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2017 Season Blog.

Defending

Super Bowl Champs.

7-Things For Sunday: Part II. 

By TOM

Greetings Pats Fans,

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Defense Win Championships!

By TOM

4. Getting Defensive On Defense- Usually when you win the Super Bowl teams try to keep their team together. This has been the biggest turnover for a Super Bowl winning team that I can remember. And mostly in areas that hurt the most. It is impossible to argue that in this new pass first and ask questions later NFL that the two most important positions on defense are edgerushers and Corners.

The problem the Pats are facing is a complete turnover from those positions. Yes, Malcom Butler is still the starting CB. But he has not been the same Super Bowl Saving Butler he was the past few seasons. I hate to say this, with all the Patriots homerism in my bones, but he sucked last week. Damn! Now I feel like a Red Sox fan calling 'EEI. 

He needs to step his game up, and stop worrying about the Lottery ticket he can cash at the end of the season, or he won't be able to cash it. "It sure has a long way from West Alabama," BB said about Butler. "But you know, again, that's absolutely true for Malcolm. And I would say we have a lot of other players in that category. I mean, guys come into this league and wherever they were, this is a huge jump on a number of levels: competitively, socially, economically, the attention from the fans. and the media. and so forth. It's huge.

"Not everybody is from Alabama and Michigan and USC and those places. So for some of those guys, and even the ones that come from there, it's still a huge jump for them. It's a big part of a big time in a professional player's career: making it the first year, but then that first to second, or first to second to third. That's true for everybody." Every week the pay out has shrunk for him.

He was not great in the Preseason. He was not a shut down CB by any measure in the Preseason. Now in the first game, the entire defense fell apart in the 2nd Half, and Butler was certainly one of the players that sucked, but he was not the worst in that regard. The rush was a joke in the 2nd Half, and the inexperience on the edge rush hurt everybody in the secondary.

We lost Logan Ryan, who was the best run defending Corner I ever saw. Never mind from a CB who was also a shutdown Corner. The Pats upgraded in athleticism (maybe) with Stephon Gilmore, and certainly speed. But we down graded in leadership, grit, and run D. Now Gilmore may end up being the better player, but like most of the defense he was not better Thursday night.

And they are going to be facing a bigger challenge this week. "He's a tough receiver, big, strong, strong hands, tough, hard to tackle, a very physical receiver. Probably as physical as any receiver we'll see," BB said about WR Michael Thomas. "Yeah, it's a big group. I mean, he's by far the most physical. [Brandon] Coleman's 230-pounds. He's a big target. He's almost like a tight end. [Coby] Fleener's a good receiver at tight end." They are huge at receiver in New Orleans now.

So while the turnover at CB wasn't complete (but only felt that way because Butler seems to have lost some confidence) the edgerusher turnover has been complete. Though Flowers was going to be a starter this season, they lost their three veteran rushers: Long, Sheard, and then Ninkovich. Now none of those three were great, but you win with veterans that play their position and don't make mistakes. They didn't make mistakes.

Now we have Flowers, and three new names Wise, Adam Butler, and Marsh. "Those are two young guys here that we've been working with for a while and they've played a little bit through the preseason," Matt Patricia said about Wise and Butler. "I think those two guys in particular, I would say for young guys that came in they worked extremely hard. I think from understanding the defensive concepts and some of the things we do from the mental part of the game, I thought they did a real good job of trying to understand it.

"[Wise and Butler are] two guys that we were able to kind of move around into different positions and take a look at from that standpoint, which is always good. It may not be where they play or it may not be necessarily where they end up week to week but being able to take some guys that are a little bit multiple that you can try to evaluate in different positions through the course of training camp allows us to get a different look at them. So that was one of the positives coming out of that." Butler and Guy are really more 5-Techs than DEs, and Van Noy might be their best speed rusher. 

They are going to have to use multiple players in multiple ways to hit the QB. They need Cassius Marsh to step up and be that third edgerusher, and fast. "Just in general with Cassius getting here, I'd say definitely trying to get him caught up and get him up to speed with everything that we do here," Patricia said. "He worked extremely hard this week to try to make sure he understood everything and just go out and play hard and do those things. [He's] still, obviously, working through a lot there but very into it. Studying and learning and just obviously got a long way. I think in general last night again in the game, I would say overall in general for everybody, we've got a lot of work to do." They need him to hit the QB.

The Saints WRs are big mean and nasty. "Well I think definitely the size is something that they've done a good job of getting skill players that have what we call 'big catch radiuses' or guys that can go up and [get it]," Patricia said. "Along with [that] this offense that does a great job of stressing you from a horizontal standpoint, they do a good job of pushing the ball down the field. I think the big key is obviously the quarterback. Drew Brees is outstanding.

"He's an excellent quarterback not only in the cerebral sense and his ability to get into the proper play and change and audible and do all that stuff at the line of scrimmage, but when he throws the ball and he can get it downfield or he can really put the ball away from a defender, I think the big targets that he has allows him to place the ball away from maybe the coverage or the leverage or whatever the case may be. I think he does a really good job of finding those spaces and getting the ball to those guys.

"So having receivers that are longer and guys that can go make those sort of completions. You know, you saw Fleener make one last night and throughout the course of whether you look at last year's tape or a couple years ago or through the preseason, their receivers have been able to make those catches. So it really allows the quarterback the opportunity to throw the ball up to them and gives those guys a chance to go up and get the ball." So they cannot have miscommunications in the secondary this week.

They have to hit Brees, or he will tear them a new one with multiple weapons. "They hit him outside. They move him around. He's another fast, explosive player. Fleener gets a lot of seam balls," BB said. "Thomas is really good at everything. They hit Ginn on that seam or inside fade early in the 4th quarter last week. They move them around. They have different ways of getting the balls down the field. They do a good job with the backs too. Kamara: wheel routes, and plays coming out of the backfield.

"They mix it up. They just don't run the same thing all the time. They scheme it up and usually get a good matchup. The vertical element is definitely there. Sean does a good job with that. He creates some tough mismatch situations or coverage beaters. Brees is good to recognize it." 

This is offense is much better than the Chiefs. If they do get the rush and coverage working together to stop Brees than it is going to be a long day, and a shorter season. The defense has to play better than last week. This is a must win game. 

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