From memory: The defense had overall good results. Not great, but decent. The defense had terrible results on third-and-long. That suggests the defense was pretty darned good except on third-and-long. Also: When you have one outstanding CB and a bunch of JAG (at best) CBs otherwise, it stands to reason that you should have your greater pass defense problems when the opponent has more WRs on the field. If you get the opponent into a bunch of 3rd-and-longs, which they then convert way too many of, it may not be your regular defense that's the problem. And by the way, Ty Warren is coming back into the regular defense, but he's not like to contribute much on passing downs. Similarly for the inconsistent/oft-injured/still-improving Brace. Where I'm going with this is to question how central a stud DE is to improving the defense. Yes, Warren is injured and aging. Yes, Wilfork could be hurt some year. Yes, the young guys were inconsistent. Yes, improving is always good. Still, unless the guy can play on passing downs, I'm not sure how much of a difference the expected stud DE would make. Besides, as I said in another thread, Seymour/Wilfork/Warren were an awesome DL, yet the defense they were on was not awesome.