A Look at the Patriots' Young Defense

Abandon all hope? Not yet. Even though the defense has fallen off from the 2009 season (which had fallen off from the 2008 season, which was a ghost of the 2007 season), there is still reason to be hopeful. Let's take a look at who is on the Patriots' defense and compare it to the past couple of seasons.

Bold means returning 2009 starter, underline means 2008 starter.

Starter Comparison
2008 Starters 2009 Starters
2010 Starters
Right Defensive End
Richard Seymour Mike Wright
Gerard Warren
Nose Tackle
Vince Wilfork Vince Wilfork
Vince Wilfork
Left Defensive End
Ty Warren
Ty Warren Ron Brace
Outside Linebacker
Mike Vrabel Tully Banta-Cain
Tully Banta-Cain
Inside Linebacker
Jerod Mayo Jerod Mayo
Jerod Mayo
Inside Linebacker
Tedy Bruschi Gary Guyton
Brandon Spikes
Outside Linebacker
Adalius Thomas Adalius Thomas
Rob Ninkovich
Cornerback
Deltha O'Neal Leigh Bodden
Devin McCourty
Cornerback
Ellis Hobbs Jonathan Wilhite
Darius Butler
Safety
Brandon Meriweather Brandon Meriweather
James Sanders
Safety
James Sanders Brandon McGowan
Pat Chung
Defensive Coordinator
Dean Pees Dean Pees
???

 

So what does this mean? This means that only Mayo and Wilfork have three years of starters experience on this defense. Brandon Meriweather is another potential name, but he's been replaced by James Sanders (who was benched in 2009 for Brandon McGowan). Banta-Cain is a returner, but even he was on the bench against the Bills as rookie Jermaine Cunningham started. This defense is a young unit that is really playing for the first time; none of these players have really battled a 16 game season together.

Where does this leave the defense? No where to go but up really- and it's not like the defense is starting from the bottom. If Meriweather can reclaim his starting position and if Darius Butler minimizes the mistakes he makes, this defense will be able to grow together and be a formidable group of players.

Read more about starters after the jump!

 

 

Here's a break down of how many players have started at each position this season:

RDE - 2 (Mike Wright, Warren)

NT - 1 (Wilfork)

LDE - 2 (Warren, Brace)

ROLB - 2 (Banta-Cain, Cunningham)

RILB - 1 (Spikes)

LILB - 1 (Mayo)

LOLB - 1 (Ninkovich)

#1 CB - 2 (Butler, McCourty)

#1 CB - 2 (McCourty, Arrington)

SS - 1 (Chung)

FS - 1 (Sanders)

Clearly, the young secondary needs to solidify (Meriweather included) and figure out which players are going to be starting and playing minutes. As an overall unit, once some consistency is seen, they will start to gel. For right now, every player is still finding their spot on the defense.

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