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The Front Seven - 2009 and 2010 as of now

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by mgteich, Apr 25, 2010.

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  1. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    DEFENSIVE LINE (much improved)

    We've added lots of potential help to the five players returning from 2009. We've lost Green and we've added two solid veterans in Lewis and Warren. We've also added Deaderick who could get lots of reps at DE.

    I think that Belichick understands the void left by Seymour and Green.

    Who will make the roster is very up in the air, as is the depth chart. None of the backups should feel that they are guaranteed a roster spot. I expect us to carry seven defensive linemen. We WILL improve our run defense and short yardage defense!

    The BOTTOM LINE is that there is lots of work to do, but the talent and the pieces are there to make this a top defensive line.
    =====================================================

    INSIDE LINEBACKERS (much improved)

    Many idenitifed this as a weakness before the draft. We're fine now. We have two veteran starters. Mayo should be healthy and stronger. And we have two youngsters in Spikes and McKenzie who should compete for reps. As long as one of them is an OK backup this year, we are better off than in 2009.
    ======================================================

    OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS AND PASSRUSHERS (worse for now)

    Could we really be worse off compared to 2009?

    I suppose the improvements at DL, ILB and CB could make this hole a bit smaller. Less will be required from this sad group, our weak link.

    As of now, we bring back Banta-Cain, Woods, Thomas and Ninkovich from 2009. We have free agents Murrell. Crable is back. And yes, we drafted Cunningham, but I'm not sure how much we should expect from a first year patriot linebacker.

    No matter how we slice and dice, this is the worst set of passrushers and outside linebackers competing for a playoff team.

    At minimum, we need to bring back Burgess or a veteran replacement. At best, we will bring back Burgess AND trade for an outside linebacker.
  2. Sean Pa Patriot

    Sean Pa Patriot Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    What outside lb is available... ?? That is the key to the 2010 the outside lb and if Tate and Pryce can contribute in the passing game..
  3. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Please don't tell me you're serious.
  4. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    1) I don't know who is available for trade at OLB. We have only one missing piece. Belichick may or may not know who is available for a 2010 2nd or even our own 1st. I think that we really are only one player away from being an elite team over the next couple of years.

    2) I must say that I am not worried about how much production we get out of our #4 and #5 receiver. We now have three tight end threats to add to Moss, Holt and Edelman. The issues on the offense are schemes and playcalling. Hopefully O'Brien has learned a lot from last year's mistakes.

  5. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    How are we worse at OLB?
    You might as well consider Burgess being here in your analysis because we will sign him if we want to. I think we are choosing not to. We add Cunningham, theoretically Crable, and possibly Guyton. If we chose to not bring Burgess back it would be because we like the other guys better, and i dont really know how it could be any worse. The bar isnt very high for whoever gets the job of situational pass rusher from Burgess. Same holds true for AD, anyone we put out there cant be worse.
  6. RayClay

    RayClay Rookie

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    I think you're much too pessimistic on the OLB situation.

    So the ILB adds a rookie and a complete unknown coming back from injury, and they're all set, while the OLB does pretty much the same and they're disaster?

    Thomas was dead weight and a distraction last year. If he's gone or decides to shut up and play, either way is a plus. Burgess and TBC were thrown in there with him and should both benefit from a camp. BB was very complimentary about how Burgess was much more than just a rusher in a post season interview, which leads me to believe he's transitioning to OLB. He is a good tackler. We also have Woods for early downs. Nincovich might get some reps too, he actually looked promising.

    I'm not counting on Crable, but I don't think they're paying him for nothing, which would give us a decent mix of vet and young rushers. Cunningham is a Captain and is very agile, so I could see them trying to push him to learn the position.

    Now these complete 3-4 linebackers someone is going to give us affordably...what team are they on?
  7. patsfan-1982

    patsfan-1982 Rookie

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    the only thing i can say about the OLB's it is what it is BB is not tradeing for anyone the only vet that is available is burgess, the pats may sign some JAG like Rob Ninkovich, who will add dept but not have any impact at all on the season.


    i say BB will not cut AD untill he sees if the rookie can realy play if he cuts AD at all crable, is the wild card here if he makes the team



    are the pats worst this year at OLB then last year.... will if TBC dose not have the same type of year he had in 09 and the rookie dose not make a impact yes i say they are worst.
  8. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    Is it really only one guy who's missing?

    We need two guys standing up in the base set and two guys putting their hands down in the nickel set. Those may or may not be the same guys.

    I think we're all comfortable w/ TBC as one of the hands-down guys. But I can't think of anybody else I'm comfortable with based solely on last year's play. We're waiting on young player development, vet player development (Burgess), rookie success, further player acquisition, whatever for, IMO, 2-3 roles.
  9. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There are several options at OLB that I can think of although I don't know if the Pats will consider any of them:

    1.) Shawne Merriman - The Chargers tried to trade him this weekend. They may be willing to let him go for less now. Granted what prevented him from being traded was a new contract and agreeing to terms. Granted there is no rush now that the draft is over to get a deal done quickly, but Merriman might overvalue himself.

    2.) Greg Ellis - Still a good pass rushing specialist. Problems include his age (35 in August) and his previous distaste for playing OLB in the 3-4 in Dallas. The Pats did make him an offer last year.

    3.) Bryan Thomas - Word was before the draft that he would be cut along with Faneca. No word yet if he will. Not a great option, but would be cheap and serviceable.

    4.) Osi Umenyiora - Most likely available in a trade. The question is whether he can do a Willie McGinest and make a transition later in his career from DE to the elephant position (hybrid OLB/DE). Also, the question is whether he is done because of his knee injury. Now that the Giants have Jean-Paul Pierre, Osi might be able to be had for a song.

    5.) Jarrett Johnson - Now that the Ravens drafted Sergio Kindle to line up opposite Terrell Suggs, could Jarrett be available for a trade? Granted he isn't all that special even if he was second on the team in sacks last year after Trevor Price.

    6.) Clark Haggans - Now that Arizon drafted Daryl Washington in the second round, Haggan might be available for a trade or could be cut outright. He is older and not as productive as he used to be though.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  10. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    I actually went and looked up Matt Chatham's bio, but he's been out of the NFL for a year, so I'm guessing he's done.
  11. Fencer

    Fencer Rookie

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    While I just argued there are a lot of question marks, let's turn it around.

    TBC is solid as a nickel rusher.

    Cunningham was picked as a 2nd-round LB, so hopefully he can be useful in some kind of role his first season. Best guess at that role is 3rd-down rusher, even though that means he wouldn't play much w/ his old college roommate. :)

    Crable has a lot of talent IF he can stay healthy, and his specialty is rushing.

    Burgess could still be re-signed, although I'm guessing against it at this point, or at least against him being a significant contributor.

    So the problem really is OLBs in the base set, where we have zero guys returning who are better than Pierre Woods, and no additions who project to be effective there in 2010.
  12. bbell31

    bbell31 Rookie

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    Cunningham-poor man's demarcus ware in 3 years imo. we pretty much had a near perfect draft. I think kaczur, ad, stanback, possibly fred taylor will be gone.
  13. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The situtations are not in any way comparable. We had two starters at ILB last year: Mayo and Guyton. They played on almost all downs. They are coming back.

    To be the same as last year, someone needs to step up and produce as well as Seau in his 11.9% of the reps. And we have two possibilities to step in. In addition, Mayo is expected to be healthy for the entire year. So, yes, I expect improvement at ILB.

    Obviously, the hope is that we will have Guyton is a full 3-man rotation at ILB with one of the two kids or a combination of both.

  14. RayClay

    RayClay Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    So the ILB adds a rookie and a complete unknown coming back from injury, and they're all set, while the OLB does pretty much the same and they're disaster?

    Guyton was a starter only because someone had to be. Mayo was playing out of position, so he will be changing positions and playing next to a rookie.

    We're trying to get rid of the stink of Adalius' attitude's, so we bring in the cast off Merriman?

    We can bring in everybody at OLB from last year except Thomas, with a years more experience in the system and add a good looking rookie to possibly play every down once he learns plus maybe Crable.

    Seems to me a fresh start is what is called for. I also think having DEs that might draw a double in Seymour's spot will help all the rushers get free.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  15. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    A) I presume that we are fine with the 2009 production and reps from Banta-Cain and Woods.

    B) You say that ANYONE would be better than Burgess and Thomas as they performed last year. Perhaps you are correct. We'll test that assumption by playing Ninkovich and Crable in place of Thomas, Burgess, with Cunningham getting some reps as he learns our defense.

    Burgess (57.3%) replacement - Ninkovich
    Thomas (54.1%) replacewment - Crable
    Ninkovich (12.4%) replacement - Cunningham

    C) We've been warned for years not to expect too much from a rookie patriot linebacker. I agree with you that Cunningham should be expected to play as much as Ninkovich did last year. Who was the last patriot rookie linebacker to paly that much on the regular defence? Bruschi?

    D) We are counting on Ninkovich for major reps, and he will get them. But please recall that he that he was on the bench while Thomas and Burgess got the reps last year. He is NOT better than they are. And are we really counting on Crable to be better than Thomas?

    E) So, my bottom line is that I think that we are worse off with this year's group, as of now.

    E) And I am NOT pessimistic about the defense at all. We have two very weak positions: OLB and DE/OLB. We have lots of strong positions.

    F) I do NOT expect Belichick to ignore this one weakness over the next two months as we get ready for Training Camp. There aren't many personnel priorities for the next tow months.

    1) an extension for Mankins,
    2) an extension for Brady,
    3) bring the usual set of veteran JAG's as camp fodder and as insurance against to many injuries,
    4) review free agent lists, cuts, and trade possibilities for a DE/OLB or/and an OLB and
    5) review cuts by other teams for a possible running back upgrade.


  16. efin98

    efin98 Rookie

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    I think it's too early to start critiquing the OLB corps...

    Chike Okeafor, Chris Draft, Danny Clark, Keith Bullock, Bertrand Berry...they and Burgess are the only OLB UFAs on the market at this time who haven't re-signed or moved on yet.

    Greg Wilkerson, Matt Roth, Shawne Merriman, Rocky McIntosh, Clint Ingram, Tyjuan Hagler, Elvis Dumervil, Thomas Davis...they are the only remaining OLB RFAs at this point who haven't been re-signed or moved on elsewhere.


    The market isn't flooded with cast offs, JAGs, and salary dumps from teams yet, they can afford to wait another month or two before getting someone...
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  17. bucky

    bucky Rookie

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    I don't see it that way at all. Burgess was NEVER an OLB for this team. He was purely a nickel rusher. And his time should go to Cunningham almost exclusively as long as he's healthy. There is still the question of who plays AD's spot and I suspect it's either (a) a person who's not currently on the roster, or (b) combination of current scrubs plus more of a 43 look. It's not ideal, but then again last year's situation was far from ideal also.

    Either way, I think to answer your original post, the comparison of whether this year's front 7 will be better than last year's depends totally on the development of young players. Barring injury, I don't think we can get worse because Lewis will replace Green (who had his worst year ever and got rewarded by McDaniels for it.) The LBs are just very young. Mayo and Guyton are only 2 years out of schools and both should improve. We also have a rookie and a redshirt rookie at ILB. If one of them can get into the rotation, the ILBs are improved. On the DL, we have 3 second year guys and 2 more rookies. All it takes is for 1 or 2 of those 5 guys to step up and the DL will be improved.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  18. supafly

    supafly PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    Jerod Mayo

    ;)

    BTW--I agree with your assessment, and it's nice to see things looking up on defense.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  19. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    :) I meant outside linebacker, but your point is well-taken. Both Mayo and Guyton learned the system and contributed a lot in their rookie years. It can be done. I don't think Spikes will have any trouble on run downs.

  20. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

    Warren is crap and Lewis hasn't played in the 3-4. The notion that the line is much improved is just wishful thinking. I hope your wish comes true, but don't start holding your breath waiting for proof.
  21. supafly

    supafly PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    mg--I just had to be the traditional smarta$$.:D

    You'd have to go all the way back to the late 90's I'd imagine, maybe Katzenmoyer. Even then, he played MLB.

    I agree with being better at ILB, and still somewhat unknown at OLB.

    There are several options that I see, it'll be interesting to see how BB plays it out.

    1. AD stays (very doubtful, especially given attitude and salary)
    2. Crable stays healthy and contributes more and more throughout the year (doubtful, but he has shown flashes in TC/preseason + should have decent system knowledge)
    3. Guyton moves to OLB (depending on Spikes/McKensie's development) a possibility
    4. Burgess plays more base OLB and resigns (a possibility--although looking doubtful so far)
    5. BB makes a vet signing TBA
    6. Cunningham looks great from the get-go in the transfer from DE to OLB, and earns a spot in the base from flashes on 3rd down pass rushing situations (somewhat doubtful--due to the learning curve + transfer process, if anything he'll likely be blended in at times)
    7. Training Camp battle between: Woods, Crable, Ninkovich, TBA vet or JAG

    All in all, I love the ILB situation + think the OLB situation will end up being fine too. As of now there are still unknowns, but the possibility exists to have 3 out of 4 solid LB's in the ever important Belichick 3-4.
  22. jeffbiologist

    jeffbiologist Rookie

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    Please tell me you arent serious thinking a 7th rd COMPENSATORY pick can even make the team never mind put in significant time..:rolleyes: Richard was a low round pick last year and was on the PS all year, he knows the defense by now and if he makes the team it will be questionable. Now it would be nice for the low round picks to outplay vets like Lewis and Warren but thats a very tall task.
    As for OLBs
    Banta Cain- servicable-makes the team
    Ninkovich-mostly a ST/fill in guy-could make the team
    Thomas-will cost about $5M this year so unless he redoes his contract-he's gone
    Crable-the real wild card, may make the team but could be cut tomorrow
    Woods-mostly a ST guy, can make the team but no major impact
    Murrell-the only FA LB this year, dont know if he makes the team
    Cunningham-rookie likely used as designated pass rusher like Tedi as a rookie
    Burgess-yet unsigned, could come in if Thomas wont reneg or if Crable is cut.
    Its important to note the difference between ILB and OLB this year because we lost 1 OLB and Thomas could be a salary casualty, no such problems at ILB.
  23. spacecrime

    spacecrime Rookie

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    No, he started because he was better than any with whom he was in competition. And he returned. We didn't lose any OLBs in the offseason except Seau, so by definition ILB is as good as it was last year. Now add Brandon Spikes and Mackenzie, and if only one of them is better than eric Alexander then we are better at ILB than last year.

    At OLB both Thomas and Burgess played OLB, and they are gone (or going). You could say that losing Thomas is addition by subtraction, but no matter how you look at it, the OLB position has lost players. If Cunningham turns out to be a gem, or if BB pulls off a late season trade (Disagree with the guy who said BB never trades for players after the draft) then we can be better.

    Personally, I think pass rush effectiveness is closely tied to coverage. Cover the receivers for three seconds and a mediocre pass rush becomes much much better. And vice versa, of course.
  24. zimmy

    zimmy Rookie

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    the pass rush may not be good this year but I don't know how anyone can say it will be worse than 2009. We are basically losing Thomas and Burgess, both of whom sucked last year btw. The pass rush of Thomas was especially non-existent. We are all worried because he's a so called "name" and he is being replaced by no names like Ninkovich and Crable but if you go by just production he was terrible. I'm sure we will bring in a cheap veteran presence and we may switch between 4 and 3 man lines. I also feel the added depth at inside linebacker will help the pass rush. Hopefully we will be better against the run and see some more pressure up the middle. There is still plenty of time to fix any issues Bill thinks we have but I feel our team has improved as a whole this week. And thats the name of the game - team building.
  25. Rob0729

    Rob0729 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    What OLB did the Pats draft before the fifth round under Belichick before this year? I can only think of one and that is Shawn Crable. The fact of the matter is that prior to Mayo, Belichick never drafted a LB (outside or inside) prior to the fifth round. He has done it four other times - Crable (3rd round) who landed on IR each of his first two seasons, Tyrone McKenzie (ILB and 3rd round) who by reports had a good chance of competiting for the starting job prior to blowing out his knee, Cunningham, and Spikes.

    I don't know if you can make the argument that Cunningham will not have a chance to play a significant role on defense because Belichick never given such a role to a rookie OLB because prior to this year, Belichick has never drafted an OLB as high as the second round. Doesn't mean I think he is guaranteed to start or play a significant role of any kind, but we are in virgin territory since Belichick has never had a rookie OLB that he has though high enough to draft in the second round or high prior to Cunningham.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  26. Don Kipines

    Don Kipines Rookie

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    Warren was a bad draft pick, but he's been a productive player for years. Moreover he's a big guy who's hard to move. Not really in the Jarvis Green mode at all. I think their idea is Warren at RDE on first and second downs, and he should help them against the run.

    Damione Lewis was Carolina's best d-tackle last year. Again, he's not an all-pro, but collectively he and Warren are an upgrade over Mike Wright, who plays a lot better on the nose than at end.
  27. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Some of "might make the team" OLB guys will make the team. We have five roster spots for OLB's and DE/OLB's. As of now the OLB's are Crable, Nickovich and Woods. The OLB/DE's are Banta-Cain and Cunningham. Murell and Alexander seem on the outside looking in. They are the special team guys hoping for a spot.

    With regard to the DL, I do think that Deaderick will make the team. In any case, two of the following should make the team: Lewis, Warren, Deaderick and Richard. We need to find among them (and prehaps Pryor), the players to repalce Green's reps.

  28. satz

    satz Rookie

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    For a team that plays 50% snaps in subpackages and other 50% spend between 3-4 and 4-3 alignment fans spend way too much on thr 3-4 OLB .

    On most subpackage we will have Mayo and MacZzeanie/spikes/safety to cover a receiver TE .guyton is your nickel LB . so in theory you can play with 3 penerating tackles and 1 rush OLB. If 1 on the ILB or Guyton read that his coverage guy is staying in to block they rush .This is something we can play against say baltimore and colts with swaping a ILB for a safety.

    Now in a more 3WR sets we put mayo and guyton in with 3 safeties . we played this more than our base 3-4 last year.


    except to see this new formation.
    we have more DL now and most important fact is more than 3 of them are all penerating tackles. I will used 3 to generating more presure. with banta stunting outside. In that i wil use Mayo , MacZ and spikes to stop the run with tackles rushing.One of the ILB is going to get a lane to shoot.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  29. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    We are focusing on pass-rushing OLB's and DE's because this is the one area where most of us see some remaining need.

    Green used to be a pass-rushing DE. Burgess was a pass-rusher. Thomas was in that tole at time. All are gone. We are trying to explore the possibilities.

    We want to know who will be pressuring the quarterback.
  30. atomdomb

    atomdomb Rookie

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    Guyton's speed is better used on the outside in my opinion. He wasn't able to shed blockers like a MLB has to in the 3-4. I think we may see him make a better impact from the outside and his speed may help the Pats get some pressure on the QB.
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