Today is PatsPropaganda’s 4th birthday!!
2013 was my favorite Patriots season on the field since I started this whole blogging thing. Four seasons and almost 12,000 posts, where has the time gone?
Off the field there were some ups and down. Yes, the NFL did shut down my t-shirt shop because obviously a Tumblr blog selling $15 tees is a threat to their billion dollar business, but that was the only big bummer for the Prop this season.
There was a shout out from Colin Cowherd on the radio:

And I made it onto Sportscenter:

But as always the best part is the support from all the readers. I appreciate all the questions and comments and I love doing this site for so many people who are just as passionate about the team as I am. You guys are why I do this!
So, onward to our fifth year, this blog needs a Super Bowl win!!

Today is PatsPropaganda’s 4th birthday!!

2013 was my favorite Patriots season on the field since I started this whole blogging thing. Four seasons and almost 12,000 posts, where has the time gone?

Off the field there were some ups and down. Yes, the NFL did shut down my t-shirt shop because obviously a Tumblr blog selling $15 tees is a threat to their billion dollar business, but that was the only big bummer for the Prop this season.

There was a shout out from Colin Cowherd on the radio:

And I made it onto Sportscenter:

But as always the best part is the support from all the readers. I appreciate all the questions and comments and I love doing this site for so many people who are just as passionate about the team as I am. You guys are why I do this!

So, onward to our fifth year, this blog needs a Super Bowl win!!

Do you prefer a big body DT who gives a you an adequate pass rush but takes up blockers or a smaller DT who gives a pass rush that gives quarterbacks problems all day
Anonymous

Given the style of defense the Pats play there is room for both. With Wilfork they really had one nose tackle and defensive tackle. One guy who might two-gap and one guy who might one-gap. 

I think the goal at this point is to be able to have two guys who can do both fairly effectively on the inside. So in essence, the Pats defense is really a 3-4 on one side and a 4-3 on the other side. 

Check this article here for a total breakdown of it.

Could also call it a 2-5 since Nink and Chandler are essentially able to play OLB on any given down as well. 

But I will say this: given today’s NFL give me a penetrator over a nose tackle. I really think that’s why they were able to survive sans Wilfork last season.

Chris Jones was their best interior rusher in a while for a good chunk of the season though he tapered off. I’m excited to see what him and Armond Armstead.

And if we land Dominique Easley I’d do my happy dance. Sealver Siliga and a hopefully-healthy Wilfork will be plenty of space eaters for one team.

Let the weekend begin!

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Not a particularly in-depth question, but with the schedule being released soon, who would you like to see the Pats open up against?
Anonymous

I’m always a fan of the fewer divisional games in September the better. We see it every year, they’re never at their best in those first few games and they usually drop one of the first three. 

As always, the road to the playoffs go through the division, so give me an NFC team for the opener.

mike — at this point, are we relying on internal development and a potential low-cost vet at DE behind nink + chandler? it's worked in the past w/ carter/anderson in 2011, but (despite the different position and cheaper rate) i can't help but get a shaun ellis vibe from will smith and some of the other remaining options on the table.

Yeah I agree on the Shaun Ellis vibe, and that’s at best.

I think it definitely puts a bigger focus on Michael Buchanan’s development, at least at this point. They could draft a defensive end near the top of the draft and he’d immediately be at least equal to Buchanan on the depth chart as the designated pass rusher.

They definitely could use a 3-4 style defensive end, i.e. a 6’5”, 310ish big body to round out the DL rotation, but I don’t think that is vital.

Who knows, maybe things suddenly click for Jake Bequette though I’m certainly not counting on it and am probably the only person who would even mention that as a possibility. But stranger things have happened and he did show some pop in the last year’s preseason finale.

As has been my mantra this offseason, if they’re not helping the pass defense, they’re not helping, so give me at least a couple more speed, pass rush guys and I think they’ll be okay. 

And if it ends up being Will Smith and Michael Buchanan just hold your breath that Nink and Chandler don’t get hurt.

What ways can Belichick and Patricia be creative and aggressive without having to blitz a lot if that is possible
Anonymous

The creativity can really come from the defensive ends and linebackers. Chandler and Nink are comfortable dropping in coverage and can essentially play like linebackers at times, so using them outside of their normal edge setting/edge rushing responsibilities is where they can play around a bit.

I think Jamie Collins is a great piece because he has great size and athleticism to be a factor in a number of ways. Is he in coverage? Is he blitzing? It will be tough for quarterbacks to discern that pre-snap. And Mayo/Hightower are no slouches when it comes to blitzing as well.

So it comes down to, on passing downs, mixing up which of that group is coming or covering. Really “blitzing” could be defined as when someone from the secondary is sent and I think Arrington and Ryan are both really good at that. They’ll come flying in a couple times each game, with Nink/Chandler dropping to cover the short zone for them.

But without blitzing (in the sending more than four sense of it) you can do some creative stuff with sending linebackers and dropping defensive ends, especially given how versatile the Pats’ players at those positions are.

Good mock from James Christensen that is certainly drawing out some grrrreat comments with him taking Bridgewater in the first round. Look, if the Pats have a high first-round grade on any player at any position and he’s available at 29 I have little doubt they would take him.

Hey Mike, can you talk a little bit about how a player like Darelle Revis empowers BB and the defensive coaching staff? "Revis Island" and "Shut Down Corner" cliches aside, what are some schemes and strategies that would have been unworkable, unwise, or even just uncharacteristic of the Patriots before they had Revis, but that are now possible or probable with him in the fold?

Good question and I think the answers are somewhat visible given what the defense evolved to with Aqib Talib in 2012. To really get a sense of the shift we need to go back to the late 2000’s.

Here’s the Pats D vs. Colts 2009.

image

At the snap, the undersized corners (Wilhite and Bodden) will turn and run. The Pats have a third safety on the field to cover Dallas Clark.

Here’s the Pats D vs. Broncos in 2013 AFCCG.

image

Now the corners attempt to jam and disrupt the timing right at the line of scrimmage. You can just tell by the difference in the corners presnap stances that they’re playing a different technique now - they’re lower, ready for contact, whereas before they’re getting ready to turn and run.

So that, in essence, is really what it is all about. The late-2000’s Pats were content to play more zone coverage and to use what they perceived as athletic and smart corners who could pattern-read and jump routes.

Asante Samuel was the perfect example of that kind of corner.

Whether it was quarterbacks getting too good or the rules allowing no contact downfield (or a little of both), zone coverage became easier and easier to pick apart. There’s still a place for zone coverage, you have to mix-and-match, but to play mostly zone will result in giving up more passing yardage than anyone else (like they did from 2010-2013).

Now you must take your chance to be physical with the wide receivers when you can be - within five yards of the line of scrimmage. That disrupts the timing of the offense and buys that extra second for the pass rush.

That also doesn’t mean that just because you’re pressing you have to play man. The Seahawks will press and then drop their corners into cover three. 

What Revis and Browner (and Dennard and Arrington and Ryan to other extents) allow the Pats to do is to win at the line of scrimmage.

If only we could stand Revis/Browner side-by-side to Samuel/Hobbs. That picture would be worth a thousand words.

Do you see the patriots taking a qb as predicted with the first round pick
Anonymous

Probably not, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out like I would offensive tackle or cornerback. The NFL is a quarterback league. You not only need an “elite” starter, but developing quarterbacks, like the Pats have done with Matt Cassell, Brian Hoyer and now Ryan Mallett, is also great business.

So if that one guy the Pats love and think really fits their system is there in the first round for the taking, I don’t think it’s impossible that they take him. They are about long-term winning, never about “going all in”.

I don’t know who that prospect might be of this year’s quarterbacks and I won’t speculate based on who I like. But if they have a high first round grade on a guy and he’s available I don’t think they would pass on him given the great value.