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Old 03-24-2010, 12:32 PM    (permalink
Don Vito
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Default Then versus now

It is pretty clear that our defensive philosophy and style has been changing over the last 5 years or so, pretty much since the time Crennel left. We used to have the best front 7 in the league with a secondary full of playmakers and hitters. Our DL occupied blockers and had the ability to generate pressure, we could use any one of our linebackers (inside or out) creatively to get pressure, and the secondary capitalized on this. Here's a little breakdown between our DL, LB, and secondary between then and now.

DL
Then: For probably 5 years, our DL was possibly the best 3-4 DL in the game, with at least one guy who could be a serviceable starter if a top guy went down and we also had plenty of effective role players. There was elite talent at the top and great depth behind those guys.

Now: We resigned Wilfork which is huge, he is arguably the best NT in the game. Warren is still a very solid end, but we saw how much the defense changed without Seymour. Jarvis Green was an excellent role player off the bench, but we discovered last year he is not as effective in a starting role. No he's gone too. Myron Pryor looks like he could have a role on this team, but if we stick with the 3-4 he will probably be a role player who could be a situational effort third down guy like Jarvis was. We need another end pretty badly, I just don't know if we will find him this year.

LB
Then: Bruschi, Vrable, McGinnest, Phifer, and Ted Johnson were here for all of our super bowl victorys. Colvin was signed in 2003 but was hurt, then you throw in Larry Izzo on special teams. Wow. Those guys were all playing at an extremely high level on the same team, that is a pretty insane linebacking corps. Looking back you really realize how great this defense was, and that the heart and soul of it came from the linebackers.

Now: TBC was on the team with Vrable, Bruschi, McGinnest and all of those guys and he barely even made an impact on special teams. He has progressed as a player I guess, but he without question made the most impact plays for any of our linebackers last season. Our linebackers in our great years were consistent and dependable, but what made them special was almost all of them could make a gamechanging any given week. Mayo looks like he will be a good one but he will never amount to what he can be if we don't put the pieces around him. Moral of the story is we need some ******* linebackers, they may not turn out to be Tedy Bruschi or Make Vrable but we need to at least make an attempt to draft some linebackers that look to fit our scheme (whatever it is nowadays).

Secondary:
Then: We had some great DB's: Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Asante Samuel, even Milloy got in on one of the super bowls before going to Buffalo. But in our best years, our secondary was always banged up. We won super bowls with Earthland Moreland as a starter, Troy Brown playing corner, and rookies like Eugene Wilson and Asante playing huge roles. Our front 7 was so good it seemed like we were signing DBs off the street and we could win. Harrison was the ******* man and he was the leader of the defense, one of my favorite Patriots ever. He was not fast; but he was big, tough, smart, and would knock the piss out of you. He anchored the secondary and the front 7 did the dirty work, it was a revolving door at the other safety spot and at corner. And it didn't matter; we beat TO and the Eagles with Law and Poole, the 2 starters, both in street clothes.

Now: Our secondary will never do anything if the QB has all day to throw, and we saw this last year. As the years have gone on, we have started placing more and more value into our back 4 as opposed to our front 7. Meriweather was a first rounder. Chung was the second pick in the second round. Wheatley second rounder. Butler second rounder. Can all of these guys develop into solid players? Yes, Meriweather certainly has. Will they become a great unit without a front 7? Doubt it.

Bottom line, our team needs to get back to our roots. I think it was BigBlueDefense who said Belichick looks like he is starting to think he is Bill Polian not Belichick. We were the dominant force in this league when we had a balanced offense that was strong up front and dominant defense that was strong up front.

I was watching the Bills vs. Giants Super Bowl (when Belichick was the Giants DC) the other day on TV and I noticed something. That Giants defense was always know for its ability to get pressure with LT, Carson, and everyone else. At the end of the game, the Giants were doing what we do now on defense-just sitting back and giving up yards. That prevent type defense that seems to be our base now, they call it prevent because it prevents you from winning. Anyways, the Bills drove it down the Giants throats for the tail end of that game and the only reason they won was because Scott Norwood missed the field goal.

We need to build up the trenches on both sides of the ball, especially the front 7 on defense. Stick with the 3-4 and build it back up. **** it I might e-mail this to Kraft and Belichick.
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Old 03-24-2010, 12:41 PM    (permalink
Razor
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Once again, a very good post from you! I couldn't agree more with what you said, and I think you should e-mail it to BB and Kraft. It seems like BB has to much confidence when it comes to his system, and people are starting to figure it out. Something needs to be done, but before that we need some talent. Especially linebackers.
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:22 PM    (permalink
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Hopefully I'm wrong, but here's what I think we're starting to see as the years go by.

BB is, was, and likely always will be a great talent evaluator. Nobody hits 100% of the time and BB has a total of 2 total busts (Crable & Jackson) and what looks like 3 potential busts in Maroney, Wheatley and Brace. Those 3 still have a chance to shake that label, but even with 5 busts through 9 drafts I'd say he's doing great.

The issue seems to be his support staff. Romeo and Charlie could very well light the league up from KC this year. While I don't necessarily blame BB for the loss of his staff, it is still his responsibility to replace them with talented people who can contribute to his success. The refusal to name new coordinators is a downfall and it's safe to say that can be attributed to BB's growing ego and arrogance.

We're left with a guy who is a great talent evaluator, master motivator, and all around top notch coach. However, without a well rounded support staff, we're seeing too much of a drop off in schemes on both sides of the ball.

The end result seems to be an ever waning Belichick Imprint on his teams. I wish I could cite the staff and roster turnover rate and give Bill a pass; but I can't. He is the leader of the organization and it falls on him to continue the dynasty.
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Old 03-24-2010, 04:10 PM    (permalink
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I was actually hoping we'd talk with both Weis and Crennel this off season, but oh well. Don Vito, amazing write up yet again. Our front seven needs some big play makers, Warren, Wilfork, and Mayo are all fine in my eyes, but the most important thing we need is some linebackers. I feel like a big reason we got out of a constant 3-4 was because we had almost no productivity out of our linebackers. TBC being our best player last year, is sad. I hated that guy before we cut him, and was pissed when we resigned him. I think the talent we have at DB can all be pretty decent starters, especially Merriweather. If we can get another decent DE, and somehow manage to get at least two more amazing backers, I think our D will be fine. As bad as it was this year, I didnt think it was as bad as many thought it could be at the start of the season.
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