just too much risk to run a 3-4 if you don't think you have the NT to make it happen.

    Unfortunately, not a lot of teams are blessed with having two large bodies to man the 3-4 nose.
  5. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Channeling patchick for a second, important enough, apparently, to pass on Connor Barwin, who seemed tailor-made for this D. . . . *grumble* *grumble*
  6. BrewCity Cheesehead

    BrewCity Cheesehead Rookie

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    I'd say D-line, more than any other position, you need to have good depth. Those big guys get tired, and they need breathers quite often. If you're 2-deep at each D-line position, you can rotate guys in so you always have fresh guys playing up front. So yes, you do need a competant backup NT, or at least a guy who starts at DE but is NT size who can slide over when Wilfork needs a breather. I'm not familiar enough with the Pats D-line depth, but I remember looking at Ron Brace when he was in the draft, and remember him catching my attention.
  7. BelizePats

    BelizePats Rookie

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    I think its critical when playing a 3-4. Brace was either drafted to play NT when were in a 3-4 or as a tackle in the 4-3.
    Brace's first year was a disappointment for us fans but I don't think the franchise was expecting great things out of him in year 1.
    That said, there is significant paying time out there waiting for Brace, if he can seize it. If he can't step up in year two and make at least a decent contribution, then this pick has to be considered a disaster when you consider who was still on the board when we picked Brace.
  8. RayClay

    RayClay On the Roster

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    It's only important when you don't have one. We lucked into Ted Washington because BB and Colangelo are friends, but don't forget, Steve Martin...plus Rick Lyle, Jarvis Green and Dan Klecko.

    Before Big Ted, it was "technique" that was important (BB was not hooked up to a lie detecter when he said that).

    Very few players have the right size, strength and endurance and are willing to play that position full time if they have other options.

    Big ted has said he'd much rather play 4-3 T, so he wants to get paid to play nose. Wilfork could start at 4-3 tackle and have more fun, less work.

    Ty Warren is the only adequate nose we have besides our two and he'd probably be looking around at other options come contract time if we put him there.

    A Nose Tackle is important because, if you needed one all of a sudden, you likely couldn't get one.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  9. jmt57

    jmt57 Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A good nose tackle is critical to the success of the 3-4 defense, and just like left tackles, good ones are hard to find. Since they are rare, if a player is a good NT then he's going to be starting somewhere rather than being a backup.

    If Wilfork were to be out for an extended period of time, then it might make sense to play more 4-3, as tombonneau suggested. Even if that is the plan, you still need an adequate backup if the starter is dinged up and out for a series or two, as well as to give him a breather and keep him fresh as BrewCity Cheesehead pointed out.

    Bottom line is, it's not reasonable to expect your backup NT to play to the same level as Wilfork. Just need to be sure the backup is competent and can hold his own for the short term.
  10. lillestroom

    lillestroom Rookie

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    What Jim said. No decent NT means that teams will just run all over the top of you, all day every day.

    I'd say that NT is a more important position than LT to be honest. With an average LT you can get by. With an average NT, you lose nigh on every game.
  11. Palm Beach Pats Fan

    Palm Beach Pats Fan Rookie

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    If Wilfork is hurt for an extended period of time, IMO we become a base 4-3 team. The backup is to tweak the scheme. because we don't have a "poor man's Wilfolk" and in fact i don't think that we have a "homeless man's Wilfork"
  12. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    MY SOMEWHAT CONTRARIAN POSITION

    1) As has been posted, the backup NT is important enough to the patriots that they used the #40 pick in the draft passing on high-potential, much-needed developmental linebackers. The linebacker need was underlined when we need to use two early 2010 picks on linebackers.

    2) 3-4 nose tackles are not easy to find. Yes, they could have other roles such as DT in 3-4 sets. One could also make the slowest defensive lineman in the draft a DE, but that's silliness. Belichick has chosen NOT to use the likes of Green, Wright or whoever is at the end of the bench as a backup nose tackle. Belichick passed on that appproach when he drafted Brace.

    3) Belichick underlined his approach early in the season when Wilfork was out. We had lots of other folks, but Belichick thought that a street free agent was better than anyone at the time. When the situation came up agains later in the season, Brace started and played OK. The bottom line is that there is one backup NT on this team and his name is Brace.

    4) Brace is in his second year, has potential, and has progressed on an schedule acceptable to the patriots. Of course posters are appalled that Brace isn't ready to repalce Green at DE. Brace is being developed as a backup 3-4 NT, period. If he can also be part of the short yardage DT set, that would be great, but not necessary.

    5) This team is NOT a base 4-3 team (repeat 5 times). We run a lot of 4-3, but it is not the base defense. An injury to one player will NOT cause Belichick to weaken all the rest of the positions of the front seven of the defense if Wilfork is injured by adopted a 4-3. If Wilfork is injured, Belichick will play Brace or a street free agent, the same choice as last year.
  13. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't know how having a back up at any starting position isn't important. Having a back up at NT could be even more than most.
  14. patsfan-1982

    patsfan-1982 Rookie

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    i think they are ok with brace as the back but if wilfork missed a few game ( knock on wood ) they could have some big problems they would then have no one on the D line that would need to be double teamed and that would make the alredy average to week LB core look even worst.
  15. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yes, we do need improvement at the ILB position, especially against the inside run. We are much too dependent on Wilfork doing it almost alone. Belichick has indentified this need and used a high draft choice in the last two years to addess this need. Hopefully, either Spikes or McKenzie will make a difference.

    The need at ILB against the run is especially noticeable if Wilfork is out.

  16. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Agree with a couple of exceptions.
    1) It could happen that Brace evolves into a DE. 40 sped is very low on the list of qualifications. I recognize your point, but I think its more possibe than you do. (I also would conclude that if you are correct there then a big part of the Brace choice was doubting that Wilfork would sgn long term. I don't think we use that pick on a NT only if Wilfork is signed for 5 years)
    2) When it comes time to put players in the game in November, plans, intentions, roster building strategies are irrelevent, the player that goes out there willl be the one who can do the job best. BB will not hesitate to put Wright at NT just because he moved away from the idea with a different plan if the way the players are playing dictate differently. I don't think you meant to imply this, but there isn't a master depth chart made in September to make the decisions during the season.
  17. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't think we discuss the 2 gap enough on this board.
    Wilfork shares the gap with the ILB. In other words BOTH of them are supposed to make the play. We only give up successful runs when both players responsible for the gap fail, not when one does.
    Theoretically, the NT is no more important than any other player on the front 7 in run D. Just like everyone else he shares the gap on either side of his man with another defender.
    The reason that NT is so critical is that a 2 gap system is most susceptible to cutbacks. That is because as much discipline as you stress, defensive football players struggle to not read the play and flow to the ball. If the NT is blown back off the line of scrimmage, you create a massive cutback lane. At the same time runs inside the G tend to happen more quickly as there is no lateral moveement from the RB to allow flow to the ball and there is often a lead blocker.
    You end up with an island of a NT on skates, and your most vulnerable 2gapper (ILBs give 40-60 lbs to Gs) having no help and more room for the RB to cut away from him.

    Holding up at the point of attack makes a servicable NT, even if they never make a tackle. They make the other players jobs easier by limiting the area for the RB to roam. That ability is heavily valued by a 2 gap team, and not valued much at all otherwise.
    If, in fact, Brace struggled at the point of attack last year (which I believe he did) in transition from playing against college OL that were much smaller and much less physically strong than him to playing against larger, stronger, matrue professionals, why would that be surprising? And why wold that not be something that could be focussed on (along with hand placement and technique that are as importantas strength) during his first off-season and a very likely area to improve?
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