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Patriots 2012 DEFENSE Off-season Preview

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by DaBruinz, Feb 26, 2012.

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  1. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Patriots Defense Off-season Preview.

    D-LINE – Vince Wilfork, Ron Brace, Myron Pryor, Brandon Deaderick, Alex Silvestro, Kyle Love (ERFA) – 3-4 or 4-3 or Hybrid? That seems to be the question on many people’s minds. Andre Carter put up 10 sacks in 12 games for the Pats playing DE for them. He’s a UFA though. As is Mark Anderson, who spent time as a pass rush specialist, but was forced into a starting role when Carter went down. Anderson actually played well as a 3-4 OLB and held up decently against the run. An area he’s not know for. Mike Wright’s career is probably over due to concussions. Myron Pryor missed a majority of a 2nd straight season. Kyle Love is an ERFA, so the Pats only need to make him a minimum tender to keep him. Love really stepped up last year after the failure of Albert Haynesworth. Deaderick played extremely well after he returned from the PUP. Ron Brace played sparingly, but had a major forced fumble. The Pats have still not found someone who can adequately play the RDE position and this resulted in Wilfork moving over there with Love taking snaps at NT.

    I could see the Pats adding a 3-4 DE in the draft or, turning to free agency as there are quite a few talented players available, including Philip Merling, Calais Campbell, Red Bryant, Kendall Langford, and Adam Carricker.


    ILB/OLB –Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Dane Fletcher, Jeff Tarpinian, Markell Carter, Mike Rivera, Aaron Lavarias, Christian Cox– The LB corp had a lot of injuries last year with Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher, Cunningham and Tarpinian all missing time. Gary Guyton seems to have played himself out of the Patriots Line-up and off the Patriots roster. He had tons of promise, but has only regressed. Jermaine Cunningham spent most of the year injured. Christian Cox was a UDFA signed prior to the start of TC and was one of the first casualties to go onto the IR. Tarpinian was a fan favorite and many hope he’ll be the coverage linebacker the Pats have been missing since Roman Phifer. Dane Fletcher stepped up his game, but was missing in the SB. A surprise to many who felt he had the ability to cover the TE, a task that ended up falling to Tracy White.

    For OLB, the jewel of Free Agency is Mario Williams. Others include Cliff Avril and Anthony Spencer. The Draft could be another possibility with Crick, Andre Branch, Vinny Curry, and Quentin Coples.

    CB - Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Sterling Moore- The Pats secondary was a turnstile. What was thought to be so promising, quickly turned into a MASH unit with Multiple injuries at CB and Safety. On top of everything, Devin McCourty suffered tremendously during his sophomore year, prompting many to call for him to be benched. McCourty ended up playing at FS in sub packages, though he still played outside much of the time. Arrington had a career year, tying for the league lead with 7 interceptions. The problem is that many of his interceptions came when he was playing in the slot. Leigh Bodden, whom many had hoped would help stabilize things, was cut early in the season and ended up having surgery. Ras-I Dowling missed all of TC, yet played well enough to earn the starting nod opposite McCourty to open the season. However, Dowling was injured in game 2 and was IRed, much to his disappointment.

    Sterling Moore was one of several in-season acquisitions to the Patriots Secondary and he’s the one with the most promise. Moore came in and, after a hiccup where he was cut, he was re-signed and really improved as the season went on. Moore had several key plays down the stretch for the Patriots and in the play-offs, including 3 very good plays against the Ravens. However, Moore’s inexperience caught up with him in the SB.

    Safety - Patrick Chung, Brett Lockett (RFA), Josh Barrett, Ross Ventrone, Sergio Brown: This unit was in disarray coming out of TC. They cut veteran leader James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather, leaving Josh Barrett to start opposite Patrick Chung. Not long afterwards, Lockett and Barrett were injured and ended up on the IR for the 3rd season in a row for both of them. Sergio Brown proved to everyone that he’s best as a special teamer and really shouldn’t be on the field during game situations. Ross Ventrone showed the same. This is an area where many people are calling for the Pats to drop a lot of money on Dashon Goldson, (someone whom the Pats looked at prior to the start of the 2011 season). The draft is the other option, though this year’s draft class is pretty thin at safety.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  2. Lamanai

    Lamanai On the Game Day Roster

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    Nice summaries. Succinct and accurate.

    One minor nit. I believe Kyle Love is an ERFA, so there is no risk in losing him as long a we tender him a contract. Should only be about $700,000. Same with Lockett, but I'm not sure we'll bother...
     
  3. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Lockett has 3 vested years so he's an RFA.
    Love only has 2, so yes, he's an ERFA, so you're right.. he's not going anywhere.
     
  4. Joker

    Joker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    glad you made this post DaB...maybe you can explain to me why there is this Mario Williams lust on this board...every part of a deal bringing him here screams anti-Patriot way...I just don't see it...

    and the more removed from the last season we get, the more I think O line will be an early priority in this draft...

    watched the combine prelims...interior D linemen look average...some talent on the edge though...would they pull the trigger here?
     
  5. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Mario Williams is a stud. The interesting thing is that he excelled in the 3-4 as an OLB, not a DE. The problem will be in whether or not the Pats feel he is worth $12-$15 million a year. I don't think they will. I think that Anthony Spencer is a better value.

    Look for Williams to end up in Tennessee or Tampa Bay since they have the money and the want to throw it around.

    I don't see a NT who I think would help the Pats in the Draft. One potential guy is Paul Soliai. He was the starting NT down in Miami. If the Pats added him, then they could either play him at DE or at NT as he'd be effective at either.

    There is more talent at 3-4 DE in the draft. Not as much as last year, but still good talent. Guys like Brockers, Still, Fletcher Cox, Akiem Hicks, and Kendall Reyes (to name a few). There is also good help at OLB in the draft in guys like Crick, Coples, Wiley, Curry, etc.
     
  6. patsinthesnow

    patsinthesnow PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    If the pats run a 3-4 Defense, which they probably will:

    #1 Upgrade the DE position from backup quality to starting quality.
    (Deaderick is starting quality, Love is a backup)

    #2 Upgrade OLB spot from awful to starting quality.
    (Cunningham can't be projected to start, M. Carter has some potential)

    #3 Whether it be Dowling or Moore, emerge as a starting quality CB next to Mccourty to put Arrington in the slot.

    #4 Find a starting quality Free Safety.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    #1 can come from the draft

    #2 can come from the draft/FA or even team if M. Carter or Cunningham step up. Markell's interesting, gained 15 pounds during the season, has all BB measurables at OLB, 6x practice squad player of week, getting paid $300,000 on practice squad.

    #3 Will come from team, we are four deep at CB.

    #4 is the tough one, finding the safety.
     
  7. patsfaninpa

    patsfaninpa In the Starting Line-Up

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    I might be overly ambitious. But, I'd like to add 7 players to the defense this off season. Not enough money for what I want and Mario Williams and a wr along with Welker. Mario just too costly.

    Free Agency

    1. Sign a veteran safety. Michael Griffin or Reggie Nelson.

    2. Sign Mark Anderson or replacement. Like Dabruinz mentioned. Anthony Spencer is an option.

    3. Two gap de. Kendall Langford. We're too thin up front. No belly jokes!


    Draft

    4. Two Gap DE - Fletcher Cox - Miss ST at 27. Slight trade up nab him or Still if they drop.

    5. olb - Vinny Curry - Marshall at 31. Might do a slight trade back if price is right.
    Could prob get Chandler Jones or Cam Johnson a little lower too

    6. S - Harrison Smith - Notre Dame at 48. Depth, depth, depth.

    7. CB at 94. Maybe a guy like Trumaine Johnson, Shaun Prater, Mike Harris - FSU.
     
  8. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A couple of things I believe about our defense, the core is pretty young any will improve just due to the youngins having more experience. I think the players and coaches will more familiar with the hybrid front being used by the front 7. I think the D was much better at the end of the year than they were initially, this provides a good foundation for next year.







    M Wright is gone now and Unless he has a great camp I don't see Brace back here. I would like to see Carter and Anderson back, if they are back adding a draft choice if not then another Vet FA + a draft pick. I really like the flexibility we get with Wilfolk because of Love's ability to play NT. If Pryor is healthy he can provide an inside rush in sub packages.



    Well I agree about Guyton not being back, I think White will still be on the roster due to his ST skills. Intrigued with Tarpinian as a guy who can match up with TE's in sub packages and play on ST's. Big year for Cunningham will he regress and fade off the roster or get back on the encouraging track from his rookie year? If he develops he could provide a lot of flexibility to this group I don't see a FA addition here. Great depth in the middle. I am hoping with development from Fletcher and a healthy Spikes we can us Mayo outside some more I think he could be very effective pressuring from the outside. Carter has a lot of physical tools hopefully he learned a lot this year and can create a roster spot.

    I don't see a big FA here perhaps a draft pick used for an OLB.




    I think this group will be good next year, the problems this year were at S more than CB although injuries really hurt us. Edleman as a CB is a wild card here. Th question is whether McCourty or Dowling goes to S, if the staff feels that Edleman could be a solution covering slot receivers the we could be in good shape here. I see a draft pick added to the mix here. I think Moore could be a big a diamond in the rough as Arrington has turned out to be.



    This is the clearly the weakest positional grouping on the team, even without all the injuries. Chung is the only guy who looked solid at all last year. Ihedigabo is a STer did a good job filling in can see him back as a backup like White at LB not a guy you want to see in the regular D if possible.

    I am not a draftnik, but if there is one of the top kids available we need to use one of our top picks here. Plus sign a vet FA. If they are no rookies available perhaps draft a CB and move one of our CB's to S and sign a FA.

    Working out the back 4 , w sub packages and depth is the biggest job for the front office.



    If we are going to spend $$$ on a D in FA it needs to be at S, not in the front 7 IMO.
     
  9. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Unfortunately, there is no safety who is worth big money in free agency. Not Goldson. Not Nelson. Not Griffin. Not Tyvon Branch.

    There is better value in the free agents available in the front 7 than there are in the free agents available at safety.
     
  10. supafly

    supafly PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    Nice breakdown Dabruinz. Always enjoy your stuff.

    I love any of your options on the D-line, though a couple will likely be tagged. Regardless, any of those would seem like an excellent fit that would instantly improve the unit. Also love Cox in the draft. Hoping that he's there at 27. I also think that Pryor has shown us that he is a viable option as an inside DT, with nice passrushing capabilities in subs. I honestly don't think that the line will be a problem moving forward, and any depth + starter type improvements will indeed be made. It is a key area this off-season, but I am very hopeful in this area, and think it continues to improve. Another key aspect is 'who' comes back as far as a veteran? Is it Carter? Is it Anderson? Maybe even G.Warren, barring its not at the beginning of the yr.

    The LB situation is pretty good, with the obvious exception being that one big player that we seem to be missing. I like your thoughts on Anthony Spencer in FA, and feel as though he is probably decent value too. Much like the D-line situation, I feel as though this will be addressed just fine too. One nice player in FA + that elusive 'high' draft pick that we haven't seen pan out will basically solve everything. Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher, and Ninkovich as proven staples. One of Cunningham, Tarpinian, and Carter as possible uprisers? Then the thought of added talent through the draft or FA? I think it could easily be a position of actual strength all around, depending upon the off-season moves. The LB core seems to be there. We saw decent yrs from Spikes, Fletcher, and Ninkovich...and continued leadership and stability from Mayo too. I think the LB situation took a positive turn in 2010, compared to the previous 2 years for sure.

    Front seven: Although the front 7 needs a high pick in the draft and at least a mid-level FA acquisition, the core seems to be in place.

    As far as the secondary goes, there shouldn't be any doubt that we'll be in better position heading into next yr for sure.

    Just the aspect alone of having Sterling Moore with a full TC and some first yr experience behind him + the return of Ras-I-Dowling as a high draft pick leftover from last yr puts us in a much better shape. That leaves a CB core right off the bat of Arrington, McCourty, Dowling, Moore plus whatever bonus we see in the draft or a potential FA. That should be a much better position than last yr. The thought of a mid-level FA, or a top 3-4 rd draft pick would be incredibly nice depth, and a CB core that should make us hopeful.

    The back line safety position is by far the biggest weakness on the team right now, but again...we should be hopeful that Belichick will make some moves to add talent, depth, and youth. I don't see how it could honestly get any worse than last yr. I agree that J.Ihedigbo would be a nice depth move that will offer ST presence and a nice backup spot at safety. I personally don't want to see Brown or Barrett playing too much in the back spot, the same goes for Ventrone. I think the depth and talent should be improved all around. A nice 'bonus' this yr was the fact that I thought Patrick Chung looked a lot better than I was giving him credit for.

    Strangely enough, I seem to have a very positive and optimistic viewpoint on the defense moving forward. Maybe it's due to the continued improvement in the 2nd half of the season? Maybe it's due to the addition of some 'key' players in the secondary from last yr (Moore, and hopefully Dowling)? Maybe it's due to the excitement of the draft/free agency/off-season? I am not 1/2 as worried as most regarding the defense moving forward. I think when you consider the circumstances of last yr, things are already improving--and have been since November.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  11. supafly

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    While you are definitely right in assessing 'big money' as you say, the argument to that would be that the FA pool for the position of safety is looking better than the draft pool, at least depth-wise.

    I would certainly agree that big money should not be spent at safety, but if the price seems right, I think they should attempt to improve the spot through BOTH the FA pool, and the draft too.

    One of the above 4 safeties that you named for what is deemed as 'fair' market value would not be a bad thing, although they probably all have their +'s and -'s. Regardless, they would probably all be instant improvements over what we have, that's for sure.

    I suppose it all depends on if Belichick views more value/depth at FA or the draft on front 7 this year, or the safety position?

    We may not get the big influx in talent this off-season that we were hoping for, but the thought of just 2 FA players at front 7 (Merling or Carriker for example) + safety (Griffen or T.Branch for example), along with guys like Fletcher Cox and Barron...hell, even George Iloka (not saying he goes high at all, just a random example of a drafted player) through the draft would instantly make this defense a lot better. That's a nice raise in talent for what seems like decent and viable cost value, depending upon numeric specifics of course. It may not be the big name FA players that most are hoping for, but it's a helluva start when you think about it. I would be very pleased with improvements in that regard.
     
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