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NOT worried about LB or WR

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AndyJohnson, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I am absolutely not concerned about LB or WR.

    We have witnessed BB win 3 SBs in 5 years, and do it at least equally because of defense, and mostly more because of defense than offense.
    There is a groundswell of worry about the LB postion, so lets look back and see the past vs the present. It would seem that everyone looks back fondly at the LB position from 01 to at least 04 if not last year as well especially after Bruschi returned.

    Starting in 01, the LB unit was made up of 1 certainty, Bruschi, plus McGinest but at the time we were a 43 team and McG was a DE.

    In 2001 we brought in totally unknown and unproven Mike Vrabel.
    We brought in Roman Phifer who was desinged to be a 3rd down cover guy ONLY. (BB specificially said this when he was signed) We brought in Bryan Cox who had little left, and barely played after being injured. We revived Ted Johnson off the scrap heap. (By the way TJ barely played in 01, was almost cut in 02, then almost quit when deactivated, was allowed to seek a trade in 03.)
    In 02 still in the 43, we has Phifer, Bruschi, Vrabel and no depth. By the way, Ted Johnson, when filling in for Bruschi may have been the worst MLB in the NFL.

    In 03 we added Colvin and went to the 34. He got hurt, Vrabel got hurt, and we won games with Matt Chatham starting. BB reinvented Roman Phifer as an ILB. (By the way, Phifer was no better vs the run than anyone on our current roster at ILB) We won the SB with McGinest, Vrabel playing about half the season, Colcin palying 2 games, and Matt Chatham at OLB. With Bruschi, Phifer and Ted Johnson, again a well below average LB inside.

    In 2004, we won the SB with basically the same crew.

    BB has fielded excellent defenses by converting a DE to OLB (McGinest was far from a rush only OLB in 03 and 04 and successfully handled a lot of duties his skillset was not best suited for) converting an OLB to ILB, a guy who was far from a strong 2gap take on the G ILB. (Im not knocking Phifer, he was just a huge stretch as an ILB skillset-wise) With an over the hill fill in who consistenty was run at and over filling in. With OLBs that were never fully healthy (if Vrabel and Colvin play 16 games, at full strength it will add up to at least as much as we ever got out of the 3 OLB rotation, because they were almost never all 3 healthy at full stength together).

    Its easy to fall into the trap that we 'knew' TJ even though he wasnt very good. That we 'knew' Phifer, even though he was very out of position at ILB. That Cox was a 'name' even though he hardly played in the SB run.

    BB has taken players some good, some bad, some known, some unknown, some in postion, some out of position, and always molded a strong LB unit.
    This year, the names are different (outside of the top 3) but if BB can have a great D with TJ and Phifer playing ILB, he can do it with Monte Beisel. If he can turn Chatham and Ted Johnson into depth and overcome injuries to LBs, he can figure out how to win with Chad Brown, Barry Gardner, TBC and a bunch of promising young guys as depth.

    At WR, Branch will be here, it makes no sense for him not to be. Last year, we had Branch, Givens, Brown and no one else who did much.
    My opinion is that Givens was a reflection of Brady, and that is not a novel opinion. Caldwell and Jackson replacing Givens and Dwight is an upgrade. Watson will be more invovled, the running game will be better. There is absolutely zero chance that the reason we do not win the SB this year is the WR position.

    My concerns are the secondary, and potentially OL.
    I think we have numbers in the secondary, but questions.
    I like Samuel, but why does he seem to be battling for a starting job? I know Wilson is a corner by trade, but how will he do there after not playing it for 3 years (IF he is going to)? I'm not ready to enshrine Hobbs, but he did have a good rookie year. Warfield seems like another in a long line of vet corners from other teams who come here and dont fit our scheme. Gay tome is fighting for a spot on the roster, and isnt someone I would consider a certain plus at corner. Chad Scott at this point is end of the bench/injury replacement depth.
    Rodney's health is a question. If he is out and Wilson moves to corner, what are we left with? Hawkins did OK, but is a converted corner. Sanders appears to be having a good camp, but lacks experience, and our track record in drafting safeties is questionable. Im Ok with Tebucky playing safety but would hope someone else keeps him off the field. Gus Scott? Who knows if he can play?
    There are many questions, but also many potential answers. My concern is relying on guys who 'did well for a while' ie Gay, Hobbs, Hawkins, within a unit. Its not rare for those type of guys to struggle at some point later; guys that may appear to be slipping (Samuel, Wilson) or guys that are unknown (Harrison due to health, Sanders, Scott) or guys that we do not yet know if they can play our system effectively, C Scott, Warfield.
    In the end it will of course be better than last year unless everyone gets hurt agian, but it must be a lot better than last year for this team to realize its potential.

    On the OL, a healthy line of Light-Mankins-Koppen-Neal-Kaczur backed up by Gorin, Hochstein, OCallahan, etc is very exciting. We will be a dominant O if that happens. But 60% of that OL has injury concerns. Having to rely on rookies or virtual rookies (Mruc, Yates, Britt etc) could drastically change the dynamic of the OL. I think with eveyone healthy we have a top 5 OL, but with many injuries, we will struggle to be consistent, especially against top Ds.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2005
  2. bucky

    bucky Rookie

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    I think history has proven that when Bruschi is out, this team can not stop the run. That's not a good place to be, but that's where we are again this year. And that is my ONLY concern with this team. Hopefully, Tedy will be back close to 100% very soon.
  3. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Ive always been the one to say that the primary, almost sole reason for our problems in 2002 was Bruschi being out. (We allowed something like 115 rush yards when he played, only 3-4 more than 2001, and about 180 when he didnt). I think last years problems when Bruschi was out were more the horrendous secondary than the run D, as well as no Seymour. I'm not worried that Bruschi will be back, but assuming Rodney is, with a healthy DL, and Vrabel experienced inside, I think we are better prepared to play the run without Bruschi than we ever have been before.
  4. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    And thus is the Gospel according to A.J.

    Great stuff as always.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2006
  5. JR4

    JR4 In the Starting Line-up PatsFans.com Supporter

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    well, to inject a little optimism about the secondary, in yesterday's press
    conference BB seemed very pelased at what he was say and indicated that
    if what he has seen form Samuel, Hobbs and Wilson, continues into the
    season that the PATs pass D will be better. He was talking specifically about
    these player's contribution to making the pass D better not a better pass rush
    etc.

    If Bruschi returns ... If Vrabel plays inside ... if neither of these guys
    get hurt ... PATs can get by at ILB. there is no quality depth at this postion.
    Maybe Beisel can serve in rotation but I wouldn't go betting on him.
    Gardner hasn't proven anything yet. The yougsters are unprovend and
    inexperienced.

    BTW, I believe from body language and a few phrases here and there that
    Vrabel definitely does NOT want to play inside. In fact that maybe what
    is behind this PATs trip to Dallas to find a LB if infact that is what it is for.
    I wouldn't be surprised if Vrabs essentially told them to use some of their
    loot and get another ILB instead of counting on him the whole season.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2005
  6. zoostation

    zoostation Rookie

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    Even Brucshi was not a certainty going into the 01 season as nany still considered him an under-sized sub. Not many people thought he would be able to last a full season as a starter. Obviously we were all wrong....but that was the veiwpoint of many. McGinest was the certainty back then...and the stud of the LB core
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2006
  7. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Everybody on a SB-winning team gets a Halo Effect... and the more so for the more SBs they win. When the Pats were losing everybody there "stunk..." even the better ones. Now, number two receivers magically get number 1 paychecks (elsewhere,) etc.

    Great stuff, Andy, of course. Me, I AM worried about Deion, even if he is only 2 weeks into this holdout. People keep saying he's willing to go past halfway through this season holding out. I hope the "water torture" of watching his season slip away underscores his bargaining position for him, because nobody "wins" in a holdout like that.

    In terms of the LB position, also good stuff. Like I said elsewhere, of COURSE there are positions you want to address, of COURSE there are problems, and of COURSE we magnify them for our own team (to the point that some people go the "chicken little" route.) By the same token, of COURSE we'd love to see the Pats bring in that "magic bullet," and that translates to (without us noticing,) a desire for "names".

    Sometimes they will be "names," sometimes not. I could see Claiborne (from what I do know) being a bump in talent level... but I would think we'd have heard something for now. Claiborne would be a "name" LB... but I could have seen Kassel of Tennessee being valuable, or Donnie Edwards, even though they're both a little small for the run -- one of them is a "name" and the other not.

    Long story short, the board gets boring without everyone's pet theories. So thank God the Pats' internal discussions don't work by the principal of "it gets boring if we don't go with the wackiest theory."

    Me? I am worried at LB. I am also confident that BB/SP will either address it, or work around it, to the best of their ability. A problem stopping the run is not easy to work around (see 2002.) But I don't see anything out there that makes us weaker than a top-10 team for 2006.

    PFnV
  8. njpatsfan

    njpatsfan Rookie

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    Welcome back AJ !

    Now it's really football season.

    R
  9. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I feel a littel better about the secondary than you Andy. I think Wilson being moved to CB indicates that the staff feels that Rodney wil be back and able to contribute also it reflects confidence in Hawkins and the development of Sanders.

    Having Blue G as a #4 CB show me a lot of good depth at that position. The DB's will be a very flexable group. With a lot of guys who can play both S and CB there are opportunities for BB to disguise the D alingment even more than in the past, making reads that much harder. Agree with the LB comments.
  10. miamipat

    miamipat Rookie

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    We already have three very good LB's (Bruschi, Vrabel, Colvin). If one of Alexander, Woods, TBC, Roach or Beisel ban out we could have one of the best LB groups around.
  11. CrazyDave

    CrazyDave Rookie

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    Nice post aj.
    But why you dissin Ted "Helmet Cracker" Johnson? lol

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2005
  12. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    They were fine against Jacksonville with Vrabel and Beisel in the playoffs. The overall rushing average was 5.1, admittedly, but that includes all the QB rushing and stuff - Fred Taylor was the only runner with more than 3 carries and he was 8-24. And Jacksonville is a good rushing team.
  13. PatsFan37

    PatsFan37 Rookie

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    #37 Jersey

    Wilson in run support

    Somewhere I read in the press today (Wed morn) that moving Wilson to slot CB has the advantage of moving a safety into the inside field for run support.

    Wilson has the experience to make that quick run/pass decision and the ability to hit and take down rb's. While so many others see this move as improving pass coverage, don't underestimate its other effect to improve inside run-stopping, effectively putting another solid tackler close to the box.

    I wouldn't go anywhere near calling him a spare MLB, he obviously doesn't have the size, but he does play a little bigger than 195.
  14. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I think you're probably right about Vrabel's feelings - and even if TBC is coming on we need more than Colvin and TBC to make it through the season - but I highly doubt Vrabel would object to playing inside until Bruschi gets back. If Bruschi were expected to miss the year, I could see it differently.
  15. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

    Re: Wilson in run support

    I think it's a bit dangerous to argue from 2001-2004 as precedents for getting the linebacker problem solved with under-appreciated free agents.

    Not only did that route conspicuously NOT work last season, but we have to appreciate that 3-4 Patriots-style has become the flavour of choice around the NFL. Where once we could pick up the Vrabels and Phifers, now we watch ageing players like WMcG getting big offers. When everyone was trying to imitate Tampa, we had much less competition.

    Moral: it pays to play a non-standard formation in the NFL because that helps you in the competition for players.
  16. RayClay

    RayClay On the Roster

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    #75 Jersey

    Nice post. It doesn't give us any viable ILBs, but I'm glad it helps you sleep at night.

    BTW, Ted Johnson was often injured and I am not a big fan of his, but you really underrate his contribution.

    Ted would start at strong side linebacker today.

    I'm sure he would easily replace the current one. I believe his name is Gaping Hole.

    Also, all those anxious to rush Tedy back into the lineup might do well to google "scaphoid bone" and the prognosis for healing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2005
  17. italian pat patriot

    italian pat patriot Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    Ted Johnson

    i was a big #52 Ted Johnson fan

    i was disappointed when he retired as we did not expected it

    i will always remember him wit pleasure
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2005
  18. patsox23

    patsox23 Rookie

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    Re: Ted Johnson

    welcome back, aj. good to read your thoughts. Hope you're right.
  19. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson Rookie

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    #37 Jersey

    I disagree completely with your assessment of our LB situation. I would take any of our past ILBs (Phifer, TJ, Cox) over Biesel et. al. any day. Are you honestly saying that you are comfortable with the depth that the Pats have at ILB this season?

    I believe that the best case scenario for our starting LB corp in 2006 is Bruschi (if healthy) and Vrabel at ILB with Colvin and (Brown, TBC, Mincey) at OLB. With the injury to Bruschi we are looking at starting the season with Vrabel and (Biesel, Alexander or Roach?) at ILB. If one or more of Bruschi, Vrabel and Colvin are out at the same time (which history proves is likely to happen) our starting LB corp will be in deep trouble. The Pats have overcome mulitple injuries to their LBs in the past because of their depth, but I don't see any way that can happen this season.

    Its my opinion that despite the resources ($13 million in cap space) BB/Pioli did not adequately address the depth of the ILB position, arguably their greatest position of need, in the off-season. Looking at their roster coming into this season, I can't believe that they didn't sign an experienced and serviceable ILB FA or draft a legitimate ILB prospect.

    I think that our O-line depth is about as good as we could possibly hope for and our secondary will be fine.
  20. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Re: Wilson in run support

    That's a great point, PF37! I haven't seen that discussed before, but that could definitely be a factor (along with the upcoming FA year for Samuel).
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2006

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