Second installment in our post-season position review. Overall, I think our Defensive Ends performed admirably. Even though Mr. Seymour missed several games due to an injury sustained while playing fullback, the D-Ends performed extremely well this season. In fact, I believe this is the strength of the defense and the future of this Patriots team.
Overall Grade: B+
Two words...Franchise Player. I read all the pub about Seymour. How he was the guy other teams game planned against. How he was so disruptive to what the opponent's offense was trying to do. I have also watched him since his rookie season. He is not flashy. He is not dynamic. He is not overwhelming. Why? because he is getting double and sometimes triple teamed. He truly opens the defense up for mammoths like Wilfork and Warren. Believe me, watch a game and focus on him. He either ties up two to three guys or busts through and gets to or disrupts the opposing quarterback.
During the 2005 season, Richard Seymour showed why he is arguably the best defensive lineman in the league. At this point in the review I would just like to point out that the "experts" cringed when Coach Belichick selected Seymour. He was reaching with this pick. O.K. guys, time to find another profession. During the past season, Seymour missed four games due to the knee injury he suffered while playing fullback during the San Diego game. What happened to the Patriots and their defense during that time? Hmmm let's look, shall we? After the home loss (ahem, debacle to the Colts) our defense ranked 27th in the league defending the run. Coincidentally, this was the final game that Seymour sat out. After this game and upon his return, the Patriots significantly improved their rush defense finishing eighth overall at season's end. Does Seymour make every tackle? Does he get two to three sacks a game? No. But opposing coaches must gameplan for him. This makes the likes of Warren and Wilfork better. Wilfork struggles while Seymour is out.
It does not simply comes down to numbers. Richard Seymour registered 69 tackles and four sacks in twelve games this season, not all-world numbers. But, this guy is as important to the defense as Tom Brady is to the offense. They are simply better with #93 in the game. I sure hope the Patriots and Seymour can work out a long term contract. He recently expressed optimism that a deal would get done. He has been a great player and a model citizen for this franchise. I hope Mr. Kraft feels the same way and keeps him in Patriot colors for many years to come...
Ty Warren's name is not going to get mentioned eight to nine times a game. Heck, you may not hear Mr. Enberg shout his name once. But Ty Warren may be the most underrated defensive player on the Patriots. He doesn't make a lot off huge plays, sacks or recovered fumbles. He is, however consistent. He's not going to have a lot of sacks...it is not his strength. Tackling the runner is, as he finished the 2005 season with 77 tackles.
Ty Warren is another pick that the "experts" raised their eyebrows on draft day. But, let's face it. He has turned out to be a solid player for the Pats. He is a classic two-gap defensive end who is tough against the run and doesn't lose contain on his side very often. He is steady and hopefully will remain one of the strong cogs in the Patriots front seven for several years to come.
Two words: bitter...disappointment. Hill was selected in the second round in 2004. He came out early and if I remember, several prognosticators said he came out too early. If he waited another year, he would have been a top five pick. Wow, were they right. This guy has done nothing. Absolutley nothing. They said he was raw. They said he was young. Well, they were right. He has had several opportunities to shine. He has not. In eight games this season, he registered nine tackles. He was inactive as many times as he was active. It will be interesting to see if Marquis will eventually mature into the player many thought he may become. If he does not soon, he may be looking for another team.
I do not know. I simply do not know. Sometimes I watch Jarvis Green and say, "WOW, this guy is a stud!". Other times, I do not even know he is playing. Generally, he is in the game on passing downs and when they switch to a 4-3 defense. The Patriots (judging by the contract they gave him) believe he is a decent player and has the ability to get after the quarterback. But, he had only 2.5 sacks this season. He had several opportunities to shine while Seymour was out and did not show us anything special.
He is a capable backup if Seymour or Warren get injured and he is strong against the run, finishing with 53 tackles this year. What I would love to see is the "monster" we saw in the AFC Divisional game against the Colts in 2004 when he was all over Peyton Manning.
Overall, I think we have a solid, young group of defensive lineman that can carry the team for many years forward. The porblem will be keeping Seymour happy with a long term deal, hopefully seeing Hill grow up and getting Jarvis Green hungry again. This is a position of strength with this team and they will only get better as they grow and mature.