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More "important" element to our 3-4: LB or DL?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Schmo, Apr 27, 2009.

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  1. Schmo

    Schmo Rookie

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    Kind of a broad question, but what does our 3-4 rely on more? We picked up 3 DL and 1 LB today. Do we need DL's more, or are LB's harder to find? It has always been my impression that BB is the ultimate LB coach, yet we have 3 first rounders invested in our starting D-line.

    I believe that our LB's ultimately play a larger/harder role in the defense, yet it is more difficult finding the prototypical NT or 5-tech DE (ala Jackson at #3 this year for KC). Perhaps, coaching a LB up in this system is more imperative than finding the raw tools in a college kid - and this is why Mayo is so special. In other words, BB's LB prospects~Dante's OL prospects.

    Like I said, it's kind of a broad question, but what are your thoughts?
  2. slash83

    slash83 Rookie

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    Good question, IMO LB's make a 34 go, but then again a 34 is kinda useless unless you have a good NT, lucky for us we got the best. So im not really sure maybe somebody else could give you a more clear cut answer.
  3. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    NT is the most important, on the downs where the NT is in. No position seems to affect the performance of the defense as much.

    I'd extrapolate from that to say that on running/generic downs, the DL is more important than the LBs.

    On passing downs I have to think the LBs are more important than the DL. For one thing, only 1 or 2 traditional DL are typically in on, say, 3rd-and-long.

    So basically, our DL has successfully been creating 3rd-and-long and then our LBs and DBs have been screwing it up when it arrived.

    (That's mainly for last season, but I suddenly felt a need to vent.)
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  4. Schmo

    Schmo Rookie

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    So, from what you're saying, Fencer:

    1) A Ted Johnson type run-stuffer is obsolete for our D - why Maualuga didn't catch BB's interest.

    2) Subbing DL (especially NT) is inevitable. While Belichick covets versatility, he has to grit his teeth and get Wilfork off the field 1/3 of the time.

    So, either we could have drafted Maualuga/Brinkley and changed the other 6 roles on the front 7, or we draft depth on DL to avoid that pathetic, heavy-breathing look on the faces of our fatties. (Oh God, the AFCC game against the Colts just popped in my head... GET IT OUT!)
  5. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Rookie

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    DL by a country mile is more important. As BB says there are only so many 6-5 300# mobile and hostile athletes in the world. There are a heck of a lot more 6-2 - 6-5 240+ athletes to find for LBs. BB has two who weren't even drafted, but are starters. He has a reserve DL who wasn't drafted and is a good, but not great player, unlike the First Rounders.:D
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  6. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    I'm not sure what chains of inference you're drawing, but I don't disagree with the substance of your conclusions.

    If Brace can take some of Wilfork's snaps, then Wilfork can both reduce his snap count a bit and perhaps also take some snaps in lieu of DEs when the DL count goes below 3, and everybody stays a bit fresher.

    As for the ILBs -- Johnson aside, most of BBs vet ILBs have been converted OLBs (e.g., Bruschi, Phifer, Seau, Thomas, Vrabel). Except, of course, when they're guys who resemble safeties (e.g. Don Davis, Rodney Harrison).
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  7. RayClay

    RayClay Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    It's nice to have both.
  8. dhamz

    dhamz Rookie

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    I wouldn't say one is more important than the other. Without very good players at both spots the Pats 3-4 isn't going to be effective.

    From a draft perspective, there is more value in DL. DL is right there with QB and CB as the most expensive position in the league. If you hit on one in the draft you get a very cheap player for 4-5 years. Veteran LBs just don't cost as much as veteran DL.
  9. Ricey

    Ricey Rookie

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    I dont think 1 is a priority over the other.

    Dline= important to keep blockers away from LB

    Lb= important cause they are the ones who makes the plays

    But say u have a great DLINE but ur linebackers cant put any pressure on the QB and or Make plays against the run then it will be all for not and vice versa...If ur LBs are great but ur Dline cant keep them clean then ur screwed either way.
  10. Gumby

    Gumby Rookie

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    Having HIGH Quality DL players is way more important than having high quality LB players. Various reasons why- but biggest is

    1. Competition for them. Best DL are drafted in to 10-16 of 1st round. I remember years with 4 in top 10. You are lucky if you get 2 LBs in first round or top half of 1st.

    In an attacking D the DL gets the sacks and stats. In the 3-4 the LBs are getting all the stats (sacks and tackles) and therefore the publicity. So when it comes to fans though they see the LBs as more important.

    But as long as you have good quality guys the old rules stand firm; you build a team from the inside (Lines) out.
  11. Isaac

    Isaac Rookie

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    Yes, FWIW Belichick has been asked this question and has strongly stated that the DL is more important. He has even gone on to explain how the Giants LBs got all the credit but it was the DL that was the critical factor in that defense. To him, his defense starts with the DL and everything else flows from there.

    I always found it interesting that he would take such a clear stand on this issue since it seems like the holistic/systems answer would be that they are both important.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2009
  12. Rob0729

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    Belichick always believes in building from the line out on both sides of the ball. He clearly would say D-line is more important with NT being the most important.
  13. RoughingthePasser

    RoughingthePasser Rookie

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    Good points!
  14. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think Belichick passed on Maualuga because I don't think Belichick fit the Pats' system. I don't think it had anything to do with a run stuffing ILB being obsolte. In fact, I think Belichick would love to have three guys like Ted Johnson as long as he had a Roman Phifer type to sub on passing downs. Maualuga dropped in the draft because people had concerns about his intelligence. I'm sure Belichick did too. Also, Maualuga has problems following schemes at times and likes to freelance. Not a popular thing in a Belichic defense.
  15. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think you clearly need both, certainly in BB's system. You need an NT to man the middle and big DE's who can take on blockers. But you also need the right kind of LBs, who can rush off the edge and up the middle, drop back into coverage, managed the point of attack and make complex reads. Mayo and Thomas are perfect fits for us. The other guys may develop nicely.

    I don't think Maualuga fit for us. He's a nice downhill SILB, but he lacks the coverage and read/react skills to fit into this defense. He might have been great for Baltimore, SD or Pittsburgh, who uses their LBs to attack more and demands less complex reads and coverage abilities from them. Take the best characteristics of Maualuga and Laurinaitis and you would have an excellent Pats SILB.
  16. Schmo

    Schmo Rookie

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    Popular enough to tag Samuel a couple years back? I know a CB isn't a LB, just saying.

    So from what I gather, DL are much more important in the draft due merely to their physical characteristics. Whereas an ideal height/weight makeup of a BB LB is much more common, and thus just needs to be coached up. I hate to state it that simply, but that's what it looks like.

    I have to admit, I started out thinking that LB's were the harder spot to fill, but perhaps I'm overrating the importance of getting a great college LB.
  17. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Samuel wasn't a freelancer. He like to jump routes that was costly at times, but it wasn't like he was running all over the field trying to male plays. Also, it is more important that an ILB not freelance. ILBs have gap assignments where the NT and DE open holes for him to hit. If he blows his gap assignment because he decides to shoot another gap, he can leave a huge hole for a RB to run through and not be touched until he hits the secondary.
  18. Schmo

    Schmo Rookie

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    It's a fine line, but I'll believe you.
  19. Ungeheuer

    Ungeheuer Rookie

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    Obviously you need both good linebackers and good tackles to have a good defense. But here's one thing you can say: if you have bad defensive tackles in this system, good linebackers won't help too much. But if you have good defensive tackles, you can still win with flawed linebackers. If you don't have good D-linemen in this defense, and especially a good nose tackle, the whole thing doesn't work. You need someone to keep the LBs clean.
  20. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think that Shawn Crable (3rd round), Tully Banta-Cain (7th), Pierre Woods (UDFA) and Vince Redd (UDFA) suggest that BB/Pepper Johnson are comfortable getting guys with the raw size/speed/smarts that they like and then coaching them up. Guyton (UDFA) is also a good case for ILB. That's not to say that they couldn't find another Mayo and pull the trigger early if the perfect player came around, but I think the clear inference from BB's drafting pattern at the position is that, like OL, he is comfortable coaching up players. In contrast to DL, where he has 3 1st round picks and a high 2nd rounder on the roster, and spent another 2nd rounder of Marquis Hill. That's 5 1st day picks at DL in 9 years, vs. 1 at LB. Add another 5 for the secondary (Butler and Wheatley at CB, Meriweather, Eugene Wilson and Chung at S), 3 for OL (Light, Mankins and Klemm) and WR (Branch, Johnson and Jackson), and 2 for TE and RB (including trading a 2nd for Corey Dillon).
  21. WhiZa

    WhiZa Rookie

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    I think it all comes down to the 3rd pick in this years draft. Do you take the better player in Curry or do you take Jackson who can make the other players around him better?
  22. Rob0729

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    Not really. The Pats played mostly zone when Samuel was here. He always stuck to his zone assignment. Instead of trying to break up the pass at times, he would jump in front of the ball to try to intercept it. I don't consider that freelancing or a fine line. If he ran outside his zone because he thought the ball was going in another direction, I consider it freelancing.
  23. Schmo

    Schmo Rookie

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    Conclusion: from what I've gathered, our LB's WILL NOT succeed without a competent D-line. This justifies our 3 DT picks vs 1 LB pick. While a lot of fans may have been hoping for a LB like Maualuga, Ayers (my draft binkie... and I just happen to live in Denver, ugg), Maybin etc., Brace is a pick that will help solidify this defense. While we have a pedigree-less ILB in Guyton slated to start, he will thrive w/o an OG in his grill.

    I have started getting excited about the draft not because of the players I want, but by watching the players BB selects. He is so close-lipped, and this is one of the ONLY real ways to find out what he's thinking.
  24. AndyJohnson

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    This is one of the best threads, with the best resposnes I have seen on this board in a long time.
    My opinion: They are equally important. BB professes a team defense concept. Ina 2 gap system each player across the front 7 has IDENTICAL responsibilities in a different place along the los. By definition no one is more important than any other.
    Its a misnomer that the DL 'keep blockers off the LBs' in our system. The DL control their 10 yard wide piece of real estate just as the LBs do. Its a misnomer that the NT is more important, because he only affects runs from G to G. Every other player on the front 7 controls an equal size area, and whereever the weakest link is is where the other team will run. In other words if you have a weak NT they run between the Gs and the DE isn't part of the play. If the DE is weak, they run at him, and the NT isn't part of the play.
    The difference comes in the pass rush, and its debatable whether the push from the DL or the blitz from the OLB is more critical. I would tend to say the OLB is the most important element because most times BB uses the OLB as a DE, and primary pass rusher, in sub packages and passing situations.
    From the base, all 7 are equally important, but in the sub packages, the OLB who becomes a DE probably is most critical.
  25. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    Though I agree with AndyJohnson in theory; in reality, based on just my observations, I would say the D-line is far more important.

    Remember back in early years when BB was still playing 4-3 and experimenting with the 3-4 - like having Seymour play NT? It didn't work. Look at how solid the LB corps was back then too: Bruschi, Willie Mac, Ted J, Vrabel all in their prime. And some really good vets like Roman Phifer and to a lesser extent Cox. Yet the 3-4 really didn't develop until Warren and Ted Washington were added in 2003. Then, the play of our D absolutely sky rocketed.

    Now look at 2006, for instance, our LBers were not up to par IMO: Vrabel was good. Colvin was ok. Bruschi was past his prime, as was Seau. And we had to plug in Tully Banta-Cain, who isn't really starting calibur material on this team IMO. Yet, the D really held it down that year - especially when you consider how anemic our offense was at times.

    I'd even make the same argument about the 2007 D, to a lesser extent. Our LBs were not that great down the stretch. Vrabel was starting burn out after a brilliant start. Colvin got hurt. Thomas had to switch positions. And we had Bruschi and Seau getting virtually all the reps at both ILB positions. But it still worked. Sure there were bad games. But overall the D was good.

    Basically, it seems like the D can still function with "ok" talent at LB. Not so with the D-line. Especially NT.
  26. jarnhestur

    jarnhestur Rookie

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    I think it all starts with the DL. I haven't been impressed with our line's performance in the past few years and if you go back and watch tape from the SuperBowl years you'll see our D-line sucking up blockers and letting the LB's do their jobs.

    BB was always credited with being creative in his coverage and pressure, but that all relies on the D-line forcing the RB to come up and block, or pulling the tackles to the outside with them. In theory, our stud DE and NT are each supposed to pull the double team so that the linebacker has a lane to operate in, whether he's playing the run or blitzing the QB.

    The past few years, how many times have you seen our LB rush in, only to be picked up by the O-line? I understand the RB matching up on our LB, but a lineman? That shouldn't be commonplace...
  27. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ummm, 'back in those years' we won the SB with the 43.
    I'm really not sure what you are trying to say or prove.
    We won the SB with Annthony Pleasant, Bobby hamilton and Brandon Mitchell on the DL.
    We won the second one with Warren on the bench down the stretch and Wilfork in college.
    We won the 3rd with Wilfork splitting time with Keith Traylor.
    Since the 'great line of #1 picks' all became fulltime starters we haven't won a SB.

    The Giant teams that BB coached were loaded at LB and had non-descript DLs.
    Here he started the same way, then built a strong DL.
    The result havent really varied very much in either case.
  28. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Thats got nothing to do with DL play. It is about scheme.
    If you are talking about the base D a blitzing LB for us is the 4th rusher for a 43 team, and the offense will treat him as such and block him with an OL. Never, ever, ever would a team use 5 OL to block 3 guys and leave the 4th pass rusher to be picked up by a RB.
    The RB picks up the BLITZ. The 4th rusher is not really a blitzer, because we send at least 4 on every play.
    If you are talking about the nickel/dime, then you need to realize that our OLBs play DE in those situations. So if you are criticizing the 'DL' in sub packages you are really criticizing the OLBs.
    No team, ever blocks a 3-4 by having 5 OL block 3 DL and using a RB to pick up the 4th rusher.
  29. Box_O_Rocks

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    We're actually talking two separate issues:
    - neither LB nor DL are the more important element of the 3-4.
    ---- 2005, Brown and Beisel are forced into the starting ILB role, three #1 draft picks on the DL and two #1 draft picks at CB were not enough - that team struggled until Vrabel was moved inside and Bruschi came back.
    - your question derives from the draft, that is where the "availability" of the prototypical bodies becomes the challenge.
    ---- Maualuga or Ayers were hardly the only LBs with similar physical characteristics.
    ---- Brace had exactly one rival with similar size who went Day One - Raji. That is every year, kids that big or strong or athletic are very rare.
    ---- Richard Seymour was 6'6" 299 at the Combine, the only 2009 prospect who had a similar college track record and similar size went #3 overall 6'4" 296 Tyson Jackson.

    On the field in the 3-4, LB and DL and CB and S are equally critical. In the draft, the rare bodies are weighted [pun serendipity gratefully acknowledged] higher in the "value" column.
  30. jarnhestur

    jarnhestur Rookie

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    Correct, I'm assuming that the blitzing LB is a 5th rusher and I'm also talking about ideal situations. While we're all high on Wilfork and Seymour, if they can't win a one-on-one battle occasionally, that's the core problem in my book. When they don't draw the double team is when we can't get pressure.
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