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Projecting positions: Meriweather, Thomas

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by rookBoston, Jul 29, 2007.

  1. rookBoston

    rookBoston Rookie

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    Lots of assumptions in the media that Meriweather will practice at CB, then play FS, and Thomas who's playing inside will eventually shift outside. Granted, BB likes to cultivate versatility in his players. And TC is the time when he puts Vrabel at TE and Troy at CB and Troy at QB and Wilson at CB and Seymour at FB. But not Day One, people.

    The media is overlooking a simple fact: BB is not going to experiment with players out of position during the first days of TC! And if he does, it's not going to be his high profile, new players who are totally new to the system.

    I assert, if Meriweather is seeing a lot of time at CB this early in camp, it's because the staff want to see him play at CB. It sounds so stupidly obvious and self-evident that I'm almost surprised it needs to be said. So, I'll say it again. The staff want to see him at CB more than they want to see him at FS. This is not a mistake! And it has nothing to do with Scott or Samuel, or anything like that. They're not going to train a first round rookie out-of-position because someone hurt his knee on the first day of camp.

    BB is offhand and dismissive in his comments to the media about players and role during his press conferences-- which is appropriate because nothing is set in stone, and he never gives them anything printable. But running Brandon at CB was not a casual, throw-away decision. And not something we need to disregard as meaningless.

    Who would suggest that BB's idea of the best way to groom a promising rookie FS is to train him first at CB? Doesn't that sound a bit presumptuous? I'd say, a smarter strategy is to see if he can learn his own position first, before building positional versatility. We still haven't eliminated the possibility that he sucks in our system at the spot where we want him to play. Doesn't that make it premature to start training him out of position?

    Suppose it was all about Scott and Samuel not being around, and the staff really do project Meriweather at FS-- then shouldn't it be Wilson getting all those reps at CB this week, as the emergency backfill, not the rook? Isn't that the safer way to build the skills and versatility into the secondary? Wilson already knows how to play S. His time at CB would be additive.

    No. I read this only one way. The Pats drafted Meriweather as a corner.

    Likewise, based on camp so far, I'm convinced that Thomas is our official, new starting ILB, playing beside Bruschi, allowing Vrabel to play at his natural position. What would the rationale be for playing Thomas significantly at ILB during minicamp, and opening TC with him inside if BB really expects him to play the season on the outside.... ?!? Granted the media types continue to suggest that he's just passing time inside, until his eventual move back to his presumed outside position. But what's more likely: the media have preconceived notions of what Thomas's position will be based on his time at Baltimore, or that they have a special insight into BB's mind? All evidence is that they are a bunch of doobs that cant find a urinal without someone drawing them a map. Belichick sure isn't going to connect the dots for them.

    We dont see Welker practicing his fieldgoal kicking, or Hochstein lined up at FB in Week One of camp. Miller may be the backup placekicker, but I'm pretty sure he was punting the last two days. If Troy were healthy and playing, would you expect him to start camp at CB? Wouldn't you expect him at WR, at least to start things off? Of course. And Troy's been in the system for years.

    Who's prepared to argue, after thinking about it for a bit, that BB is asking two of his most promising new additions to kickoff a teaching and evaluation camp, playing out of position? New players, more than anyone, need time in their positions, in the system. BB is clever and subtle, but some things really are not that complicated.

    Undoubtedly-- over time-- BB will look to move players around and try them elsewhere on the field, but only if (1) they've mastered their current role, and BB thinks they can contribute in a second role (Brown, Vrabel, Seymour...) or (2) they trained at their primary position but weren't competitive for some reason (Klecko, Hochstein, Mills...) and he's trying them out somewhere else to see if they deserve a roster spot as a generalist. Bubble roster players live and die based on how many roles they can fill into. And they'll get moved around as rookies and UFAs. But Meriweather and Thomas are not on the bubble. They are roster locks, and BB is investing very important-- very priceless-- reps into them, to incorporate them as quickly and seamlessly as possible into a veteran team.

    Write it down, and get used to it: Meriweather at CB and Thomas at ILB. This is not an accident. This is fully intended. As Freud once said, "Sometimes a banana is just a banana."
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2007
  2. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I agreed with you on the LB thing back in April :

    http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/showthread.php?t=54494

    Vrabel and Colvin outside seemed clear especially with Thomas' cover ability. When I wrote that we didn't have Seau back who adds to the options - but Thomas inside, largely at Bruschi's old weak side playmaking spot seems clear to me.

    Meriweather, I'm not so sure. I think he'll be more Safety but with lots of cover responsibilities on slot WR (read : Anthony Gonzalez) in multi WR formations.
  3. rookBoston

    rookBoston Rookie

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    Then why run him at corner in camp, if he's a safety? If you say "Big Nickle" safety, realize... he's not that big. He'd look a lot like a pure nickleback on the field. Which is to say, the third cornerback.

    And if his cover skills turn out to be better than Gay's (supposing Scott and Samuel bow out), wouldn't he be the best we have opposite Hobbs?
  4. BelichickFan

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    I guess it's terminology. I agree he could well play CB this year, maybe more than Safety, in the relatively safe spot of Nickle. But over his career (and this year if Wilson gets hurt) I think he'll be a Safety with superior cover skills.

    Samuel's playing, no worries.
  5. Bobs My Uncle

    Bobs My Uncle PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I think Meriweather will be the teams primary nickel back where, his versatility to play any of the DB spots, will afford the Pats matchup advantages galore. Offenses won't have a clue what position Meriweather will play.

    I think Thomas will play all over the field in a variety of LB spots.

    In each case versatility to play all over the place is gonna be key in a defense such as the one the Pats play.
  6. patsox23

    patsox23 Rookie

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    WAY. TOO. EARLY.

    Of the two, though, I think Thomas is the one to stick to his current predominant position. Judging Meriweather, a rookie, based on a couple days of practice is asinine, IMO.
  7. ClevTrev

    ClevTrev Rookie

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    In today's press conference, BB answered a question directly related to this thread. He indicated that this is the time they prepare people for all positions they may play during the season, as this is the best time to go over the details necessary to excel at those positions. He indicated that this is the process in early TC.

    That being said, considering LB, I can see a myriad of possibilities with Vrabel, Colvin, Thomas, Bruschi, and Seau. Seau is the wild card as he can play both ILB positions and spell Thomas. Thomas can spell Vrabel or Colvin at either OLB position, so he and Vrabel are wild cards. On certain downs, you can mix LBs and DLs to the point that the offense will have no clue as to what scheme the Pats are running. This is the beauty of having Thomas and Seau in the mix. This season is going to be fun with this type of flexibility as long as they are all healthy. This flexibility will also help to keep these guys healthy (fingers crossed!) by spelling one another.

    As for DBs, Meriweather needs experience at all CB positions and Safety positions. He's the wild card for the DBs along with Wilson. Assuming Asante returns at some point during TC and the DBs stay healthy, this becomes a strong group as well.

    The team is working all players on position flexibility now. To slot any of the wild card players mentioned at this point, doesn't make sense with how the team has filled its roster.
  8. JaredOfNazareth

    JaredOfNazareth Rookie

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    Yeah too early to tell. The difference between ILB and OLB are huge compared to a DB playing on the line versus deep. Maybe they want Meriweather matched up against Welker to gauge his coverage abilities. Maybe they wanted both Meriweather and Wilson on 1st team. Maybe they wanted Brandon to develop an on field relationship with the other starters. No need to pigin-hole anyone. That coaching staff does what it does and when we speculate on their actions we're usually wrong.
  9. JaredOfNazareth

    JaredOfNazareth Rookie

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    Great points ClevTrev!
  10. patchick

    patchick Moderatrix Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Wow Rook, I don't know. Meriweather has had one day of practice and by all reports lined up primarily at nickel. It's a pretty big leap from there to conclude he was drafted as a corner. And even if it is mostly corner for this year, why isn't someone hurting his knee reason enough to make that decision? Wasn't the loss of one player enough to suddenly convert highly drafted cornerback Eugene Wilson to safety at the last moment?

    Meriweather played both positions in college, why not work him into the defense as a rookie in the spots where he can contribute best. (Where's the playing time looking up at Wilson-Harrison-Sanders?) Then in 2008, look toward a longer-term role...at which point FS likely beckons.

    In fact, if the Patriots really didn't see Meriweather as a safety then their whole draft is a head scratcher. Only ONE safety under contract for 2008, and they take a total pass on the deepest safety class in years? Whereas a Meriweather-Sanders tandem looks like a very reasonable succession plan.
  11. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    In 07 I think they will use Merriweather in limited reps at FS, and nickel. It would be surprising to see him line-up on the edge. After this year he takes over at FS and becomes a fixture of the Patriots secondary. Something I hope to see from Merriweather is the ability to blitz, when Harrison is on the field he commands the attention of the offense. At they end of the last year with Hawkins and Sanders they played 10-15 yards back from the line of scrimmage and any pressure had to be generated by the front 7.

    Thomas will see time at all four LB spots as they attempt to maximize his flexibility. Something I am curious about is how they setup their LBs against SD. In the play-off game the entire right side (TBC, Seymour, Bruschi) seemed to get over powered. I wonder if they will play Thomas inside with Seau on 1st and 2nd downs to slow down the run and then bring Bruschi on for 3rd downs. A lot of options....

    Anyway that is my random thoughts for today.
  12. patsox23

    patsox23 Rookie

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    I'm not saying it would be some kind of insane miracle if Brandon Meriweather becomes a CB for his NFL career. I don't think that's his Fate, but I wouldn't be bowled over by it. I just think it's beyond ridiculously early to read ANYTHING definitive about anything BB does in a guy's first-ever training camp, early into the off-season as we're just trying to gain flexibility and see what exactly the kid has.
  13. DaBruinz

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

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    just a point of information. Thomas has been lining up at the STONG SIDE position where Ted Johnson used to line up. Not the Weak side. The Weak side is Bruschi's regular position inside.
  14. DaBruinz

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

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    The Pats have Harrison, Sander, Baker and Meriweather signed through 2008 for safety.

    By training Meriweather for CB now, they refine his coverage abilities so that when he moves to FS in 2008, he'll have that knowledge.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2007
  15. Metaphors

    Metaphors Rookie

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    Just had a crazy thought. Everyone is trying to wedge Meriweather and Thomas into positions and responsibilities based on previous years. What if those positions and responsibilities aren't the same this year? Meriweather and Thomas bring a skill set that BB hasn't had before. Wouldn't it make sense that the defensive scheme would be a little different to take advantage of them?

    Last year I thought the defense was a little predictable (even though execution was generally solid). There were times when QBs got into a comfort zone and it seemed like they couldn't get off the field. I think that we will see enough of the same defense to recognize it as the BB 3-4 that we know and love...but I think as the year goes on there will be new wrinkles that weren't possible with the players available to BB over the last year or 2.
  16. JoeSixPat

    JoeSixPat Rookie

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    That about covers it.

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