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Pat Kirwan: The Patriots and the 'Big Nickel Defense'

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PATRIOTSFANINPA, May 22, 2012.

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  1. PATRIOTSFANINPA

    PATRIOTSFANINPA Rookie

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  2. mayoclinic

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    I'm a big Pat Kirwan fan, but to be honest I was a little disappointed by this article. I didn't think it added much to the basic fact that defenses are struggling with the combination of the spread offsense and the big, versatile TEs who can overpower DBs and outpace LBs. If the Jets really think that LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are the answer to Gronk and Hernandez, I can't wait to see what happens. :D

    The word "hybrid" is used a lot these days, but clearly it seems like defenses need big, physical guys with size and movement skills. I call them "raptors" for lack of a better term. From this point of view you can look at the Pats' secondary and see that there are an awful lot of guys with decent size (5'10"-6'2" and around 190-205#) who are physical enough to play safety and quick enough to play CB: Devin McCourty, Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Tavon Wilson, Steven Gregory, Sterline Moore, Alfonzo Dennard, Will Allen. That's 8 guys with tremendous positional versatility. Pat Chung is really the only "traditional" safety with any significant role. I personally think that that kind of approach is more likely to be successful than trying to ask guys like Landry to cover.

    If you liked Kirwan's article, Jeff Chadiha from ESPN had a really great article last year on the evolution of the safety position:

    NFL shifts from big, physical safety to a more versatile model - ESPN

    Among other things, Chadiha talks about the TE dilemma and dealing with offensive mis-matches:

    Guys like Brandon Hardin (6'3" 217# with 4.38 speed and a 6.8 3-cone) are exactly that kind of "2-guard" option that Gonzalez was talking about. Hardin was taken in the 3rd round after being initially considered a late round prospect.

    This discussion may also explain why the Pats "reached" for Tavon Wilson in the 2nd round - guys with actual safety experience with the kind of quickness and man coverage ability needed are rare birds. One can argue that neither Mark Barron nor Harrison Smith actually fits that prescription, which is partly why I wasn't as enthusiastic about those guys as man others on this board. Tavon Wilson arguably does, which could make him a very valuable asset. If not, there are 7 other guys currently on the roster with some combination of those skills.
  3. The Gr8est

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    Interesting thoughts on this, and it makes me wonder how high the Pats were looking at Brandon Hardin if Wilson wasn't available.
  4. PatsWickedPissah

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    Kirwan suggests, " If I was looking to build a Big Nickel package and still needed a safety, I would look closely at this list for an answer: Deon Grant, Chris Crocker, Jim Leonard, Abram Elam, Sean Jones, and James Ihedigbo." :eek:

    I agree with Gonzalez. As an NFL scout I'd look at college 2 gards with size. But I'd want someone who'd played a contact sport as well as hoops.
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  5. mayoclinic

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    If you consider that BB may have been looking for someone with safety kind of physicality and hitting ability who wouldn't be easily overpowered, but CB kind of coverage skills who could play zone and man schemes, then there weren't very many options. Mark Barron, Harrison Smith, George Iloka and Antonio Allen really didn't have the coverage ability. Jamell Fleming may not have had the physicality. The guys who seem closet to having both were Tavon Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, Trumaine Johnson and Brandon Hardin. And the Pats ended up getting 2 of those 4 guys. One could even argue that Nate Ebner offers some developmental potential in this regard, given his combination of movement skills (6.59 3-cone) and physicality.
  6. mayoclinic

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    Yeah, that's part of why I wasn't overly impressed with that particular article. It takes a heck of a lot more than throwing 3 safeties out there. James Ihedigbo and 5'8" Jm Leonard are not the answer to Gronk and Hernandez.

    I always thought someone like ex-Celtic off-guard Dennis Johnson would have made a heck of a DB, and I can see college scouts scouring the college BB ranks for guys who might be good conversion prospects. But as Patchick pointed out about Nate Ebner, coming form a contact sport background is a huge advantage when transitioning to football. Ebner's combination of movement skills and physicality are part of what make him very intriguing as a developmental DB.
  7. patsfaninpittsburgh

    patsfaninpittsburgh Banned

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    How many teams have a Gronk/Hern tandem?

    How many are real "two TE offenses"?

    What is interesting is how few TE's seem to be coming from college. This might give defenses a more even keel if more teams start going two TE's.
  8. mayoclinic

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    NFL - Two-tight end set is latest copycat trend - ESPN

    The 2013/14 draft class is potentially loaded at the TE position - the best since 2010, maybe even better depending on the juniors. Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Levine Toilolo, Joseph Fauria, Michael Williams, and others.
  9. patsfaninpittsburgh

    patsfaninpittsburgh Banned

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    It's the new trend but it will take longer for teams to realize the potential because getting Gronk/Hern was unique in football.

    Maybe Indy can with the two TE's they drafted. Where does a draft produce a dynamic duo like ours? Will other teams be willing to draft 2 or 3 TE's in a single year?

    I'm not sure any combination of safeties in the league could produce a "big nickel" to stop Gronk/Hern. That doesn't mean the available guys at safety couldn't help out with the less capable versions around the league.
  10. mayoclinic

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  11. patfanken

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    Nice post. Once again the more we get to know about the thought process of what teams are actually thinking, the more sense the Tavon Wilson pick makes.

    Though I have to tell you made a great case for Brandon Hardin. I kind of like the idea of a 6'3 217 pounder with 4.3 speed and a great cone time roaming our secondary. I would have to guess the Pats liked Wilson's experience and football instincts better.

    However I totally disagree with Kirwin when he says safeties are becoming the FB's of the secondary. On the contrary, I think safeties have and will become even more important to defenses if teams are going to have any hope of slowing down the wave of athletic TEs coming into the league. The only thing that will chance is our expectations of what a safety can do, and (if the past draft taught us anything) the skill sets teams will be looking for.
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  12. mayoclinic

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    I loved Hardin's upside and physical skill set. If you look at Ye Old Mock Draft thread, I had the Pats doubling up with Trumaine Johnson and Brandon Hardin as big, physical DBs with CB/FS versatility:

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england...official-2012-mock-draft-thread-page114.html (post #1136)

    At the beginning of April Hardin was #182 in my mock (post #916), and by draft time I'd moved him up to #109. The Bears took him at #79, illustrating the demand for big DBs with the combination of size and movement skills to play a hybrid role. Again, it doesn't make the Tavon Wilson pick look like quite so much a "reach".
  13. captain stone

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    And if Ebner does show some potential at Safety, then I hope we can waive G'Bye to Slater,
    who has zero potential at any position.
  14. The Gr8est

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    Not happening. Slater is an All-Pro ST and well deserved. He adds gr8 value to this team and is usually the first person on the scene in punt returns, limiting the return. I really look forward to having Ebner make the team as well, and joining Slater as twin special teams terrors.


    You may have noticed that Gostkowski, Mesko, and Aiken aren't offering much potential at other positions either.
  15. ivanvamp

    ivanvamp Rookie

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    It is my understanding that Slater is perhaps the very best special teams player in football.
  16. Frezo

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    Who was the ST captain last year?
  17. mayoclinic

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    No player is untouchable on the Pats. When someone provides better value than Slater on ST, or similar ST value but better positional value, then Slater will be at jeapordy of being cut. Although Slater was ST captain, so was Sam Aiken in 2009, and that didn't stop the Pats from cutting Aiken in training camp in 2010.

    WIth that said, Slater being cut is almost certainly not going to happen this year. In addition to being a team captain and leader of the unit, Slater was 1st team All Pro as a STer last year, so the bar is set awfully high for a rookie to displace him. And as the Gr8est notes, there's plenty of potential for Ebner and Slater to wreck havoc on ST.

    All things considered, I think it's much more likely that Ebner competes this year for a 9th DB/ST position, and the guy who he would potentially knock off the roster is someone like Josh Barrett, Malcolm Williams or Marquice Cole, all of whom are excellent STers. That's going to be enough of a challenge for Ebner this year. At least for 2012, I don't think Ebner is any threat to Slater's job security.
  18. Deus Irae

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    I don't know why you insist on beating what you know is a dead horse. Slater just signed a contract with a $2 million signing bonus. Barring some type of disaster, he's on the team.
  19. IcyPatriot

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    I don't speak in football lingo so I'll just put it this way ...

    someone needs to begin working on a 'Big Dime' :D
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  20. patfanken

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    Ebner's best spot this season is the PS. We have acquired a LOT of very good ST's players this off season to go along with the people we already have. I agree that Ebner is a special talent but virtually Stephen Neal raw. It would be best if he started to learn the S position on the PS for a season.

    IT would be best for Ebert too, to have a year on the PS. 5 roster spots for rookies this season is stretching the limit. I think these 2 guys were draft THIS season to replace the 2 picks we are missing next season. NEXT season these 2 guys will come back with a REAL chance to make the roster. Much like Markelle Carter will have this season
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