If there is one thing that the Pats have not been good at this is it. Now, the amount of success this team has had makes it hard to just focus on one negative and pretend that a philosophical change fixes that and doesn't mess with what has made the team near perfect but for this flaw. First, the history: Not being able to stop the other team when they only are passing, such as playing catchup or fighting the clock at the end of a game or half has been a primary factor in postseason losses such as SB 42 SB 46 06 AFCCG If we just called it "4th quarter D" the 2010 playoff loss also comes into play. It is very reasonable to argue the dynasty that won 3 SBs in 4 years, excelled in those situations (not prefect but excellent since it is a difficult way to play D) and the nondynasty could have won 3 more in 6 years if it made those stops. Pretend for a moment that this part of the defense didn't fail in 06,07 and 11 and the Patriots have 6 titles in 11 years. Would anyone say that there would be a single complaint that anyone could make about improvement in other areas? That spans 11 years of roster changes, scheme changes, coordinator changes, and really everything but BB and Brady. This issue also shows up in poor 3rd down conversion results. Again, I must point out focussing on this one issue at the expense of contuining to operate the way they have can diminish the team in other areas, but I think this has to be the focus. What to do? First, I have absolutely no doubt that with BB we have as good or better an ability to scheme than anyone. Its easy to say 'draft a passrusher' or 'sign a corner' but I'm looking for an all encompassing solution. We brought in 2 pass rushers this year who both had more sacks than any Patriot since 07, yet here we are. I think we need to prioritize sub package defense even at the expense of the base. I would rather have guys that excel in sub packages and struggle in the base if they have to be pressed into duty than to have to use 2gap DL and LB and zone DBs in sub packages. Part of the issue is that the coverage and rush need to complement each other. If you are confident in your rushers you have to choose your poison of playing coverage and getting piacked apart of blitzing and letting up a big play. If you aren't confident in your secondary you are afraid to blitz. What we need. 1) A group of DL who can win one on one pass rushing battles. This would include 34 OLBs 2) LBs who can effectively blitz 3) LBs and safeties who play LB-like spots in the sub that can cover 4) Solid corners that can be left in man if we blitz and that aren't a physical mismatch because of size, speed or quickness/cod (Note: we have always looked at 'complete' corners in terms of run support, tackling and coverage more than varied coverage skills) 5) Safeties that are competant and lack severe weakness in any area What we have DLINE 1) I think Carter is gone. The severity of his injury and the fact he has been in the league 11 years concerns me that even if he gets back, he won't have the skills. Leg injuries to aging players who rely on their legs is not good. Anderson should be kept. He may only play 300-400 snaps as a sub package DE, but those are important snaps. Pryor theoretically could be a decent sub rush DT but will he ever be healthy? Cant count on it. Deaderick is also decent in this role. Ninko is barely acceptable as a sub pass rusher, so would be a good backup there who can also cover in the sub. Wilfork will be better for the other 50 snaps if we leave him out of these. No one else in the front 7 really seems to be an effective sub front 4 guy. Need to add. 1) Another outside rusher. When it is the starting 34OLB/43DE or another Anderson who is a critically important role player. 2/3) 2 DL who can give an inside rush from sub package. I'd like to see DE/DT hybrids. The 280-290 lb guy who is small and quick for a 43 DT or 34 DE and bigger than a 43 DE. These do not have to be guys that play in the regular D. They can be draft choices, FAs, and shouldn't be severely expensive, but could also be a guy who plays 34 DE in the base. LINEBACKER Note this does not include OLBs who play DE in sub I think the group we have with Mayo, Spikes, Ninko and Fletcher are solid across the board, but I'd like to see us bring in a sub package coverage specialist to be able to play in these situations. We may already have him in Tarp, but we can easily find 3-4 to compete with cheap FA picks, late round choices or UDFAs. DB I think McCourty on 2010 is more what we have than McCourty of 2011. I also think that he was not nearly as bad in 2011 as people think because a few plays stand out and hundreds go unnoticed. I think Dowling could be part of the solution. I think between the 2, I'd like to add a starter in case one is not the guy so we are certain THE MOST IMPORTANT SPOT ON THE TEAM RIGHT NOW has 2 solid starters and hopefully 3. Arrington should not be starting. He is really a nickle I would look to upgrade and a dime I'd be very happy with. I understand he had Ints this year so people think that means he is good, but he is undersized and limited with quickness and cod in close spaces. Yes, you can run packages where he is a capable corner but he is always going to be the guy you have to try to hide from getting exposed. Who wouldn't be happy with a secondary where he is the 4th corner? Moore got a lot of good pub for knocking a ball out after getting burned, but was on the street, signed, cut once and still on the street when brought back and his overall play was shaky. There is potential so bring him to camp, but we need to be better. Moulden should erase "Gillette Stadium" from his GPS device. I think this need gets best solved in FA. We need a cover corner. I don't care if he can play run support (well I do but its way way down on the list) I want a stud cover guy. It is at least priority #2 and probably is #1. (Even over Welker who I love because a better D and worse O will make us a net better team) I would also like to draft a corner as well who can play because injuries are a fact of life. For that matter bring in some vet cheap FAs to camp too. At safety, Chung is turning into just what we want. Of course we need another safety and maybe 2, because playing Chung in a "LBlike" spot in the sub like Rodney Harrison is intriguing if we get a secondary we can trust. I would like to see the combination of a decent, reliable vet in free agency and a draft choice at safety, with Barrett and Ihedigo left to fight for the last spot. It is unrealistic to expect with the rules of the game now, to build a sub package that can be effective 100% of the time, but if we take the strengths already in place it is possible to put together a defense that is much, much better in that area. In one way we may be sacrificing the base D, but in another we will help keep it off the field. Thoughts?