Linebacker position Specifications

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AzPatsFan, Apr 13, 2006.

  1. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    People forget that we tend to lump the Patriots LBs into the OLB/DE and the ILB category but there are really four separate and distinct profiles for each position. The Patriots can adapt but when considering drafting LBs, please think of what types they have ,and what types they need...

    The ROLB is a pass rusher more than anything with a good but not great ability to turn the run. (think Colvin)

    The Weak ILB or who plays next to the ROLB is the run stuffer position; (think Cox or TJ), he makes up for the ROLB's lesser run capability and usually stuffs the run tackle to tackle but he may cheat to helping the ROLB by shading in that direction.

    The LILB or SILB (stronside ILB), is the combo coverage and run stuffing and inside blitz type of jack-of-all-trades and complete ILB, (think Phifer Bruschi prior 2005). He has lesser need to handle the run because the WILB and LOLB are so good at it, but he must be able to pick up the TE and backs crosssing from the usual strongside formation, hence the coverage aspect of his game.

    Finally, there is the LOLB or strongside OLB/DE. This is the true "elephant" position. Since most teams line up their TE on this side and run in that direction they run at the LOLB. He must be able to play the run at him, turn the outside run in, and also be athletic enough to slow down a TE or back releasing into the pattern. And he must be a passrusher like the ROLB but probably with a more controlled power rush, rather than an an all-out speed rush. That is the toughest position candidate to find, as you want the prototype guy, big enough to stop the run, agile enough for some short diatance coverage/chucking, and yet power rush pass rushing. The Specifications call for a rare human being. The prototype is 6-5, (to block the passing lanes) 260+ pounds, 4.7 speed, athleticism, agility and pass rush skills. These types a few and far between. Willie Mcginest was drafted # 4 overall because they come along so infrequently. Others are Lawrence Taylor drafted #2, Andre Tippett, truly unique players. It will be every difficult to replace Willie. Of the three examples, only Tippett was drafted out of the first round, and he went at the very top of the second.

    I 'd say the Patriots need and elephant or a LOLB, an WILB or two, and a ROLB, Bruschi is getting old so eventually they will need a SILB too. Four distincrt player types and they have but three proven ones on the roster now. Note that TBC rates as a ROLB candidate. Beisel is a potential SILB. Claridge ???

    Among the potential draftees:
    Carpenter is both a LOLB and a SILB candidate,
    Greenway is a SILB all- purpose guy,
    Parham and Schlegal are WILB run stuffers, and
    Manny Lawson, Kam Wimbly, and Chis CoCong are a ROLB pass rushers.
    (Ccocong could eventually migrate inside like Phiffer and Bruschi and become a SILB)
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  2. rookBoston

    rookBoston 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    #12 Jersey

    Dont forget one of my favorites, Tim McGarigle, who would probably map into your run stuffer ILB role.

    The key for BB, tho, is going to be finding players who can execute in two or three of those roles. Partly, this is because there's a lot of decoy in the scheme, which means the guy you think is going to rush drops into coverage, and the coverage guy blitzes or stunts. So, although the prototypes are clear, versatility, above all else, is vital.

    That's why Carpenter is such an appealing choice. He can be the elephant or the pure pass rusher on the outside. And Greenway is great in coverage, but has the size to stuff the run inside. They both have college experience doing different things in a pro-style D.

    The knock on Manny Lawson is that he (initially) projects only to the Colvin spot. Can he play the elephant, or shift inside, like Phifer did? Time will tell. He didn't do it in college, in any case. Same question for Wimbley.

    Hawk could probably play either inside spot.
  3. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress In the Starting Line-Up

    I think the best elephant in the draft is Mathias Kiwanuka and would not be surprised if the Pats draft him at #21.
  4. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 Supporter Supporter

    Excellent post and right on the money.
  5. smg93

    smg93 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    #54 Jersey

    Great post. I learn something new everyday. This is why I like this site so much.
  6. the taildragger

    the taildragger Third String But Playing on Special Teams


    football talk!

    all these armchair GMs are overloading my brain (and I've got a masters in finance).

    I second Carpenter as our next elephant.:rocker:
  7. Feep_FLA

    Feep_FLA Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    We need high quality pachyderms? Who knew? Great post, very interesting and enlightning read......:rocker:
  8. the taildragger

    the taildragger Third String But Playing on Special Teams


    From "hawg" off Pats Planet:

    I recently poked around on (really) and found a 370 reply thread just on Carpenter. I knew he had the size and the athleticism to be a good pro, but didn't realize just how much they love him out there and how much he gave to their program and his teammates.

    To sum it up "great motor", "fights his ass off on every down" and "true f$#king warrior" were typical comments. He tried to play on a fractured fibula in his last home game and cried on the sideline when he couldn't go (the injury isn't now a problem). He LOVES football and I'm convinced he has everything the Pats are looking for, including a personal in with Mike Vrabel who hangs out there. It just makes too much sense. He's the one.

    The Pats love to obfuscate, but I would gamble that they will even move up to get him if they get a whiff that he is talking to teams drafting ahead of them (read: Miami). In this case the mock drafters might actually be right.

    Put it this way: If I am Nick Saban -- I'm calling Carpenter just to dick with Belichick and see if you can get him to make a move.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2006
  9. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    The good thing is that Colvin is the only one really locked into one spot. That would also be Lawson's spot which makes him an unlikely pick. Vrabel has played the LILB spot and I think he could play McGinest's Elephant fine. Bruschi has played both ILB spots. So I think we're versatile enough to draft any LB spot other than a guy who's exclusively a ROLB.
  10. nickw308810

    nickw308810 On the Game Day Roster

    Great post AZ Pats fan. One thing I was wondering, do you think that Bruschi or Carpenter could be a WILB? It would be nice not to have a big slow guy in there just for his run stopping abilities. I would like to think that either of those 2 could stop the run about as well as a Ted Johnson, but are also more adapt to taking on other tasks as well.
  11. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    That's the position Bruschi played last year with Vrabel playing the other ILB spot. One option would be to keep Bruschi there, draft Greenway and play him at Bruschi's old ILB spot and put Vrabel back outside.
  12. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    He did...

    This year with TJ forced to retire and Beisel struggling, Bruschi played WILB. That's why he said thisyear was a completely different experience for him.

    When Vrabel shifted inside I don't know whether he went back; I suspect he might well have, as I think he has more overall coverage ability than Vrabes.

    But clearly Vrabes is a big guy who can perform at either ROLB or SOLB as well as inside. When Bruschi came up he was a ROLB before moving inside. Willie Mcg played both ROLB and LOLB and I never saw it but I think he could have played everywhere but SILB, and perhaps therebut treu pass coverage would have stymied him. His approach to coverage would be just to knock 'em on their ass, as he did with Marshall Faulk in the Super Bowl. I think he 'd get called on that too much these days since Polian's rule changing...

    Vrabel has shown as Brsuchi before him that the mental aspects at LB are very important. Bruschi has become the play caller; Vrabel showed he can do that too. If that important responsibility becomes Vrabel's as Bruschi ages and leaves, it insures he stays inside at one position there, because the diagnostician has to be inside to be heard by the wing players....
  13. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned


    That was a really informative post, thanks Az.

    It seems that the Pats have holes created by the departures of Willie, Ted Johnson, and Phifer. Willie was a great strong-side OLB, Ted Johnson was a tough run stuffer, and Phifer was decent in coverage.

    The Pats are missing a "tough guy" weak ILB to stuff the run, as well as a rare talent to play strong-OLB. Is Vrabel good enough to fill Willie's shoes, allowing the Pats to find a big WILB? Or if you draft a good strong-side OLB, are Vrabel or Bruschi strong enough to slide over and be the main run stuffer?

    Since this draft is so loaded with linebackers, what are the chances the Pats draft two linebackers in the first 3 rounds? 1st pick, someone like Lawson or Carpenter or Demeco, and 2nd/3rd pick someone like Abdul Hodge.
  14. Flying Fungi

    Flying Fungi In the Starting Line-Up

    Music to my ears...I have been hoping for over a year that they'd get Kiwi and have him learn from Willie for a I just see him learning from Rosie, Vrabes, Jarvis, Sey and Warren...Kiwi is going to be a monster in the NFL...hopefully in a Patriots uniform...
  15. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #11 Jersey

    I don't want to be a wet blanket here, but I don't think there's much to this. The BB defense is built around the concept that players' roles are interchangeable. The offense can't know who's rushing and who's dropping back into coverage on any given play. All LBs have to be solid against the run, the all must be able blitzers, and the all have to do a credible job in coverage. Naturally some LBs are better in different areas than others, but I highly doubt it's position-specific. We need three OLBs and three ILBs capable of playing whatever defense is called.

    It seems like we're looking at the attributes at our current and recent former starters, and then making general blanket statements that this is what Belichick wants. That's confusing the cause with the effect. McGinest has been at OLB since Belichick's been here. Ditto Bruschi at ILB. How can we say Belichick prefers X at this position, when we've had one regular starter there?
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2006
  16. marty

    marty In the Starting Line-Up

    Great post AZ!

    One question that I've been dying to ask for awhile now.....what the h*ll is an elephant in football? I get "mike" and some other obscure terms but this one has been escaping me. Definition and explaination will be greatly appreciated. And if Mike, Gomez, or even Mrs Gomez gives me this I will truly be impressed!!!!!
  17. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #11 Jersey

    Parcells just made up the term, probably because it's impossible to stop a charging elephant. I don't think there's any history behind it. His "elephant" would be the guy who freelanced (within reason) a little bit, lining up in a different spot every play. Sometimes as a DE, the next play standing up behind the B gap, the next play head up over center. The offense had no way of scheming to block him, since he constantly moved around pre-snap.

    One thing to note is that his job was to rush the passer almost every play. That's why he could get away with the freelancing bit. It is important to say that there is no elephant in the current Patriots scheme. Parcells drafted Willie and said he would be his new elephant, but currently there is no player on the defense who is just a pass rusher. Every player has different responsibilities depending on the defensive call.
  18. marty

    marty In the Starting Line-Up

    Thanks Heat!
    Always wondered where that term came from. I guess Parcells and I differ on mental images of elephant. I think long memory, ponderous movement, tiny tails and wrinkled skin! Must be a Mars/Venus kinda thing.LOL!!!
  19. T-ShirtDynasty

    T-ShirtDynasty Moderator

    Funny, I was thinking of this last night... I had heard the term used before around this board a few times, and was pretty sure I knew what it meant, but wasn't sure.... so I went a looking last night. Here's a couple interesting snippets.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2006
  20. marty

    marty In the Starting Line-Up

    Inquiring minds just got informed again on this forum!!! Thanks T for digging that up!

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