Giant, tackle breaking WRs. Midget, speedy RBs Wild Cat offenses Everything but the kitchen sink attack defenses Five weeks into the season, my arm chair QB eyes see a changing NFL...a league where GMs are retooling their rosters to best exploit opposing roster trends and new rule emphasis....a league where new coaches are unwilling to implement traditional football strategies. I am hoping to take this discussion beyond the usual "Belichick knows what he's doing" circle jerk and instead compare the Patriots roster/philosophy with what I see as the latest trends in the NFL. DBs vs the large WR Belichick has clearly favored the smaller,quicker DB... a corner that can react,cut, and accelerate to the ball...usually in the 5'9" 190lb range. Week 5 of this NFL season demonstrated that the large athletic WR has become a force that defenses are having difficulty adapting to. Miles Austin(6-3, 214) of the Cowboys, Andre Johnson(6-3, 225) of the Texans, Larry Fitzgerald(6-3,217) of the Cardinals, and Brandon Marshall(6-3,230) of the Broncos...all scored 2 TDs apiece with DBs bouncing off them like mosquittos on a bug zapper. Sure, there have always been oversized WRs in the NFL, but I argue that the college game has become so pass happy that coaches are developing these large athletic players as WRs at a rate never seen before, and now the NFL is awash with these athletes.The Patriots signed free agent Shawn Springs(6-0,200) to be the designated Goliath stopper...to mixed results. Dwarf RBs vs the 3-4 defense. Unlike the excess of large WRs, the diminutive RB is a rarer species, but they have had a big impact. Blazing quickness, speed,and power are always difficult to defend, but consider the size of the front 7 in the 3-4. 300+lb linemen 250 lb MLBs, 260-280 lb OLB. Using the 3-4, the OLB will traditionally have the responsibility of covering the RB out of the backfield, especially on a passing play. Gameday has shown that the Sproles' Drew-Jones' and Parker' of the NFL have either feasted or starved. But clearly they present matchup problems for defenses. The Patriots have had alot of success against the little guys by collapsing the edge of the pocket and forcing these runners into the center of the field. The question remains unanswered this year if the success continues. TBC and Burgess have contain duties now. Wildcat vs NFL defenses. Clearly, in my mind at least, this offense is intended to cover up shortcomings (QB play). That being said, the theory behind the system is sound, the offense gains an extra blocker, LBs become frozen, forced to react rather than attack. Sending a man in motion becomes another tool to force defenses to react. A team with a dominating front line and patient RBs can exploit defenses lacking stoutness up front. Though several teams are experimenting, clearly Miami is the true force behind this offense. They can control the clock and tire the D. Do the Pats have the horses to control this offense this year. BB has reinforced the line by adding two rookies, but subtracted Seymour. Clearly he has resources to substitute. The Patriots have also reinforced the safety position through free agency and the draft. Again, reinforcements are at hand. LB is thin however... a healthy Mayo is a must against the wildcat. Before Pennington went down, I have to believe BB felt comfortable with his defense against Miami. Pennington was never gonna throw over the top, so the field stayed small. If Henne is given more freedom, they can open up the field more and present more problems for the Pats D. Resources will be used to cover the whole field instead of concentrating in the box. If Miami adds more RB passes, watch out. New coaches, new mentality, attack philosophy. A veteran like BB may refer to the young gun approach of new coaches as Stage 1. High emotion, high risk...earns your bones in the first week. Clearly Rex Ryan is in full throttle Stage 1. Weeks 1-3 was classic risk reward payoff. Weeks 4-5, start to question this philosophy...Stage 2 = selfreflection. Regardless, the Patriots have had problems with these high risk schemes. Miami took them down early last year, the Jets this year. Sure the Pats eventually adapted or will adapt, but these losses have playoff repercussions. Most disturbing was the Patriots inability to make gametime changes. Zero points in the second halves vs Denver and NY. The more I write, the more I remember that BB has been down this road...try to cover all your bases with above average talent that has versatility. Looking at the few trends I mentioned, one can understand the difficulty having the ideal roster. A roster with LBs stout enough to stuff the wildcat but quick enough to cover the mini-me roadster, not to forget pass rushing skills. DBs powerful enough to bring down Larry Fitzgerald but quick enough to cover the Welkers of the NFL. So, any other trends that you see out there?