With Seattle putting on a show of defensive dominance reminiscent of the 1985 Bears and 2000 Ravens, people are suddenly remembering that defense tends to win championships. The Pats have a lot of good pieces in place, and showed some significant progress this season before injuries took their toll. But there are a number of question marks. Here's my "blueprint" for evolving the Pats' D into one on a Seattle/SF/Carolina championship-caliber level. 1. Need a change of attitude and approach. The Pats' D comes from the top, and it's just not adequate in today's NFL. Too passive, too soft. The defense needs to get much more physical and play with an attitude and with controlled rage. Aqib Talib brought some much-needed swagger to a demoralized secondary, and that kind of attitude is needed on all 3 levels. I have serious questions that Matt Patricia executing BB's strategy is going to get us to the next level. I like bringing in some fresh blood (Brandon Daly is by all accounts very intense, and that is needed). I wish we had brought in someone like from the outside like Ray Horton or Jim Schwartz who could provide a strong presence on defense that we haven't had since Romeo left. 2. Upgrade and add depth on DL. In 2013 we had DEs Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich both playing over 1000 snaps (9.81% and 95.6%, respectively), with Andre Carter, Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette for "depth". There was no depth. Vince Wilfork played on skates for 3 games, possibly due to Achilles tendonitis, before rupturing his Achilles week 4 against Atlanta. Tommy Kelly was solid at the beginning of the year before injuring his knee and eventually going on IR with an ACL tear. Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga stepped up, but neither is a clear future starter. In the AFCCG we got no pressure at all on Peyton Manning, and played a very passive game, even before Aqib Talib got hurt. Seattle showed what a difference pressuring Manning makes - even though they only recorded 1 sack they pressured him effectively the entire game. We need to get serious quality depth at DE, and upgrade our starters at DT. I'm not at all optimistic about Wilfork's ability to come back, given the nature of his injury, the nature of his job, and his weight, age and genetics (strong family history of diabetes). Kelly should be able to come back, but he is not a long term solution at the 3-tech position. Armond Armstead will hopefully be back, but he is too much of an unknown at this time to bank on. My preferences: - DE: FAs like Michael Johnson and Greg Hardy will be too expensive. I thought we should have gone after Michael Bennett last year. He would be a reasonable option, but wants to stay in Seattle. I think the draft is probably the way to go. I like Trent Murphy (my favorite prospect in the draft). Aaron Lynch has all the physical tools, as does Kony Ealy (who will likely be off the board). Taylor Hart and Will Clarke have intriguing skill sets. Scott Crichton has violent hands and a non-stop motor. At least 1 of those guys would be a huge upgrade behind Jones and Ninkovich, with Buchanan hopefully stepping up. I could also see Armond Armstead and Dont'a Hightower getting time at DE, and Jamie Collins playing a Leo role. - NT: I would cut Wilfork. The risks of extending him and being saddled with his contract if he can't come back outweigh the risks of cutting him. I'd sign Linval Joseph (think Brandon Mebane) as a UFA if possible. Louis Nix in the 1st round and Justin Ellis in the 3rd/4th are my preferred draft options. Sealver Siliga provides quality depth and rotational capability. - 3-tech: Chris Jones is on the roster, and Armond Armstead will hopefully be able to get on the field and contribute. The Pats could "stand Pat" with Tommy Kelly and be ok for 2014, but if the opportunity to upgrade is there, I'd take it. I think the FA 3-techs like Henry Melton (coming off an ACL) are going to be expensive. In the draft I would consider Ra'Shede Hageman or Timmy Jernigan at 29 if they were available. Aaron Donald needs to be evaluate closely, but could be a good option in the early 2nd if he is available. Caraun Reid is an intriguing prospect, and plays with a violence that is much needed. Ego Ferguson and DeAndre Coleman could possibly play either the 0/1 or 3-tech positions. Stephon Tuitt could be a 3-tech/5-tech option, but I'm not sold on him. I wouldn't do anything with Tommy Kelly until after the draft. 3. Continue to get more mobile at LB. Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower are not the future of the NFL. Jamie Collins is. We need more players with Collins kind of skill set. Spikes won't be back, and Hightower will probably take over at MLB, but I'd like to see at least 1 and maybe 2 guys brought in who have the ability to play in space and cover and who can blitz or be used as sub rushers. Christian Jones has an Alec Ogletree kind of skill set but experience playing all 3 LB spots and DE and even some DT. He is much stronger than Ogletree and able to fight through blockers, but smooth enough in coverage to play man on Sammy Watkins. Marcus Smith has Jamie Collins-like athleticism. Kyle Van Noy has amazing instincts and range. Ryan Shazier has Lavonte David-like capability. Dane Fletcher provides nice depth at all 3 LB spots, and will hopefully be re-signed. 4. Go "Seattle" with big, physical DBs. I can't stand seeing Kyle Arrington play outside CB. He has no place in that role. Logan Ryan is a nice ballhawk with good nickel capability, but I don't want him as my starting outside CB. The Pats need to re-sign Aqib Talib and extend Devin McCourty, but they need a more physical presence at safety opposite McCourty and they need 1-2 big, physical CBs who can play press-man. Calvin Pryor would be ideal at safety. He would punish players for going over the middle, something that we've been sorely lacking since Rodney retired. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Aaron Colvin, Antone Exum and Jonathan Dowling are all options for big CBs, possibly with some safety versatility. My "ideal" offseason: - Cut Wilfork, sign Linval Joseph The draft (including a Mallett for #33 trade for now): - 29. Calvin Pryor, S. 6'2" 208#. We should have taken Harrison Smith at 25 2 years ago. A DT like Ra'Shede Hageman or Timmy Jernigan would also be an option. - Trade 33 to Jacksonville for 39 and 102. - 39. Trent Murphy, DE. 6'6" 261#. - Trade 62 for 73 and a 4th round pick. - 73. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB. 6' 3 1/2" 258#. - 93. Used on offense (best available OL depending on FA). - 102. Christian Jones, LB. 6'3" 236#. - 4 (from Minnesota. Used on offense (move TE like Richard Rodgers). 4. Caraun Reid, DT. 6'2" 310#. 6a. Aaron Lynch, DE. 6'6" 260#. 6b. Aaron Colvin or Antone Exum, DB 6 (comp). Used on offense (Trey Millard) 6 (comp). Jonathan Dowling, DB Post-draft, Gregory and Kelly restructure, possibly with 1 year extensions. The defense: DE: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Trent Murphy, Aaron Lynch, Michael Buchanan. Dont'a Hightower and Armond Armstead also have DE capability, and Marcus Smith and Jamie Collins can play the Leo. DT: Linval Joseph, Tommy Kelly, Armond Armstead, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones, Caraun Reid. LB: Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Christian Jones, Marcus Smith, Dane Fletcher S: Devin McCourty, Calvin Pryor, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner/Tavon Wilson. Jonathan Dowling can also play safety. CB: Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, Antone Exum/Aaron Colvin, Jonathan Dowling. That's 28 players, with some fierce roster competition. Probably too many rookies, but it helps to flush out the issues and prospects. I could see taking only 1 of Trent Murphy/Aaron Smith, as both guys are capable of playing at DE or LB. This is a somewhat defense-skewed picture (even for me). I could see the Pats still picking up an OL and TE in free agency, plus a WR replacement for Edelman and re-sign Blount. Add in a move TE, offensive lineman, and all-purpose guy like Trey Millard, and mod of the offensive issues would be addressed. In reality, I wouldn't expect to see this skewed an approach to the defense; but I wouldn't mind if it happened.