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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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    Right now, we're going into training camp healthier than most people expected. There were no injuries out of minicamp and OTAs, and several players appear ahead of schedule, including Wilfork, Will Smith, and Easley. Tommy Kelly appears to be recovering a bit more slowly, but is still making progress. Only Armond Armstead and Alfonzo Dennard remains question marks.

    Right now the defense is shaping up very nicely in terms of personnel:

    - A DE rotation of Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Will Smith and Michael Buchanan. Easley may also get snaps at DE, as could Armstead if he gets healthy. Smith looks like he will be healthy enough to contribute as part of a rotation, and should get time at both DE spots. The outside pass rush should benefit tremendously from (1) a deeper rotation, (2) better interior pressure, and (3) the revamped secondary.

    - A healthy Wilfork and Easley at DT, with Kelly, Siliga and Jones/Vellano for depth. Armstead is the wild card. The combination of Wilfork (IF he can come back to something at all close to his 2011-2012 form) and Easley should be wicked.

    - Mayo-Collins-Hightower at LB, with Anderson for depth and coverage ability. 1 more veteran LB would be nice, though Ninkovich could get LB snaps as well. Hightower looked a bit lighter and more fluid in minicamp by all reports, Mayo seemed ready to go full tilt in training camp, and Collins looks like he is ready to explode.

    - A secondary that should be one of the 2-3 best in the NFL, led by Revis and Browner. Browner's size and physicality stood out in OTAs/minicamp, and Revis was Revis. Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon appear to have put in a ton of offseason work, and both have bulked up some.

    Staying healthy will be key, but overall the defense looks in great shape going into training camp.
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  2. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    I wonder if Kelly's slow recovery was a reason for the persuit of Kevin Williams.
    What a great swap that would've been.
  3. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Williams would have been nice, but he turned out what seems to have been a solid offer. Kelly played very well last season before getting injured, doesn't have a history of injuries, and seems to be getting back on track, so if he can come back I'll be satisfied. Wilfork, Easley, Kelly, Siliga and Chris Jones is a very solid DT group; even more so if Armond Armstead can somehow get healthy.
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  4. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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  5. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    From Reiss' chat today:

    http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/50820/patriots-with-mike-reiss

    I think that's the big question with Hightower going into this year. He clearly "doesn't fit in the standard box from a position standpoint", and he has limitations in space. At worst, he's a "two down at best LB in a passing league." At best, he's a physical player with versatility in a multiple defense who can be used creatively, and hopefully result in "more to Hightower's game that we haven't seen" coming out. We haven't seen much of that in 2 years, for a number of reasons (learning curve, injuries, etc.). Hopefully we'll see more of that this year. In general, I think Hightower will be much more effective "playing forward", to use Reiss' term.
  6. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I would love to see Hightower take a good amount of reps at DE. Then the team can move Mayo (who is more athletic) to Mike, Anderson to Will, and keep Collins at Sam if they're in their base defense. If they keep Hightower as a LB, he needs to be the Mike, Mayo the Will, and Collins the Sam. I don't think Hightower is a bust. I think that, in a pass-dominated league, he's misused as a LB... particularly after Mayo went down last year. That's not playing at all to his strengths. That said, he would be a mismatch one on one against a RT if he puts his hand in the dirt and goes after the quarterback. If the team shows a 5-2 look, it can go: Nink-Easley-Wilfork-Jones-Hightower. That's a whole lot of beef and athleticism on the DL on third and long.
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  7. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That's the thing about Hightower. He's clearly not a "bust". He's a good player. But equally clearly, he seems "misused as a LB" in a pass-dominated league, though he would have fit very nicely at LB a decade ago. I hope that whether he's at LB or DE that he will be used in a more "playing forward" manner, as I think that plays to his strengths.

    I'm not sure that Anderson is good enough to warrant a regular role in the base defense if everyone is healthy. If he is, then I agree with you. In a 5-2, he'd likely be the odd man out.
  8. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I came across this old Alen Dumonjic article on Hightower, written at the beginning of training camp in 2012:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/...ers-versatility-bring-to-the-patriots-defense

    The article hits on a lot of the issues that are still questions about Hightower:

    The full article is well worth reading, but I think Dumonjic hits on a bunch of key points, including:

    - Hightower is probably best playing with the play in front of him, and playing "downhill".
    - Hightower has good zone coverage ability, and can be used effectively as a robber.
    - Hightower has limited range and lateral agility, which limits him in man coverage.
    - Hightower's limited range is a question mark as far as playing 4-3 MLB.

    It seems to me that Hightower is a guy who you really have to use in ways that play to his strengths, and cover up for his weaknesses. The Pats haven't done as good a job of that as Nick Saban did in college. In particular, Mayo went down and the Pats asked Hightower to be something that he just didn't have the skills for, he floundered terribly.
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  9. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A really detailed and nice breakdown by Doug Kyed on the skillets that Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan and Alfonzo Denanrd bring to the 2nd CB position:

    http://nesn.com/2014/07/patriots-film-review-brandon-browner-competing-for-starting-cornerback-role/

    Kyed provides some great film breakdown and succinctly identifies the different skillets that the 3 bring to the outside CB position: Ryan is a playmaker and ballhawk, Browner is huge and incredibly physical, and Dennard is a physical "pest". Kyed also identifies the common theme between the 3: lack of pure speed and recovery ability, which can be a liability at times.

    I think that Darrell Revis' ability to lock down one side of the field and Devin McCourty's ability to cover a huge territory will be key in limiting the exposure of these 3 guys, and allowing their strengths to be best utilized.

    I also wish the Pats had picked up someone like Phillip Gaines (6' 0 3/8" 193#, 4.31 40, 6.62 3C), who would have been a great understudy to Revis.
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  10. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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  11. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A side comment but isn't it nice to be reading pieces regarding the potential versatility of the Patriots D opposed to the O for a change? Without being an overzealous idiot, I'm rather excited to the see what the D is capable of this season.
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  12. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal has Jamie Collins at #5 on his list of player's ready to "make the leap":

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000363560/article/making-the-leap-no-5-patriots-jamie-collins

    The full article is worth reading.
  13. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think Mike Reiss has a screw loose. He lists Chris Jones as a "sure lock" to make the team in his defensive tackle breakdown:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4764622/checking-the-locks-patriots-dts

    I don't think Jones is a given at all. I think that Wilfork, Easley and Siliga are locks, Kelly is a lock if healthy, and Armstead, Jones and Vellano are in the mix for 1-2 remaining slots, with Armstead's health the wild card factor. I think Jones is ahead of Vellano, but I don't think he's anything close to a "lock".
  14. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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  15. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    More support that Reiss has a screw loose: he lists Zach Moore as a "lock" to make the team:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/boston/new-..._/id/4764629/checking-the-locks-patriots-des

    I liked the Moore pick, and I agree that it will likely take him a year to develop, but I don't think he's a lock to make the roster at all. I can't imagine any 6th round pick being a "lock".
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  16. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I was thinking more about some of Rosenthal's statements. These in particular came to mind:

    I think that BB's thinking about what kind of defensive players best fit "this era" of pass-first offenses and offense-friendly rules has been evolving. Collins in 2013 and Dominique Easley this year are both guys whose skill sets are ideally suited to a multi-front hybrid defense to combat the modern passing game, and both are guys who BB probably would have passed up in the past; their selections signify that BB has moved away from his old prototype. The model of the kind of defensive player BB is looking for is changing. In 2009 BB was still rooted in a traditional 2-gapping 3-4 defense. In 2010 he took guys like Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes who fit that model, passing up some talented 4-3 DEs like Carlos Dunlap and Greg Hardy and some faster, more mobile LBs like Sean Lee, Daryl Washington and Navorro Bowman. In 2012 the Pats took a 4-3 DE in Chandler Jones, and looked hard at smaller and faster LBs like Lavonte Davis and Bobby Wagner, but ended up taking a bigger LB in Dont'a Hightower. I think the Collins and Easley pick signifies that BB has really moved away from the old model towards more mobile and versatile defenders. I'm guessing that Ryan Shazier would have gotten serious consideration if he had slipped to the end of the 1st round. I'm also guessing that we'll see BB look at more and more guys who don't fit into the old mold.
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  17. Marqui

    Marqui Rookie

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    Well I don't see them cutting either of the 2 DTs they started for the majority of last season (Jones and Siliga). That's great depth to have.

    Vellano I think is a sure goner and I'm not convinced Armstead actually exists at this point.
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  18. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I personally think Jones will make the team, but I don't think he's a "lock" by any means. I think Siliga is probably a lock. I'm not a Vellano fan, but it's not out of the question that he could pass Jones.
  19. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    An interesting read:

    http://clnsradio.com/new-england-pa...hick-using-pete-carroll-s-defensive-strategy

    Of note:

    I think that a healthy Will Smith will help the DE rotation a lot. If either Michael Buchanan or rookie Zach Moore can contribute meaningful snaps, it will be an additional bonus. Dominique Easley will likely see reps at both DT and DE, and I think the Pats will be careful to keep Vince Wilfork's snap count down and use Sealver Siliga for depth, along with Kelly/Easley and probably Chris Jones at the 3-tech. That should translate into reduced snap counts all along the DL, with more rotation and fresher legs. And that's discounting Armond Armstead, who would obviously be an additional asset if he can ever get on the field.
  20. Marqui

    Marqui Rookie

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    How do you have Siliga as a lock but not Jones when they both played the same amount down the stretch last year? I think it's out of the question Vellano passes Jones. Jones had 27 sacks his last 3 years in college, 6 sacks last year as a rookie, and another sack in the playoffs. He's not a starting level player because he can't anchor against the run all game/season long, but he can definitely get to the quarterback. He'd be great in a rotation and in sub packages. Vellano meanwhile is undersized, weak, nonathletic, and untalented.

    Why do you have such a low view of Jones?
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014

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