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Defense In 2012: Only Place To Go Is Up


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#51 lithos2003

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:22 AM

Leigh Bodden may be a better person to compare trajectories with than Dowling in this situation. Bodden didn't appear on many injury reports either after the first couple weeks, and to much gnashing of teeth, couldn't seem to beat out Arrington or McCourty to get on the field. After making noise that he was unhappy about his playing time, he was cut. He then declared himself fit enough to play anywhere, but once teams didn't even give him a chance, he went and had season ending surgery for a nagging injury that was hurting his effectiveness. I guess my point is, we just don't know what happened, but it's certainly possible that he had a nagging injury that wasn't severe enough to keep him out of practice, but did affect his ability to play effectively.

On second thought, maybe I'm just taking this viewpoint because I'm hopeful he'll come back this year and be the force we need on defense... :lol:

#52 Super Nomario


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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:38 AM

Leigh Bodden may be a better person to compare trajectories with than Dowling in this situation. Bodden didn't appear on many injury reports either after the first couple weeks, and to much gnashing of teeth, couldn't seem to beat out Arrington or McCourty to get on the field. After making noise that he was unhappy about his playing time, he was cut. He then declared himself fit enough to play anywhere, but once teams didn't even give him a chance, he went and had season ending surgery for a nagging injury that was hurting his effectiveness. I guess my point is, we just don't know what happened, but it's certainly possible that he had a nagging injury that wasn't severe enough to keep him out of practice, but did affect his ability to play effectively.

Bodden was on the injury report, though, every week (though with different injuries):

Week Name Pos Injury Wed Thu Fri Status
1 Bodden, Leigh CB Hand FP FP FP Probable
2 Bodden, Leigh CB Back DNP LP LP Probable
3 Bodden, Leigh CB Hand FP FP FP Probable
4 Bodden, Leigh CB Groin LP LP LP Questionable
5 Bodden, Leigh CB Groin LP LP LP Questionable
6 Bodden, Leigh CB Thumb LP LP LP Questionable


Week 4 he didn't play; week 7 was a bye and then he was gone. Apparently it was the back that was the problem that made him shut things down for the year. I don't know whether teams have to list multiple injuries if a guy has them.

Cunningham was listed week 1, but not after that.

These can all be found here, by the way: http://www.patriots....ury-report.html

#53 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:32 PM

Is Myron Pryor still Pats property? Is there any chance he gets off the IR and plays next season?

#54 soxfan121


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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:52 PM

Yes and yes. Pryor's injury opened the role that was filled by Gerard Warren. The injury history is troubling, but it's not yet chronic so I expect him to be in camp and competing for that same role in 2012.

#55 Corsi


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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:29 AM

Good talk with Carl Poston, the agent for Andre Carter. Sounds like he's ahead of schedule on rehab. Wants to be back with Patriots

https://twitter.com/#!/RapSheet/status/173066574708736000
link to tweet

#56 soxfan121


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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:58 AM

Peter King in MMQB reports:

The hip rehab of New England cornerback Ras-I Dowling is going very well. He'll be ready for most if not all of his offseason work



Read more: http://sportsillustr...l#ixzz1nbA6EeUH



#57 soxfan121


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:37 PM

There's been a ton of talk about stealing Mike Wallace from the Steelers because he's an RFA and the cap situation in Pittsburgh.

But I can't recall if anyone has suggested poaching Ladarius Webb, CB, from the Ravens because he's an RFA and Baltimore is fairly tight on the cap with Rice's tag, Flacco's pending extension and the core (Ray, Ed, Haloti, Suggs, Boldin, etc.). Baltimore has more wiggle room than Pittsburgh and has also been a rumored destination/target for Wallace in the RFA shell game, so I don't know if it's feasible, but it would add an option most of us haven't thought of yet.

Webb, IMO, is better than Finnegan or Carrr and and much better than Rogers. I don't know if the Pats are going to pursue Landry or not but there is a clear need to add talent in the secondary. Does stealing Webb for a first round pick (and appropriately structured contract) make sense?

#58 Shelterdog


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:39 PM

Webb, IMO, is better than Finnegan or Carrr and and much better than Rogers. I don't know if the Pats are going to pursue Landry or not but there is a clear need to add talent in the secondary. Does stealing Webb for a first round pick (and appropriately structured contract) make sense?


No. $5 million a year (or whatever) and a first round pick is more valuable than Webb.

#59 soxfan121


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:44 PM

The injury history? Or just not good enough to be worth the contract and the pick?

#60 Shelterdog


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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:52 PM

The injury history? Or just not good enough to be worth the contract and the pick?


Webb's quite good but if you want a corner you should be able to get a pretty good corner at 31 and you'd still have in the ballpark of $5 million a year left over.

#61 Reardons Beard

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 02:16 PM

Dwight Freeney is available.

That's according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, who reports that Colts are "fielding telephone calls" on Freeney.

What the Colts can get in return for Freeney could be interesting. He's 32-years-old, but Freeney's a three-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler, who's posted double-digit sacks in all but three years of his 10-year career.

One of those years, he only played nine games. The other year was last season, when everything about the Colts was less awesome than in previous years.

And Freeney also only has one year remaining on his contract. However, that one year is going to cost a team $19 million in salary-cap space.

So it's unlikely that the Colts will get a huge return for the defensive end. But on a team that needs pass-rush help and has space under the cap, grabbing Freeney for a single, motivated contract year could make a lot of sense.

And let's not sleep on what trading for Freeney might do for a team in the middle of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes either.



#62 Super Nomario


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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:24 PM

What does the D look like after today's draft?

4-3 Base:
DL: Jones - Wilfork - Love / Fanene - Ninkovich / Scott
LB: Hightower - Spikes - Mayo
CB: McCourty / Moore - Dowling / Arrington
S: Chung - Gregory / McCourty

4-2 Nickel:
DL: DL: Jones - Wilfork / Pryor - Love / Fanene - Ninkovich / Scott
LB: Hightower - Mayo
CB: Moore - Dowling - Arrington
S: Chung - McCourty

3-4 Base:
DL: Deaderick / Pryor - Wilfork - Love / Fanene
LB: Ninkovich - Mayo - Spikes / Hightower - Scott
CB: McCourty / Moore - Dowling / Arrington
S: Chung - Gregory / McCourty

Call me crazy, I think the Pats run a base 4-3 this year. I expect to see them bring back Carter, as well.

Edited by Super Nomario, 26 April 2012 - 11:24 PM.


#63 CaptainLaddie


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 12:09 AM

Not for nothing:

A friend of mine is buddies with Andre Carter from his time in DC. I asked him to ask Carter about the chance of resigning with the Pats. He finally got back to me:

"we will see man. I'm just rehabbing and leaving it up to God."

So, basically, we know nothing.

#64 Mystic Merlin


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 12:15 AM

I am as excited for Fanene as any of the offseason acquisitions. He can take some pressure off Wilfork, and I'm not sure you'll find a bigger motor among interior rushers in the league.

He isn't a hyped signing, but I see him as being a difference maker on third down.

#65 SeoulSoxFan


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 01:44 AM

I am super high on Spikes having a monster season. We also can't forget that Pats will feature no less than 4 former ST captains, and that's gotta help in field positions.

Add a Jeremiah Bell, a surprise late veteran pickup (will have cap room to do so), and even a 2nd round Janoris Jenkins means my pants aren't coming back on until September or beyond.

#66 ElcaballitoMVP

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 01:50 AM

What does the D look like after today's draft?

4-3 Base:
DL: Jones - Wilfork - Love / Fanene - Ninkovich / Scott
LB: Hightower - Spikes - Mayo
CB: McCourty / Moore - Dowling / Arrington
S: Chung - Gregory / McCourty

4-2 Nickel:
DL: DL: Jones - Wilfork / Pryor - Love / Fanene - Ninkovich / Scott
LB: Hightower - Mayo
CB: Moore - Dowling - Arrington
S: Chung - McCourty

3-4 Base:
DL: Deaderick / Pryor - Wilfork - Love / Fanene
LB: Ninkovich - Mayo - Spikes / Hightower - Scott
CB: McCourty / Moore - Dowling / Arrington
S: Chung - Gregory / McCourty

Call me crazy, I think the Pats run a base 4-3 this year. I expect to see them bring back Carter, as well.


I'm not sure if that's the plan, but it would make DT's like Devon Still, Jerel Worthy and, to a lesser extent, Kendall Reyes all the more attractive in round 2. Still and Worthy can bring the interior pressure in a 4-3 defense, whereas Reyes brings more versatility being able to play DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4.

After adding an edge guy like Jones, they could look to add more youth to the interior D line.

#67 Pandemonium67

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 02:26 AM

I'm just rehabbing and leaving it up to God.


So it's Belichick's decision? I can live with that.

#68 phragle


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:21 PM

So what does the first round tell us about the defensive scheme, the personnel, and the rest of the draft?

Jones is probably best suited for DE on the 40 front, but I can see him playing a 1-gap DE in the 3 man front too. He's definitely not a 2-gap player. He's a very skinny 266 lbs, and he doesn't have much strength or anchor, so I think 2-gap is out. I also don't think he's a 3-4 OLB because he doesn't profile as much of a blitzer or somebody that plays well in space. I think Jones indicates we're going to run a lot more 1-gap schemes.

Hightower is an interesting one. I think his best position is the strong side ILB in the 3-4 (what he played the most in college), but that position is held by Spikes. I also think DHT can play (at a high level) MLB and sOLB in the 4-3, as well as OLB in the 3-3 and 3-4, and the LB next to Mayo in the 4-2. So basically every LB spot not ideal for Mayo is a spot I think DHT can excel in. However I don't think DHT can excel at DE in any formation.

Ultimately I don't think Belichick picking DHT is a good sign for Spikes. I can only see Spikes playing in a 3-4, and I don't know how much 3-4 they're even going to run this season. Bringing back Andre Carter would make a lot of sense though.

I don't expect to see more front 7 players with the next two picks, unless Belichick doesn't the versatility out D tackles provide.

#69 JimBoSox9


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:54 PM

I think you're overrating Hightower's coverage skills a bit. I don't expect to see both him and Spikes on the field together in a base 4-3.

But spot on about the 3-4. Spikes and Hightower would be nicely paired in that alignment, it caters to Jones' best position, and a true NT that allows them to pull it off.

#70 phragle


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:12 PM

I think you're overrating Hightower's coverage skills a bit. I don't expect to see both him and Spikes on the field together in a base 4-3.

But spot on about the 3-4. Spikes and Hightower would be nicely paired in that alignment, it caters to Jones' best position, and a true NT that allows them to pull it off.


I didn't say that. I said they will only be on the field together in the 3-4. Probably Nink, Mayo, Spikes, Hightower. Hightower coverage ability is uninspiring, but it's better that Spikes'.

#71 soxfan121


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Posted 27 April 2012 - 10:38 PM

What does the D look like after today's draft?

4-3 Base:
DL: Jones - Wilfork - Love / Fanene - Ninkovich / Scott
LB: Hightower - Spikes - Mayo
CB: McCourty / Moore - Dowling / Arrington
S: Chung - Gregory / McCourty

4-2 Nickel:
DL: DL: Jones - Wilfork / Pryor - Love / Fanene - Ninkovich / Scott
LB: Hightower - Mayo
CB: Moore - Dowling - Arrington
S: Chung - McCourty

3-4 Base:
DL: Deaderick / Pryor - Wilfork - Love / Fanene
LB: Ninkovich - Mayo - Spikes / Hightower - Scott
CB: McCourty / Moore - Dowling / Arrington
S: Chung - Gregory / McCourty

Call me crazy, I think the Pats run a base 4-3 this year. I expect to see them bring back Carter, as well.


I like the 3-4 personnel (L-->R):
DL: Love-Wilfork-Deaderick
LB: Mayo-Hightower-Spikes-Nink

And the 4-3 personnel (L-->R):
DL: Jones-Wilfork-Love-Fanene
LB: Mayo-Spikes-Hightower

And the "sub" pass rush unit (L-->R):
DL: Nink-Pryor-Fanene-Scott
LB: Jones-Mayo-Hightower

And the "super heavy" goal line unit (L-->R):
DL: Pryor-Wilfork-Love-Deaderick
LB: Nink-Spikes-Bequette

Depth & quality. And with the addition of Bequette, I no longer think they re-sign Carter. The roster is pretty full as it is - they maybe at the max after the UDFA scramble.

#72 Morgan's Magic Snowplow


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Posted 28 April 2012 - 09:15 AM

So what does the first round tell us about the defensive scheme, the personnel, and the rest of the draft?

Jones is probably best suited for DE on the 40 front, but I can see him playing a 1-gap DE in the 3 man front too. He's definitely not a 2-gap player. He's a very skinny 266 lbs, and he doesn't have much strength or anchor, so I think 2-gap is out. I also don't think he's a 3-4 OLB because he doesn't profile as much of a blitzer or somebody that plays well in space. I think Jones indicates we're going to run a lot more 1-gap schemes.

Hightower is an interesting one. I think his best position is the strong side ILB in the 3-4 (what he played the most in college), but that position is held by Spikes. I also think DHT can play (at a high level) MLB and sOLB in the 4-3, as well as OLB in the 3-3 and 3-4, and the LB next to Mayo in the 4-2. So basically every LB spot not ideal for Mayo is a spot I think DHT can excel in. However I don't think DHT can excel at DE in any formation.

Ultimately I don't think Belichick picking DHT is a good sign for Spikes. I can only see Spikes playing in a 3-4, and I don't know how much 3-4 they're even going to run this season. Bringing back Andre Carter would make a lot of sense though.

I don't expect to see more front 7 players with the next two picks, unless Belichick doesn't the versatility out D tackles provide.


I agree on almost all these points. Most of what you said about Jones could also be said of Bequette, as far as profiling mainly as a 1-gapping DE, although capable of doing a little moving around and dropping for deception purposes.

In sub packages, whether we want to call it 4-2-5 or 3-3-5, I think BB's ideal front personnel seems like (1) two larger DL (2) Jerod Mayo (3) two guys who will primarily rush on the edges, but have a little versatility in occasionally dropping, stunting, and moving around the front (4) a LB next to Mayo who is not a liability in coverage, has good blitz ability, and can switch up with the #3 guys on occasion for deception purposes. Jones and Bequette fit into category 3, along with Nink. While I loved what Carter and Anderson gave us last season, they were pretty one dimensional edge rushers. I think the hope is to bolster that group with some guys who have a little more versatility. Hightower is #4 and should be a significant improvement over the guys who rotated into that role last year like Spikes and Fletcher.

In the base defense, I agree that we seem to be moving away from a 3-4/two-gapping emphasis to more hybrid schemes, perhaps ones that look more like 4-3 and that involve a mixture of 1 and 2 gapping. I generally agree that Hightower's arrival is not great for Spikes, but I wouldn't rule out Mayo, Spikes, and Hightower seeing the field together. If you look at how we lined up in the Super Bowl, there was a surprising amount of 4-3 base with Mayo, Spikes, and White all on the field, even against 3 WR sets. I could see us continuing to use that kind of look but with Hightower in White's position (the latter may be slightly better in coverage but we're not talking night and day here), especially against heavier formations. One of the problems we had last year was that several of the guys we lined up as DEs in four man fronts had troubles against the run at the point of attack (Anderson, Nink), especially when playing on the strong side. When you have a guy like Hightower at SLB, some of those run worries are going to be erased, allowing us to play quicker DEs.

#73 koufax32


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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:09 PM

I think that this draft conveys the message that BB realizes that serious changes were necessary for this defense. I almost want to go as far as to say the draft was an admission that the present construction of bend but don't break is unsustainable. I am curious now to see how he uses the new personnel to fix the problems we saw last year. It's like he went out of his way to not just fill holes while hedging his bets doing so. I'd like to think he senses the coming league wide shift to de facto fun and gun and is prepping the roster for the afore mentioned "base" nickel or 3-3-5.

Edited by koufax32, 28 April 2012 - 10:20 PM.


#74 ( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)


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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:46 AM

I think that this draft conveys the message that BB realizes that serious changes were necessary for this defense. I almost want to go as far as to say the draft was an admission that the present construction of bend but don't break is unsustainable. I am curious now to see how he uses the new personnel to fix the problems we saw last year. It's like he went out of his way to not just fill holes while hedging his bets doing so. I'd like to think he senses the coming league wide shift to de facto fun and gun and is
prepping the roster for the afore mentioned "base" nickel or 3-3-5.


I fail to see why anything you just said would signify a move away from bending but not
breaking. What's the relationship vetween that concept and a 3/3/5?

#75 koufax32


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Posted 29 April 2012 - 12:49 PM

I fail to see why anything you just said would signify a move away from bending but not
breaking. What's the relationship between that concept and a 3/3/5?


I don't think this automatically signals an end of the traditional 3-4 bbdb BB strategy. The fanboy in me, admittedly, hopes this is the cause of his actions. The defensive roster construction, especially after a whole draft comprised of defensive players is added, seems to be moving that direction. I was trying to advocate the possibility of a more "aggressive" bbdb strategy, especially against teams like Den, Hou, etc. Apologies for my utter inability to communicate.

#76 Reverend


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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:06 AM

I agree on almost all these points. Most of what you said about Jones could also be said of Bequette, as far as profiling mainly as a 1-gapping DE, although capable of doing a little moving around and dropping for deception purposes.

In sub packages, whether we want to call it 4-2-5 or 3-3-5, I think BB's ideal front personnel seems like (1) two larger DL (2) Jerod Mayo (3) two guys who will primarily rush on the edges, but have a little versatility in occasionally dropping, stunting, and moving around the front (4) a LB next to Mayo who is not a liability in coverage, has good blitz ability, and can switch up with the #3 guys on occasion for deception purposes. Jones and Bequette fit into category 3, along with Nink. While I loved what Carter and Anderson gave us last season, they were pretty one dimensional edge rushers. I think the hope is to bolster that group with some guys who have a little more versatility. Hightower is #4 and should be a significant improvement over the guys who rotated into that role last year like Spikes and Fletcher.

In the base defense, I agree that we seem to be moving away from a 3-4/two-gapping emphasis to more hybrid schemes, perhaps ones that look more like 4-3 and that involve a mixture of 1 and 2 gapping. I generally agree that Hightower's arrival is not great for Spikes, but I wouldn't rule out Mayo, Spikes, and Hightower seeing the field together. If you look at how we lined up in the Super Bowl, there was a surprising amount of 4-3 base with Mayo, Spikes, and White all on the field, even against 3 WR sets. I could see us continuing to use that kind of look but with Hightower in White's position (the latter may be slightly better in coverage but we're not talking night and day here), especially against heavier formations. One of the problems we had last year was that several of the guys we lined up as DEs in four man fronts had troubles against the run at the point of attack (Anderson, Nink), especially when playing on the strong side. When you have a guy like Hightower at SLB, some of those run worries are going to be erased, allowing us to play quicker DEs.


Jesus, dude.

I mean... nice post.

#77 Shelterdog


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Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:34 AM

I agree on almost all these points. Most of what you said about Jones could also be said of Bequette, as far as profiling mainly as a 1-gapping DE, although capable of doing a little moving around and dropping for deception purposes.

In sub packages, whether we want to call it 4-2-5 or 3-3-5, I think BB's ideal front personnel seems like (1) two larger DL (2) Jerod Mayo (3) two guys who will primarily rush on the edges, but have a little versatility in occasionally dropping, stunting, and moving around the front (4) a LB next to Mayo who is not a liability in coverage, has good blitz ability, and can switch up with the #3 guys on occasion for deception purposes. Jones and Bequette fit into category 3, along with Nink. While I loved what Carter and Anderson gave us last season, they were pretty one dimensional edge rushers. I think the hope is to bolster that group with some guys who have a little more versatility. Hightower is #4 and should be a significant improvement over the guys who rotated into that role last year like Spikes and Fletcher.

In the base defense, I agree that we seem to be moving away from a 3-4/two-gapping emphasis to more hybrid schemes, perhaps ones that look more like 4-3 and that involve a mixture of 1 and 2 gapping. I generally agree that Hightower's arrival is not great for Spikes, but I wouldn't rule out Mayo, Spikes, and Hightower seeing the field together. If you look at how we lined up in the Super Bowl, there was a surprising amount of 4-3 base with Mayo, Spikes, and White all on the field, even against 3 WR sets. I could see us continuing to use that kind of look but with Hightower in White's position (the latter may be slightly better in coverage but we're not talking night and day here), especially against heavier formations. One of the problems we had last year was that several of the guys we lined up as DEs in four man fronts had troubles against the run at the point of attack (Anderson, Nink), especially when playing on the strong side. When you have a guy like Hightower at SLB, some of those run worries are going to be erased, allowing us to play quicker DEs.


Nice post.

Assuming Spikes and Mayo are healthy I think you see Hightower taking a lot of snaps from Ninkovich, particularly as a SLB in base sets. Ninko's a decent enough player and all but he had 1126 snaps last year (fourth on the time, per pff) and rarely left the field; you're just not going to have a good defense if he's a mainstay for you.

Spikes is shockingly good for his speed in pass defense so I don't think rookie Hightower displaces Spikes in your normal nickel and dime sets; I do think Hightower and Ninkovich and Spikes and Mayo and Jones are versatile enough that you might see a lot of sub packages where you're replacing DL with LBs.

#78 dynomite

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:59 AM

Lots of good posts and points.

Assuming Spikes and Mayo are healthy I think you see Hightower taking a lot of snaps from Ninkovich, particularly as a SLB in base sets. Ninko's a decent enough player and all but he had 1126 snaps last year (fourth on the time, per pff) and rarely left the field; you're just not going to have a good defense if he's a mainstay for you.


Agreed. Ninko can do a lot of things decently and provides excellent LB depth (on defense and special teams): he pass rushes fairly well, occasionally displayed effective run anticipation, and did a decent job in coverage (especially on medicore RBs and TEs). But he should be a situational player, not a 50+ snap mainstay. He's simply not talented enough for that role.

Spikes is shockingly good for his speed in pass defense so I don't think rookie Hightower displaces Spikes in your normal nickel and dime sets; I do think Hightower and Ninkovich and Spikes and Mayo and Jones are versatile enough that you might see a lot of sub packages where you're replacing DL with LBs.


Used correctly, I think this could turn into an enormous advantage. The more versatile the players on the field, the harder it is for opposing Centers and QBs to identify rushers and assignments pre-snap. Consider looking across the line at Hightower, who's both a great coverage LB and a great pass rushing LB, and trying to predict what he'll do on a given play.

#79 Tony C


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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:09 PM

This is, it seems to me the direction BB has already gone on the offense and perhaps this indicates the direction on defense, too -- i.e., in an age of specialization where much of the diagnosis of what is coming depends on the package the other team sends on a field, if you can move beyond that specialization toward flexible players (i.e, Gronk as pass threat and great rusher [er, edit...meant blocker, obviously, though I guess AH as rusher adds to the point]; 2 TE sets that don't tip off if it'll be a run or a pass) then you have a jump on the competition. We've seen how brilliantly that's worked on offense. On defense, if a guy like Spikes and his surprising pass coverage skills (agree with Shelter on that) is matched with a Hightower who may have similar skills, that begins to move the Pats defense toward a similar flexibility where opposing offenses won't be able to dictate our defense.

Edited by Tony C, 30 April 2012 - 01:59 PM.
i'm not so smart.


#80 triniSox

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

Agreed. Ninko can do a lot of things decently and provides excellent LB depth (on defense and special teams): he pass rushes fairly well, occasionally displayed effective run anticipation, and did a decent job in coverage (especially on medicore RBs and TEs). But he should be a situational player, not a 50+ snap mainstay. He's simply not talented enough for that role.

I think in general Ninko does a pretty good job but he does play too many snaps. It'd be nice to possibly have a talent upgrade there with Hightower. The other key point is that Hightower can backup the Spikes spot and the Mayo spot. Essentially, he can play any of 3 LB spots. Both Spikes and Mayo have missed significant time the last 2 years and the drop-off was significant at those positions. Hightower may also give BB flexibility to have Mayo play wide in certain packages where his speed can be utilized.

#81 lithos2003

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:39 PM

This is, it seems to me the direction BB has already gone on the offense and perhaps this indicates the direction on defense, too -- i.e., in an age of specialization where much of the diagnosis of what is coming depends on the package the other team sends on a field, if you can move beyond that specialization toward flexible players (i.e, Gronk as pass threat and great rusher; 2 TE sets that don't tip off if it'll be a run or a pass) then you have a jump on the competition. We've seen how brilliantly that's worked on offense. On defense, if a guy like Spikes and his surprising pass coverage skills (agree with Shelter on that) is matched with a Hightower who may have similar skills, that begins to move the Pats defense toward a similar flexibility where opposing offenses won't be able to dictate our defense.


You putting it this way makes it seem like BB is looking for more players like Tedy Bruschi (the 2000 - 2004 version). It's pretty clear (to me anyway) that he was a very important key to our defense in those years. It's possible that BB is realizing that his methodology of putting another player in multiple different positions with multiple roles and "coaching them up" is a lot harder than he expected it to be.

#82 Morgan's Magic Snowplow


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Posted 30 April 2012 - 02:13 PM

Jesus, dude.

I mean... nice post.


Thanks man.

Nice post.

Assuming Spikes and Mayo are healthy I think you see Hightower taking a lot of snaps from Ninkovich, particularly as a SLB in base sets. Ninko's a decent enough player and all but he had 1126 snaps last year (fourth on the time, per pff) and rarely left the field; you're just not going to have a good defense if he's a mainstay for you.

Spikes is shockingly good for his speed in pass defense so I don't think rookie Hightower displaces Spikes in your normal nickel and dime sets; I do think Hightower and Ninkovich and Spikes and Mayo and Jones are versatile enough that you might see a lot of sub packages where you're replacing DL with LBs.


I agree on Ninkovich's snaps going down. I see him mainly used as a guy who can put his hand down and rush off the edge in a four-man front (like Chandler, Bequette, and Carter if he's back), with the added bonus of being able to either stand back up and move around or to drop (which the other three aren't as polished at doing). I think he'll be particularly useful in the sub packages because his versatility helps with disguise.

I have no idea how good Hightower will end up being and his playing time as a rookie obviously depends on being a quick learner. That said, I don't think Spikes is the answer in sub packages. He is a very good zone defender when asked to drop into the middle third. He can really read the quarterback and has great instincts for cutting off passing lanes. But he's terrible when asked to play man coverage on the RB or the TE releasing into the pattern: He's just too slow to get where he needs to be. Spikes also offers next to nothing in terms of pass rush ability. He doesn't have the burst or agility to be an effective blitzer, whether right off the snap or on a slight delay, from the MLB spot. I don't know whether Hightower will end up better but I think this is one of the spots that we are hoping to upgrade.