Good summation of where we’re at so far in the “legal tampering period”. If the Pats are able to get a second round pick for Mallett I don’t know how they can turn that down.
As for Talib and Edelman, the market’s going to dictate what happens. But the Pats are experts at knowing what kind of offers will be out there and I’d bet they have competitive contracts on the table for both.
With the Redskins allegedly interested in Talib it makes me think he could be gone. They could offer him more than he could turn down.
If the pats do get that third DE, who do you think will move inside next to wilfork
Depends on the game/gameplan (assuming Wilfork is back of course). Could be Tommy Kelly (assuming Kelly is back) against a run-heavy team. Or it could be Wilfork/Chandler/Ninkovich/Third DE in a pass-heavy game, or even throw Chris Jones/Armstead in there for Wilfork for an all-out pass rush game plan.
As much as I criticized the Pats in 2010 for all their specialization on defense, the Seahawks proved how you can make it work. The difference is the talent level. The 2010 Pats’ defense was not that talented nor experienced.
But now, with the pieces they have, it’s the makings of a very good specialized defense that can do a number of different things. We’ll see how well they build on it this spring, because there are certainly still a lot of questions.
Why do you think teams are so conservative, I don't mean in terms of blitzing more or throwing on every down downfield, but being more aggressive, taking risks and etc.
Because there are maybe 5 QBs in the NFL that can execute for 60 mins without a mistake. It’s just playing the odds. Sometimes they play great, mistake-free ball and you tip your cap to them. But most of the time the only sure-fire way to lose is giving them big chunks of yardage because you’re trying to throw all kinds of exotic blitzes at them.
And the Pats have given up more 20+ plays than anyone over the last few years. Their red zone defense has saved them in that regard.
Offensively it’s about taking what’s there. Taking risks by trying to force it results in turnovers and losses.
Line up, make sure everyone has the call, try to get pressure with three or four guys and most of the time you’ll at least give yourself a chance to win.
Not a pats question but I heard that romeo crennel runs an old school 34 where the dline is two gaping and that wade philips runs a 34 where the dline just one gaps, can you explain what each does and how it affects the linebackers
Ah yes, my bread and butter. I can’t really speak to Romeo’s defense now, but with the Pats he ran the classic Fairbanks-Bullough 34.
The philosophy of that defense is for the front three linemen (two five-technique defensive ends lining up over the offensive tackles and a zero technique nose tackle lining up over the center) “building the wall”.
What this means is that they attack the opponent across from them and try to control them, holding the line of scrimmage. Then it is the responsibility of the linebackers to fly around and make the plays.
The Patriots don’t run this defense much any more, it’s more of a specialized tool in the toolbox for really good running teams. Now they’ll mix and match more, with elements of it still existing, often on just one side of the field.
Wade Phillips and Dick Lebeau’s version of the 3-4 is more of an attacking 34 where the defensive linemen are attacking gaps instead of attacking their opponents.
The linebackers have to deal with more oncoming blockers but have less responsibility to make all the plays. This also enables things like the zone blitz that Lebeau created where a defensive lineman will drop into a coverage zone.
Mike Dussault (Patriots Nation West) Hey Tedy, big fan, been wearing your jersey on game days for many years. Could you comment on the unique characteristics of a Bill Belichick 3-4 defense as compared to other 3-4 defenses around the NFL? Is it more read and react as oppose to defenses like the Steelers/Jets which are more attacking?
Tedy Bruschi Mike, I think you should be conducting this chat. You hit it on the head about the difference between the Patriots’ 3-4 and other teams.
wait I take back that earlier question on the free agent DE, BB doesn't buy that whole aggressively attack the QB thing right? it was just so sweet seeing Carter and Anderson coming off the edges in 2011.
From my perspective, a defensive end is priority number one in external free agency. They just can’t go into 2014 planning on running Ninkovich and Chandler into the ground playing almost every snap again.
Mark Anderson is the perfect model, that third guy who can be your designated pass rusher, but also fill in from time to time at defensive end. Buchanan gives some depth and I like him and would love to see him take a big leap forward, but they cannot rely upon that.
With the higher salary cap there will be a lot of big contracts thrown around, but I think the Pats have to make an investment in someone like Jared Allen or Lamarr Houston.
It’s a matter of having guys who can win one-on-one without BB having to be overly aggressive with his scheme by sending extra guys on blitzes. Between Kelly/Wilfork and the young guys I think they’ll be okay at tackle one way or another, but they really need to add a third defensive end in free agency as I see it.
For much of the season brady and the offense struggled, then gronk returned and it looked a WHOLE lot better, then of course he got hurt but the offense was still better then before he returned, can you explain how is return effected brady and the offense and how a gronk less offense was better then the first half of the season
This is always how it is on both sides of the ball. Were they better with the best tight end in the NFL in the lineup? Of course. But each season is a story unto itself.
The Patriots experiment in those early weeks to find out what they have. Sometimes you’ll see a random player getting a huge spike in playing time for apparently no reason. This is to see what his strengths are and if there’s a way to use him effectively. Maybe that player sticks or maybe they’re never seen again, it’s up to how he performs.
After the first four-to-six games they start to get a sense of who they are, again, on both sides of the ball. Who are the clutch players? How are defenses playing us? Can we threaten all dimensions of the defense? Where are our weak links?
Once questions like these start to get answered they will start to play to their strengths and hide their weaknesses as best that they can.
Invariably the Patriots are always rock solid after Thanksgiving, but look at some of their early season losses in recent years. The Cardinals in Foxboro, the Bills, even games they don’t lose that are strangely close.
It boils down to the fact that the football season is a campaign and, as I wrote yesterday, it’s about putting your best team out there to compete in January and that one game in February.
It’s not about blowing the Cardinals out in Week 2. They of course want and expect to win those games, but the early weeks are as much about self-evaluation as it is winning the game.
So by the playoff game against Indy what did they know? That their running game was a huge strength, that they could play man or zone defense, etc. When they played to those strengths and avoided what they weren’t good at, we saw the true 2013 Patriots.
Against the Broncos they just couldn’t hide their weaknesses, especially after Talib went down and they got in a hole. They couldn’t man up and their offense wasn’t explosive enough to come back in that situation.
So, the experiment will start again in 2014 with or without Gronk. They’ll feel it out in early weeks and then start to refine everything once November hits.
I never got the "brady is a system qb" aren't coaches supposed to put their players in a system that best fits their skill sets, what's your take
I hate that too. It’s just a way to try and minimize Brady or Belichick. People just use whatever fits their argument at the time - either Brady is just a system QB or Belichick stinks as a GM and having Brady has saved his team every season.
What we see with BB and TB in NE is how it’s supposed to be. The ideal. You have a coach and quarterback who are of the same mind. They’re relentless. They see the game the same way. They respect each other. The know how to attack defenses.
Brady is not the perfect quarterback. There are things he does better than others. He’s not going to be a “bombs away” QB, throwing 60 yard darts to deep receivers running free.
Instead, what we see in the New England is an offense that is tailored specifically to Brady. It plays to his strengths - reading the defense and hitting the open receiver quickly. That’s what Brady does well so that’s what they run their offense as.
You can change the parts and it will add new dimensions, but the core philosophy remains the same. Still, football is football and the simplest truth to an attack is that you want to stress all areas of a defense.
Deep, short, the seam, running backs who can run or catch. That is what makes an unstoppable offense. The Pats haven’t always been perfect, and in recent years they certainly would be able to attack the perimeter and deep a little better, but overall they know what they do best and that’s what they model their offense and game plans around.
If someone wants to call him a system quarterback that’s fine. He’s one of the best quarterbacks of all time, playing in a system expertly made to suit him.
But to say you can plug any quarterback in and he’d have the same results/success is idiotic.
Probably for the best and I can’t say anything bad about Spikes. I enjoyed the heck out of watching him play. He brought such a ferocity to the middle of the defense and that will not easily be replaced.
He was just what the Pats needed in 2010 after getting run all over by the Ravens in the 2009 playoff game. He made an instant impact as a rookie.
His injury issues were fairly consistent unfortunately, that’s part of the deal when you play like he does. Was he a target in the passing game? Sure. But we also can’t forget his interception in the 2011 AFC Championship game and that he had a fair number of passes defenses in 2012.
Is he an elite three-down linebacker? No, but what he does well he does better than almost anyone else in the NFL.
WIsh Spikes the best and thank him for all the huge hits and #PowWwwWs. Hopefully he doesn’t end up with Pepper in Buffalo. I know me, RIdley and Vereen don’t feel like seeing him twice a year blowing up our running game.
Do you think that a team who spends the house during free agency can actually contend
Maybe for a year or two if it all comes together just right, but it’s hard to throw together a bunch of big names with big contracts and have everyone on the same page.
I’ve played and watched enough sports to truly believe it’s rarely the most talented team that wins the championship at the end of the season. Because that’s what we’re talking about. The Patriots have won more games than anyone else the last decade, yet the main talking point is that they haven’t won another Super Bowl.
So we’re talking about a very special set of circumstances you’re trying to create with team building, with a number of variables that cannot be controlled. You need a team to win three or four-straight games in January and February.
And it’s not like the Pats don’t spend to the cap, that’s the biggest misunderstanding. They just believe in spreading it out as much as they can. So can a team that gives a bunch of high end contracts but basically has no depth make it through the fifth month of the season without losing any of those high-priced free agent they signed? They’re living on the edge and usually their lack of depth will catch up to them.
More often than not you’ll lose a top player or two and it’s the teams that can overcome that that make Super Bowl runs.
I hate the “go all in” thing. What that really means is “sign a some high priced free agents that were stars for other teams at some point”. Just because they were stars elsewhere doesn’t mean they still be stars with your team or that they’ll still have the same desire after getting a big fat contract.
The Pats “go all in” every season, but by making hard decisions on their own players and building a team that can withstand the inevitable injuries that pile up over the course of the season.
It’s certainly not sexy and can be frustrating when they stick to a salary they think a player is worth and don’t budge, but it wins games. Lots of them. The Pats just have to find the right balance and stay healthy enough and they’ll have a shot at the Super Bowl every season.
Looks like Hageman has become the new boo of Patriots mock drafts post-combine, taking over for Jace Amaro. I like to think I was ahead of this trend, picking him in my first mock draft last week. Frenz had him in his as well last week, and now McShay is on board too.
This of course means he’ll now be drafted in the teens. Time to start taking a closer look at Stephon Tuitt…
Do you think the pats are set next year at linebacker if not what do you think they are missing/need
I think the starters are set with Hightower sliding to Mike, Collins at Sam and Mayo at Will, at least in the 4-3. In the 3-4 you probably just stand Ninkovich or Chandler up.
In subpackages I think Collins will be next to Mayo, effectively eliminating the need to play a safety at the money position. Collins has better size than any safety you could put there and seems like the next evolution of subpackage player, since he can cover big tight ends or even be sent after the quarterback.
Perhaps the biggest question is whether or not Collins overtakes Mayo as the top coverage linebacker. Mayo has always had the speed and smarts but he’s just never seemed to develop that coverage savvy that someone like Bruschi had.
Take a look at Victor Cruz’s TD in SB 46 to see what I’m talking about. Mayo has the perfect call to at least defend the pass and probably should’ve intercepted it. Instead he never gets his head around and it’s six points. This is an indicative example of the biggest weakness I see in Mayo’s game.
Do you think the secondary is good enough to win a suprebowl without talib if it was paired with a great front seven
At this point it’s hard to answer because there will be additions everywhere and who knows how it will all play out in camp and over the course of the season.
If it’s McCourty/Harmon and Dennard/Ryan/Arrington then probably not. They’d really need to add a significant third defensive end, get Wilfork/Kelly back at full strength and get a breakout year from Armstead and Chris Jones. Jamie Collins would also have to elevate into possibly their best player on defense.
Talib and that defensive end are key. If those two pieces fall into place, I really like the ingredients and it gives them a bit more flexibility with the outcome of Wilfork/Kelly.
What one person do you wish the pats could take in free agency and the draft
Probably a pipe dream, because they’re going to get paid a lot with the extra cap money the NFL unleased, but I’d love to see Jared Allen or Demarcus Ware/Julius Peppers if they get cut. The Pats could really manage those veterans well in a rotation with Jones and Wilfork and it would add a significant pass rush presence they just haven’t had since the dynasty days.
More realistically I think they end up with someone like Lamarr Houston.
Thoughts on Henry Melton? Maybe he could come cheaper because of injury? Also i feel as if ACL injuries are not as terrible as they used to be and players can come back 100% (Adrian Peterson, given he is a freak of nature).
Was really big on Melton last season, I could still see it, though there were some off the field issues last season.He’s a little more of a traditional 4-3 defensive tackle so I’m not sure where Armstead and Chris Jones fit into that. Would they still give a competitive offer to him with those young guys already in the system? Maybe not.
Ideally I think they spend the big bucks on a defensive end in free agency and maybe find a lower end defensive tackle for depth/insurance for Wilfork/Kelly.
“To sum, the highest cap number Wilfork can have for the Patriots in 2014 is $11,600,000. The lowest he can have and while being on the roster is $4,555,000. The lowest cap number he can have is after being released – $3.6 million. The question is can Wilfork and the Patriots find a number between $4,555,000 and $11,600,000 that both sides are happy with. There are definitely ways for a deal to happen.”—
Are you surprised the pats haven't talked to really anyone except talib
Not really, I’ve believed all along that Talib should be the priority in free agency. Edelman’s the only other one who might make sense to touch base with, but I don’t think they’re worried about the market putting him out of the Pats’ range.
Talib on the other hand could get significant interest on the market so it would make sense to try and work something with him out asap.
They also could be trying to lock down some restructures on guys like Connelly/Wilfork/Kelly.
The thing I don’t understand is why they cut a player like Gregory now, but are still sitting on the rest of probable cut guys like Sopoaga. Sometimes it seems like they are almost too patient, but they have a knack for letting the market come to them.
Mike. I completely agree about the need for quality interior O and D line depth but if Kelvin Benjamin is available as low as 29. A kid with that much potential and at 6 foot 5 inches it would be too much of an opportunity to pass up.
It’s hard to really discuss needs at this point, because all the glaring ones will be filled by the draft. This speaks to your point exactly. They can’t go into the draft needing to find a starter at any position. This allows them to pounce if a player like Benjamin or someone else they might really like falls. That’s what value is all about and you can’t draft for value when you have critical needs.
If Talib does walk, how much does that push back the defense from where it was early last season? Because before all the injuries hit, there's no denying it was looking very promising. But as we all saw in the AFCCG, without Talib the Pats were absolutely picked apart.
I do think that there’s something to be said for Talib living off of the good will he earned in those early games last season. We tend to forget the weird meltdown against the Panthers and the hip injury that once again returned. Most focus on his great start and then the knee injury in the AFCCG.
My view, as I previously mentioned this morning, is that if he walks they focus on the front seven with some of the money they had slotted for Talib. As much as the Pats were picked apart vs. Denver, that has as much to do with having no depth in the front seven as it did not having a cover corner for Demaryius Thomas.
The pressure was literally non-existant. PFF had them getting pressure on Manning just six times with no sacks. If they can’t nab Talib they should make a serious play for Jared Allen/Demarcus Ware/Julius Peppers. An elite front seven will make any secondary look good, let’s not forget that.
It certainly makes the need for a corner bigger and they’d likely have to find someone else in free agency and the draft. But they’re not dead in the water with Dennard/Ryan/Arrington.
“The Patriots know they have to crack open the safe if they’re going to keep cornerback Aqib Talib from hitting the open market next week. Talib wants to be paid as a top-of-the-market corner in free agency, according to a source.”—
Not really that surprising, and the Pats should know what they have in Talib. If he walks they need to put additional resources into the front seven. You’re not going to get a cover corner, at least not right off the bat, in the draft where the Pats are picking. They have some good pieces in the secondary, but they’ll need to have a much better pass rush to cover up their deficiencies without Talib.
“29. New England Patriots — Notre Dame DT Louis Nix: Nix has been higher in my mock drafts, but I have watched some game tapes that create some doubt. At this spot, the Patriots would be glad to get this big space eater, considering Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly were on IR last year.”—
I don’t love Nix here or at all for the Pats really. Our problems are on passing downs. How much impact will Nix make on passing downs? Wilfork has/had rare athleticism and from the combine results it doesn’t look like Nix does. Would rather go with Tuitt here.
“Sack numbers can often mislead. Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Chris Jones are great examples of this. Their comparatively low pressure totals, combined with the fact that they rarely come off the field, reveal that these are three guys who spend a lot of time producing a whole lot of nothing. The solution is more simple than it seems, if the team just rotates more along the defensive line and finds some guys who can fill situational roles.”—2014 NFL Offseason - New England Patriots’ projected lineup, cap situation, free-agent and draft targets - ESPN
How do you think a team decides which way to address needs either free agency or the draft
It’s a good question. I think that priority free agent additions are at positions where you need experience and fairly immediate contributions. Overall, they should fill EVERY major need in free agency, but I’d put Defensive End and Center/Guard as the main focuses right off the bat.
You also will likely see additions at receiver, defensive back and running back as well. Maybe not guys who are expected or needed to start, but more of mid-to-low range free agents. Guys who were stuck on bad teams, had bad luck with injuries or just want one last shot.
Sometimes those guys work out (Mark Anderson, Alge Crumpler, Andre Carter) and sometimes they don’t (Marcus Benard, John Lynch, Torry Holt).
The goal is to go into the draft with no needs, especially not at the top of the depth chart. Eventually every position could be a need in-season, so you just have to take players who fit in New England and can play for BB.
As a result, sometimes depth is a little thin at positions. They got by with basically two defensive ends this year, but their lack of depth at defensive tackle came back to haunt them somewhat.
How do you think a 43 dline should be built, because it seems like now you need to have 3 DEs at least one run stopping DT and a pass rushing DT, also if you have that Dline, how does it affect how you build the rest of your defense
You’re essentially describing the Pats’ subpackage front, but traditional base 4-3 lines are a little different. They subscribe to the “Stop the run on the way quarterback” philosophy.
Maybe the best example of the traditional 4-3 is the Giants defense that whacked us twice in the Super Bowl. They matched up well against the Pats in those years because New England couldn’t (or wouldn’t) stick with their running game.
BB’s version of the 4-3 has had an interesting evolution. It started in 2011, when, in the strike-shortened preseason, BB felt it best to install the nickel front because it was less complex than the 3-4 which he usually used as the building block for his defense.
Now we’ve seen the Patriots are primarily a sub-package team, at an approximate 60% sub, 38% base, 2% short yardage clip.
So the sub front is as you described. Usually one big tackle in the middle and then an assortment of three pass rushers along the line. If we’re talking about the 43 base it gets a little more complex. Here’s a great read on it.
Essentially BB mixes who’s two-gapping and who’s shooting gaps. One side of the defense could be a traditional two-gapping 34 defense, while the other side is a one-gapping 43.
There wasn’t a place for a nose tackle really in a traditional 43, but in BB’s there is, and he’ll be moved around the formation as BB pleases to take away the run.
Overall, this is a new approach and somewhat revolutionary. I think for it to hit it’s full potential the Pats really need more depth than they had in 2013 both at defensive tackle and defensive end.
Once they can mix and match a little easier I think we’ll see some really good things, especially with the progress of Chandler, the steadiness of Ninkovich and the promise of Siliga, Chris Jones and Armond Armstead. If Kelly and Wilfork come back, look out!
Good names from Frenz here that are somewhat off the beaten path. Hakeem Nicks is interesting to me if he’s looking for a one-year deal to prove he’s still got it. The Giants and Pats have similar offensive terminology, that could help him assimilate. However I don’t think a lucrative long-term deal is the way the way to go.
Some good fits here, I think if there’s any spot the Pats could make a “splash” it would be at defensive end. A veteran who can be part of a rotation with Nink and Chandler would be perfect, while also playing significant sub package snaps.