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The future of Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by tonyto3690, Feb 20, 2013.

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  1. tonyto3690

    tonyto3690 Banned

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    Let's state the obvious. When both are on the field they are a massive liability in coverage. They also have redundant skill sets with Hightower obviously being the one with higher upside.

    Can we really afford to keep both of them on the field in a 43? And if we were to switch back, which one of them sits on the bench? Does hightower attempt to play olb? I loved Hightower as a prospect but he really made zero sense for us in a schematic and roster sense. We didn't need a third ilb.


    The obvious answer is keep both in 43 and stay the course but it's hard to see our defense ever be elite with such a glaring weakness that every time will be able to successfully exploit. Unless both lose ten-twenty pounds and find some newfound speed this offseason, we will continue to have a mediocre defense that will struggle to get stops when we really need.
  2. Sicilian

    Sicilian On the Roster

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    People seem really quick to judge exactly what Hightower is after his rookie year. As though playing coverage as a linebacker in the NFL is just something guys come in and excel at right away. Spikes we have multiple seasons worth of data to say his coverage is a liability, but let's give Hightower a bit of time before we declare that he's done developing, shall we?
  3. MTM558

    MTM558 Rookie

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    Spikes is 6"2, 250 pounds. Hightower is 6"4, 270 pounds. Spikes is also really really really slow. It is hard to count on them being able to do much in coverage to begin with.
  4. tonyto3690

    tonyto3690 Banned

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    After Seymour's rookie season did you also say he could develop into a decent cover linebacker? Maybe it was Ted Washington?

    Hightower is over 270 which I believe almost as big as freeney.

    He will never become an even average cover linebacker without shedding 10+ pounds which even if he could would worsen his ability to stop the run.
  5. Ian

    Ian Administrator Staff Member

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    The future of spikes and Hightower

    I wouldn't write Spikes off - he may be a liability in coverage but he's so tough inside and he forced some huge turnovers this year. 2013 should be telling for him.
  6. SwedishPat

    SwedishPat Banned

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    Re: The future of spikes and Hightower

    I don't see us keeping Spikes unless for low money when his contract is done. He can stop the run very good, but he is below average in pass coverage, in a passing league. Hightower is faster, so I could see us keeping him instead. But I still think that it was a very wierd thing to draft a 270lbs linebacker in the first round. I think both are in the wrong time, pass/run ratio looking.
  7. SwedishPat

    SwedishPat Banned

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    Re: The future of spikes and Hightower

    I don't see us keeping Spikes unless for low money when his contract is done. He can stop the run very good, but he is below average in pass coverage, in a passing league. Hightower is faster, so I could see us keeping him instead. But I still think that it was a very wierd thing to draft a 270lbs linebacker in the first round. I think both are in the wrong time, pass/run ratio looking. What we needed was a faster coverage type linebacker.
  8. JackBauer

    JackBauer On the Roster

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    They make more sense in a 3-4 scheme, but I'd like to keep both around if possible. Get a coverage linebacker and better safety play and the problem fixes itself.
  9. BradyManny

    BradyManny Rookie

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    This.

    Admittedly, this is an issue that has been bugging me since the moment we lost to Baltimore. You have 3 badass linebackers, but you can't play them all the time. What do you do?

    If I had to grade each player in each responsibility, it would go something like this.

    VS. RUN:
    Spikes = A+
    Hightower = A-
    Mayo = A

    ZONE COVERAGE:
    Spikes = C
    Mayo = B
    Hightower = C+

    MAN COVERAGE:
    Spikes = C-
    Mayo = B-
    Hightower = C

    PASS RUSH (as rush LB, not blitzing):
    Spikes = N/A
    Mayo = N/A
    Hightower = B+

    BLITZING:
    Spikes = B
    Mayo = B
    Hightower = A

    *Hightower did seem to be progressing in coverage as the year went on.

    As I said in the other thread, my ideal situation is to find a way to get all these guys on the field as much as possible and keep them in situations which maximize their effectiveness, not expose weaknesses.

    The solution, as you say, might be as simple as finding a nice cover LB, but then you are taking one or two of your beast LBs off the field for half the game. I'd love to see Hightower allowed to rush more as a DE or OLB, and to see all 3 blitz more altogether - to keep them on the field without asking them to cover TEs down the seam.

    The longer term solution which Deus has been alluding to since Hightower was drafted is a move back to a 34; though I maintain, as I did in arguments with him at the time, it doesn't change the dynamic all that much, unless you consider Ninko a much better cover LB than any of the guys listed here.
  10. resdubwhite

    resdubwhite Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    Have been thinking with the cap situation theres little hope of keeping Spikes post 2013.

    Any chance they try to trade him before this years draft?
  11. Sicilian

    Sicilian On the Roster

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    Um, slightly different types of players there, but I'll play along. No, I would not expect a 300+ pound LINEMAN to develop into a coverage linebacker. But seeing as how I'm talking about turning a 270 pound (same as Adalius Thomas, who you remember was even able to play some safety in his prime years), could turn into adequate coverage linebacker, I don't think it's a huge stretch.

    Hightower was billed for versatility coming out of the draft, and has the chance to be solid across the board. Don't limit your analysis to black and white here. The options aren't great coverage linebacker or liability. If he great against the run, good/great rushing the passer, and decent in coverage, where's the problem? And if you think he CAN'T even be decent, I'd love to hear the argument for that impossibility.
  12. Nunchucks

    Nunchucks Rookie

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    I thought Hightower came along as the season progressed. He should be better in coverage next season. LBs in general cannot cover receivers and RBs. Its a tough matchup for them. Spikes is okay if he is put in a small box to cover and uses his read/recognition abilities. Do not ask Spikes to chase somebody all over the field, that would be dumb.

    I like the LB crew a lot and wouldn't change it. Remember, Spikes will only be on the field when the other team is in a two WR formation. Rarely will be be on the field with 3 WRs.
  13. Brady6

    Brady6 On the Roster

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    I think Hightower replace Ninkovich as the 3-4 strong side OLB in our hybrid scheme doing more pass rushing, edge setting and occasionally dropping into coverage. Aaron Brooks in SF would be a great comparison of what Hightower could be.

    Spikes will remain as a run stopping SILB and I think he made great strides in coverage last year.

    LOLB - Hightower
    LDE - Armstead
    NT - Wilfork
    RDE - Jones
    SILB - Spikes
    WILB - Mayo
    ROLB - ?

    Till we find someone to take on that ROLB spot I expect them to continue to use Nink at LOLB and use Hightower in the ROLB position. I think the loss of Fletcher was underestimated last year forcing the other backers into different roles. He could played the weak side ILB in a base defense.

    I think that is the longer term plan for the defense remain in that hybrid 3-4 over front like Saban runs at Bama and hope these young kids develop into the roles.

    Ideally we need to either find a starter for OLB on the weak side or find a weak side ILB and bounce Mayo out.
  14. tonyto3690

    tonyto3690 Banned

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    The problem with this is that instead of 3 bad coverage linebackers, now you have 4, as well as no one able to successfully 5tech on the entire roster except Wilfork which is crucial for the style of 34 Belichick runs. You need at least 3 quality starters in the 34 plus at least two quality depth pieces. And if you want to have a defense that is actually good you need to have two dominant 5 techs like we had in Wilfork/Seymour. We are not going to get another Seymour any time soon.

    What we have now (Love/Pryor) would amount to two very poor depth pieces, let alone two starters, let alone two quality starters.

    Sooo... 4 poor/horrible coverage linebackers + a horrible cast of 34 DL personnel says that switching to the 34 right now would be a pretty horrible idea.
  15. tonyto3690

    tonyto3690 Banned

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    The point clearly went right over your head.

    There is only so much you can physically expect from someone given their adult body. Hightower is not suddenly going to morph into a Randy Moss or even Mike Vrabel, let alone a Patrick Willis.
  16. Wilfork#75

    Wilfork#75 Rookie

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    I think Spikes is definitely gone next season and I wouldn't be against trading him now if we could get value. I mentioned him in the where to save cap space thread as a possible trade candidate, but I don't know how much interest there would be for him. For all the reasons we wouldn't want to keep him, other teams would want to trade for him. Although I think KC would probably make the most sense. They have a big hole in the middle of their 3-4 defense and Spikes could be a solid fit. What would they be willing to give up though? A 3rd maybe? Any less than that and I would probably just keep him to play out the season because he is still a quality base MLB, he just needs to come out of the game in passing situations.
  17. Avenger

    Avenger Rookie

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    I think Hightower can cover well for his size, not a coverage linebacker but an all around 3 down LB
  18. Brady6

    Brady6 On the Roster

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    No way he is gone. His value is to this team more than any other on the open market. He will not command a Mayo contract to retain.
  19. Wilfork#75

    Wilfork#75 Rookie

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    He won't get Mayo money but he won't be cheap. We already have a lot of money on the books for next season and will likely add more if we sign any of Welker, Talib or Vollmer long term. He is going to look for every $ possible and I don't think we can afford to pay him $5-6mil which he could possibly get. Next year the cap situation could be pretty tight with:

    Brady- $21.8mil
    Wilfork-$11.6mil
    Mankins- $10.5mil
    Mayo- $7.6mil

    I have a difficult time seeing him re-sign here with that cap situation.
  20. Brady6

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    Brady will restructure, Wilfork likely will too. Mayo could be extended again and redistribute that cap hit. Mankins is a tough hit but none of this should prevent keeping Spikes.
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