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And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program... following the first Three preseason games. 

 

By TOM

August 23rd, 2010

Of course you can pretty much ignore everything I’ve said so far, while there were a lot of question within the offense, the real questions are the defense. The defense that fell apart the past two seasons. The defense that needs a lot of young players to step up if they are going to go the Super Bowl anytime soon. If you weren’t impressed with the defense against the Saints in the first quarter then you need to put away you pessimistic pipe and stop smoking. I really like their young Secondary. When was the last time you heard anyone who seriously follows the Patriots say they really like our secondary? Before Assante left? Before Law left? It’s been a while. However, the question this off season was to get a passrusher to play opposite TB-C. Something it appears they haven't done.

They have great depth at Safety, and appear to have too much depth at Safety. The much maligned Meriweather, who seems to be a little overrated national and horribly underrated locally, has taken another big step forward so far in the preseason. In the new pass-first-and-ask-questions-later NFL Safeties are playing a different role. The big 225 pound run stuffers are difficult to keep on the field if they can't cover. FS has become more third corners, guys who can make big plays in the passing game, and guys who can step into the slot and cover. Meriweather covers the deep middle as well as anyone on the team. He makes big plays in the passing game, big INTs and rushing the passer. Plus he can cover the slot. Did you see his terrific coverage of Gonzalez in the slot. He rode him straight down the field then broke on the ball just as it arrived, Tony caught the ball, but Meriweather was still able to slap it out of his hands. Terrific coverage, terrific break on the ball, and a terrific play ripping it out of his arms. Chung is looking more and more like the prototypical SS in the new pass-first-and-ask-questions-later NFL. He is a terrific tackler, who still looks better moving forward than backwards. But he is getting better in coverage. Chung has been terrific this preseason. Making tackles all over the field, and actually looking okay in coverage. He appears to have taken BB’s famous second year jump. The overrated James Sanders is steady, but not spectacular in anyway. McGowan, who was a legit starter for them last season looks like he is going to be push out of the picture. And some guy named Sergio Brown has been the biggest come-out-of-nowhere player this preseason. I have no idea who he is or were he comes from, but he keeps making the "who-is-that-guy" plays, and maybe more importantly he is making them on special teams and not just in the second half defense. They have five Safeties who should make the team, but can they keep five Safeties? 

The Corners are young and playing up and down. However, McCourty has shown that he is ready to help out as a rookie. He is clearly the second or third corner on this team already. The physicality he brought to the field at Rutgers has been on display so far this preseason. He has the size speed and skills to become an excellent Corner. Butler has the speed and quickness that shows on the field. However, his coverage skills have been a little hot and cold. He has the potential to a legit starter in the NFL, and I think he will develop into a terrific cover guy. Wilhite and Wheatley are the not-so-young Corners who still need developing. They have both flashed good coverage ability, but have been as inconsistent as oil in water. If either one of these two can put it together, they have  The are pretty assured to make the team when you consider there near irrelevant price tag. However, another young player who has been flashing some big play potential is Kyle Arrington. I don't know a lot about this kid. He is a special teams maven, and has made some plays in coverage. Granted, he made plays in the second half against accountants and security guards, but he has to start somewhere. He makes less money than Wilhite and Wheatley, which clearly places them behind him on the depth chart. The question is can they keep 5 Safeties and 6 Corners, probably not. So who goes? McGowan or Wheatley. Bodden looked terrible against the Rams, but he played like a number one CB last season, and once the season starts I think he will be fine.       

I’m going to break up the front seven a little differently. The center of the front seven: Wilfork, Mayo, and Spikes look like a top ten trio in the league. It is going to be hard to run up the middle on these three guys. The two D-End positions look to be well stocked even with the loss of Seymour and Ty Warren. The pick up of veterans Gerald Warren and Lewis look to be far more important than anybody could have expected. I have really been impressed with the play of Gerald. He has stepped into the Ty’s spot with no visible drop off, and that is a compliment to Gerald. Mike Wright appears to be a less-is-more player, who seems to wear down the more he plays. However, he looks bigger and stronger this year, and it looks he will be rotating with Damione Lewis. I really liked Ron Brace coming out last, and he has been a disappointment ever since. However, he played well against the Falcons, and captured a convenient fall-into-my-bullrush Sack. Then he really played well against the Rams. Looking better against the run than Gerald Warren, and then he gets injured. The good news is that apparently it is just and ankle sprain. I thought he was going to be the main NT back up, but it appears he has found a home at LDE behind Warren. I really like Deadrick. He plays with good techniques and gets his arms out and into the O-Linemen quickly, but like his senior year he got in good position but struggled to than separate from the O-Linemen once engaged. If he could learn to be just s little more slippery he could be a legit starting 3-4 D-End. and I think  The question remains who backs up Wilfork?   

Which brings us to the Achilles heel of the team. The passrusher. The good news is that the have a star passrusher in Tully Banta-Cain. I don't know what happened to him in San Fran, but he is a force on the edge now. He is easily the most underrated player on the roster. He was spectacular against the Rams, and show that edge speed that transformed him into the best edge player the Pats have had since Vrabel left. Playing the edge in the Pats defense is not so complicated, if you have that unique blend of speed, leverage, and technique. The problem is that there are very few players who have those skills. TB-C is clearly one of them. If he had the season he had last season for another team, 10 Sacks, and was signed as a Free Agent, Patsfans would be gong nuts for this guy. I loved how he bent around the corner and made 3 Tackles on inside runs against the Rams. Plus, he has been applying the same consistent pressure he was producing in the second half of last season. Brady and TB-C maybe the two indispensable players this season. Because, we have some-guy-named Marques Murrell, and the looking-old-fast Derrick Burgess playing opposite him. Now, Murrell Sacked Drew Brees in the opening Preseason game, which made me jump out of my seat. I gleefully attended that game, thanks Keith. However, neither has done much since. Cunningham was a good passrusher in college, but looks to me mike he is a year or two. Too many times in the past two games has TB-C applied pressure and forced the QB to move, and no one was around. I don't care what the OLBs do in any other circumstance, my sole judge of them will be in pressuring the QB. All the other OLB don't offer much passrusher so screw 'em. Except for maybe Gary Guyton, who showed some speed around the edge against the Rams. Maybe he could be the situational speed rusher they need on the opposite side TB-C come September? Don't forget he has 4.5 speed in his 240 pound frame. I thought he showed he could run form the left side against the Rams.  

In my opinion the passrusher is the number one undecided factor when it comes to whether this team can go to the Super Bowl or not. Brady is now completely back from knee surgery, and the offense looks solid. I would like to see Mankins back and more consistency in the running game, but the passing game looks like a top five squad. The defense really played well in the first two preseason games, and then looked like they over-looked the Rams. However, even against the Rams, when they pressured the QB the defense looked good, when they didn't the defense looked terrible. Right now, on passing downs, it looks like TB-C and Gary Guyton on the outside, with Burgess, Murrell, and Cunningham hopefully hitting the Quarterback as well. It's like I always say, "If you can't hit the Quarterback in the NFL, you can't win."     

If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me:

patsfanmock12@yahoo.com

 

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