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My Blueprint for the Defense

Discussion in 'Patriots Draft Talk' started by mayoclinic, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    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.
     
  2. patsfaninpa

    patsfaninpa In the Starting Line-Up

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    Can't disagree with any of your points. Most of Seattle's pressure came off of the edge. I'd like to play Chandler Jones at LDE in our nickel and get a faster guy coming off the qb's backside.

    Hate to be negative Mayo. But, we blew it. We have too many holes on offense now to ignore them and just spend resources on defense. One crappy db after another with premium picks. Picking an 80's linebacker like Spikes and Hightower. It's been a great run. It's over. I think we had a chance with the 2011 draft and we went offense despite having an aging and slow defense. Two 1's, two 2's and two 3's. What do we have on defense from that? Just Chandler Jones because we traded back. Terrible.

    Oh, and after last night's game. Really doubt we get anything for an immobile statue like Mallett. I would just do mocks with our picks. Not what we're dreaming about.
     
  3. everlong

    everlong Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    #12 Jersey

    I've said it a lot over the past few years but Bill was ahead of the curve building the 21st century offense but way behind the curve doing the same on defense. Bend but don't break in today's NFL equals death by a thousand papercuts.

    I always think of Brady finding the QB coach notes that said "Needs to do everything faster." That's the story of why Seattle is so good and the Patriots defense was just another defense.

    I like your base plan and would add that trading up to get Ra'Shede Hageman or Timmy Jernigan should be a priority. If the dream of Mallet for #33 becomes a reality I would be psyched if they traded up twice to get them. An interior pass rush with how quick QBs get the ball out these days is more important IMO than an outside rush. Just keep pushing the pocket into the QBs feet play after play.
     
  4. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Seattle went from the dregs of the NFL to an elite defense in 2 years because they had a consistent vision and approach. That's what we've lacked, so we've picked players who don't really fit - guys like Spikes and Hightower who can't play in space. We've overpaid for slot CBs, and drafted punters in the 5th round when we would have picked up impact defenders.

    There is a solid nucleus to build around, and this is an incredibly deep draft. The worst thing would be to take the "it's over" attitude, or try to plug every hole equally. For my money, the best chance we have of hoisting a Lombardi again is by pushing our defense to the elite level, and I'd invest considerably in that. My second priority would be protecting Brady, particularly up the middle, and I'd go after Alex Mack in FA with everything I had. As Seattle showed last night, Baldwin and Kearse are perfectly acceptable receivers. We won a SB with Branch and Givens, we can win one with Amendola, Dobson, Thompkins, Boyce, and whoever replaces Edelman, as long as we can protect Brady and put a defense on the field that can dictate things to the opposing offense.

    Look at how quickly Carroll and Schneider added talent to the defense since taking over in 2010:

    2010: Earl Thomas (#14), Walter Thurmond (#111), Kam Chancellor (#133)
    2011: KJ Wright (#99), Richard Sherman (#154), Byron Maxwell (#173), Malcolm Smith (#242)
    2012: Bruce Irvin (#15), Bobby Wagner (#47), Jeremy Lane (#172)

    That's 10 players in 3 drafts all of whom are still with the team. Thomas and Sherman are foundational players, Wagner and Irvin are major core players. By the start of the 2012 season (their 3rd) they had an elite defense. And 7 of those 10 players were day 3 picks.

    But besides the players, we need a serious change in attitude and approach. Otherwise we'll have stud defenders playing soft, passive defense. :bricks:
     
  5. Big-T

    Big-T Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    #51 Jersey

    Pressure.

    I don't care if it comes from scheme, overwhelming numbers or just flat out beating your man. It doesn't matter if it's 2 guys or 7 guys creating the pressure - you need to be in the QBs face or at the very least collapsing the pocket within 3 seconds of the snap (or at the very least create the illusion of pressure). Then on the back end get in the face of the receivers, jam that at the line and hit them hard for the entire 5 yards allowed.

    There's talent already in the front 7, it just needs a few new pieces to round it off and a brand new scheme to fully use the talent available.

    The key to good defense is to show the offense no respect and flat out bully them for the entire time you're on the field.
     
  6. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Absolutely. Brilliantly said. We've played scared and showed too much respect for far too long. Seattle, San Francisco, Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the past - they are going to try and bully and punish opposing offenses. That's the road to the Lombardi trophy.
     
  7. varjao

    varjao 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    #3 Jersey

    Any way I look on the situation of our defense I see a need to cut Wilfork, with pain in my heart.

    It's not only about money, even if he restructure and get paid 4Mi, or even 3Mi in 2014, it's still plenty of money for a guy aging, coming back after a serious injury and that can't pressure the QB. We need fresh blood in the trenches and interior pressure.
     
  8. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I agree. I came to that conclusion some time ago, despite Wilfork being one of my favorite players ever.

    As I see it, the chance of his coming back in 2014 and playing at a meaningful level is around 20%. Re-structuring him means an extension, which means we're locked in longer term to a 33+ DT (in 2015) who can't produce at his prior level. That would be devastating to any chance of putting a world class defense.

    As great as Wilfork has been, I also see an evolution away from that kind of behemoth NT, which is part of why I don't particularly want to go the Louis Nix route.
     
  9. patsfaninpa

    patsfaninpa In the Starting Line-Up

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    Football is basically war. You have to prepare for the next one. Not, the last one. Don't forget them. But, sometimes changes are necessary. Vince is like one of those WW2 Battleships. Boy, they were great. Pound the beachhead and let the troops on. Now, it's slow and cumbersome. Need a faster, more manueverable platform to deliver weapons.
     
  10. stelfans

    stelfans On the Game Day Roster

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    I get what you're saying and agree to a point but thats totally irealistic.
    And trying to build that from night to day is just not possible.

    I like Pryor a lot but i'd say next year will have better safeties, and guys that fit much better in that seattle model. My dream is actually the 6'4 Harvey-Clemons from Georgia. Can you imagine the demand with everyone trying to draft the next chancellor? crazy. But there will be others.

    I agree with you, we need a clear plan and seattle is a great example but looking at our staff i doubt thats where we are headed.
     
  11. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Seattle also proved the wisdom of Grid's "overload" approach, adopted from military strategy:

    Time to fight a modern war, gentlemen. And this is as good a time as any to figure out how to overload with modern weapons. This draft is full of them.
     
  12. Get it shawtaay

    Get it shawtaay Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    #32 Jersey

    Good to have you back, "Brother Mayo":D

    I agree pretty much on all counts. The kind of defense we need to build is one that is big, athletic, and pressures the QB from the inside out rather than the other way around.

    I think that if Seattle has a "blueprint", its that you need to look for Athletes with a capital A. They dip into non-bowl teams more than anyone in the league, now that Gene Smith's out in Jacksonville. They take players who are really big and really fast, and coach them up. They don't care where you went to school.

    Right now SF and SEA have built their teams by taking advantage of market inefficiencies. Irrational fear of low competition levels and "projects". We need to do the same to get ahead instead of paying full price on the dollar to get guys from the Alabamas of the world.
     
  13. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I tried to shake things up a bit with different names. There are lots of different options. Safety can easily wait until next year - take Hageman or Jernigan at 29 and then use Exum or Dowling at safety. What's most important is to have a clear strategy and vision, and then to execute to it without hesitation.
     
  14. Get it shawtaay

    Get it shawtaay Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    #32 Jersey

    Anyway, so my question for you guys. Forget what Seattle has done - big guys and stuff. What is NEXT? What opportunities are waiting to be exploited? Can you think of something "ahead of the curve" for the Pats to do this offseason?
     
  15. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Something that Grid and I have been arguing for for a long time:

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england...8-building-team-inside-out.html#.Uu_NE5GwNvY

    We went the freakish athlete approach with Jamie Collins, and he looks to be the soldier of the future. That's why I had guys like Marcus Smith and Christian Jones prioritized so highly. Those guys have incredible athleticism and versatility.

    But they have to be coached up. Coaching and scheme can make such a huge difference. Look at what Rob Ryan did with New Orleans this year. Or look at how much more effective Glenn Dorsey was with San Francisco this year compared to his 5 previous years with Kansas City. And I sometimes wonder whether we're coaching guys "down" instead of "up".

    Again, something that we've been arguing for years. Use those late round comp picks on moon shots instead of STers. Don't use a 5th round pick on a punter, use it on a Greg Hardy. Go after freakish athletes with work ethic and drive and intelligence (I badly wanted Lawrence Okoye last year). The majority may not pan out, but you hit on a few and you're golden. And yes, we've been way too locked in to the SEC, and have passed up guys like Brandon Williams.
     
  16. varjao

    varjao 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    #3 Jersey

    We did everything we could do with our roster devastated by injuries and with plenty of rookies. We failed in some executions, specifically against Carolina and Miami. And one more win the outcome could be different (I don't think we would win Seattle anyway, but...).

    So the target for the next season should be something on those lines, execute better, do not fail when the HFA is on the line. I know we won some games out of reach so that makes things kind of even, but we failed in 2 games in the same situation, 3 and 2 and they went for the pass. McDaniels or Brady, I don't know who called the play but that was awful. Both times the FG was not a good outcome, a 4th down was in order. 2 chances running the ball, you've got to get those yards or give up the game.

    Last year Denver came up short because they played to not lose. This year Manning said many times that they focused on finishing games and making the victories guaranteed, not giving the other team a chance, and we can say they did that.

    So as long as our defense need more players, the offense has the biggest homework imho. They need to get the HFA, this team was not built to win on the road, that will not change from one season to the next. It needs experience for that, this is a very young team and will become even more if they release some veterans and bring more youth.
     
  17. Get it shawtaay

    Get it shawtaay Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    #32 Jersey

    Hell I'm still fuming about Okoye!

    Height 6'5 3/8
    Same mark as: San Fransisco offensive tackle Joe Staley

    Weight 304 lbs
    Same mark as: Minnesota defensive tackle Kevin Williams

    Arm length 35"
    Same mark as: New York defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul

    40 YD 4.78
    Same mark as: Former Ohio State runningback Maurice Clarett

    Bench 38 reps
    Same mark as: Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata

    Shuttle 4.36
    Same mark as: Chicago free safety Major Wright

    3-cone 6.69
    Same mark as: New England cornerback Logan Ryan

    Vertical Jump 35
    Same mark as: Carolina quarterback Cam Newton

    Broad Jump 10'5"
    Same mark as: Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe

    How do you pass THAT up for Steve Beauharnais? Hell I like "the sauce" more than most 7th round picks but still.
     
  18. Marqui

    Marqui In the Starting Line-Up

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    I'm not sure if that's true. Red Bryant is a core player in Seattle's defense.
     
  19. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I want more guys with Jamie Collins athleticism, explosiveness, versatility and coverage ability. Put those guys in the middle, and you have incredible capability to neutralize TEs and take away the middle of the field. I want to be able to blend the LB and safety positions as well as the DE and LB positions. The two guys who I really want out of this year's draft for that role are Marcus Smith and Christian Jones (Kyle Van Noy comes close).

    Jones is so good in coverage he could cover Sammie Watkins 1-on-1, and held his own. He's strong enough that he played DT at times at 236#. He was misused and moved around constantly at Florida St., so he's still under the radar, and like Collins his instinct and technique have lagged because of all the changes. But the freakish athleticism is there. He can play all 3 LB positions, and be used as a sub rusher, or as a big nickel hybrid DB/LB.

    Smith is Manx's binky, and an athletic freak at 6' 3 1/2" 258#, with great explosiveness. A former QB like Collins, he's still learning to play in space, but the raw athleticism and drive are there.

    Get rid of guys like Spikes and Hightower. These guys have off the charts athleticism.

    Finally, if you get strong enough guys in the middle, and athletic enough guys who can play standing up or with their hand in the dirt, with big, physical "raptors" backing them up, then I still think the "future" is the "Yankee 2-4-5" that Grid and I discussed 2 years ago:

    The "245" Amorphous D is The Next Great Defense!! - (one of the most insanely brilliant football analysis articles ever written)

    Or see also:

    http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/...ses-will-respond/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    I wanted the Pats to draft Lavonte David and Demario Davis in 2012 and go to a more fluid "ameboid" approach with 2 stout DTs and 4-5 fluid guys who could play in space moving around behind them. Put Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Marcus Smith and Christian Jones on the field and move them around to create chaos and you'd see what the future looks like, IMHO.
     
  20. Get it shawtaay

    Get it shawtaay Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    #32 Jersey

    Not really. He's paid like one but he's arguably the least significant member of their front seven. Now they want to cut him.
     

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