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The REAL problem with the Patriots defense

2021 Patriots Season:
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Nov 28th

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Ice_Ice_Brady

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BB has stated many times that the football is a young man’s game. As such, every team constantly needs young, developing players throughout their system. When you look at a team that is struggling badly like the Patriots, it is really obvious why this team lacks depth, talent, and performance.

Quite simply, the Patriots aren’t immune from a general rule that effects every team in the league. If you have 3-4 poor drafts in a row, the unit is going to have some major issues. You can patch holes through free agency, make a splash signing, and keep most of your core in tact, but without new blood, any unit is going to be one-dimensional and lacking scheme flexibility. While it’s not like every successful defense is under 25, most of them have a variety of players who, while developing, add athleticism and can often at least specialize in a role.

The Patriots have whiffed badly in recent drafts. The scary part is the 2017 team is relatively healthy, and their lack of depth could be a much bigger problem. Here are the draft results from the last four years (I’m omitting late round picks that didn’t pan out and focusing on higher percentage picks.)

2014- Dominique Easley (1)
2014 - Malcolm Butler (UDFA)
2015 - Malcolm Brown (1)
2015 - Geneo Grisson (3)
2015 - Trey Flowers (4)
2016 - ROBBED PICK
2016 - Cyrus Jones (2)
2016 - Vincent Valentine (3)
2016 - Elandon Roberts (6)
2017 - Derek Rivers (3)
2017 - Deatrich Wise (4)

This is an absolutely stunning lack of production. From 2010-13, over four drafts, the Patriots landed Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Nate Ebner (who is now all-pro on special teams.)

How many of these picks from 2014-17 are actually starters? Butler (being phased put), Brown (shaky), Flowers, Roberts (shaky), and Wise (seems to be moving into a lot snaps.). The first defensive players selected in each draft were Easley (almost zero production), Brown (not a bust but also not a blue chip player), Jones (almost zero production, unless you count negative plays), and Rivers (zero production due to injuries.)

Although the focus is on the poor play of the secondary (and rightfully so), I think this defense has much deeper problems. It is completely lacking depth and role players due to so many picks that ended up worst case scenario. Meanwhile, the “dynasty” players that are being asked to hold it together, may in fact be regressing as they age. McCourty is 30. Chung is 30. Hightower is great, but it’s fair to say he may slowly regress each year due to his physical issues. Butler is 27, which for a CB is a lot older than 25. Branch is 32. It’s not that these guys suddenly suck (although it’s not that they entirely don’t), but they are essentially holding the defense together, lacking help from younger players, while they are all slowly regressing from their peak performances. Gilmore made some inexcusable mistakes, but his presence isn’t the big problem here, it’s that he happened to join the team (with big expectations) just as defense was running out of fuel. Probably fair to say the entire secondary is being asked to do way, way more than these teams of the last few years.
 

long distance

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
1. Its a two year league (even in case of most rookies: 1st year to develop, 2-3 playing, 4th trade more often than extension)
2. Increasing cap makes draft less decisive.
3. Pats assembled one of the deepest rosters. They lost 4 starting/rotational D players already to injury/retirement, further 4 starters/nickel are far from 100% due to injuries/missed time
4. The players who are making this D look worse than it is at the moment are experienced starters (Gilmore, Butler, Chung..)
5. It's true that they don't have many young “elite“ players (although Id take Hightower, Butler and Flowers over CJ and JC any day of the week) . but that's more to drafting at the bottom for 16 years than missed picks..

Some serious draft analysts actually have BB&co at the top of draft game regarding where they pick every year. Sure there were missed picks and injuries took big toll on top young defensive talent (Easly, Valentine, Rivers) but others are missing as much or more on much better draft capital..
____

The Q that baffles me is why they didn't address the speed and coverage of LB unit (SS&STAR incl.) since its the center of D and was a big liability throughout last season and almost costed them SB...?
 
Last edited:

luuked

Hall of Fame Poster
The main issue why we are losing games and the biggest difference to last year is the defense allowing big plays.

Whether that is whiffed tackles, not holding the edge or miscommunication in the secondary that result in coverage busts - with the latter being the only reason we are not 4-0. BB defenses pretty much averages around 21 points allowed over a full regular season. In the last 17 years they made it work with fast players, slow players, talented players and not particularly talented players. I am confident they end up rather close to the same number when everything is said and done.

Getting lucky in the draft makes things easier and makes the margin for error larger but if you consistently draft at the end of the round you can either swing for the fences on players that drop for injury/behaviour reasons or try to multiply your picks by trading down. This is what we had been doing for a while. This year they approached the draft with a new wrinkle because draft picks become less valuable due to a growing salary cap: Trade picks for proven players to minimize the development risk because they understand who those players are in NFL terms in exchange for about 2 years of cheap contracts.

Either way we are now in this boat for 2017 and gotta make it work rather sooner than later.
 

DarrylS

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2019 Weekly Picks Winner
When a team is robbed of its number one pick and then picks after everyone else than you will have some problems... our pick numbers for the last 5 drafts, the price of being successful..

' 13.. # 52 & 59
' 14.. # 29 & 62
' 15.. # 32 & 64
' 16.. #60 (sleazeball Goodell took #1)
' 17.. #83 & 85

To make this a cogent argument, there needs to be a discussion of teams with who pick from around the same # for a few drafts.. conversely those who consistently pick towards the top should be winning Superbowls, or at least consistent contenders... see NY Jets.

The NFL Draft is pretty much a guessing game.. sometimes you guess right, sometimes you don't...
 

RobertWeathers

Author of the Port Huron Statement
PatsFans.com Supporter
BB has stated many times that the football is a young man’s game. As such, every team constantly needs young, developing players throughout their system. When you look at a team that is struggling badly like the Patriots, it is really obvious why this team lacks depth, talent, and performance.

Quite simply, the Patriots aren’t immune from a general rule that effects every team in the league. If you have 3-4 poor drafts in a row, the unit is going to have some major issues. You can patch holes through free agency, make a splash signing, and keep most of your core in tact, but without new blood, any unit is going to be one-dimensional and lacking scheme flexibility. While it’s not like every successful defense is under 25, most of them have a variety of players who, while developing, add athleticism and can often at least specialize in a role.

The Patriots have whiffed badly in recent drafts. The scary part is the 2017 team is relatively healthy, and their lack of depth could be a much bigger problem. Here are the draft results from the last four years (I’m omitting late round picks that didn’t pan out and focusing on higher percentage picks.)

2014- Dominique Easley (1)
2014 - Malcolm Butler (UDFA)
2015 - Malcolm Brown (1)
2015 - Geneo Grisson (3)
2015 - Trey Flowers (4)
2016 - ROBBED PICK
2016 - Cyrus Jones (2)
2016 - Vincent Valentine (3)
2016 - Elandon Roberts (6)
2017 - Derek Rivers (3)
2017 - Deatrich Wise (4)

This is an absolutely stunning lack of production. From 2010-13, over four drafts, the Patriots landed Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Nate Ebner (who is now all-pro on special teams.)

How many of these picks from 2014-17 are actually starters? Butler (being phased put), Brown (shaky), Flowers, Roberts (shaky), and Wise (seems to be moving into a lot snaps.). The first defensive players selected in each draft were Easley (almost zero production), Brown (not a bust but also not a blue chip player), Jones (almost zero production, unless you count negative plays), and Rivers (zero production due to injuries.)

Although the focus is on the poor play of the secondary (and rightfully so), I think this defense has much deeper problems. It is completely lacking depth and role players due to so many picks that ended up worst case scenario. Meanwhile, the “dynasty” players that are being asked to hold it together, may in fact be regressing as they age. McCourty is 30. Chung is 30. Hightower is great, but it’s fair to say he may slowly regress each year due to his physical issues. Butler is 27, which for a CB is a lot older than 25. Branch is 32. It’s not that these guys suddenly suck (although it’s not that they entirely don’t), but they are essentially holding the defense together, lacking help from younger players, while they are all slowly regressing from their peak performances. Gilmore made some inexcusable mistakes, but his presence isn’t the big problem here, it’s that he happened to join the team (with big expectations) just as defense was running out of fuel. Probably fair to say the entire secondary is being asked to do way, way more than these teams of the last few years.
This is not the reason.

They have not had 3-4 poor drafts in a row. Go back and look at who they've picked up.

Ron Wolff says if a GM gets a starter and 3-4 contributors every draft they are doing their job.

A 27 year old CB is in his prime. To say Malcolm is not as good as he was at 25 is wrong.

For pretty much the last few years with Caserio they have done a good job.

The defense sucks because the secondary can't talk to each other and there are a several new players on the D line.
 
Last edited:

RayClay

Hall of Fame Poster
BB has stated many times that the football is a young man’s game. As such, every team constantly needs young, developing players throughout their system. When you look at a team that is struggling badly like the Patriots, it is really obvious why this team lacks depth, talent, and performance.

Quite simply, the Patriots aren’t immune from a general rule that effects every team in the league. If you have 3-4 poor drafts in a row, the unit is going to have some major issues. You can patch holes through free agency, make a splash signing, and keep most of your core in tact, but without new blood, any unit is going to be one-dimensional and lacking scheme flexibility. While it’s not like every successful defense is under 25, most of them have a variety of players who, while developing, add athleticism and can often at least specialize in a role.

The Patriots have whiffed badly in recent drafts. The scary part is the 2017 team is relatively healthy, and their lack of depth could be a much bigger problem. Here are the draft results from the last four years (I’m omitting late round picks that didn’t pan out and focusing on higher percentage picks.)

2014- Dominique Easley (1)
2014 - Malcolm Butler (UDFA)
2015 - Malcolm Brown (1)
2015 - Geneo Grisson (3)
2015 - Trey Flowers (4)
2016 - ROBBED PICK
2016 - Cyrus Jones (2)
2016 - Vincent Valentine (3)
2016 - Elandon Roberts (6)
2017 - Derek Rivers (3)
2017 - Deatrich Wise (4)

This is an absolutely stunning lack of production. From 2010-13, over four drafts, the Patriots landed Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Nate Ebner (who is now all-pro on special teams.)

How many of these picks from 2014-17 are actually starters? Butler (being phased put), Brown (shaky), Flowers, Roberts (shaky), and Wise (seems to be moving into a lot snaps.). The first defensive players selected in each draft were Easley (almost zero production), Brown (not a bust but also not a blue chip player), Jones (almost zero production, unless you count negative plays), and Rivers (zero production due to injuries.)


"BB has stated many times that the football is a young man’s game."

I've never heard him say this. Do you have a quote?
 

aluminum seats

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
It's not crazy to suggest that a lower volume of picks the last couple of years could come back and hurt the Pats, but that's not the case this year (apart from the obvious point that any poor pick is unfortunate and it would be better to have made a better pick).

Here, you're very much stretching things to make your point (Butler being 27 is an issue? Huh?)

Now, this could be an issue down the road, which is why trades of Garoppollo and Lewis, say, might help.
 

Sicilian

Pro Bowl Player
2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
I'm not sure that more young players would magically solve our secondary being out of position and out of sync with each other. You might have a case that our front seven would be more dynamic, but I feel like we say that about our front every year. They don't pin their ears back and go ham under BB. Never have, except in specialized situations. Could we be lacking youth and athleticism? Sure, but the problem with our defense right now is no one seems to be on the same page. That's concerning, but can be corrected.
 

50-yard-line

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
BB has stated many times that the football is a young man’s game. As such, every team constantly needs young, developing players throughout their system. When you look at a team that is struggling badly like the Patriots, it is really obvious why this team lacks depth, talent, and performance.

Quite simply, the Patriots aren’t immune from a general rule that effects every team in the league. If you have 3-4 poor drafts in a row, the unit is going to have some major issues. You can patch holes through free agency, make a splash signing, and keep most of your core in tact, but without new blood, any unit is going to be one-dimensional and lacking scheme flexibility. While it’s not like every successful defense is under 25, most of them have a variety of players who, while developing, add athleticism and can often at least specialize in a role.

The Patriots have whiffed badly in recent drafts. The scary part is the 2017 team is relatively healthy, and their lack of depth could be a much bigger problem. Here are the draft results from the last four years (I’m omitting late round picks that didn’t pan out and focusing on higher percentage picks.)

2014- Dominique Easley (1)
2014 - Malcolm Butler (UDFA)
2015 - Malcolm Brown (1)
2015 - Geneo Grisson (3)
2015 - Trey Flowers (4)
2016 - ROBBED PICK
2016 - Cyrus Jones (2)
2016 - Vincent Valentine (3)
2016 - Elandon Roberts (6)
2017 - Derek Rivers (3)
2017 - Deatrich Wise (4)

This is an absolutely stunning lack of production. From 2010-13, over four drafts, the Patriots landed Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan and Nate Ebner (who is now all-pro on special teams.)

How many of these picks from 2014-17 are actually starters? Butler (being phased put), Brown (shaky), Flowers, Roberts (shaky), and Wise (seems to be moving into a lot snaps.). The first defensive players selected in each draft were Easley (almost zero production), Brown (not a bust but also not a blue chip player), Jones (almost zero production, unless you count negative plays), and Rivers (zero production due to injuries.)

Although the focus is on the poor play of the secondary (and rightfully so), I think this defense has much deeper problems. It is completely lacking depth and role players due to so many picks that ended up worst case scenario. Meanwhile, the “dynasty” players that are being asked to hold it together, may in fact be regressing as they age. McCourty is 30. Chung is 30. Hightower is great, but it’s fair to say he may slowly regress each year due to his physical issues. Butler is 27, which for a CB is a lot older than 25. Branch is 32. It’s not that these guys suddenly suck (although it’s not that they entirely don’t), but they are essentially holding the defense together, lacking help from younger players, while they are all slowly regressing from their peak performances. Gilmore made some inexcusable mistakes, but his presence isn’t the big problem here, it’s that he happened to join the team (with big expectations) just as defense was running out of fuel. Probably fair to say the entire secondary is being asked to do way, way more than these teams of the last few years.

Yeah, I don't buy this at all. This is pretty much the same defense that was number 1 in points allowed last year.

They lost a few players - Sheard and Long, who were barely playing by the end of the year.

Nink's loss hurt.

Logan Ryan was replaced by someone who SHOULD be better.

They've got the same interior DL (except Valentine is IR'd) with Lawrence Guy replacing Woodrow Hamilton - should be an upgrade.

They've got the same linebacking corps, except that McClellin is hurt and Hightower has been hobbled.

They've got the same safety corps.

They've got the same CBs, except Gilmore should be an upgrade to Ryan.

I've got no answers, except that they didn't hit the ground running this year (we've seen that before from the Pats, who play later than the other teams almost every year, right?) and are now wedging in new players to fix some of the injuries.

I think Gilmore will get it and that secondary will find its voice.
I think Cassius Marsh is going to prove to be a steal.

If the injuries even out, and some of the injured get back to full speed, they should be all right.
 

everlong

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
I think you're looking at the past with rose colored goggles a bit. McCourty was get labeled a one year wonder before his positional move. Chandler Jones had one sack in all his playoff games here and was pretty invisible otherwise. Hightower was considered a bust here after two years. People wanted to trade him and picks for Lavonte David or somebody similar. They all had issues.

Calling Flowers shaky is unreal considering what he did compared to Jones in the playoffs. Some of these guys need time to develop. Others like Brown I agree it's time to step up.
 

scott99

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
I think it’s pretty obvious the team is missing Sheard, Long and Ninkovich. Though they aren’t all pro players, they fit the Patriots perfectly and were leaders as well. Add in the fact that they lost chemistry by losing those guys as well. You can add the loss of McClellin, who is far from an all pro player, but he’s an important player for the LB rotation. That’s why this defense is struggling IMO.

Another factor is a time eating, drive continuing RB in Blount. That running game kept opposing offenses off of the field. Blount has 1100+ yards and 18 TDs. Gillislee is no Blount. Blount was loved by his teammates and went a long way in the team chemistry department (as did Martellus Bennett).

This team lost a lot of chemistry (30% turnover in personnel), sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it never comes in a given season.
 

Kontradiction

Dr. P-ussy
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This is not the reason.

They have not had 3-4 poor drafts in a row. Go back and look at who they've picked up.

Ron Wolff says if a GM gets a starter and 3-4 contributors every draft they are doing their job.

A 27 year old CB is in his prime. To say Malcolm is not as good as he was at 25 is wrong.

For pretty much the last few years with Caserio they have done a good job.

The defense sucks because the secondary can't talk to each other and there are a several new players on the D line.
Not just at the DL. There are new players at every level. The time to panic if this is still happening is at the end of this month/beginning of November. If this defense still sucks this bad by then, the season is over, boys. One and done. That said, I expect the improvements to happen. I actually expect to see them happen as early as Thursday night - especially if they expect Rowe to be healthy enough to play on the outside.
 

chris_in_sunnyvale

In the Starting Line-Up
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The secondary magnifies or minimizes any issues in the front seven. Without the blown coverages, we're probably back to describing this D as bend-but-don't-break despite the flaws up front. The last line of defense has to stop letting guys run free. They are too talented to have this many mental breakdowns game after game.

Regards,
Chris
 

varjao

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Not just at the DL. There are new players at every level. The time to panic if this is still happening is at the end of this month/beginning of November. If this defense still sucks this bad by then, the season is over, boys. One and done. That said, I expect the improvements to happen. I actually expect to see them happen as early as Thursday night - especially if they expect Rowe to be healthy enough to play on the outside.

The way he aggravated his groin injury Sunday I don't expect Rowe to play for a while
 

FreeTedWilliams

BB's tailor
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2020 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
The secondary which was supposed to be the strength of this defense is now its Achilles Heel. All veteran players, they are more consumed on things other than playing and it is showing. Mistake after mistake in coverage. They let an awful Cam Newton shred them!

I think that BB needs to send them a message via getting rid of McCourty. His contract is almost untradable, but it might be a hit worth taking to get the rest to refocus of football.
 

Kontradiction

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The way he aggravated his groin injury Sunday I don't expect Rowe to play for a while

Nope. That means Gilmore will be lining up on the outside again and they need to get on the same page quickly. Even then, I expect a much better effort than whatever the hell that was that they tossed out onto the field against Carolina.
 

RobertWeathers

Author of the Port Huron Statement
PatsFans.com Supporter
Not just at the DL. There are new players at every level. The time to panic if this is still happening is at the end of this month/beginning of November. If this defense still sucks this bad by then, the season is over, boys. One and done. That said, I expect the improvements to happen. I actually expect to see them happen as early as Thursday night - especially if they expect Rowe to be healthy enough to play on the outside.

Yep. LB too. If we want to ding BB the GM on something it's picking up Harris and not spending the money on a player who can offer more upside and athleticism but would one player bring the defense to respectability? No.

Over BB's tenure here the strength of this D has been its ability to is gameplan, scheming and everyone being on the same page. With the communication problems and the new players still learning, that is the major reason why they are getting torched for 30ppg.
 

Snooky97

In the Starting Line-Up
One thing, I'm not sure if anyone has the stats... but don't we always start fairly slow?! Apart from last year and 07..
 

Ring 6

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The real problem is coaching.
We started the season in a gimmick scheme.
The personell groupungs and playing time are a mess.
HT is in a new position. While I love him there it weakens his old spot
Vannoy is in a new position.
Branch is on the bench. Brown moves to his spot and butler is failing.
Malcolm butler was the 3rd corner one game and his role isn't defined any longer and seems to change week to week.
McCourty is okayong in the box while we allow big play after big play. McCourty seems like he doesn't know where to go in his new role. Chung is non existent and playing poorly when he does.

We acquired a multiple pro bowl LB with football smarts and experience and have him in the bench while players are running in the wrong direction.
We are both not getting presume and leaving receivers open in the short and intermediate areas.
And we cannot get the players on the same page to execute a damn play call properly.

These are all coaching.

Good thing for us we have the best coaching staff in the NFL and pretty soon they are going to decide to stop f-inf around and experimenting and get this straightened out.
 
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