Pats defense: Ongoing discussion

Shelterdog

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Can't say this thrills me. He sucks on D and the ST sucked so what's the point
He probably costs nothing and there's a reasonable chance he'd be one of the best 90 players you could get so it makes some sense. And maybe he had a great off season and you have injuries at LB and he ends up being slightly less sucky than some other sucky LB/ST guy who you would have had to play instead.
 

tims4wins

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He probably costs nothing and there's a reasonable chance he'd be one of the best 90 players you could get so it makes some sense. And maybe he had a great off season and you have injuries at LB and he ends up being slightly less sucky than some other sucky LB/ST guy who you would have had to play instead.
I know, I get why they do it, I should have written that in my original post. Good depth I suppose, but it's the type of roster spot that I would hope to upgrade eventually.
 

Shelterdog

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I know, I get why they do it, I should have written that in my original post. Good depth I suppose, but it's the type of roster spot that I would hope to upgrade eventually.
Agreed. I wouldn't be surprised if they upgrade it before training camp and would be shocked if Langi makes the roster. Not a lot of almost 30 year old players with injury histories who have never been more than marginal NFL players make teams.
 

Captaincoop

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Watching that game last night made me more pessimistic about how the Pats can get back into contention.

The narrative has been that the offense is on the right path, and we need to rebuild the D to be competitive with Buffalo, KC, and the other top teams.

But watching last night, Allen made the KC front seven look too slow, just like he did to the Pats. And Mahomes did the same to Buffalo.

Maybe the real problem is that they have multi-dimensional QBs who can burn you on the ground, buy time to get receivers open, and then make all the throws to make you pay when DBs can't cover for 8 seconds (which none of them can).

We have Mac. Who is a gamer and smart and accurate...but doesn't have that arm or those legs. I wonder in today's game if that is ever going to be enough.
 

Silverdude2167

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Watching that game last night made me more pessimistic about how the Pats can get back into contention.

The narrative has been that the offense is on the right path, and we need to rebuild the D to be competitive with Buffalo, KC, and the other top teams.

But watching last night, Allen made the KC front seven look too slow, just like he did to the Pats. And Mahomes did the same to Buffalo.

Maybe the real problem is that they have multi-dimensional QBs who can burn you on the ground, buy time to get receivers open, and then make all the throws to make you pay when DBs can't cover for 8 seconds (which none of them can).

We have Mac. Who is a gamer and smart and accurate...but doesn't have that arm or those legs. I wonder in today's game if that is ever going to be enough.
KC's defense is not very good and Buffalos defense while highly ranked by DVOA played a bunch of terrible offenses and the good offenses they played this year they gave up
(34 to the Titans, 41 to the Colts, 33 to the Bucs, and 42 to the Chiefs) and there DB 1 was out.

What you saw were two good offenses against two bad defenses along with the NFL deciding that they don't want to call offensive holding (1 called all game).

I think you can build a defense to slow these QB's down and then you just play the ball control game to limit their opportunities.

Also if Allen and Mahomes start running that much consistently, their careers will not be very long. One of those plays is going to end Allens season in the future.
 

BaseballJones

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KC's defense is not very good and Buffalos defense while highly ranked by DVOA played a bunch of terrible offenses and the good offenses they played this year they gave up
(34 to the Titans, 41 to the Colts, 33 to the Bucs, and 42 to the Chiefs) and there DB 1 was out.

What you saw were two good offenses against two bad defenses along with the NFL deciding that they don't want to call offensive holding (1 called all game).
That's precisely what happened in the second Pats-Eagles Super Bowl. You can go back and watch the film of that game and see offensive holding all over the place. The refs just decided they weren't going to call it. Zero offensive holding penalties in that entire game for either side, if I'm remembering correctly. As a result, both Foles and Brady had all day to throw. Predictably, both put up huge numbers.

I think you can build a defense to slow these QB's down and then you just play the ball control game to limit their opportunities.

Also if Allen and Mahomes start running that much consistently, their careers will not be very long. One of those plays is going to end Allens season in the future.
Agree with this too. Allen can transition into a pocket passer who runs only when necessary, and he will still be great. That's kind of like what Mahomes is now. They don't really do much by way of designed runs for Mahomes at this point. But obviously he is a very capable runner when needed.

I get that a huge part of the Bills' success right now is due to Allen's running ability, which they DO design around. But that will taper off as the years go on, I think.

I think BB is trying to design a team just as you describe, by the way. A smart, solid QB who, if needed, can throw a ton, but I think he's looking to run the ball, possess it, play good defense, and out-efficient teams. Obviously that didn't work against Buffalo, but I think he thinks that's the logical counter moving forward. It's easier to build that kind of team (I'd think) than it is to find an elite QB who can go toe-to-toe with guys like Mahomes. He used to have that in Brady. No more.
 

BigJimEd

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What you saw were two good offenses against two bad defenses along with the NFL deciding that they don't want to call offensive holding (1 called all game).
They allow way too much holding these days. All these points of emphasis on calling defensive penalties while relaxing the offensive side has swung the game too far, imo. I'm probably in a small minority though.


so if Allen and Mahomes start running that much consistently, their careers will not be very long. One of those plays is going to end Allens season in the future.
The constant hits add up as well. There's a reason very few RBs have long careers.

Mahomes, at least, slides or gets out of bounds the vast majority of times. It's rare to see him take a big hit. Allen, on the hand, seems to thrive on contact,
 

bunchabums

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Mahomes, at least, slides or gets out of bounds the vast majority of times. It's rare to see him take a big hit. Allen, on the hand, seems to thrive on contact,
Allen does seem to have that Big Ben mentality of taking the hits, or, not trying to avoid them.

When watching other teams I'm always struck by the speed on their defenses, particularly at LB. Of course, being quick doesn't equate with success, but the Pats just seem slow and plodding. Early 2021 Judon was the exception here.
 

Shelterdog

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KC's defense is not very good and Buffalos defense while highly ranked by DVOA played a bunch of terrible offenses and the good offenses they played this year they gave up
(34 to the Titans, 41 to the Colts, 33 to the Bucs, and 42 to the Chiefs) and there DB 1 was out.

What you saw were two good offenses against two bad defenses along with the NFL deciding that they don't want to call offensive holding (1 called all game).

I think you can build a defense to slow these QB's down and then you just play the ball control game to limit their opportunities.

Also if Allen and Mahomes start running that much consistently, their careers will not be very long. One of those plays is going to end Allens season in the future.
I'm very much in the "Allen as super duper running threat doesn't last too long" camp as well. Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Ben R., McNair--the league if full of big strong guys who were fearless early and really slowed down a ton as they moved into their mid to late 20s.
 

Captaincoop

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I'm very much in the "Allen as super duper running threat doesn't last too long" camp as well. Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Ben R., McNair--the league if full of big strong guys who were fearless early and really slowed down a ton as they moved into their mid to late 20s.
I'm thinking more like Elway, where it took almost 10 years before he stopped being a singlehanded threat to win the AFC every year. Allen already looks better than any guy you named ever was.
 

EL Jeffe

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Everyone's invincible until they're not. You can add Daunte Culpepper to Shelterdog's list.

Mahomes has already had a weird knee injury, and some odd neck/stinger/concussion(?) issues. You'd expect a cumulative affect from these injuries to add up and slow him down at some point in his career. Allen in particular you'd expect to slow down based on how many collisions he endures every season. Yeah, he's a tank but tanks wear down too.

The other thing the media tends to gloss over as they coronate KC & Buffalo as the presumptive AFC title contenders for the next 10 years is just how implausible a run that would be. I mean, as dominant as NE's run was, they still ran into trouble patches every few years. Even if NE was making the playoffs basically every season, there were still years where they just weren't serious contenders in any meaningful way. Injuries, bad drafts, coaching & front office attrition, bad free agency decisions...these things are going to happen to every team. Buffalo & KC haven't really run into these issues just yet, but they will. They're inevitable. Buffalo is already starting to stare down some coaching & FO attrition. Also, Mahomes starts getting very expensive next season and Allen the year after. Their mega QB contracts will finally start coming due, which is going to put even more pressure on making sure they nail their drafts..which gets more difficult as you lose important pieces of your braintrust to other teams (who start honing in on the same guys you do).
 

Captaincoop

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Everyone's invincible until they're not. You can add Daunte Culpepper to Shelterdog's list.

Mahomes has already had a weird knee injury, and some odd neck/stinger/concussion(?) issues. You'd expect a cumulative affect from these injuries to add up and slow him down at some point in his career. Allen in particular you'd expect to slow down based on how many collisions he endures every season. Yeah, he's a tank but tanks wear down too.

The other thing the media tends to gloss over as they coronate KC & Buffalo as the presumptive AFC title contenders for the next 10 years is just how implausible a run that would be. I mean, as dominant as NE's run was, they still ran into trouble patches every few years. Even if NE was making the playoffs basically every season, there were still years where they just weren't serious contenders in any meaningful way. Injuries, bad drafts, coaching & front office attrition, bad free agency decisions...these things are going to happen to every team. Buffalo & KC haven't really run into these issues just yet, but they will. They're inevitable. Buffalo is already starting to stare down some coaching & FO attrition. Also, Mahomes starts getting very expensive next season and Allen the year after. Their mega QB contracts will finally start coming due, which is going to put even more pressure on making sure they nail their drafts..which gets more difficult as you lose important pieces of your braintrust to other teams (who start honing in on the same guys you do).
KC and Buffalo won't dominate the game for a decade (remember when Seattle was going to do that?) for the reason you mention - the salary cap implications when the QBs start getting paid. But there are probably going to be more and more of these mobile cannon QBs as we go forward.
 

Shelterdog

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I'm thinking more like Elway, where it took almost 10 years before he stopped being a singlehanded threat to win the AFC every year. Allen already looks better than any guy you named ever was.
Luck was pretty good. Ben was pretty good. But sure, if Allen consistently throws the ball like he has the past two weeks without mistakes, without fumbling it, without throwing picks then he's going to win a gigantic number in the future. He's completing almost 80 percent of his passes 300 yards and 4.5 TDs a game with no picks; it's obscene! Now I suspect when he starts to run it a little less, when the weapons and offensive coaching staff maybe aren't as good, than that throwing the ball tends to get a little tougher.
 

Cellar-Door

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KC's defense is not very good and Buffalos defense while highly ranked by DVOA played a bunch of terrible offenses and the good offenses they played this year they gave up
(34 to the Titans, 41 to the Colts, 33 to the Bucs, and 42 to the Chiefs) and there DB 1 was out.

What you saw were two good offenses against two bad defenses along with the NFL deciding that they don't want to call offensive holding (1 called all game).

I think you can build a defense to slow these QB's down and then you just play the ball control game to limit their opportunities.

Also if Allen and Mahomes start running that much consistently, their careers will not be very long. One of those plays is going to end Allens season in the future.
There are no good defenses then. I mean the top defenses this year were teams like the Patriots, Bills and Cowboy, Rams and Saints. The Saints missed the playoffs.
The Patriots forced zero punts were thoroughly dominated and gave up 47 points in an early elimination.
The Bills gave up 42 and lost
Cowboys managed to only give up 23 in a wild card loss
The Rams gave up 23 and 27 and snuck out wins.

When you get to the playoffs even elite defenses aren't going to hold a team to less than 4 scores in a best case scenario.
 

Saints Rest

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Luck was pretty good. Ben was pretty good. But sure, if Allen consistently throws the ball like he has the past two weeks without mistakes, without fumbling it, without throwing picks then he's going to win a gigantic number in the future. He's completing almost 80 percent of his passes 300 yards and 4.5 TDs a game with no picks; it's obscene! Now I suspect when he starts to run it a little less, when the weapons and offensive coaching staff maybe aren't as good, than that throwing the ball tends to get a little tougher.
Also, let's consider what happens when Daboll signs elsewhere to be a head coach.
 

Euclis20

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I'm very much in the "Allen as super duper running threat doesn't last too long" camp as well. Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Ben R., McNair--the league if full of big strong guys who were fearless early and really slowed down a ton as they moved into their mid to late 20s.
Cam really feels like the best comp here. Allen is averaging 648 rushing yards per 17 games. Far more than Luck (265), Roethlisberger (just 125 per year through 2010, the last time he cleared 100 in a single year) or McNair (276). Newton is averaging 646 yards per 17 games, nearly identical to Allen (he's also almost the exact same size).

Agreed 100% on the QB running threats not lasting too long, but it's all relative. Compared to the pocket passers who now appear to be effective for 12+ years, they have a much shorter effective period. Compared to running backs, they still last awhile - all of these guys were effective mobile QBs for at least 7-8 years, which is bad news for everyone in the AFC east for the rest of the decade.
 

tims4wins

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Cam through 4 years (regular season):
62 games, 467 attempts (7.5/game), 2,571 yards (5.5 YPC)

Allen through 4 years (regular season):
60 games, 422 attempts (7.0/game), 2,325 yards (5.5 YPC)

Cam's 5th year he was MVP. Things went south pretty quickly after that.

Edit: the good news is that Allen is a much better pure passer than Newton. But he will need to reduce his rushing rate drastically going forward to avoid injury via accumulation of hits
 

Shelterdog

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Also, let's consider what happens when Daboll signs elsewhere to be a head coach.
Even if he doesn't it's going to be like it is with every super hot team--defensive coordinators are going to find some things that work better, guys will get hurt or older or move on to free agency/get more expensive, so well I'm sure they'll be at least OK with such a talented QB unless they keep bringing in great relatively cheap talent they're not going to stay as explosive as a team.
 

SMU_Sox

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This is a brainstorm but I think drafting a guy like Chenal helps a lot against Allen. For one he is an exceptional athlete. He has the cornering of much lighter player and great burst and long speed. He has a big tackle radius too and great power. He is someone who could wrap him up because he has the length, size, and movement skills to do that. He is a great pass rusher whether you use him coming downhill from a linebacker spot, lining him up against a guard or center on the LOS, or used in games. So with him you’d be getting more pass rush too. You would also be able to do a lot more with simulated pressure and figuring out who is rushing and who isn’t and that creates confusion for Allen and the OL.

Edit: for clarity Leo Chenal is a redshirt sophomore ILB(mainly)//OLB out of Wisconsin. 6’2” 252-262 and he is on Feldman’s freak list for speed, power, burst, and agility.

Hat tip to @Super Nomario and Jim R for the brainstorming session. I think for them to get back on track they need an exceptional run defunding ILB/OLB with size and athleticism who is dynamic rushing the passer. You want to replace Hightower you can start with Chenal.

My other thought was this is a deep class for potential round 1 3-4 edge rushers. Let’s say they sign JCJ but if they can’t the other way to make up for a mediocre secondary is with pass rush. If they double dipped and took an edge in round 1 and Chenal later now you’re adding two potentially highly productive pass rushers to Judon and Barmore with KVN, Wise, and Perkins and Wino to a lesser degree giving you a diverse group of pass rusher with 3-4 potentially dominant ones. You could still draft a WR in the third round and other positions of need later in a year with a lot of starting caliber depth but short on stars. I’m not saying that they should do that but I think it’s at least worth thinking about as a path they could take that has some considerable upside. The risk is if those guys can’t produce quickly or bust you are looking at a mediocre rush and not enough talent on the back end. Although if you drafted any defensive position over an other and it busted… well a bust is a bust and if it was a corner in round 1 instead of an edge that gets you at the same spot if the corner busts, mediocre pass rush and lack of talent on the back end.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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This is a brainstorm but I think drafting a guy like Chenal helps a lot against Allen. For one he is an exceptional athlete. He has the cornering of much lighter player and great burst and long speed. He has a big tackle radius too and great power. He is someone who could wrap him up because he has the length, size, and movement skills to do that. He is a great pass rusher whether you use him coming downhill from a linebacker spot, lining him up against a guard or center on the LOS, or used in games. So with him you’d be getting more pass rush too. You would also be able to do a lot more with simulated pressure and figuring out who is rushing and who isn’t and that creates confusion for Allen and the OL.

Edit: for clarity Leo Chenal is a redshirt sophomore ILB(mainly)//OLB out of Wisconsin. 6’2” 252-262 and he is on Feldman’s freak list for speed, power, burst, and agility.

Hat tip to @Super Nomario and Jim R for the brainstorming session. I think for them to get back on track they need an exceptional run defunding ILB/OLB with size and athleticism who is dynamic rushing the passer. You want to replace Hightower you can start with Chenal.

My other thought was this is a deep class for potential round 1 3-4 edge rushers. Let’s say they sign JCJ but if they can’t the other way to make up for a mediocre secondary is with pass rush. If they double dipped and took an edge in round 1 and Chenal later now you’re adding two potentially highly productive pass rushers to Judon and Barmore with KVN, Wise, and Perkins and Wino to a lesser degree giving you a diverse group of pass rusher with 3-4 potentially dominant ones. You could still draft a WR in the third round and other positions of need later in a year with a lot of starting caliber depth but short on stars. I’m not saying that they should do that but I think it’s at least worth thinking about as a path they could take that has some considerable upside. The risk is if those guys can’t produce quickly or bust you are looking at a mediocre rush and not enough talent on the back end. Although if you drafted any defensive position over an other and it busted… well a bust is a bust and if it was a corner in round 1 instead of an edge that gets you at the same spot if the corner busts, mediocre pass rush and lack of talent on the back end.
I'll defer to you and others on here who follow college prospects on a regular basis and in depth (I am casual viewer of college football at best), and can't disagree that a run stuffing LB with speed and the ability to rush the passer would help immensely. I don't think you're describing a unicorn in the modern college game or NFL, but what are the chances a guy with this skill set is going to be on the board when the Patriots are picking? I know that they managed to snag (a player that, to my untrained eye at least had and has "prototypical disruptive DL for the modern NFL" stamped all over him) in the second round not even a year ago. Here's hoping Leo Chenal (or player X, player Y, etc) is there to be had when the Pats are on the clock, and comes as advertised.

And, as with pretty much everyone else posting in this thread, I really would love to know the full story of what the heck happened to this defense down the stretch this year. This is perhaps a topic better explored in the "Has BB lost his fastball" thread, but it seems really difficult to apportion blame here based on what has come out so far.

There is good reason to think the league (or at least the good coach/QB combos in it, which unfortunately includes a team in our division, and will for the foreseeable future) has to some figured out BB's overall "execute all the way down the field" defensive strategy. But I really don't think that tells the whole story. Injuries and age related decline (and some pretty terrible officiating, but that's life in the NFL) obviously played a role. But the defense just didn't look the same after the bye week. At all. From the outside it sure looked to me like a defense that went into games with a game plan they didn't believe think going to work, played like it, and then collapsed when (unsurprisingly) it didn't and the coaches didn't have a viable "Plan B" to roll out.

Maybe I'm just inventing a narrative, or connecting random dots, but this felt a lot like 2009's D to me--a defense that, whether short handed or not, just couldn't be coached.
 

SMU_Sox

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Here’s my counter argument for coverage skills for their ILBs. They don’t use them as rangy cover guys and even with Bentley and Hightower last year who are truly below average to bad in coverage they individually gave up about 15-20 or so yards a game. That’s something you can live with if they are really good at the other aspects of their job. Right now I’d argue Hightower and Bentley are playing well against the run and that’s about it. If either of them are better as pass rushers (and High used to be) you get a lot more out of them while hiding their coverage deficiencies. Bill is not using his ILBs like many teams and therefore is chasing after a much smaller pool of guys with not as many fisherman trying to reel them in. You don’t have to have unicorn ILBs and it would be rare if Bill could find one drafting where he is anyway. With guys like Chenal and bigger ILBs with his kind of athletic traits they could be potential stars under BB but role players on other squads or not even signed. Personally I’d rather cut against the grain and find undervalued players by the rest of the league.

Edit: it’s impossible imo to run with the pack in terms of flavor of the year scheme wise and consistently have success. You will inevitably be picking the leftovers from a playoff draft spot and then your talent dries up quickly.
 
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Here’s my counter argument for coverage skills for their ILBs. They don’t use them as rangy cover guys and even with Bentley and Hightower last year who are truly below average to bad in coverage they individually gave up about 15-20 or so yards a game. That’s something you can live with if they are really good at the other aspects of their job. Right now I’d argue Hightower and Bentley are playing well against the run and that’s about it. If either of them are better as pass rushers (and High used to be) you get a lot more out of them while hiding their coverage deficiencies. Bill is not using his ILBs like many teams and therefore is chasing after a much smaller pool of guys with not as many fisherman trying to reel them in. You don’t have to have unicorn ILBs and it would be rare if Bill could find one drafting where he is anyway. With guys like Chenal and bigger ILBs with his kind of athletic traits they could be potential stars under BB but role players on other squads or not even signed. Personally I’d rather cut against the grain and find undervalued players by the rest of the league.

Edit: it’s impossible imo to run with the pack in terms of flavor of the year scheme wise and consistently have success. You will inevitably be picking the leftovers from a playoff draft spot and then your talent dries up quickly.
You'll get little to no disagreement from me. Clearly BB agrees that average(ish) pass coverage from the inside linebacker position is a price worth paying, assuming the players stop the run and can rush the passer a bit when asked. That's basically every inside linebacker the Patriots have started (and won several Super Bowls with) going back to, I dunno, Jerrod Mayo--who I remember (probably wrongly) was pretty good in coverage during his prime. I don't see this changing any time soon, particularly because as you rightly point out there just aren't many NFL teams competing with the Patriots for players in this particular mold.

And, I agree with you that Bentley and Hightower ticked the "stop the run" box this season for the most part. But that's pretty much it, and I'd really like to see an upgrade there. If as you suggest potential upgrades will be within reach in the draft...well, from your lips to BB's ears is all I have to say.
 

jmanny24

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Here’s my counter argument for coverage skills for their ILBs. They don’t use them as rangy cover guys and even with Bentley and Hightower last year who are truly below average to bad in coverage they individually gave up about 15-20 or so yards a game. That’s something you can live with if they are really good at the other aspects of their job. Right now I’d argue Hightower and Bentley are playing well against the run and that’s about it. If either of them are better as pass rushers (and High used to be) you get a lot more out of them while hiding their coverage deficiencies. Bill is not using his ILBs like many teams and therefore is chasing after a much smaller pool of guys with not as many fisherman trying to reel them in. You don’t have to have unicorn ILBs and it would be rare if Bill could find one drafting where he is anyway. With guys like Chenal and bigger ILBs with his kind of athletic traits they could be potential stars under BB but role players on other squads or not even signed. Personally I’d rather cut against the grain and find undervalued players by the rest of the league.

Edit: it’s impossible imo to run with the pack in terms of flavor of the year scheme wise and consistently have success. You will inevitably be picking the leftovers from a playoff draft spot and then your talent dries up quickly.
While this may be true, this issue I have is I don't think spread things out, passing heavy offenses are a flavor of the year, they have been this way for a while and the defense clearly needs more athleticism from the LB corp.
 

SMU_Sox

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The Patriots have gone with a lot of different types of DTs, Base Ends, and Nose Tackles. Typically Bill likes DTs and base ends to be 300+ pounds with longer arms but Brown only had average length and Dom Easley (shudder) was only 288.

If the Patriots go base end, DT, or NT in the first three or four rounds what kind of traits do you think they want for the scheme next year and in the next few years? This is both figuring out what Bill wants to do but also what you think Bill should do within reason.
 

EL Jeffe

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Wilfork had pretty average length, too (32.5" arms).

I think if there's a common element that Bill wants from a DL, it's violent hands and power. Can you strike and rock the OL backwards. Can you stack and shed. Can you set your edge. He's been a bit unpredictable when it comes to length and weight, but the raw power/explosion and physicality have always been important to him.
 

Scoops Bolling

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Yeah, he’s a goner. The Pats don’t often pay top dollar (I know there are exceptions), and I am willing to bet that some team will swoop in and pay the man big bucks that the Pats won’t match.
If the Patriots thought that likely, wouldn't they just tag him with the intent of trying to trade him?
 

Jimbodandy

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They don't have a lot behind JC right now. It was one thing to let Gilmore go, when they had JC et al.

The Pats don't usually pay top dollar. Doesn't mean that they won't.
 

Shelterdog

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This is the right move IMO. Time to overhaul the LB position.
Maybe there's no link but I'm struck by the fact that they cut him just after a whole bunch of pretty big off the ball linebackers killed it at the combine. I doubt that BB starts picking Nakboe Dean types but seems like a year where he's decided to use a high pick to get a Chad Muma or whomever.