A look at some of the risers and fallers when it comes to playing time on defense between the 2011 season and 2010 season (as charted in press box, small margin for error):
S Sergio Brown -- 25.6% from 7.8%
DL Brandon Deaderick -- 40.6%* from 20.0%
CB Julian Edelman -- 9.3% from 0.0%
DL Kyle Love -- 50.5% from 13.7%
OLB/DE Rob Ninkovich -- 82.3% from 47.0%
S Matthew Slater -- 8.1% from 0.0%
LB Tracy White -- 18.3% from .02%
DL Vince Wilfork -- 86.8% from 69.8%
DL Ron Brace -- 7.2%* from 25.7%
DE/OLB -- Jermaine Cunningham -- 3.6% from 50.9%
LB Gary Guyton -- 29.6% from 57.0%
DL Gerard Warren -- 27.2% from 45.9%
* Percentage adjusted based on snaps available to play after coming off PUP list.
The entire post is essential reading. Some conclusions, IMO:
- Vince is earning his contract and then some. Exactly what you want from a guy you make highest paid at his position.
- Ninkovich is entrenched as a starter and it would be very hard to see an outsider (pick, FA) come in an replace him. One of the OLB slots is locked down in 2012.
- Deaderick remains a personal favorite and his continued improvement makes me happy.
- Kyle Love might get an offer sheet and cost way more than any of us have been thinking. ~50% of the snaps is where Vince was at a comparable point in his career (maybe a bit lower, but remember the ~70% in 2010 was also a high water mark) Love is a fantastic UDFA success story.
- I would have sworn Gerard Warren played more than ~27%; he made plays when he was in there.
- Merriweather & Sanders were out performed in camp by Sergio Brown and the coaches were fooled. This bad call led to a whole host of other, non-injury related problems.
- Edelman, Slater & White...ugh. There's nothing more frustrating for me as a fan than watching guys with no upside/potential play in key spots. Replacing these three (add Brown, four) HAS to be the top priority.
- Fletcher played more than I thought. But he took Guyton's PT and how hard could that have been?
- Adios Gary Guyton. It's been real.
- Ron Brace better be working out 12 hours a day, every day or he's a camp cut. What a disappointment.
- Jermaine Cunningham might be another bust in the making. But he should get another season unless he's a problem behind the scenes - he's a year "younger" than Brace (in roster & salary terms). Cunningham needs to turn it around quickly.
- Arrington at 77% and 87% is too much . He's an excellent 3rd CB but over-matched as a full time starter.
I would spend almost every pick and dollar on improving the defense if I were in charge; a starting OLB, a starting safety, another rotation DT, another ILB with coverage skills, a backup safety or two...replacing Guyton, Brown, Edelman, Slater & White's snaps is essential; the good news is that's basically the ILB with coverage skill and two safeties. The bad news is that Andre Carter/maybe Mark Anderson (the DE/OLB starting slot) also needs to be replaced, along with pushing James Ihedigbo down or off the roster, as he's not a quality starter at S. Plus the Warren/Brace snaps - and if Love leaves...another "starting" DT.
The scoring defense in 2011 was average; the YPG defense was terrible. As YPG also affects offensive field position and TOP, as we saw in the Super Bowl, helping the defense helps the offense. So what do they need to do to help the defense?