How solid are we at OLB/DE and ILB/MLB

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by mgteich, Jun 8, 2012.

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  1. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    To me, this group looks mcuh better with the addition of a veteran like Carter even if his skills are significantly diminshed from 2011.

    2011: Carter, Anderson, Ninkovich
    2012: Jones, Scott, Ninkovich, Bequette, Carter maybe

    2011: Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher, Guyton
    2012: Mayo, Spikes, Hightower, Fletcher/Carpenter

    ST or last couple of LB's
    Lots of competition in
    White, Tarpinian, Koutouvides, Cunningham

    As an aside, Fanene should be solid addition to the DL, replacing the injury prone Wright. And Pryor may be abck healthy, or not.
  2. supafly

    supafly Supporter Supporter

    #32 Jersey

    As far as OLB, Cunningham certainly has a shot at still making the team, especially with one more slot opened/lessened competition with the release of M.Carter. I wouldn't give up on Cunningham just yet.

    As far as the ILB's go, we've kept the same 3 as last year (Spikes, Mayo, Fletcher) traded Guyton for Hightower, and possibly traded White for Carpenter as a ST only player.

    Last year--Spikes, Mayo, Fletcher, Guyton, White

    This year--Spikes, Mayo, Fletcher, Hightower, EITHER White/Carpenter
  3. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #91 Jersey

    2 completely different situations OLB and ILB

    1. The Depth at BOTH positions are almost infinitely improve (pardon the hyperbole). Last season with Spikes hurt and Fletcher playing with one hand, we were forced to use the likes of Tracy White at ILB. This season with Spikes and Fetcher both being back, and the additions of Hightower and Carpenter our ILB situation has vastly improved

    2. The OLB situation is much more complicated. Long term the outlooks is great with Jones, Bequette, Scott, and Cunningham essentially all new additions from last season, to join Ninko and hopefully Carter as combo DE/OLBs. The bad news is we aren't sure what we have with Cunningham and Scott, and Bequette and Jones are rookies making the toughest transition possible (a college DE becoming a 3-4 OLB)

    Remember Vrabel, Bruschi, Ninko, Colvin all took 4+ years before they became productive OLB's in the BB system with Ninko Vrabel, and Colvin taking 4 years to get the kinks out on someone else's team. Just like now with Scott, though injuries the past 2 years have made his journey more difficult to project. Also you have to factor in the Hightower potential to play OLB/DE in certain situations as well.

    So given the numbers of guys who are capable of playing the position, our situation is looking up. But given the question of experience and ramp up time, I'll be much happier if/when Carter returns. Remember if he doesn't we have lost 20 sacks and the large bulk of our pass rush of last season.

    BOTTOM LINE: I love the ILB situation. I "like" the OLB situation much better than last season, but I'm also apprehensive about the short term effectiveness of this group.

    BTW- this might be off the wall, but is it possible to infer that the release of Markell Carter last week tells us the Pats are happy with the progress Jermaine Cunningham has been making this off season and are expecting a lot more from him.
  4. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    I think you are going to see Hightower outside, in a 34 or 43.
  5. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    Some comments:

    1. As Andy notes, Hightower gives the Pats depth at OLB as well as ILB. You could essentially view the DE/OLBs as Ninkovich, Scott, Jones, Bequette, Hightower, Cunningham, +/- Carter. That's great depth, even if the situation at the top is a bit uncertain.

    2. Last year we went into training camp with 2 complete unknowns in Carter and Anderson. Both worked out very well. That's no guarantee that things will work out this year, but I think we're starting off in better shape than a year ago. Reports from OTAs have been that Travis Scott looks very good so far, FWIW.

    3. Don't count out Jeff Tarpinian out ILB as well. Reports are that Bobby Carpenter was working with the 1st team at OTAs a lot, but that may not mean much. But Carpenter, White and Tarpinian give the Pats a lot of coverage/ST/depth options behind Mayo/Hightower/Spikes/Fletcher.
  6. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    I don't agree with this.
    Colvin played and played well in Chicago and immediately converted from their systems to BBs.
    Vrabels spent time elsewhere, but that doesn't necessarily mean he would not have been productive if he had the chance to play. He was in a 1gap 34 system, not the best system for his skillset, and was blocked by 2 good players who were better fits.
    Bruschi started every day BB was here. His early years were not adapting to BBs system, they were playing in Pete Carrols system (after Parcells as a rookie) and learning the move from college DE to NFL 43 LB. He was never a 34 OLB. Ninkovich was a JAG who showed up here and started by year 2.

    The evidence to back up that players take 4 years to learn BBs system is thin at best. This is important because if it were truly the case, we should scrap the position since the average NFL career is less than 4 years.
  7. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox Supporter

    #50 Jersey

    What Ken was saying is that Ninkovich, Vrabel and Colvin were all 4 year veterans before joining the Pats and it was that learning experience that helped them to thrive in the Pats system.

    Bruschi did NOT start every day BB was here. Bruschi was a role player in 1996. In 2000, Bruschi was starting at OLB. However, in 2001, with the addition of Vrabel, Bruschi was not starting. You seem to forget that 2001 the Pats played a 4-3, not a 3-4. It was only after Ted Johnson was injured that Bruschi moved to ILB. And it was only in 2002 that the Pats moved to the 3-4, getting both Bruschi and Johnson on the field as the starters. Bruschi, himself, even stated that it took him 3-4 years to get comfortable in Bill's system.

    As for Ninkovich, he was a 4th year vet when he joined the Pats (are you starting to see the similarity that Ken was talking about yet?) Yes, Ninkovich was starting at OLB for the Pats in his second year, but that was out of necessity.

    Now, as for the statement that the average NFL career is less than 4 years, THAT is the statement that can be scrapped. Why? Because it's one made by the NFLPA and they make it a point to include ALL players who get signed to a roster at some point. The NFL uses a number of 7 years based on just the 53 man roster from Sept the final cutdowns at the end of pre-season. This came out during the CBA negotiations.
  8. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    FWIW, Trevor Scott is a 4 year vet with experience in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes including playing the elephant in Oakland. I'm hoping that will help ease his transition for the Pats.
  9. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    No he didn't. He said they took 4+ years before they became productive OLBs in the BB system.
    If you think Ken meant something different than the words he chose indicate, perhaps we should leave it to him to say so.

    I did not say otherwise/

    Bruschi started in 2001.

    I didn't seem to forget anything. We started in a 34, and when we moved to a 43 Bruschi, not Ted Johnson was the MLB.
    In any event, how do you get that Bruschi is an example of a 4+ year training period to be a 34 OLB for BB?

    This is not correct. The Pats started 01 in a 34 then switched to a 43. They played 43 all of 2002. Saying it took 3-4 years to understand the in depth schemes is not saying it took 4 years training to be able to play.

    Another poor example.

    That really is irrelevant anyway, since we drafted 2 LBs in the first round who signed or will sign 4 year contracts.
    If it takes 4 years for a player to be able to play LB in our system we wouldn't have thrown away 2 draft choices for guys to sit and learn and get paid for 4 years so they can become free agents and go play well elsewhere.
    I would note that Cunningham started year 1, and since you want to include ILB, Mayo and Spikes did as well, and Guyton started in year 2.
    Do you have any list of Patriots OLBs that weren't playing behind a very good player that had to sit 4 years to learn? I don't think there are any.
  10. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    One issue is roster size

    I think that we are fine with 11-12 DE/OLB's. However, We will be limited to 9-10. Let us presume 6 pure DL's and 9 DB's (not counting a Ster. We would then have 10 spots for DE/OLB's, ILB's and Sters (one of which is often a safety.

    The norm seems to be 4 DE/OLB's, 3 ILB's, 1 ILB/OLB and 1 Ster for a total of 9.

    A 10th roster spot is sometimes a ST/LB and sometimes a ST/S. In any case, this player shouldn't be counted on to help out at a position.

    We can check the stats, but my guess is that FIVE got the vast majority of the reps, plus TWO pass-rushers (Carter and Anderson). That is a total of SEVEN. We need TWO more for depth (Guyton and White last year). These two need to be special teamers.

    DE/OLB (choose 5) ...................Ninkovich, Scott/Cunningham, Jones, Bequette, Hightower

    ILB (choose 3)...........................Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher/Carpenter

    STer, emergency LB (1) .............White, Koutouvides, Tarpinian

    ST who could be LB or S (1).....White, Koutoviders, Tarpinian, Brown, Cole, Williams, Allen

    At DE/OLB Ninkovich is back. Jones and Scott take the roster spots of Carter and Anderson. And we have Hightower and Bequette for good measure (good since 3 of the 5 are rookies. Cunningham got almost no reps last year. He is unlikely to beat out any of these five, but is good to keep until the end in case of injury.

    At ILB, Mayo and Spikes are back. We need a #3 for the rotation, noting that Hightower can also play inside. That player is Fletcher or Carpenter. There is no room for both Carpenter and Fletcher. Competition is good.

    At LB/STer, we have 3 solid choices in White, Koutovides and Tarpinian.

    IMHO, the 10th position should really go to defensive back. We could carry 10 defensive backs, given the injuries and youth among the group. Obviously, this player must be first and foremost a special teamer. Even if the 10th spot goes to a LB, I would suggest that the most efficient choice (and the best choice) would be one of the special teamers, all of which can actually be an emergency LB (or a developmental one in the case of Tarpinian)
  11. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    There's always at least the possiblity that Spencer Larsen could provide depth/ST capability at ILB.
  12. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    Like you, I'm guessing 6 DLs, 9 DBs and 10 DE/LBs (I assume that's what you mean, not really "DE/OLB"s). There's always the possibility of keeping 7 DLs or 10 DBs, but there's going to be an awful squeeze elsewhere if that occurs.

    A few possibilities:

    1. 5 DE/OLBs + 5 LBs. Ninkovich, Jones and Bequette are presumably same at DE/OLB. That eaves Andre Carter, Trevor Scott and Jermaine Cunningham for 2 spots. Carter's health would be a factor, and he could start the year on PUP if signed. Mayo, Spikes and Hightower are sure things at LB. That leaves Fletcher, Carpenter, White, Koutovides and Tarpinian fighting for 2 spots. I'm counting Ninkovich as a DE/OLB even though he has 4-3 LB capability as well. I'm counting Hightower as an ILB even though he will get time at DE/OLB as well. Both guys are locks to make the team, so it's mainly a question of bookkeeping as to how you count them.

    2. 4 DE/OLBs + 6 LBs. This could be something like Ninkovich, Jones, Bequette and Scott/Cunningham, with Carter not re-signed. That would allow the team to keep an extra LB like White, Tarpinian or Carpenter. The fact that Hightower can also play DE/OLB might make this an option.

    3. 6 DE/OLBs + 4 LBs. I don't see this as an option. With Mayo/Spikes/Hightower as locks it would leave Fletcher, Carpenter, Tarpinian White and Koutouvides fighting for one spot.

    4. Spencer Larsen provides addition depth/ST capability at ILB if he makes the roster at FB. That could be a factor in keeping someone like Tracy White.

    As a variant of #2, keeping 4 DE/OLBs but only 5 LBs would allow the team to add a 7th DL or 10th DB.

  13. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    I think that we agree on a basic structure: 6 DL's, 4 DE/LB's, 4 LB's, 2 LB/ST, 9 DB's

    So, the first four LB's are Mayo, Hightower, Spikes and Fletcher

    This allows for 2 STers.

    Cunningham, Carpenter, a FA or a DB/STer are all possibilities that could replace the 2nd ST roster spot.

    I think that Scott is a lock unless he is injured.

  14. VJCPatriot

    VJCPatriot Pro Bowl Player

    I'm not going to speculate on special teamers, suffice it to say we always have 1 or 2. On defense we're going to have at least 24 players. So breaking that down I would say:
    6 DL 4 ILB 4 OLB 10 DB (S/CB)

    Wilfork, Warren, Fanene, Love, Deadrick, Pryor

    Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher, Carpenter

    Ninkovich, Jones, Scott, Hightower

    McCourty, Arrington, Dowling, Moore, Allen, Dennard

    Chung, Gregory, Wilson, Barrett
  15. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    1) Are you cutting our 3rd round draft choice Bequette? IMHO, he is much more important than a 4th ILB, given that Hightower can play inside.

    2) You say that we're going to ahve at least 24 "players" on defense, apparently not counting special teamers. I disagree. I think that we are more likely to have 3 STer's than 1. However, 1 STer is a viable option that we poster often uses to fit it the players we don't want to cut.

    3) With regard to Ster, you leave one LB spot for a STer and give the other (we often have 2LB/STer) to the secondary. While I agree that we need lots of secondary help, 2 of these players would likely be inactive each game. What you ahve recognized is that we have 6 corners who "deserve" to make the 53. I think that after Training Camp that number will
    be a more normal 5 corners. BTW, I could see Cole or Brown making the team as a special teamer, instead of a 6th position corner.

    If we keep Dennard as a developmental CB, it seems likely that we will choose between Moore and Allen.

  16. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    Can you expand on your reasoning for this?
  17. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    Interesting list. Guys like Hightower and Ninkovich are hard to classify. I'd propose:

    Core Group:

    DL(6): Wilfork, Warren, Love, Fanene, Pryor, Deaderick
    DE/OLB(3): Jones, Scott, Bequette
    LB(5): Mayo, Hightower, Ninkovich, Spikes, Fletcher
    S(3): Chung, Gregory, Wilson
    CB(5): McCourty, Dowling, Arrington, Moore, Dennard

    That makes 22.


    3 additional spots out of the following:

    DL: Brace, Forston, Harrison
    DE/OLB: Carter Cunningham, Silvestro, Francis
    LB: Carpenter, Tarpinian, White, Koutouvides
    S: Barrett, Brown, Ebner, Ventrone
    CB: Allen, Coles, Williams

    This group is totally up in the air. A healthy Carter or a resurgent Cunningham likely gets a spot. A coverage LB like Tarpinian or White could compete with S/LB guy like Barrett. Carpenter seems to be getting 1st team reps in OTAs, FWIW.

    My best guess:

    - ST/hybrid S/LB: Carpenter/White/Tarpinian/Barrett
    - Either Carter/Cunningham or a 2nd guy from the above group
    - DB/ST: Allen/Coles
  18. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    Here are my front 7 depth charts:
    For clarity I am only listing a player at one spot, although Ninko, for example could back up many
    LDE Deaderick/Fanene/Pryor
    DT Wiflork/Brace/
    DT Love/Warren
    RDE (no particular order because it will be determined in camp) Jones-Cunningham-Scott-Bequette
    OLB Mayo/Ninkovich
    MLB Spikes/Fletcher
    OLB Hightower/Carpenter

    LDE Deaderick/Brace/Warren
    NT Wilfork/Love
    RDE Fanene/Pryor
    OLB Ninko/Cunningham/Scott
    ILB Mayo/Fletcher
    ILB Spikes/Carpenter
    OLB Hightower/Jones/Bequette
    (again, OLB is a votatile depth chart. a lot will be sorted out in camp. very hard to rank them at this point)

    DE- Scott/Ninko/Cunnignham
    DT- Fanene/Warren/Deaderick
    DT- Wilfork/Pryor

    Mayo, Hightower, Ninko, Spikes, Fletcher, Carpenter
  19. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    Very interesing.

    A) I recall when Ninkovich was the only pass-rusher, or 1 of 2. I would certainly list him
    as a DE/OLB. However, that doesn't chnage any decision-making.

    B) I cannot include the 5th DB as "core". I don't expect this player to be active for most games.

    Barring injuries, I would expected that these 22 would get almost all of defensive reps. Obviously, one of the others could move up in the depth chart during camp. I don't even expect all of these 22 to be active on Game Day.


    DL(6): Wilfork, Warren, Love, Fanene, Pryor, Deaderick
    DE/OLB(4): Jones, Ninkovich, Scott, Bequette
    LB(4): Mayo, Hightower, Spikes, Fletcher
    S(3): Chung, Gregory, Wilson
    CB(4): McCourty, Dowling, Arrington, Moore
    ST (1): White

    That makes 22.

  20. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    Our "core" lists are essentially the same except for whether Ninkovich is listed as a LB or as a DE/OLB, which is semantics, and in that I have Alfonzo Dennard making the team and you view Tracy White as a lock. I don't view White as a lock at all, though the team definitely liked him the past 2 years. But we're close.
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