I'm going to immediately say that I don't have an answer. This will be a good off-season discussion and can help us decide for ourselves which positions on defense hold the most value. There's no question that our defense has been lacking the same spark our Championship teams possess. However, I believe that we're missing personnel as well as leadership.
When I was checking out ESPN's top Patriot Priorities, I noticed they had OLB as #1 and DE as #3. That got me thinking- Chicken or the egg? Which position can make the other much better? In my opinion, and especially in the 3-4 style defense, the DE plays the much more vital role. The DE in the 3-4 is supposed to occupy two blockers, plug the gap and free the LBs so they can get into the backfield. Our main problem this year has been the lack of generated pressure on the opposing QBs. I believe that an elite DE can better conceal the weaknesses in the rest of the defense while an elite OLB can only do so much in the defense.
More after the jump.
So in order to build the Patriots defense, this is what I think needs to be done:
- Get an elite NT. We need to resign Vince Wilfork. No questions here. (1)
- Get an elite MLB. That should be Jerod Mayo next year. Another year under his belt and he should assume leadership. (2)
- Get a strong CB. This can be Leigh Bodden. He was one of the best in the AFC, although he didn't get much notice. (3)
- Get two elite DE. We have Ty Warren. We need another one. The D-Line is the most important part of the 3-4, in my mind, as they shoulder most of the work in the trenches. If they do their job, the secondary can create turnovers and the LBs can make plays. (4,5)
- Get a versatile OLB. They need to be able to cover and they need to be able to reach the QB. We don't have an OLB who can do this. (6)
- Get a playmaking S. They can prevent big plays by the other team and can lay down the law. Brandon Meriweather fits the bill. (7)
- A second CB who can cover. We don't have one. Hopefully Darius Butler can emerge, but we need another one. (8)
- A second MLB. They must complement the first. If the first is better at stopping the run, this one must be good at stopping the pass, either by rushing the QB or dropping into coverage, or vice versa. Gary Guyton has potential and Tyrone McKenzie is an unknown. (9)
- A second OLB. They must be able to be a general playmaker. They have to be able to cover, rush, stop the run and tackle. We don't have one. Tully Banta-Cain is too one dimensional, but could work. (10)
- A second safety who can tackle. We have this in James Sanders, Brandon McGowan and Pat Chung. (11)
What we're missing: Player 5 (DE), Player 6 (OLB), Player 8 (CB) and Player 10 (OLB)
I can understand why ESPN says our #1 priority is OLB. We don't have two multi-dimensional OLBs on the team- Burgess can stop the run, TBC can rush the QB, but we don't have any who can do both. Doing both is essential in a 3-4 defense because it allows us to have more depth instead of investing in players to perform individual roles. Teams have been able to run over us because our LBs aren't up to par. We need to invest in Linebacker position. We have Sean Crable and McKenzie coming back from injuries, but I wouldn't trust anyone on our team at OLB (except TBC, but only to a certain extent). However, due to the vital nature of DE (in my opinion), I believe we'll be using our first draft pick on the best 3-4 DE available, and our 2nd on an OLB. I'm expecting a CB in the middle rounds as well.
What are your thoughts?
Which defensive position needs the most help this off-season?
This poll is closed