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Defense In 2012: Only Place To Go Is Up


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#1 soxfan121


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:15 AM

Mike Reiss's piece must be read. Read it now.

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):


RISERS
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%

FALLERS
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?

#2 jsinger121


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:25 AM

Some things

Nink is definitely entrenched as a starter. 28 years old. Still getting better with more experience in the system.
Love won't get an offer sheet since he is an exclusive rights free agent. He is a Patriot next year or can't play in the league.
Of the fallers the only one I think has a chance to be brought back in Cunningham and he will be on a short leash in camp.

#3 Stitch01


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 09:26 AM

Love is an exclusive rights free agent, isnt he? I dont think he can get an offer sheet.

Definitely want to see Cunningham get another good look if we go back to the 3-4 as expected.

#4 Tony C


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:25 AM

But Pats were playing plenty of 3-4 by the end of the year. I suspect Cunningham just fell down their chart, if not he would have got some burn.

#5 Super Nomario


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:32 AM

But Pats were playing plenty of 3-4 by the end of the year. I suspect Cunningham just fell down their chart, if not he would have got some burn.

A lot of that was after Carter went down for the season; at that point Cunningham was already on IR.

I agree with your overall skepticism, though; if Cunningham had showed them anything in the preseason they would have found snaps for him regardless of the system. At the end of the day, he doesn't have the pass-rushing burst Anderson has and he doesn't have the versatility Ninkovich has. It's hard to see him getting major snaps in 2012.

#6 ragnarok725

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 12:12 PM

A lot of that was after Carter went down for the season; at that point Cunningham was already on IR.

I agree with your overall skepticism, though; if Cunningham had showed them anything in the preseason they would have found snaps for him regardless of the system. At the end of the day, he doesn't have the pass-rushing burst Anderson has and he doesn't have the versatility Ninkovich has. It's hard to see him getting major snaps in 2012.


Cunningham was injured in the pre-season, which really hurt his ability to contribute in this regard. Belichick on him mid-season:

"I think one of the things that Jermaine has had to work through is the time he missed in training camp and the preseason," said Belichick. "This year we transitioned to a little bit more multiple defensive front, and that's been an adjustment for him. Missing that time didn't help him any. He's worked hard and done a good job to get back on the field -- getting rehab and getting back out there. I think he's improving. He's gotten a little better each week. He's definitely on the upswing here. He's a guy that we hop will be able to contribute for us."


http://espn.go.com/b...g-to-get-better

That was after the first Jets game, so either injuries encroached right after or there was a set-back from a practice perspective. In 2010 he was a pretty consistent part of things. His snap %s hardly deviated, and he didn't fall off at the end of the year or anything (thanks to 2010 snaps thread). All that being said, this was a lost year from a guy who was really only just good his rookie year. We were hoping for growth, and instead we got regression. I don't think anything can be expected. But he could very well bounce back with the right system and being fully healthy.

Posted Image

Edited by ragnarok725, 17 February 2012 - 12:13 PM.


#7 BucketOBalls


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 03:18 PM

Sterling Moore was a UDFA right? He's younger than thought(22) so I would expect them to try bring him back. He seemed at least ok as a corner(and DMC seemed better at safety), so I wonder if that switch holds.

#8 SMU_Sox


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 08:05 PM

Moore is a great depth corner. He can also play special teams. On a personal note he's been a favorite of mine on the Pats. He seems to always be around the ball, doesn't he?

#9 Argentina

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 08:12 PM

Great Idea , Sir

#10 Super Nomario


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Posted 17 February 2012 - 11:09 PM

Cunningham was injured in the pre-season, which really hurt his ability to contribute in this regard. Belichick on him mid-season:

[/size][/font][/color]
http://espn.go.com/b...g-to-get-better

You're right that Cunningham didn't have a preseason. I guess it's fair to say he didn't earn any playing time as the season went on.

Belichick's words were probably literally true, but he is similarly complimentary about anyone on the team. Cunningham undoubtedly was improving week-to-week (otherwise the Pats would have cut him), but he didn't earn any playing time on a defense that wasn't exactly the '85 Bears.

That was after the first Jets game, so either injuries encroached right after or there was a set-back from a practice perspective. In 2010 he was a pretty consistent part of things. His snap %s hardly deviated, and he didn't fall off at the end of the year or anything (thanks to 2010 snaps thread). All that being said, this was a lost year from a guy who was really only just good his rookie year. We were hoping for growth, and instead we got regression. I don't think anything can be expected. But he could very well bounce back with the right system and being fully healthy.

Cunningham could bounce back, but his ceiling is limited. It's pretty clear he's not an elite pass-rusher and isn't going to be. I could see him contributing next season, but I don't see him becoming a difference-maker.

#11 quint


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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:57 PM

You're right that Cunningham didn't have a preseason. I guess it's fair to say he didn't earn any playing time as the season went on.

Belichick's words were probably literally true, but he is similarly complimentary about anyone on the team. Cunningham undoubtedly was improving week-to-week (otherwise the Pats would have cut him), but he didn't earn any playing time on a defense that wasn't exactly the '85 Bears.


Cunningham could bounce back, but his ceiling is limited. It's pretty clear he's not an elite pass-rusher and isn't going to be. I could see him contributing next season, but I don't see him becoming a difference-maker.


He contributed signifigantly as a rookie, including a game saving play against Indianapolis then was injured nearly his entire sophmore campaign. I think it's pretty foolish for anyone to say what his ceiling is right now.

#12 nothumb

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:34 PM

Moore is a great depth corner. He can also play special teams. On a personal note he's been a favorite of mine on the Pats. He seems to always be around the ball, doesn't he?


The cynic in me says, "Yes, because the opposing QB is always throwing to his guy."

I like Moore, but I hope he isn't penciled in for CB1 or CB2 next year.

#13 SMU_Sox


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Posted 18 February 2012 - 04:48 PM

I'd pencil him in as depth to start the season but if he gets better to the point where he becomes the number one/two guy so be it. Is that likely without a key injury? Probably not but I wouldn't rule it out.

#14 axx

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 05:29 PM

I'd pencil him in as depth to start the season but if he gets better to the point where he becomes the number one/two guy so be it. Is that likely without a key injury? Probably not but I wouldn't rule it out.


I don't see how that can happen. They have four picks in the first two rounds plus plenty of cash. They should be able to find somebody better.

#15 SMU_Sox


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Posted 18 February 2012 - 05:50 PM

Moore played well the last 4-5 games. Members of the Boston and national media commented on this. I thought he played tight and aggressive coverage especially the last three games. He's young and he makes mistakes but there is a lot of potential there.

#16 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:10 AM

He contributed signifigantly as a rookie, including a game saving play against Indianapolis then was injured nearly his entire sophmore campaign. I think it's pretty foolish for anyone to say what his ceiling is right now.

He made a few plays his rookie year, but the overall body of work (27 tackles, 1 sack) was nothing to write home about. He was hurt part of last year, but he was a healthy scratch (or only got in on goal-line sets) many weeks. If he had shown them a lot his rookie year, the Pats wouldn't have switched to the 4-3 last season, and he wasn't showing enough in practice last season to get game reps.

#17 soxfan121


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:29 AM

If he had shown them a lot his rookie year, the Pats wouldn't have switched to the 4-3 last season, and he wasn't showing enough in practice last season to get game reps.
going to


I disagree. First, he had 4-3 end experience in college and we really have no idea what his practice performance indicated; he started injured and ended injured and lost a season. If it was effort related, he'll be gone very soon. That's become crystal clear in the BB era.

Second, the "4-3 switch" was, IMO, far more about the availability of resources on the FA market, the cap situation, Haynesworth being available and Andre Carter/Mark Anderson being cheap FA pickups. That the defense changed to the hybrid 3-4 after Carter went down for the season (and Haynesworth had departed) was no coincidence. I take BB's answer in August about 4-3/3-4 made sense - his system uses a heavy, big OLB often on the left side who rushes the passer but can also do many other things. Taylor, McGinest, Vrabel. The elephant. And he figured that Carter was his best option to get pass rush and then adapted to make a guy who played mostly on the right that "piece". Late in the season, Nink was on the left and Anderson was at ROLB (the Banks, Colvin, Thomas) slot. The hybrid will continue to evolve but BB has a type at LOLB (especially) and this current team has been without one too long. BB compromised and brought in Carter to fill it on the right and then simplified the rest of the scheme to compensate.

Third, Cunningham, as a rookie, played a bunch of LOLB. And while the results were not great on the stat sheet, he was responsible for pressures that led to others making big plays. I still hope he can be an important part of the future.

#18 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:49 AM

I disagree. First, he had 4-3 end experience in college and we really have no idea what his practice performance indicated; he started injured and ended injured and lost a season. If it was effort related, he'll be gone very soon. That's become crystal clear in the BB era.

I agree; Cunningham's problem is not effort-related, and if it was he would be gone.

Second, the "4-3 switch" was, IMO, far more about the availability of resources on the FA market, the cap situation, Haynesworth being available and Andre Carter/Mark Anderson being cheap FA pickups. That the defense changed to the hybrid 3-4 after Carter went down for the season (and Haynesworth had departed) was no coincidence. I take BB's answer in August about 4-3/3-4 made sense - his system uses a heavy, big OLB often on the left side who rushes the passer but can also do many other things. Taylor, McGinest, Vrabel. The elephant. And he figured that Carter was his best option to get pass rush and then adapted to make a guy who played mostly on the right that "piece". Late in the season, Nink was on the left and Anderson was at ROLB (the Banks, Colvin, Thomas) slot. The hybrid will continue to evolve but BB has a type at LOLB (especially) and this current team has been without one too long. BB compromised and brought in Carter to fill it on the right and then simplified the rest of the scheme to compensate.

My point is that if Cunningham had shown the Pats much his rookie year, they wouldn't have needed to do all this. He basically became the starter by the end of 2010, and played more than half the snaps on the season. But he was ineffective enough that they decided to sign three players to play his position, even though it involved a switch to a new scheme.

Third, Cunningham, as a rookie, played a bunch of LOLB. And while the results were not great on the stat sheet, he was responsible for pressures that led to others making big plays. I still hope he can be an important part of the future.

I think the "important part of the future" ship has sailed and we should be shooting for "semi-competent backup." Has anyone contributed as little as Cunningham his first two seasons and gone on to play a big role for the Pats? And it's not like the dude was drafted as a project; he was a three-year starter in the SEC.

#19 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:21 PM

I agree; Cunningham's problem is not effort-related, and if it was he would be gone.


My point is that if Cunningham had shown the Pats much his rookie year, they wouldn't have needed to do all this. He basically became the starter by the end of 2010, and played more than half the snaps on the season. But he was ineffective enough that they decided to sign three players to play his position, even though it involved a switch to a new scheme.


I think the "important part of the future" ship has sailed and we should be shooting for "semi-competent backup." Has anyone contributed as little as Cunningham his first two seasons and gone on to play a big role for the Pats? And it's not like the dude was drafted as a project; he was a three-year starter in the SEC.


So..just to summarize; you feel because a rookie defender managed to contribute signifigant playing time in one season but didnt blow your hair back statistically his ceiling, as it were, has leveled off.

That doesnt seem at all irrational.

And the "he was a three year starter in the SEC, so he should have done ___________ as a rookie" argument is a joke. By that logic Tim Tebow should have immediatley stepped in to the NFL and led the league in something other than jerseys sold.

#20 RusticOvertone

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:08 PM

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss believes the Patriots might be interested in free agent FS Michael Griffin if he hits the open market.

More specifically, Reiss thinks Griffin's durability and flexibility make him the type of player typically "near the top of the Patriots’ wish list." The 27-year-old can play both free safety and corner. Likely in the market for safety help, the Pats figure

to do their homework on all free agent safeties.


http://www.rotoworld...michael-griffin



#21 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:50 PM

So..just to summarize; you feel because a rookie defender managed to contribute signifigant playing time in one season but didnt blow your hair back statistically his ceiling, as it were, has leveled off.

It's not about what I feel, it's about what Belichick thinks. And based on the way he approached the DE/OLB position last year, he seems to think Cunningham is not good enough. And by all indications, nothing Cunningham did over the course of the season altered that opinion.

#22 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:02 PM

It's not about what I feel, it's about what Belichick thinks. And based on the way he approached the DE/OLB position last year, he seems to think Cunningham is not good enough. And by all indications, nothing Cunningham did over the course of the season altered that opinion.


It's great to read that you know what Belichick thinks. You'll be a tremendous resource for the board going forward.

#23 Shelterdog


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:08 PM

It's great to read that you know what Belichick thinks. You'll be a tremendous resource for the board going forward.


Seeing that BB doesn't tell anyone what he thinks, the best you can do is infer it from how he plays a guy. And when he benches a second year guy for the whole year and gets multiple veteran free agents to play in front of him, it's hard to be optimistic.

#24 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:22 PM

Seeing that BB doesn't tell anyone what he thinks, the best you can do is infer it from how he plays a guy. And when he benches a second year guy for the whole year and gets multiple veteran free agents to play in front of him, it's hard to be optimistic.


Being injured isn't the same as being benched. Like, at all. That's tantamount to saying the only reason Ras-I Dowling didn't play is because he was benched.

#25 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:45 PM

Being injured isn't the same as being benched. Like, at all. That's tantamount to saying the only reason Ras-I Dowling didn't play is because he was benched.

Cunningham was active for 9 games this year, and only played 48 defensive snaps in those 9 games. He was hurt for a good portion of the year, but he dressed for about half the games. He was just buried on the depth chart.

Dowling's a different case; he was playing extensively before he got hurt.

#26 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:58 PM

T

Cunningham was active for 9 games this year, and only played 48 defensive snaps in those 9 games. He was hurt for a good portion of the year, but he dressed for about half the games. He was just buried on the depth chart.

Dowling's a different case; he was playing extensively before he got hurt.


That's true, when he did return he was buried for a few reasons, all of which has been hashed out here so it doesn't bear repeating. I just think it's silly to say what X player is going to be after playing all of one season professionally. You (and others) may feel differently. These things will happen.

#27 PaulinMyrBch


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:38 PM

T


That's true, when he did return he was buried for a few reasons, all of which has been hashed out here so it doesn't bear repeating. I just think it's silly to say what X player is going to be after playing all of one season professionally. You (and others) may feel differently. These things will happen.


Devin McCourty

#28 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:24 PM

My point exactly.

#29 Shelterdog


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:27 PM

Being injured isn't the same as being benched. Like, at all. That's tantamount to saying the only reason Ras-I Dowling didn't play is because he was benched.

Dowling was playing every snap when he was healthy; Cunningham was deep, deep on the bench when he was healthy. There's no tantamount about it.

It would be huge for the team if he plays like the guy he was turning into at the end of year one. It's obviously a possibility but I'm not holding my breath--I'd put it,at best, at 50-50 that he gets more than spot action in 2012.

Edited by Shelterdog, 19 February 2012 - 10:37 PM.


#30 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:38 PM

My god you are retarded. He didn't play after week two and was placed on the IR around halloween, right?

#31 Shelterdog


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:47 PM

My god you are retarded. He didn't play after week two and was placed on the IR around halloween, right?


What's your point? Other than the pointless name calling, what is the substance?

Dowling played all of the first game, all of the second game until he got hurt and wasn't active again all year. He got put on IR long after he'd stopped playing due to injury.

Cunningham was active for about the first ten games but only played 2-10 snaps a game.

I'll try to spell out the very simple difference to you:

WHEN DOWLING WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO BE ACTIVE BB STARTED HIM.

WHEN CUNNINGHAM WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO BE ACTIVE HE WAS AT THE END OF THE BENCH.

#32 SMU_Sox


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:57 PM

I agree that there is a lot of volatility with players after their first year as a pro. But let's not go down the rabbit hole here. Most guys who are good in year 1 are good in year 2 if they are not injured. Is this an infallible rule? Of course not. DMC is a great example of a guy who had a bad sophomore year. Bodden might have been a good example too but he got injured so much that I'm not sure how much of his failures were due to injury. I've read that it was a real performance drop and not just related to his injury but who knows.
The Patriot's changed their secondary scheme this year. Some corners struggle playing man to man but are good in zone, others are the opposite. If the Patriots had not changed their secondary scheme would DMC have struggled as much? Again, who knows, but I'd guess he would not have been burned as frequently.

On a side note - what's with all the hostility here? No need to go on the attack.

#33 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:58 PM

What's your point? Other than the pointless name calling, what is the substance?

Dowling played all of the first game, all of the second game until he got hurt and wasn't active again all year. He got put on IR long after he'd stopped playing due to injury.

Cunningham was active for about the first ten games but only played 2-10 snaps a game.

I'll try to spell out the very simple difference to you:

WHEN DOWLING WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO BE ACTIVE BB STARTED HIM.

WHEN CUNNINGHAM WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO BE ACTIVE HE WAS AT THE END OF THE BENCH.


Your caps are all nice and shiny, but he stopped playing after week two. A month and half later he was placed on the IR. By your logic that must mean he was passed in the depth chart and benched.

BREAKING NEWS JUST IN FROM SOSH HQ; HARD TO BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RAS-I'S FUTURE USING THE CUNNINGHAM METRIC AS APPLIED BY SHELTERDOG.

#34 SMU_Sox


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:00 PM

My god you are retarded. He didn't play after week two and was placed on the IR around halloween, right?


He was injured in week two and was put on the IR on December 11th (might have been 10th).

#35 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:09 PM

He was injured in week two and was put on the IR on December 11th (might have been 10th).


Then my point pretty much stands. That being both players were injured. Healthy enough to be active, but still injured. Just because both were active yet not playing doesn't belie the fact that they were both hurt. So much so that their 2011 contirbutions shouldn't be some sort of litmus towards future performance.

Unless you want to be that dink that looks back on his internet posts with pride and boasts about them. In that case, have at it.

#36 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:10 PM

Your caps are all nice and shiny, but he stopped playing after week two. A month and half later he was placed on the IR. By your logic that must mean he was passed in the depth chart and benched.

Dowling hurt his hip in week 2. He did not participate or was limited in practice with a hip injury and was on the injured report every week until he was placed on IR. He was inactive for each game. It's pretty clear his injury was the cause of his lack of playing time.

Cunningham was injured in the preseason and was inactive week 1 with a groin injury. After that, he was not listed on the injury report, and he was active for the next nine games; he just barely saw the field. Finally, he went on IR with a different injury (hamstring). Maybe the injuries were related, but there's no evidence of this that I'm aware of. I also don't have any reason to believe he wasn't healthy for the games for which he was active.

#37 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:12 PM

Yes, because no professional football team in the history of ever has ever fibbed on the weekly injury report.

Point taken.

#38 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:16 PM

Yes, because no professional football team in the history of ever has ever fibbed on the weekly injury report.

Point taken.

So are you saying that a) Dowling wasn't really hurt, or b) Cunningham really was hurt but the Pats needed his 6 snaps on defense and work on the punt return unit so badly that they lied about his injury status and played him for nine weeks?

#39 SMU_Sox


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:21 PM

Your caps are all nice and shiny, but he stopped playing after week two. A month and half later he was placed on the IR. By your logic that must mean he was passed in the depth chart and benched.

BREAKING NEWS JUST IN FROM SOSH HQ; HARD TO BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RAS-I'S FUTURE USING THE CUNNINGHAM METRIC AS APPLIED BY SHELTERDOG.


He played in week 11 against the Eagles, 10 against the chiefs(all on the second drive of the game), 9 against the Colts (all on the last drive of the game), week 6 against Dallas, week 5 against the Jets (only played when Ellis was hurt, when Ellis came back Cunningham did not), week 4 against Oakland, week 3 against Buffalo, and week 2 against SD.

After week 2 Mike Reiss wrote this about Cunningham,

Second-year DE Jermaine Cunningham has fell well behind veterans Shaun Ellisand Andre Carter in the competition for playing time. His lone snap was in the goal-line package on the fourth-and-1 stop. Cunningham also played on the line on the punt return unit.





After week 3 Reiss wrote this,

Second-year defensive end Jermaine Cunninghamwas again limited, playing in the goal-line package. With Shaun Ellis (37 snaps) and Andre Carter (41 snaps) not doing much in the pass-rush department, perhaps Cunningham should have been given a chance in the nickel defense. Cunningham played 50 percent of the defensive snaps last season, but he has taken a step back this year at a time when players are supposed to be making a bigger jump. With the Patriots drafting and development warranting some scrutiny, Cunningham (2nd round, 2010) is an interesting case study relating to some struggles Bill Belichick and his staff are having with integrating highly-touted talent into the defense and instead relying on stop-gaps



He was beaten out of camp by Ellis and Carter. Was he healthy though at the start of the season? I'd like to discuss this and avoid a pissing match if at all possible.

#40 lithos2003

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:22 PM

So are you saying that a) Dowling wasn't really hurt, or b) Cunningham really was hurt but the Pats needed his 6 snaps on defense and work on the punt return unit so badly that they lied about his injury status and played him for nine weeks?


Not taking a side in the argument, but I suppose it's certainly possible that if the number of players who are less than 100% is greater than the number of inactives on a particular week, you could end up activating a player who will only see the field in emergency situations (multiple other injuries, for example).

#41 quint


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:23 PM

So are you saying that a) Dowling wasn't really hurt, or b) Cunningham really was hurt but the Pats needed his 6 snaps on defense and work on the punt return unit so badly that they lied about his injury status and played him for nine weeks?


I'm saying I'm smart enough to admit I don't know what goes on behind closed doors. I'll leave it for you and your super-genius brethren to present wild guess as fact.

Edited by quint, 19 February 2012 - 11:24 PM.


#42 SMU_Sox


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:24 PM

Not taking a side in the argument, but I suppose it's certainly possible that if the number of players who are less than 100% is greater than the number of inactives on a particular week, you could end up activating a player who will only see the field in emergency situations (multiple other injuries, for example).


Which is what he did in Week 4 against the Jets when Ellis got hurt.

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:30 PM

Just to add to the info about Cunningham I found this from Reiss about him during camp,

ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss singles out Patriots OLB Jermaine Cunningham as someone who is having a disappointing camp so far.
Reiss says Cunningham is being "blocked easier than I thought he would be" in rush drills, and that he was expecting the second-year linebacker to "flash a bit more to this point." That's not good news for a player the Patriots are hoping can nail down a starting job


Apparently he had a groin injury early in the season before the Miami game.

#44 Super Nomario


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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:48 PM

Not taking a side in the argument, but I suppose it's certainly possible that if the number of players who are less than 100% is greater than the number of inactives on a particular week, you could end up activating a player who will only see the field in emergency situations (multiple other injuries, for example).

Players play who are on the injury report all the time. Cunningham wasn't listed though, and wasn't limited in practice according to the injury reports.

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:55 PM

I'm saying I'm smart enough to admit I don't know what goes on behind closed doors. I'll leave it for you and your super-genius brethren to present wild guess as fact.

I'm not sure why you are taking such an antagonistic tone here. I'm also not sure which of my statements you interpreted as me presenting wild guess as fact.

#46 quint


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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:04 AM

I'm not sure why you are taking such an antagonistic tone here. I'm also not sure which of my statements you interpreted as me presenting wild guess as fact.


It's not about what I feel, it's about what Belichick thinks. And based on the way he approached the DE/OLB position last year, he seems to think Cunningham is not good enough. And by all indications, nothing Cunningham did over the course of the season altered that opinion.

But seriously, you guys have been a blast. Don't go chasing after wooden nicklels!

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:14 AM

It's not about what I feel, it's about what Belichick thinks. And based on the way he approached the DE/OLB position last year, he seems to think Cunningham is not good enough. And by all indications, nothing Cunningham did over the course of the season altered that opinion.

But seriously, you guys have been a blast. Don't go chasing after wooden nicklels!


He qualified every one of those statements though: "seems" "by all indications". I can see where there is room to disagree but I don't think he presented it as fact. If he presented it as fact he wouldn't have qualified it with those two statements that way.

Isn't that a somewhat reasonable opinion? Cunningham had a disappointing training camp. He was beaten out by two FA's. He played in a limited capacity in the games he did play. He might have been significantly injured throughout the year which limited his effectiveness - but we don't know that. We assume he was healthy in camp when he lost his starting position due to performance. Dowling OTOH had a good camp and earned a starting spot and played the majority of snaps when he was healthy.

SN is speculating that Cunningham's performance has more to do with his lack of appearances this season than his injuries. Is he 100% sure? No. But I think it's at least a reasonable opinion even if it isn't fact.

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:22 AM

We'll see what happens next year obviously. A lot of what the Pats do in FA (Mario Williams, anyone?) and schematically (3-4 vs 4-3) will have an impact on Cunningham.

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:02 AM

Just to add to the info about Cunningham I found this from Reiss about him during camp,

That story was also from before the Pats signed Ellis (later that day) and Carter (the next day), and just two days after they signed Anderson. Eric Moore was the other defensive end at that point. It seems like the Pats weren't happy with the DE they were running out there.

Apparently he had a groin injury early in the season before the Miami game.

He missed the last three preseason games and the Miami game.

#50 PaulinMyrBch


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Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:16 AM

Lets leave Dowling out of the discussion. I think we all agree that week 3 through the end of the season was not performance related. If anyone thinks that someone playing nearly all defensive snaps, then injured, then place on IR later in the season was anything more than an injury where a player and the medical staff rehab with a target of late in the season that just didn't pan out I feel for you.

As for Cunningham, I don't think we'll ever know at what point in time this season he was nursing nagging injuries and to what degree that effected his performance and/or ability to compete for his job and starter reps. We do know of several reported injuries and we have the playing time when we believe he was fit to play and the speculation of the reporters. I think its reasonable to make the point that he took a step back this year when you consider his playing time when he appeared healthy. I also think its a reasonable to point out that that performance may have been effected by nagging injuries, and that his ceiling has not been determined. I am not going to go to the website and track 24- 25 weeks worth of injury reports.

While the point has been made regarding the injury report and its accuracy, that is typically a one way street as teams have to list injuries and what amount of participation a player was available for in practice. So while its common to list Tom Brady - shoulder - probable, its quite uncommon to not list a player, implying he participated 100% in practice, who is truly injured. So I think its safe to assume if Cunningham was not on the injury report, he was good to go. If he didn't get reps at that point, you have to question if its related to performance. I think its a fair point.

Edited by PaulinMyrBch, 20 February 2012 - 07:17 AM.