Dismiss Notice
Guest, I have a big favor to ask you. We've been working very hard to establish ourselves on social media. If you like/follow our pages it would be a HUGE help to us. SoSH on Facebook and Inside the Pylon Thanks! Nip

2018 Patriots Defense

Discussion in 'Blinded by the Lombardis: Patriots Forum' started by BaseballJones, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,403
    The draft is over. Free agency is largely over, although there's always teams releasing guys and picking up other guys so we know the roster is not complete. But it's time to look at the 2018 defense. The 2017 defense was a mixed bag. Horrible, catastrophically bad the first four weeks, and then they got their act together and were actually pretty solid. Fools gold maybe, in part because of the talent level of the offenses they faced, but at the end of the day, they were playing very well. And then came the Super Bowl and they got absolutely blitzkrieged by Philly. I contend, and will always contend, that it was a combination of these factors:

    (1) The Patriots' D playing very poorly.
    (2) Philly's offense executing at a very high level.
    (3) The refs not calling any offensive holding penalties (for either team) which allowed the offensive lines to maul the defenses, and when that happens, points are going to be scored.
    (4) Not playing Malcolm Butler, which is still inexplicable to us as we haven't really gotten (nor should we expect to get) a real full explanation for it, but which created a cascade effect and really hampered the defense.

    So it's hard to say if what we saw in the Super Bowl is what the Patriots defense REALLY was, or if it was just, for various reasons, a singularly awful performance at the worst time imaginable. Which can happen. Good defenses sometimes play poorly in the biggest games. Just to name a few...

    - Buffalo's 6th ranked defense gave up 30 points to Dallas in SB 28.
    - San Diego's 9th ranked defense gave up 49 points to San Fran in SB 29.
    - New England's 6th ranked defense gave up 46 points to Chicago in SB 20.
    - Denver's 1st ranked defense gave up 55 points to San Fran in SB 24.
    - Philly's 4th ranked defense gave up 33 points and a record 613 yards to NE in SB 52.
    - Seattle's 1st ranked defense gave up 28 points to NE in SB 49.
    - Oakland's 6th ranked defense gave up 48 points to TB in SB 37.
    - Denver's 7th ranked defense gave up 42 points to Washington in SB 22.
    - Dallas' 3rd ranked defense gave up 35 points to Pittsburgh in SB 13.

    I mean, it happens. Sometimes very good defenses get shelled in the biggest moments. This isn't me arguing that the Patriots had a great defense last year. They didn't. But they weren't as good as they appeared during their great stretch, and they weren't as bad as they appeared in the Super Bowl.

    It is clear, however, that the defense needed improvement over last year. The offense should be elite, returning Edelman, adding OL help, and drafting Michel. The defense, however, needs work.

    So what has happened in the off-season?

    They lost CB Bademosi and CB Butler to free agency, and DT Branch was cut. That's it. Bademosi was mainly a special teams guy forced to play in the SB because of the decision to bench Butler. Butler was average at best in 2017, but had been much better than that in 2016. Branch was terrible as the year went on, to the point where he was a healthy scratch during the playoffs.

    This offseason, through free agency and trades, they added:
    - DE Adrian Clayborn
    - DT Danny Shelton
    - CB Jason McCourty

    Clayborn isn't as good a pass rusher as his 2017 stats would suggest, as he got 6 of his 9.5 sacks in one game against a backup LT. Still, you can't pretend that that game didn't happen. He certainly could be helpful in upgrading the pass rush. Shelton is a solid brick in the middle, and should be an improvement over Branch. McCourty is every bit the equal of 2017 Malcolm Butler, though I think he's a downgrade from 2016 Malcolm Butler. But then again, if the Patriots had 2016 Malcolm Butler in 2017, they probably win the Super Bowl. But they didn't, and it's the 2017 defense that needs improvement. So McCourty probably represents even a slight upgrade at the CB spot.

    In the draft they picked up:
    - LB Ja'Whaun Bentley
    - LB Christian Sam
    - CB Duke Dawson
    - CB Keion Crossen

    It's so hard to know what these guys can be. Bentley seems like an old-school run-stuffer who lacks speed, but then I see game tape and I hear the guys on TV talk about him and he just seems like a guy who really can play football. Sam is a better athlete so his game might translate better in the NFL. Dawson might be a CB who fails but also he has ability. Crossen seems like a special teams guy right out of the gate but is an off-the-charts athlete with phenomenal physical tools. So maybe he won't help the defense in 2018 but he could maybe in 2019 and beyond. I expect at least two of these guys to contribute on defense in a positive way.

    They are also getting back from injury:
    - LB Dont'a Hightower
    - DE Derek Rivers
    - DT Vincent Valentine
    - LB Harvey Langhi
    - CB Jonathan Jones
    - CB Cyrus Jones

    Hightower is, of course, one of the best overall defensive players on the team. A real leader, a thumper, and a guy who can blitz effectively. Valentine showed promise last year and he could be a key player in the middle. Rivers might be the key guy in this group, however. He was a pass rush stud in college but he missed all of 2017 with an injury. Essentially he got a redshirt season, under the tutelage of the New England Patriots. Adding him is like drafting him in the 2nd round this year. He has significant potential, though, with any rookie, it remains nothing but potential until it's realized. Langhi also has potential, and it will be interesting to see him suit up this year.

    Jonathan Jones improved considerably last year from his previous year, to the point where I thought (and others expressed it here in this forum) that his injury would be a sneaky significant injury for them. Turns out to be true. They REALLY could have used him in the Super Bowl. Him returning will be important. Cyrus Jones is a project so they not only need him back healthy, they also need him to improve.

    They are banking on improvement from:
    - DE Deatrich Wise
    - DT/DE Trey Flowers
    - CB Cyrus Jones
    - LB Marquis Flowers
    - DT Adam Butler

    I already mentioned Cyrus Jones. This is his do-or-die year, IMO. If he can live up to his physical ability, he'll be terrific. If not, he'll get cut. Trey Flowers is a guy with real ability who should take the next step this coming season. Wise has ability and finished with 5 sacks as his playing time increased as the season went on. Marquise Flowers is maybe the fastest linebacker on the team and played a lot during the Super Bowl, which didn't exactly go well. But he has physical tools to be good. Time for him to get to the next level.


    It was easy to watch the draft and be frustrated that they "didn't address the defense". But in reality, this entire offseason, they have addressed it. They made some key acquisitions by trade and in free agency. They drafted four defensive players. They are getting some key guys back from injury. And they have good reason to expect some of their young and talented defensive players to improve from 2017.

    One key thing to remember: They lost Matt Patricia. For some here, this is very good news. For others, this is depressing. BB will have a lot more hands-on work with the defense in 2018, and unless he's completely lost his fastball, this probably represents an improvement in coaching for the defense.
     
    #1 BaseballJones, Apr 30, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  2. ( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

    ( . ) ( . ) and (_!_) T&A SoSH Member

    Messages:
    5,104
    You should add DT Adam Butler into the 'banking on improvement' from bucket. He made the team as an UDFA and played in every game last season. He was used mostly in a reserve role but did record his first two career sacks in the playoffs. Hopefully he hasn't hit his ceiling yet and continue to grow into a role where he gives them some pass rush in the middle of the line.

    Trey Flowers is pretty well established at this point but if at least one of Wise or Butler can take a step forward towards getting more consistent pressure on the QB then it'd be a huge help for this defense.
     
  3. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,403
    Good catch. Forgot about him.
     
  4. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    They also lost Harrison and Jean-Francois and David Harris - these were all small losses of course, but similar to Bademosi.

    If McCourty is this good ... why is Cleveland (which needed CB so badly they took one #4 overall) cutting him? I think he'll be fine, but he's older and it wouldn't be shocking if guys like Rowe and Dawson (or one of the Jones boys) take time away from him.

    I would say more that two could contribute but probably not in a positive way. Like, they might play 30% of snaps but not necessarily at a high level. That's fine, you need guys like that, but it's not really moving the needle versus having a veteran there.

    It's "Langi" with no "h." It's not Italian. I agree Rivers is the key guy; if he's a stud, edge rush could be a strength. It also lets them kick Flowers inside more on passing downs, where he does his best work IMO.

    I see Cyrus as a longshot to make the team with the addition of Dawson and Berrios as a PR option. Maybe he will surprise. Jonathan did look good at times last year. I was concerned his injury was late enough that he might start the year on PUP but Volin reported he should be ready for all the offseason stuff.

    Wise is the only one of those guys I would expect improvement from, and his rookie year was so good it might be more "similar quality but more consistent" than a noticeable step forward. Both Flowerses are veterans and Jones probably doesn't make the squad. Malcom Brown, Eric Rowe, and Elandon Roberts (if he makes the team) could be on this list though.

    Your analysis doesn't build in any downside risk. Yes, there are players returning from injury, but we're not likely to make it through the season unscathed. What happens if Hightower gets hurt again? Trey Flowers? Chung (leading to Jordan Richards: full time player)? The defense did not really have especially bad injury luck in 2017; I'd expect maybe a hair more healthy this year but similar wouldn't shock me.

    There's also risk of veteran decline. D.McCourty and Chung are both over 30. Hightower's at the age where Mayo started falling apart (and he missed considerable time last year). New additions J.McCourty and Clayborn are older. Branch falling off a cliff was a big factor in the 2017 defense struggling; if the McCourty twins look a step slower in 2018, the secondary will look like less of a strength than it does today.

    Belichick is hands-on anyway, especially with the defense, from everything we have read / seen. Perhaps Flores will ultimately represent an improvement on Patricia but I imagine there will be an adjustment period (particularly if he wants to do some things differently, which we really can't know at this time).
     
  5. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,094
    I'm really surprised with how the off-season went for the defense; when you look at the moves (losing Butler which is fine given the salary, losing some random pieces, adding three solid and tough but not overly athletic veterans in Shelton, Clayborn and JMcC, and drafting only one defensive player (Dawson) who has a reasonable chance of contributing it appears that his analysis is the talent level was more or less fine and that they just need a little more communication, better tackling, play recognition and the like.

    I'm dubious because they sucked but BB has shown time and time again that he'll absolutely blow up unit or team if he has to so who knows.
     
  6. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,937
    I would think that there will be a couple of signings or trades between now and the start of training camp. The Pats have a lot of 2019 draft picks; my guess is that a couple get turned into veterans who need a change of scenery for one reason or another.
     
  7. jercra

    jercra Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,829
    I'm not sure if this is the right place for this discussion, but isn't it also possible that BB thinks the defense just doesn't matter as much as the offense? Everyone keeps bringing up the SB as if they lost in the first round by a score of 45-3, when in fact they lost the SB by 1 score to a team that had just beat the #1 ranked D by a score of 38-7. The current SB champions gave up record setting amounts of offense in a number of different categories. Their D was atrocious and yet they are the SB champions. The prior year champs gave up 28 points in their SB win. The trend has been towards offense for a while now. We all want a stifling D to go with the crazy offense, but it's possible that BB recognizes that unless it's a generational D, it's better to spend resources on O.
     
  8. RedOctober3829

    RedOctober3829 Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    36,532
    I'm holding out hope for Whitney Mercilus for a draft pick.
     
  9. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,403
    Yeah not to derail the thread, but....

    Last six Super Bowl scores:

    SB 47: Bal 35, SF 31
    SB 48: Sea 43, Den 8
    SB 49: NE 28, Sea 24
    SB 50: Den 24, Car 10
    SB 51: NE 34, Atl 28
    SB 52: Phi 41, NE 33

    Average score for the winning team: 34.2
    Average score for the losing team: 22.3

    SB 48 and 50 were games where the winning defense clearly dominated. But in the other four, the winning defense gave up an average of 29 points a game.

    We need to not forget that Philly just won the Super Bowl by posting one of the worst defensive performances in Super Bowl history, allowing 613 total yards, 29 first downs, and 33 points (while poor kicking game play cost NE another 4 points on what should have been easy kicks).

    But I don't think this means that BB thinks defense isn't important. I just think he thinks he's done some good things to address it. But yeah, he might think in today's game, it's better to have an elite offense and an average defense than to weaken that offense in hopes of turning the defense from average to very good.
     
  10. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,094
    I think this is largely right--if you have a good quarterback you're pretty path dependent so you're going to want to make sure that you have a good line and you're going to want to keep skill players together for a long time for consistency's sake. Maybe if you don't have a good QB you go a different direction but once you've got the GOAT roll with it.

    But that doesn't answer the question of why you decide to keep this shitty defense more or less in place instead of overhauling the thing
     
  11. FL4WL3SS

    FL4WL3SS Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    10,718
    We'll likely never know, but I wonder how much of the inconsistent play last year was due to coaching. To my eye, a decent portion of blame in the SB was on the coaching staff and it seemed that in the first 4 games there were a lot of communication issues and it seemed as though some guys were not prepared.

    This is a total guess here, but it might be factoring into the off-season plans. If BB thinks the players on the roster are good enough, he may think he just needs to make some coaching improvements to get them where they need to be instead of overhauling the roster.
     
  12. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    I see it the same way you do. I guess I have three thoughts about how you and I might be wrongish about this:
    1) Belichick may think Rivers is special and is going to have a huge impact. I'm more skeptical because he's coming from Youngstown State and hasn't played in a year, but BB may have better information.
    2) Belichick may think a lot of the defensive problems stem from up front and Branch's dropoff and thinks Shelton will make a huge difference as an immovable piece in the middle of the DL. The Browns had the #2 ranked rush defense on a per-carry basis and the Pats were 31st. Does having Shelton force more third downs, make opposing offenses more one-dimensional, lets the guys behind play faster? I'm skeptical you can make slow guys play fast, but the D did seem more effective in 2015-2016 when Branch was playing better (or Wilfork in 2014).
    3) Belichick may think he is the problem and he's been coaching RPOs (and maybe other stuff) wrong and has a plan for teaching differently in 2018. I'm skeptical there wouldn't need to be some personnel component here. Maybe he thinks Shelton will mess up blocking schemes on his own and the LBs will react better behind.

    I keep coming back to Rivers and Shelton as the X-factors but my money, sadly, is on the D being about the same in 2018 as it was in 2017.
     
  13. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,094
    Replacing Branch/Marsh/Lee/Van Noy/excessive Butler/Wise/Trey Flowers snaps with some snaps for Clayborn and Shelton and Hightower should make it a more physical defense. Maybe the plan is to just toughen up against the run some you'll force other teams into all pass offenses fairly quickly. Given the schedule this year (AFC East, AFCSouth and NFC north) and given how many bad quarterbacks in those divisions that's not a terrible plan.
     
  14. OurF'ingCity

    OurF'ingCity Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,611
    The problem is, what exactly would an "overhaul" consist of? Hightower, Trey Flowers, Gilmore, McCourty, Chung, and to a lesser extent Harmon are all key pieces and aren't going anywhere. Butler is gone and they clearly made at least a solid improvement (and potentially much more than that) on the line by replacing Branch with Shelton. I don't know what Clayborn will bring but that is another piece on the line. Plus they are getting back all the people from injury noted above.

    I think the only real areas where you could say the Pats should have improved and didn't are at Van Noy's spot and at CB. But I'm not entirely sure whether any Van Noy replacements would have been any better given the cost of acquisition or, in the case of the draft, the potential for a bust or at minimum the time needed to learn the Pats' system. CB is the one area, for me, where they seem lacking as Jason McCourty is basically a poor man's Butler - we really want Rowe or McCourty as the #2 CB heading into the year? On the other hand, Belichick has always taken something of a plug-n-play approach to CB and he may just be figuring that one of Rowe, McCourty, Jones, other Jones, or Dawson will stand out enough to solidify that #2 spot which, while I don't 100% agree with that approach, at least has some logic to it.

    So I think we are left to quibble with marginal decisions like not taking a CB or LB in the first round, which you certainly can do (although it seemed pretty apparent Belichick thought the D class this year was trash for the most part). But it's hard to see what more of an "overhaul" Belichick could have accomplished even if he had wanted to.
     
  15. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    26,562
    SN above:

    “Your analysis does not build in any downside risk.”

    I think that’s a key to understanding this offseason. Pats were willing to incur no significant downside risk on offense. It was a plug and play draft with the first and third round picks.

    Understandable to be sure. The defense is not as important as the offense when you may have 2 years of great play at the most important position on the field, as Shelter notes.

    I think the defense remains an enormous ? after last year especially. I am not buying improvement after game 4. It was illusory, and the minute we faced a multidimensional fast offense again, we got smoked.

    That said, there is time and flexibility. I view the extra picks in 2019 as currency. There is the offseason thru week 8, and if they don’t draw to an inside straight with the ???s on hand, they will deal. I don’t see another episode of pitiful and helpless in a playoff game if they can possibly avoid it. Otherwise, you are just wasting the Brady years left.

    Edit. I don’t think you can say B.B. thought the entire D class was crap this year. You can say that about the mid rounds. There clearly was elite talent at the top of this draft, which he could have maneuvered to get. But he didn’t — because again he was allowing for no downside risk on offense.
     
  16. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,094
    I'm not recommending it--I'll trust BB--but seeing how bad the defense was for long stretches I wouldn't have been shocked if he just blew it up and it's really not that hard. Van Noy, Chung, M. Flowers Rowe were all (at least contractually) replaceable but they're all back--and you're never going to be athletic or good in covering the middle of the field with Hightower and Van Noy on the field at the same time. T. Flowers is a good player with some trade value but likely to be too expensive to resign and maybe it would be worth moving on from a short defensive end who can't really play in space. Malcolm Brown is another ok player with some trade value.

    There were guys like Darius Leonard and Rashaan Evans who we could have drafted without giving up a lot of draft capital.

    With four first and second round picks and a lot of cheap players on defense it would have been easy to overhaul if that's what BB wanted to do. Surprisingly he didn't and I assume that that will work out well for him but who knows..
     
  17. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,403
    I hear you. Just a couple of thoughts by way of reply. During that horrific opening four-game stretch, during which time the Patriots were fielding the worst defense in NFL history (no exaggeration), they were giving up 457 yards of offense, 32 points, and 24 first downs a game. In the Super Bowl, they gave up 538 yards, 41 points, and 25 first downs. In other words, if they "merely" gave up what they gave up during that four-game stretch, they actually WIN the Super Bowl.

    To reiterate what I said in the OP, I think these four factors played a huge role in the craptastic outcome:

    (1) The Patriots' D playing very poorly.
    (2) Philly's offense executing at a very high level.
    (3) The refs not calling any offensive holding penalties (for either team) which allowed the offensive lines to maul the defenses, and when that happens, points are going to be scored.
    (4) Not playing Malcolm Butler, which is still inexplicable to us as we haven't really gotten (nor should we expect to get) a real full explanation for it, but which created a cascade effect and really hampered the defense.

    I'll throw in a fifth point as well: We now know that the NFL gifted Philly 4 points on the Clement touchdown, which never should have happened, and which only happened because the officials decided to apply a new catch rule that wasn't in place for the Super Bowl. That came on third and long, and Philly would have kicked the field goal. It's not a decisive point as it didn't change the ultimate outcome, but that play added 22 yards and 4 points to the awful totals the Pats' defense allowed.

    So yes, the Patriots got smoked in the SB. But even that game was an outlier among games where they got smoked. It was an anomaly. How many times in the BB era have we seen the Patriots give up 41 points and 530+ yards of offense? Here's the answer:

    2018 vs Phi - 41 points, 538 yards (Super Bowl)
    2017 vs KC - 42 points, 537 yards

    That's it. Two times over 17 years.

    Several times teams have come close to this:
    2014 vs KC - 41 points, 443 yards
    2012 vs SF - 41 points, 388 yards
    2009 vs NO - 38 points, 480 yards
    2008 vs Mia - 38 points, 461 yards
    2007 vs Ind - 38 points, 455 yards (AFCCG)
    2005 vs SD - 41 points, 431 yards
    2005 vs Ind - 40 points, 453 yards

    But this is out of 309 regular and postseason games combined. Two times out of 309 games have the Patriots given up 41+ points and 530+ yards in the same game. That's 0.6% of the games. And if you want to "count" the games where they gave up something in that vicinity, that's an additional 7 games, making it 9 games out of 309, or 2.9%.

    What happened in the Super Bowl is a complete statistical outlier. It literally has happened only one other time in 309 games. Ironically, it happened to a team that plays a similar style of offense, so there may be something to that, especially when you consider that 2014 KC game as well. Definitely something to look into. But still...yes they got smoked but you just never expect it to play out like THAT. I think the five factors I listed above all were relevant. The Pats' D simply isn't remotely as bad as they showed in the Super Bowl. They CAN'T be. It's impossible to be, or else they literally have the worst defense in NFL history. And remember, if they just played a LITTLE better (still terrible; just not historically awful), they are hoisting their sixth Lombardi.
     
  18. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,118
    I am in the same boat. Lots of gambling on the defensive side with guys you hope improve or contribute after injury. If it works out I think they could have an average to above average defense. If it doesn't they are back to where we were last year. I don't know what happens but if I had to bet on it from where the roster is now I think they are closer to bad than average.
     
  19. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    They also needed a historically great offensive performance to even stay in shouting distance. If the O plays a B-minus game in the Super Bowl, they get blown out. I don't think the defense will give up 40+ points per game in 2018 and be the worst D ever like they played against Philly, but they can be a lot "better" and still be terrible.
     
  20. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,403
    Totally agree. I just think we are feeling different about the defense if Brady leads them down the field like we all thought they would and the Pats win 41-38. Not good about the defense, but better, and we're more likely chalking it up to an anomaly than this being indicative of their true level. That's all I'm saying.
     
  21. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    30,250
    We’re certainly feeling better with #6 in the trophy case but I would probably just be more relieved than anything. Last year was such a weird season for the defense. They started the year like an Arena League defense, then had a nice multiweek stretch, and then made 2 non-elite QBs look like studs. Now, you certainly have to give credit where credit is due and commend Bortles/Foles for playing very well but they weren’t faced with much resistance. And that was disappointing to me but certainly not unexpected.

    Now, every year is new and there are a decent amount of new faces but I’m still not wowed by the talent on the defensive side of the ball. We are slow at LB and still don’t figure to have much of a pass rush. The secondary should figure to be a little better. I am confident that Shelton will help to fix the run defense but that’s about it.

    I’ll be watching Rivers like a hawk this summer. I think we have a pretty good idea of what everyone else will be able to give us but he’s a complete unknown who, if good, really changes the look and feel of the defense.
     
  22. OurF'ingCity

    OurF'ingCity Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,611
    Right, but then you need to replace all those players. If you replace Van Noy, M. Flowers and Rowe (just to take an example, as I don't think they would move on from Chung) with first- and second-round picks, is the defense actually any better this year? Obviously it comes down to who they might have picked, but you are taking a big risk if you jettison a bunch of the average-ish players they have who are familiar with the system for a bunch of rookies (or veteran if they traded picks for a player) who could bust. It could end up working out great, but could also end up with a situation where we just replaced Van Noy, as average as he is, with another player who is just as average but in different ways. My guess is given Brady's limited window Belichick decided to play it safe in that respect - if it looked like the Pats were going to really take a nosedive going forward he might have been more willing to just jettison everybody and hope they hit home runs on one or two draft picks.
     
  23. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    I don't think overhauling would have necessarily been draft picks. The 2006 WR group was an issue, so they grabbed Moss and Welker. The 2013 CB group was a disaster after Talib went down in the AFCCG, so they picked up Revis and Browner. In both cases those were pretty dramatic changes from the kinds of players they'd pursued in the past. A parallel move here might have been making the Alec Ogletree trade that NYG did (not advocating that particular move, just an example).

    Man, this is a dim view of Flowers. At his best, I think he's the best player on the defense. He was a damn wrecking ball in SB LI. I think he's more consistent than Chandler Jones and the best pass-rusher they've had since McGinest, or at least since early Seymour. I can't see a scenario where they get rid of him and get better, certainly not without incurring a ton of cost.

    Speaking of Chandler Jones ... that trade looks a lot worse than it did 12 months ago. And I wasn't a fan of it then.
     
  24. jercra

    jercra Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,829
    You also can't have it both ways. If Philly's O put up a B-minus game in the Super Bowl, the Pats blow the Eagles out. Their D sucked too. As noted, there were a bunch of things that went into the Super Bowl D from both teams.
     
  25. Saints Rest

    Saints Rest Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,937
    I wonder if BB thinks that the defense's success (or lack thereof) is about cleaning up some things that may seem minor to people like us, but are actually fundamental and critical in his thinking. I'll give you two possibilities:
    1. The Secondary. We heard multiple times all year, from multiple sources, that the secondary had a lot of issues with "communication." There has also been some pundits who have said that the issue with M Butler last year was that he wasn't "doing his job" at far too frequent a rate. Laying aside the year of Revis and Browner (and even in that year, the SB was won by an UDFA), BB doesn't seem to have put much stock (and by "stock", I mean resources, either draft or FA cash) in CB's. He has won a lot of games, including Super Bowls, with CB's named Guy, Moreland, Smith, Buckley, to say nothing of Brown and Edelman. Perhaps BB is banking on JMcC being more of a "do your job" kind of guy than Butler was last year. Maybe BB figures that sort of smart play is more valuable than the speed burners or the "playmakers."
    2. The Run Defense. The Pats have always, and I mean ALWAYS, had a brick wall in the middle of the DL. From Ted Washington, to Big Vince, and even to A Branch, ca 2016, they had a guy who made it very hard to run up the middle on the Pats. Last year, they didn't have that guy. Without that rock, perhaps the other guys have to worry too much about runs between the tackles, and thereby lose the edge. Perhaps BB sees Shelton as that immovable object in the middle of the line that makes all the other pieces fit.
     
  26. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    26,562
    And you also can’t compare apples to parsnips. We’re talking about Tom Brady v Nick Foles. Pats bet against Foles and lost.

    And if the Pats has gotten #6, they shouldn’t have been feeling much different about the defense. The better reaction, the brass’ likely reaction, would be, “we got away with one there, and we have to get better.”
     
  27. Morgan's Magic Snowplow

    Morgan's Magic Snowplow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    16,052
    I think people focus a little too much on the slow LBs in diagnosing the problems of the defense last year. Having relative plodders there is obviously a problem when it comes to covering RBs. But the Patriots' defense had a lot of problems last year. They were worse against the run than against the pass (by DVOA) and in aggregate they were about just as bad against WRs as they were against RBs (again, by DVOA). Its not really obvious that adding a fast LB (who might be a liability against the run) was the best way to fix a team with these kinds of problems.

    The defense could get meaningfully better - not great, but better - just by having a better and deeper group of DBs, the Gilmore of the second half of the season once he had settled in, a stouter DL against the run, and LBs that play the run better even if they continue to struggle in pass protection.

    Of course, they could get worse too.
     
  28. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,094
    A 17 sack season will do that.

    I actually really like Flower (and is about 10 months from being paid like an all pro) but maybe you don't have the same problems against the run out of sub packages if you're using a more conventional 3 tech type DT inside. On the whole I think he's clearly worth it but what does Bill think.

    There's also the other problem that when you have Flowers and Hightower and Van Noy (and this year Clayborn) all on the field you're just not collectively going to be that fast at the edge/linebacker. It's one of those deal--if you want a team that tackles well, get good tacklers. If you want a fast team, get fast players. And if the problem was, all many of us believed, a lack of explosive athletes in the front seven, Flowers is one guy you'd have to think long and hard about replacing.

    Anyhow, just kind of spitballing it. Clearly BB disagrees.
     
  29. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    If this was "Sons of Steve Jeltz" I might be posting in the "did SB LI reveal a flaw in Philly's D?" thread but it's not and there isn't one and I don't care. This thread is about the Pats defense.
     
  30. Pandemonium67

    Pandemonium67 Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,317
    Relative plodders at LB is one of the problems, and its evil twin is the inability to terrorize the QB. In the Super Bowl, this is compounded by refs not calling many O holding penalties. This lack of a pass rush has been a thorn in the Pats' side for several years now, and the recent draft offers little help.

    Yes, maybe the current guys will improve and maybe the schemes will be better, but I'm not overly optimistic. Unless BB pulls off a trade that miraculously lands a guy who can rush the passer, I think we're going to see lots more 3rd down frustration next year.
     
  31. Super Nomario

    Super Nomario Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    I'm curious what kind of contract Flowers will fetch. For the reasons you state he doesn't fit neatly in a "DE" or "DT" bucket. His sack totals - 13.5 in two seasons - are nice but not overwhelming. He is very disruptive on a per-play basis but it doesn't always show up in the stats, and he doesn't have the conventional measurables teams look for. I think he has more value to the Patriots (who are pretty amorphous / multiple up front) than most teams, and I wouldn't be surprised if he signs for less than we'd expect for the same reasons he was a fourth-round pick in the first place.
     
  32. BigJimEd

    BigJimEd Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,517
    I'm not sure about this. They just gave Gilmore a big contract. They paid Revis. McCourty was a first round pick as a CB. They've taken plenty in the 2nd round. Some of these moves have not worked out well but they've put resources into CB.

    I think many of you are understating what they've put into the D overall. Seen several posts since the draft started starting something among the lines that Bill doesn't even care about the D. But most of the moves pre draft were on defense. Look at the past 6 or 7 drafts and you'll find plenty of defensive guys in the first 3 or 4 picks.

    Do I like their lb depth at this point? No but I don't want them to blow it up just for the sake of it.
    I do like the additions so far, particular Claiborne, and I'm hoping on good things from Flores.
     
  33. bakahump

    bakahump Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,054
    The question (or maybe observation) really seems to be that yes its been a "problem" for years. We all see it. We all bitch about it. We all want better athletes to fix it.
    Yet BB doesnt.

    Now you may disagree completely or in degrees about him being the best coach ever. But we would have to be stupid to believe that he doesnt notice a "lack of Pass rush or a Lack of LB speed".

    So either he doesnt see it as a problem (which could be anything from their is a pass rush disrupting throws....just not getting sacks and the LBers are where they are supposed to be to make plays but arent.....so they are fast enough) or ???

    Seriously, for those of you who are "disappointed" that we are sticking with the same personnel what is BBs end game? Why would he do that? He has had opportunity to change things alot or around the edges (which it could be argued he has done with JMAC, Shelton, etc etc).
    Why do YOU think he is "mismanaging" the defense so badly? Cause that really what many of you are claiming.

    Not how but WHY?
     
  34. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,118
    The top 4 off-ball linebackers in the draft were all taken by 23.

    Pats Pulpit has an article showing that the Pats had 4 LBs spots targeted in the draft. I think one or more of those guys might have been on their radar. Then again who knows. It's clear they want to upgrade LB. Let's see what they do before the season starts.
     
  35. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    26,562
    With the last one going at 22, right? Which means the mission wasn’t prioritized, at least over addressing the o-line. Which underscores — no significant downside risk on offense, we’ll take our chances on defense, at least for this draft. They had the ammo.

    Which, again, makes sense, but you’re playing with fire. Unless you’ve internally committed to spending 2019 draft resources if/when push comes to shove.
     
  36. Harry Hooper

    Harry Hooper Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    24,744
    Our last impressions of Van Noy were not very good, but he looked like a much better player mid-season before he got injured than when he came back from his injury timeout. But that's just 1 player. Otherwise, it's hard to get much sense of what BB has in mind. Maybe (despite the result in the SB) he's headed for a defensive front that is super stout against the run backed up by a big secondary, so limited concerns about having coverage LBs?
     
  37. SMU_Sox

    SMU_Sox loves his fluffykins SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,118
    The way I saw it was in 2016 and 2017 the return from those drafts is still largely undetermined but chances are they had a lot of busts. The guys they targeted in the first two rounds have a tremendous amount of flexibility. Wynn potentially can play 4/5 spots on the line. Michel can be a 3-down back. Dawson can play outside or slot corner. They do not draft based on purely on need. You could’ve made an argument that they needed or it would’ve been beneficial to them to draft almost any position this year anyway. If you look at the guys selected it picked 23 and after you’ll notice that offensive players were swiped up there. It’s likely to me that Bill had a higher grade on the offensive players available from 23 to 31 versus the defensive players and that’s why he made the decisions that he did. Best talent on the board and upgrades the roster and team significantly. Aside from QBs, Saquon, and OTs it was all defense. The year before 3 WRs were taken. The high end defensive players they probably would target were gone this year.

    Last year one of the reasons the defense didn’t give up as many points as they did is because they often had great starting field position against opponents. It is hard to build a roster that is talented from top to bottom at all positions. I think the patriots have a good to great offense and a good secondary but unless the rookies, injured guys, and younger guys take significant strides the front 7 is going to continue to be a weakness.

    They amassed a significant amount of 2019 draft picks which can be used to trade for guys pre-season as well. Still a lot of risk and uncertainty with the group.
     
  38. RetractableRoof

    RetractableRoof Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    2,129
    Shea McClellan was released in March with an injury designation. Does anyone know if he can be brought back? I thought his athleticism was missed after he was injured.
     
  39. mwonow

    mwonow Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

    Messages:
    4,763
    I think that both the SB and Evans getting picked at 22 impact perceptions here (mine included, for sure). The SB showed that the Pats lacked athleticism at LB, which makes it hard to not wonder what happens without better athletes in 2018. Similarly, Wynn sure sounds like a stud, but I wonder if they would have taken Evans instead if he hadn't been plucked at 22? They certainly could have moved up one pick - but would they, if they had high grades on both Evans and Wynn and knew they'd be getting one? Is this just a case of other teams' actions defining a path for 23?

    I'm also wondering if BB isn't planning to try to scheme around some of the problems - with like a 4-2-5 or 3-2-6 type alignment that uses safeties or slot corners to deny crossing patterns in the middle of the field. If that's the case, Sheldon is a key and needs to stay healthy - they'll need someone to each up blockers in the middle and make room for High/Roberts/Van Noy (/Bentley? Sam?) to be mostly responsible for wrapping up RBs/shooting the gap on passes. I know that isn't the typical Pats 2-gap MO, but it seems like more DBs would be better than more LBs in coverage, if the line can be stout against the run with a front 6 rather than front 7.
     
  40. Was (Not Wasdin)

    Was (Not Wasdin) family crest has godzilla SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,788
    I think unless Cyrus Jones has made a massive leap, he gets the chop, or gets the "you're a safety now" treatment, depending on Jonathan Jones' health.

    Gilmore, J-Mac, Jonathan Jones and Duke Dawson should be locks. (I really hope Dawson sticks, because that is just a great football name). I think it then comes down to Rowe vs. Cyrus, unless they end up carrying 6 corners.

    FWIW I heard somewhere on a podcast (maybe Mayo) someone taking the view that Jones is "too heavy" to play corner. Not fat, but too bulked up, which hampers his fluidity.
     
  41. Shelterdog

    Shelterdog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    11,094
    Which Jones-Cyrus I guess? Both Joneses are a little short of a safety conversion but maybe it's not a crazy idea.
     
  42. Was (Not Wasdin)

    Was (Not Wasdin) family crest has godzilla SoSH Member

    Messages:
    1,788
    Yes, Cyrus, sorry about that.
     
  43. Three10toLeft

    Three10toLeft lurker

    Messages:
    1,480
    Broncos declined their 2019 option on Shane Ray. Just drafted Chubb, obviously also have Miller as well...

    Possible trade target? He seemed to have been progressing nicely before battling a wrist injury last year.
     
  44. BigSoxFan

    BigSoxFan Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    30,250
    Dante Fowler Jr. as well. I think both guys would be useful additions to the Pats. Certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see a trade in training camp once BB has a chance to evaluate what he’s got.
     
  45. DrewDawg

    DrewDawg Dorito Dink SoSH Member

    Messages:
    32,241
  46. Harry Hooper

    Harry Hooper Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    24,744
    Wasn't McGinest into some martial arts training when he played?
     
  47. m0ckduck

    m0ckduck Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    823
    Andre Tippet was a 6th degree blackbelt. McGinest I have no idea.
     
  48. dcmissle

    dcmissle Deflatigator Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    26,562
    “Whatever it takes ...!”
     
  49. bakahump

    bakahump Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    6,054
    Singletary too was into some martial arts (Samurai Linebacker??) . Not a Pass rusher per se, but Martial arts does teach balance and coordination which is huge in defense or when doing those gymnastics around the edge while wrestling with a 325lb OT.
     
  50. dbn

    dbn Member SoSH Member

    Messages:
    7,767
    Hey, Lynn Swann did ballet. Whatever works.
     

Share This Page