Interesting tweet from Greg Bedard today:
On @GreshandZo I said Dowling is the key to the defense this yr. I meant as far as them improving. Wilfork is always the MVP— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) June 19, 2012
There’s no doubt Ras-I Dowling has become one of the most talked about players on the Patriots. He was the first player selected on day two of the 2011 draft when many thought the Pats would go with the proverbial pass rusher. It looked like the Pats justified his selection when he started the first two games of the season despite missing significant time in training camp, but he was again hit with the injury bug and missed the rest of the season.
Dowling has the kind of size that the Pats lack in their secondary, and his presence on the outside would certainly open up a number of options for how they use their players. However if Dowling misses time or can’t produce it forces their hand a bit more. Kyle Arrington could not play in the slot where he seems to fit best, and they’d have even less flexibility with Devin McCourty.
Ultimately Dowling’s size, length and skill playing man-to-man make him a uniquely talented player on the Pats roster, one who would really open up a wide array of defensive possibilities in both scheme and personnel. From that perspective I agree with Bedard, he’s a big key to the defensive improvement this year. If he falters guys like Will Allen, Tavon Wilson, and Steve Gregory will really come to the forefront.