Sub vs. base -- who plays when?

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Fencer, May 28, 2012.

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  1. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    #12 Jersey

    The split of defensive packages seems likely to be something like:

    • 60% nickel/dime
    • 30% base
    • 10% short yardage

    Those numbers could certainly be off some, but directionally they make some sense. This raises the question -- who will get snaps in what kind of package? Two points are immediately clear:

    • If he's a guy who's on the field for almost all snaps, then he's in sub and base alike.
    • If he gets >50% of the snaps, then a lot of them will be in sub.
    My early thoughts start:

    • Mayo -- pretty much everything. Could get a rest in short yardage.
    • Spikes -- short yardage and base. Might be good enough to play rotationally in sub. If base is 4-3, I'm guessing we see Mayo bounce outside again.
    • Wilfork -- last year's snap count seems a bit high, but even so I figure him for base, short yardage, and a significant fraction of the sub snaps.
    • Jones -- starting out, he's competing for sub snaps. It's easy to imagine him taking pretty much all of them.
    • Hightower -- the easiest approach is to stand him up next to Mayo in nickel packages, and leave him out of base his rookie year. He could easily play in short yardage as well.
    • Ninkovich -- in a 3-4 base, he surely plays, unless you think it's Hightower-Spikes-Mayo-Cunningham. In a 4-3 base, I'm guessing he plays over Hightower anyway. Then he can rotate for some of the pass rushing snaps in sub, while lowering his overall snap count from last year.
    • Love -- in a 4-3 base, he plays, unless somebody overtakes him. In a 3-4 base, he only has a reserve role, unless he's so good at nose that Wilfork gets his rest in base and plays all the sub snaps. In short yardage, I presume he plays.
    • Fanene -- I presume he takes one of the DE roles in base no matter what the scheme. Perhaps he also rotates as interior rusher in sub packages.
    • Carter (either) -- if anything, pass rush snaps in sub packages.
    • Bequette -- see Carter.
    • Fletcher -- I think he's a backup, not even a lock to be game-day active.
    • Deaderick/Brace/Warren -- there's one base DE spot for them to compete for, plus short-yardage roles. In a 4-3, lighter guys can compete for that spot as well.
    • Scott, Carpenter -- I haven't a clue.
  2. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    I think that's a really nice start. I think that Scott will get a lot of chance to compete and could earn a job as a sub-rusher, and possibly more. And I do think that Fanene will move inside a lot on sub packages.

    As MoLewisRocks has pointed out elsewhere, extensive subbing a lot opens up the defense to hurry up packages from opposing offenses. I think we'll see a lot of what you project, but I also think that as the season progresses BB will try and establish a "core" group of players who are versatile enough to stay on the field regardless of what opposing offenses do. My thought is that this group would be something like:

    - Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Fanene and Chandler Jones. They could play up on the line in a 3-3-5. Jones could stand up out of a 2-4-5. Or one of the guys below could move up on the DL in a 4-2-5. If Jones puts on another 10 lbs. or so, he has enough length and strength that he could occasionally play end in a 3-3-5 or 3-4 scheme, though not on a regular basis.

    - Dont'a Hightower, Jerod Mayo and Rob Ninkovich. Either Hightower or Ninko could move up on the line in a 4-2-5, or stand up in a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5. Trevor Scott and Dane Fletcher also have the versatlity to play this kind of role at times.

    - Patrick Chung plus 4 DBs. Chung has enough physicality and size that he could act as a LB/S hybrid. Tavon Wilson's physicality and run support could also factor in here, if he develops to justify his 2nd round pick. Having physical DBs who are strong in run support helps compensate for having only 6 true "front 7" players, but still provides nickel capability to handle spread offenses.

    I could see BB eventually moving to something like this as his core group, with a lot of subbing if possible.
  3. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    #12 Jersey

    If a hurry-up offense doesn't let you switch personnel, then the offense isn't switching personnel either.

    The real issue w/ personnel groupings, IMO, isn't that. Rather, it's versatile offensive groupings, because those do demand matching versatility from the defense. Position designations go out the window, for example, if the offense lines up in an exotic formation. If the offense goes 5 wide, then you simply have to keep 5 guys covered long enough for your pass rushers to arrive. And if 2-3 of those 5 guys are hard to single cover, you might not feel comfortable rushing more than 3-4 ...
  4. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    #91 Jersey

    I think there is a big difference between a "hurry up" 2 minute offense and a no huddle. I've seen the Pats use the no huddle and do a lot of subbing. So it depends on how quickly the opposing team is getting snaps off.

    This season we have a TON of the guys that BB has looked for to rush the passer. These are all guys who fit the following profile. 6'4 or better, long arms, over 260, and run the 40 in 4.6-4.8. Last season we had 3 of these guys. (Ninko, Carter, and Anderson) And had NO one other than Vince to provide inside push for the pass rush due to the losses of Pryor and Wright.

    This season his a vastly different look with Ninko, Jones, Bequette, Scott, and MCarter all fitting the profile and the possibility of adding another if Andre Carter is signed as well. On the inside Fanene and the return of Pryor will vastly improve our inside push. I'm not sure how all these pieces will be used, but the mere presence of such a plethora of pass rushing potential can't help but make one excited about the prospects.

    I see a lot of people playing very specific roles in the myriad of sub packages that only Bedard will be able to chart this season. Jones will unlikely play more than 35% of the snaps as a pass rushing OLB, and 4-3 DE. I don't see Cunningham play more than 30% as an OLB in the base 3-4 (unless he discovers some explosiveness this off season) Ninko will be the closest thing we have to a 3 down OLB, but I can see his snaps go down somewhat given the depth we now have....and that will be a good thing long term for Ninko. Mayo will be the other LB who will see more than sub package snaps.

    Bottom line - given the additions of the pass rushers and the numbers of healthy (for now) DB's, its been many years since BB has had the talent to be truly versatile on defense. While I think it will take a month or two before this defense starts to have an identity, I am very excited to see how it all fits together this season....and optimistic
  5. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    I generally agree with your analysis.

    I think that it is important to note that we in base defense on 30% of the time. Sometimes, we plan too much focus on the base defense and not enough on the nickel.

    For me, I am still stuck with more tradition divisions between DL and LB, although I have always recognized that guys like Ninkovich may be linemen in sub-packages.


    I believe that JONES, WILFORK and LOVE are locks to make the 53. Love is inexpensive and a solid value, even as a backup.

    Personally, I believe that FANENE and BEQUETTE are extremely likely to make the team. If we call Bequette a developmental rookie, then perhaps he is the 7th DL.

    That leaves the rest competing for TWO roster spots. I think it likely that the victors will come from DEADERICK, PRYOR, BRACE, WARREN, and ANDRE CARTER. DEADERICK and PRYOR are my choices for now, with WARREN as the injury alternative.


    The #7, #8, and #9 linebackers play very little, except on special teams.

    I have MAYO, SPIKES and FLETCHER inside. FLETCHER is an inexpensive reserve ILB.

    NINKOVICH and HIGHTOWER should be in on sub packages. NiNKOVICH is also likely to play OLB in the base 3-4. I have penciled in SCOTT as the OLB opposite NINKOVICH in the base 3-4. CUNNINGHAM or CARPENTER could get the #7 (backup) LB spot.

    WHITE is still my favorite here. We also have Tarpinian and Koutouvides. Special teamers from other positions also compete for these roster spots, although I think we have always kept one STer who is an emergency linebacker.

  6. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae Retired Jersey Club Supporter

    Disable Jersey

    The biggest question mark about Hightower is his coverage ability, so I don't see why they'd sit him in the base and put him in on passing downs. Unless the team has decided to cut bait with Spikes, it would seem to make more sense lining Hightower up as an OLB in the 3-4, along with Ninkovitch (Jones is likely not going to be ready to be a pure 3/4 OLB as a rookie, at least early on, based upon most analyst projections), Spikes and Mayo.
  7. kudzif

    kudzif On the Game Day Roster

    Deus, Hightower can be sent on the occasional blitz or situational outside rush but he is an inside linebacker and NOT an outside linebacker because his pass rushing skills are not good enough.Plus when has Bill ever drafted a 6-2 guy to play outside rush linebacker consistently. Thus , in the sub package either Spikes or Hightower is coming off.

    Spikes had a good superbowl performance, but i think that has over inflated fan's estimation of his abilities in pass coverage.He is simply not good enough in pass coverage. I think Hightower eventually takes his snaps in sub defence more so because of his occasional rush ability and more speed.
  8. Marqui

    Marqui In the Starting Line-Up

    Ninkovich is 6'2
    Adalius Thomas is 6'1
    Cunningham is 6'3
    Colvin was 6'3

    That whole thing about Belichick only using 6'5+ OLBs is a myth.
  9. Sciz

    Sciz Supporter Supporter

    All a moot point if the Pats play more 4-3 as they tried last season. Then that OLB spot is more of a blitzing position than an actual pass rush one. Probably won't happen this season, but I think the goal is to turn Jones into an every-down 4-3 RE and have Hightower as the all-around LB opposite him.
  10. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 Supporter Supporter

    #3 Jersey

    Bequette, if healthy, is a lock: BB has never cut a player taken in the first four rounds during the player's first season in Foxboro.
  11. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    If you are considering Jones and Bequette DL (as well Carter), then you are using a 43 lineup, and we will need more than 6-7 DL. If you want to use a 34 move those 2 to OLB and then 6-7 is fine. Either way, you are 2 short on DL.
    We need at least 6 300lb+ DL whether its 34 or 43, because then RDE would be the 260-270 lb guys.
    LDE Deaderick, Brace
    NT/DT Wilfork, Warren
    RDE/DT Fanene, Love
    Fit Pryor in there wherever you want,and unless someone surprises and takes one of their job all or all but 1 of the 7 are making the team.

    The 43 RDE/34 OB/Sub DE group is Jones, Hightower(who can also play elsewehere), Ninkovich, Cunningham, Scott, Bequette.
    This is where there will be heavy competition.
  12. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    I disagree. Hightower figures to be an OLB in the 34 base.
    In sub package, I do think he is going to be more a LB than a DE.
    I expect him to be used mich like Mike Vrable was before 2007 when he started to exclusively rush the passer in sub.
  13. betterthanthealternative

    betterthanthealternative In the Starting Line-Up

    As usual, the expectations of the rookies is too high. We shouldn't expect them to plug and play well until (at the earliest) December. If one or more can, that's great, but we shouldn't expect it.

    This creates a weakness for a few months, on the field when they are playing, and because those four to five guys will require roster spots that could be filled by more capable vets (although lesser athletes).

    Jones, in particular, just doesn't look physically ready to play pro football. I'm thinking it will be into 2013 before he starts to have significant impact. In the meantime, he's taking a roster spot that someone like Carter could have.
  14. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    Accepting your analysis/structuring of the DL, I'm not sure I see the heavy competition for EIGHT linebacker positions (including the OLB/43DE group/sub).

    ILB Mayo, Spikes, Fletcher, STer (White is my fav to make the 53)
    DE/OLB Jones, Ninkovich, Bequette, Scott, Cunningham
    ILB/OLB Hightower

    This is 10 players for 9-10 positions. What have I missed?

    As a side issue, one of the Carter's could very well be on the Game 1 53 man squad.

  15. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    If you are saying 9-10 players, ypu have
    as 9 without any special teamers at the position, and White, Tarpanian, Koutivedes as special teamers accounted for.
    Realistically, it is typically 3-4 ILB and 4 OLBs plus special teamers.
    That means if we assume Mayo, Spikes, Hightower, Ninko are locks, we have:
    Fletcher, Carpenter fighting for 1 or 2 spot and
    Scott, Cunningham, Bequette fighting for 2.
    And as you said that includes neither Carter.
    That seems like a lot of competition to me.
  16. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson Veteran Supporter

    Patriot first round picks have a history of not conforming to what you just said much more often than conforming to it.
  17. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    We agree. The amount of competition is a matter of semantics. For me, I see 9 players (perhaps plus a Carter) competing for 8-9 roster spots. Even without injuries, there is room for all the players you listed below, plus one special teamer. I think that having another two special teamers is often as a function of injuries, or a player just needing to be cut (Cunningham anyone). For me, there is room on the roster for all 9 position players listed.

    However, I certainly could see us losing two of Cunningham, Fletcher and Carpenter.

  18. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    How many "pure" DL's do you see us keeping. In the listing below, you have us keeping 6-7. If this is accurate, do we have any DL competition at all? Do we have any other options in case of injury?

    I am fine with this list of 6-7. However, I see Belichick picking up a player or two before camp for competition, as camp fodder (to take camp reps) and for insurance against injuries.

  19. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    I don't think you can leave Pryor out of the mix. He was having a major impact last year before going on IR.

    My best guess is that the Pats keep 9 DBs and 16 "front 7" players. I group them into 3 groups: DL (DT and 3-4 DE), DE/OLB, and LB (ILB and OLB). I'm guessing that the eventual breakdown will be something like 6-5-5 or 6-4-6, though it will be very hard to get down to the final numbers:

    DL: Wilfork, Love, Fanene and Pryor seem set to me, barring injury. Warren, Brace and Deaderick could be fighting for 2 spots, with my money being on Brace being the odd man out. Deaderick seems the safest bet of the three. Marcus Harrison is a long shot at best, and Marcus Forston will probably go on PUP/IR or to the PS. A veteran signing is still a possibility. Aubrayo Franklin is probably the biggest name available right now, but there will be cuts.

    DE/OLB: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich and Jake Bequette seem pretty safe to me, again barring injury. Travis Scott probably has the inside track on another spot. That would leave Jermaine Cunningham and Markell Carter battling for the last spot, though the Pats could keep neither and go with more LBs. Andre Carter is a wild card. You could make an argument for counting Ninkovich among the LBs, but either way he's going to be on the roster.

    LB: Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Brandon Spikes are givens, again with a caveat for injury. That leaves 2-3 spots for Dane Fletcher, Bobby Carpenter, Jeff Tarpinian, Tracy White and Niko Koutouvides.
  20. mgteich

    mgteich Veteran Supporter

    I agree with your analysis and breakdowns. Specifically, I agree with you note that we may choose to lose both Cunningham and Markell Carter in order to keep another LB or STer. As of now, it seems right to keep Fletcher, Carpenter and White.

    BTW, Andy's list included Pryor. I agree that 6-7 of Andy's DL's should make the team. The question mark for me is Pryor's health, not his ability. If all are helthy, I agree with you that Brace is #7 and could lose his roster spot if we keep only six DL's.
    LDE Deaderick, Brace
    NT/DT Wilfork, Warren
    RDE/DT Fanene, Love

    Fit Pryor in there wherever you want,and unless someone surprises and takes one of their job all or all but 1 of the 7 are making the team.

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