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Let's Talk About Defense

2021 Patriots Season:
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Dec 6th

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JSn

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
We've laboured heavily on the offensive woes (woes which many a team would be happy to share) and we have a historical record that shows they will improve. Microscopic adjustments make all the difference.

We've slipped and slopped through defensive talk, but I think it might be high time for a personnel evaluation.

Today's big news wasn't just the signing of Seau, but the release of Sands, who seemed like a capable D-Lineman (at least through a high-end set of beer goggles).

Add one 3-4 LB (because I'd be worried if Seau was part of any plan at 4-3) and drop one ENORMOUS lineman.

I know I'm not alone in thinking the 3-4 could have been EPIC this year, especially after seeing how excellent our defensive secondary is. We opened in 3-4 and then promptly slammed the door on it when Mayo went down in week one. After that the 3-4 popped up maybe 4 times.

When we heard about the early rumblings about the Seau signing, conjecture said it was because Mayo was down for a while and Guyton was carrying a massive load.

Buuuuuut, Seau comes in as Mayo returns. Hm.

Anyway, that was a long lead-up to my point that I think at this moment we have the personnel for a truly COMFORTABLE multiple D, which not only means nickel and dime, but 4-3 AND 3-4. The value of being able to switch can't be understated and in my opinion, the 3-4 is going to valuable in slowing down the various wild-animal formations we're seeing.

Just looking at the formations through the little bit I know about defense, I see the obvious values thusly:

4-3
Mayo and Guyton can fly around and make plays in this formation. We haven't seen Mayo unleashed at MLB much, but he certainly had some nice plays last week.

Our speedy DL (TBC, Wright, Green) get to make plays. Wright has especially flourished in this formation.

The downside is, we don't necessarily seem to be able to generate tons of pressure out of a four-man front. So...

3-4
With Seau back, we're looking at a pretty good rotation at ILB here with Seau, Guyton, Mayo, and perhaps Ninkovich (who has begun to show up). Alexander is technically an ILB (right?) and if he had to fill in, I'd rather see him paired at ILB than alone at MLB.

This plays to all kinds of strengths on the team. Woods and Thomas can play their more natural positions and especially AD could begin to create more havoc as a pass wrecker. We can also put TBC, Burgess and even Green in there to attack QB's on 3-longs. Weird as it sounds, I think 3-4 is where we could see the Burgess trade make a better impression.

Do we still have the horses on the DL for 3-4? I think so. Pryor is a nice addition and Brace might be better suited to NT than any other position. We already know we have beasts in Wilfork and Warren.

As for DB heavy packages, we already know we have the ammo to run some great stuff there and hopefully the Ravens game dictates future defensive style more than the Broncos game.

I'm not proposing an outright switch, I just think we now have the versatility to be TRULY multiple on D.

Thanks for letting me think out loud and feel free to jump in or even repair my thinking where I may have slipped off track in my assessments.

Also, you're welcome to call me names if it makes you feel better. ;)

Ooooh... Reiss is think the 3-4 might be about as well..
New England Patriots Blog - Seau signing could mean more 3-4 for Pats - ESPN Boston
 

TheComeback

2nd Team Getting Their First Start
I agree that the 3-4 plays to this team's strengths more than the 4-3. I hope we get more pressure with our LBs if Belichick's intention is indeed to run more 3-4. Our DL is much, much better suited to the 3-4.
 

mgteich

PatsFans.com Veteran
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With Mayo back, I think that we should see a lot more base 3-4. Obviously, we would also play a lot of 4-3 as we always have. What has been missing is the 3-4 with a decent secondary. That is what we were looking forward to this year. We needed a 3rd ILB for the 3-4. We have Seau and Ninkovitch.

While I really appeciate Alexander's role as one of our special teams specialists, I would greatly prefer never seeing him playing LB for the remainder of the season, except perhpas in garbage time. It is fine to have Alexander and Slater and NOT want to have them play anything but special teams.

TRADEOFFS
1) With Seymour gone, Green or Wright would need to step up as a DE in the 3-4. They have shown that they are just fine in the 4-3.
2) Thomas should be much, much better in the 3-4.
3) Banta-Cain has excelled in the 4-3 (in a sense replacing the production of Thomas). Burgess hasn't shown much. We need at least on of the two to be effective in the 3-4, not too much to ask.
 

Bill B.

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
One reason, I think, that we got Seau, back at this moment is to prepare for the two games against Miami. The Patriots are going to have to defend the Wildcat twice this year, and I think the 3-4 is better suited for that than the 4-3. The linebackers are faster and can react better to it. With a 4 man rotation at ILB, we can keep them fresh.
 

I think it's safe to say that the Pats have an identity crisis on defense. They have a bunch of players in their front seven and they don't know what do with them.

- Banta-Cain is better as a pass rushing 4-3 end
- Thomas is better as a 3-4 OLB or ILB
- Guyton is better as an OLB in 4-3 or coverage LB in a 3-4
- Burgess is better as a 4-3 pass rushing end (although he hasn't done jack)
- Warren is better as a 3-4 end or 4-3 DT not DE
- Woods is not starter material at either scheme.

I've said this before, but their front seven is a mess. Although their scheme is pure vanilla and has zero imagination, this defense has overachieved and has been playing well enough to win games. As a defense, they haven't given up more than 20 points in each game this season. That should be good enough to win games with the Pats offense. Too many offensive drives have been stalling this season and is making the defense look worse than they really are. Every defense is going to crack eventually if the offense can't help them out.
 
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ALP

Pro Bowl Player
u made a note about us releasing Sands...

why does that help the 3-4 formation? that big of a DL doesnt fit in the 3-4?


he seemed to do well in the ravens game, so im disappointed he was let go
 

mgteich

PatsFans.com Veteran
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Sands is not needed in the 3-4. If Sands isn't the backup for Wilfork, then he is totally excess.

u made a note about us releasing Sands...

why does that help the 3-4 formation? that big of a DL doesnt fit in the 3-4?


he seemed to do well in the ravens game, so im disappointed he was let go
 

mgteich

PatsFans.com Veteran
PatsFans.com Supporter
I don't know why it so aweful to have players that fit better in the 3-4 and others that fit better in the 4-3. Belichick wants to run both and has not been able to do so because of the lack of Mayo. Belichick decided not to move Thomas inside in order to play the base 3-4.

What was missing last year was passrushers from the 43 or 52. Burgess and Banta-Cain were brought in to meet that need. Banta-Cain has been successful. I understand that you expect all 15 front seven players to have impacts but that IMHO is not reasonable.

Woods was kept as an OLB in the 3-4 in running situations. He really hasn't had much opportunity. We'll see who is outside opposite Thomas this week in the 34. I am fine if Ninkovich or Banta-Cain have beaten out Woods for that role, but I suspect that they haven't.

In the 3-4, we should see more impact from Thomas and Woods.



I think it's safe to say that the Pats have an identity crisis on defense. They have a bunch of players in their front seven and they don't know what do with them.

- Banta-Cain is better as a pass rushing 4-3 end
- Thomas is better as a 3-4 OLB or ILB
- Guyton is better as an OLB in 4-3 or coverage LB in a 3-4
- Burgess is better as a 4-3 pass rushing end (although he hasn't done jack)
- Warren is better as a 3-4 end or 4-3 DT not DE
- Woods is not starter material at either scheme.

I've said this before, but their front seven is a mess. Although their scheme is pure vanilla and has zero imagination, this defense has overachieved and has been playing well enough to win games. As a defense, they haven't given up more than 20 points in each game this season. That should be good enough to win games with the Pats offense. Too many offensive drives have been stalling this season and is making the defense look worse than they really are. Every defense is going to crack eventually if they offense can't help them out.
 
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Ochmed Jones

Pro Bowl Player
2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
I don't know why it so aweful to have players that fit better in the 3-4 and others that fit better in the 4-3. Belichick wants to run both and has not been able to do so because of the lack of Mayo. Belichick decided not to move Thomas inside in order to play the base 3-4.

What was missing last year was passrushers from the 43 or 52. Burgess and Banta-Cain were brought in to meet that need. Banta-Cain has been successful. I understand that you expect all 15 front seven players to have impacts but that is IMHO not reasonable.

Woods was kept as an OLB in the 3-4 in running situations. He really hasn't has much opportunity. We'll see who in outside opposite Thomas this week in the 34. I am fine if Ninkovich or Banta-Cain have beaten out Woods for that role, but I suspect that they haven't.

In the 3-4, we should see more impact from Thomas and Woods.

I agree. I do not think either has beaten out Woods yet. However I thought Ninkovich showed some fire and passion rushing the passer. I would not mind seeing some of that rub off on the other Pats defenders.
 

RobertWeathers

Author of the Port Huron Statement
PatsFans.com Supporter
Thought these were interesting quotes from the BB & Seau PC today. IMO BB was seeing problems with this D that extended beyond schemes and skills.

"It's good to have Junior back," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "He brings a lot of energy and experience and toughness to our team. We've been talking about this for a little while and we're glad we worked it out here in the last day or two and we're glad to have him."QUOTE]

"One thing I know is that you can’t coach courage. You can’t. You give me an A, B gap, I’m going through there, until I break glass. I will go through the A and B gap until I break glass. And that’s what I do. I’m not afraid about whether or not I’m going to bring to the table a level that I had 20 years ago. That’s not going to happen. Again, back to the box. The box is basically what Bill needs. He’ll tell you what he needs. If I have to be a plumber today, I’ll be a plumber. Whatever it may be. I’m just here to help."

Seau again emphasized his respect for Belichick.

"The best thing I do is I lean on Bill Belichick," Seau said. "And the reason I say that is that Bill doesn’t kick around tires and say, ‘I’m just going to go grab a guy that’s 40 years old off the surfboard and say come and join us.’ He has a plan. And his plan is something that we’re going to try and implement, whatever it may be."
 
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tedy hagler

Practice Squad Player
For some bottom line numbers on defensive passer rating and the recent history of the Patriots draft, take a look here:

Kerry Byrne | Patriots Failing the Passing Test: Secondary a Primary Concern

Bottom line: too few interceptions; can't get off the field on 3rd down (again); nor enough DB draft picks making an impact circa 2005-2009.

As opposed to general home team frothing, does anyone have numbers to counter these arguments? (I sure hope someone does)

Tedy Hagler
 

BionicPatriot

In the Starting Line-Up
For some bottom line numbers on defensive passer rating and the recent history of the Patriots draft, take a look here:

Kerry Byrne | Patriots Failing the Passing Test: Secondary a Primary Concern

Bottom line: too few interceptions; can't get off the field on 3rd down (again); nor enough DB draft picks making an impact circa 2005-2009.

As opposed to general home team frothing, does anyone have numbers to counter these arguments? (I sure hope someone does)

Tedy Hagler

WTF is he talking about? We have been getting off the field.

Because we don't have a lot of INTs they're not doing good? Pass rating? That has to be the stupidest stat made. Only one QB has gone over 300 yards on this defense, and none have thrown more than 2 TD passes in a game. This secondary is nowhere near as bad as last year.
 

tedy hagler

Practice Squad Player
As much as I admire your vigor, love to see some numbers to back your claim. Points per game -- not bad for the Patriots. A lot of the other numbers are not great however. If DPR is a stupid stat, let's hear what you have. Look at the guy's historical research--not bad. And more than most meatheads do who chirp about "We are wicked pissah on defense . . . Because we, er, well, er, we always have been."

Overall I agree: the secondary is better. However, the 2nd component of a pass defense is a pass rush--and we had very little of that on Sunday.




WTF is he talking about? We have been getting off the field.

Because we don't have a lot of INTs they're not doing good? Pass rating? That has to be the stupidest stat made. Only one QB has gone over 300 yards on this defense, and none have thrown more than 2 TD passes in a game. This secondary is nowhere near as bad as last year.
 

satz

2nd Team Getting Their First Start
I think seau addition is a big step is playing some 3-4 .we were lacking a true mike in 3-4 .Mayo is a great weakside ILB but at mike is not 100% as he needs mroe experience.Guyton is a good 4-3 OLB but inside he too is struggles some times.

IN 4-3 we let burgess and banta to be blocked by tackles ...in 3-4 we rush 1 more but one of this outside guys are going to be against a TE or RB.how can you discount that.

burgess does have an effect he when we rush 5 banta is getting the TE side and burgess is being block by a tackle. But if you put AD at the burgess end you are bigger and can create more presure .
 

tedy hagler

Practice Squad Player
I like Guyton but he does not make quick reads (and relies on superior speed to make up for it). In time, he could be a good one.

I think seau addition is a big step is playing some 3-4 .we were lacking a true mike in 3-4 .Mayo is a great weakside ILB but at mike is not 100% as he needs mroe experience.Guyton is a good 4-3 OLB but inside he too is struggles some times.



IN 4-3 we let burgess and banta to be blocked by tackles ...in 3-4 we rush 1 more but one of this outside guys are going to be against a TE or RB.how can you discount that.

burgess does have an effect he when we rush 5 banta is getting the TE side and burgess is being block by a tackle. But if you put AD at the burgess end you are bigger and can create more presure .
 

RobertWeathers

Author of the Port Huron Statement
PatsFans.com Supporter
I like Guyton but he does not make quick reads (and relies on superior speed to make up for it). In time, he could be a good one.

Yep. Guyton will be a fine pro. You can say that hes a decent one now.

Seau is here to help him with the maturation process.
 

mgteich

PatsFans.com Veteran
PatsFans.com Supporter
With Seau back, Guyton can move along with a bit less pressure. But make no mistake, Seau can be gone again at any point in the season.

Yep. Guyton will be a fine pro. You can say that hes a decent one now.

Seau is here to help him with the maturation process.
 
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PatsWickedPissah

PatsFans.com Supporter
PatsFans.com Supporter
"One thing I know is that you can’t coach courage. You can’t. You give me an A, B gap, I’m going through there, until I break glass. I will go through the A and B gap until I break glass. And that’s what I do.

Is this s subtle hint that Seau is going after Maroney to break him in practise?
 
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