Chris Price has picked up the mantle of best Sunday notes column and this one has a really interesting nugget about Adrian Wilson’s injury problems last year. They were far more severe than anyone knew.

Tavon Wilson once again got a lot of attention with the first-team at safety, sharing the reps with Harmon. This has been a continuing trend over the first few days of training camp, but may not necessarily mean anything, as the team may simply want to get a better look at what he can do at safety after spending much of last season on the bench and on special teams.
What has belichick done that past few years that shows/tells you he is still one of the best defensive geniuses in football history despite having average defenses

Well his teams have been in the conference championship or Super Bowl in each of the last three years so for all the talk of how terrible the Pats defense has been, I think that’s what matter most - winning games, being within striking distance of the Super Bowl every season.

I’ve focused on the defense heavily since 2008. It was in great part the impetus for starting this blog. I wanted to study how Belichick would rebuild the defense that inevitably had to turnover.

There’s no question the Pats had their missteps in the rebuild which was complicated by drafts that really didn’t have a lot of talent from 2007-2009. 

I also think the Pats didn’t quite put enough value on pass rushers until recently. That’s why I loved the pick of Easley in the first round. That pick alone shows how Belichick’s thinking has evolved since last decade.

If the Pats win another Super Bowl, I think Chandler Jones and Easley will be two big keys. It took a long time to get two players like them and I think they might’ve been a little too picky trying to find defensive ends and pass-rushing defensive tackles.

It’s strange to criticize the Pats about being behind the curve, but their focus on corners like Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite were missteps that didn’t fit the evolution of football where the value of playing physical man defense continued to rise as quarterbacks got better. It became a lot harder to win with smart guys who could pattern read and play sound “bend-don’t-break” defense.

I also look at defensive tackle as a spot where they were a little behind the curve, or maybe a better way to put it is that it just became too easy to overuse Vince Wilfork.

The guys who played next to Wilfork since 2009 just haven’t been good enough and that a significant spot in your front seven. Guys like Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace, etc. were just okay at best. Gerard Warren was the closest thing we had to a good compliment to Wilfork and he was at the end of the line.

Still, despite bad drafts and a defensive rebuild that took far longer than I thought it would, the Pats have been in the thick of it every year. That’s the testament of how good a coach BB is. Look at 2010’s defense and how many yards they gave up and explain how they went 14-2. It can’t make sense on paper.

How many coaches/GMs get a chance to rebuild a defense essentially from scratch? Not many have the longevity needed to do it, so we have to realize that BB was somewhat on new ground in the modern NFL era.

He’s one of the greatest coaches of all time but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He’s made mistakes, but in spite of them the Pats just keep on winning. 

Iron sharpens iron.
(via Patriots Training Camp - July 26, 2014)

Iron sharpens iron.

(via Patriots Training Camp - July 26, 2014)

What are 5 things you have heard or seen from camp that gives you hope for the season

1. Revis dominating on Saturday.

2. Thompkins continuing to make plays. How great it is for him to be able to go up against Revis et al every day. 

3. The general health of the injured guys - Wilfork, Gronk, Kelly all back. Mayo/Vollmer showing no ill effects from their season-enders last year.

4. Running back depth. Sounds like the young guys are getting heavy looks which is expected.

5. Second-year guys taking steps forward. Jamie Collins really looks like a beast with a year in New England’s training program under his belt. Him, Duron Harmon, Thompkins and, at some point, Dobson need to take steps forward.

I think it’s important not to read too much into every little detail at camp at this point. Guys are getting up to speed. Probably most revealing as we go along will be who is getting the majority of the reps. At the very least, those are the guys they want to get the most looks at and give them a chance to win a job. 

So when you hear about veterans like Brandon Bolden seeing less and less touches, that’s not a great sign.

Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, in his first contact since rupturing his Achilles last September, gave a “yes sir” as he exited the field when asked if the Achilles responded well. There seemed to be an easing-in process for Wilfork in run-game drills, as he is adjusting to having some bodies falling in front of him. He was a full participant in the practice, taking another important step in his recovery.
Garoppolo, who has thrown a few interceptions in practice, said some of the main advice he’s received from Brady is to take a “next play” mentality when things don’t go as planned.
Excellent coverage skills. Really has great anticipation and feel. He’s a very smart football player. As good as his physical skills are, I just think instinctively that he has a great anticipation of the passing game. Routs and quarterbacks and combinations, those kind of things. A lot of times he kind of runs routs before the receivers run them. He has that kind of anticipation. He’s a very sharp football player, a very instinctive player. Probably in the secondary along the lines of Rodney Harrison, he’d probably be a player who instinctively I would compare him to.
At this point, we’re just kind of in the generic, everybody learn how to do your job within the context of the defense, working with different people, different combinations at safety, cornerback, defensive line, whatever it happens to be, just get everybody working together.