A big theme for New England this offseason has been chemistry and leadership. Both Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady recently stressed the importance of the entire team being focused on winning, and trusting your teammates to do their part on the field. Wilfork went as far as saying he had no problem calling out players who weren’t giving their all. One player he will not have to keep his eye on is the guy directly to his left.
Ty Warren is entering his 8th season as a defensive end for the Patriots, and is easily one of their most consistent performers. He averages 53 tackles and nearly 3 sacks per season, but had a breakout year in 2006 when he totaled 83 tackles and 7.5 sacks with a safety and a forced fumble.
Warren’s main responsibility is in the running game where he plays the two-gap technique in Belichick’s 3-4 ‘read-and-react’ system. It is not a position that brings individual recognition as he is rarely asked to blitz or drop into coverage. Ty’s role is to engage at least one blocker, hold his ground and read the play, before moving to stuff the ball carrier or collapse the pocket on the quarterback. The position takes an incredible amount of strength and finesse to deal with powerful NFL linemen, as well as excellent recognition skills to correctly diagnose the play. Warren is well suited to this difficult position. His reliability makes it easier for teammates to do their jobs. Without a player like him to eat up blocks and control the line of scrimmage it would be very difficult for the Patriots 3-4 defense to be successful. Ty is not the most outspoken Patriot, but one who knows his responsibilities and makes sure he fulfills them.
When Richard Seymour was traded to Oakland at the start of the 2009 season, Warren was surprised by the move. He said he would miss his teammate, but was determined not to let the absence of "Big Sey" affect his play. "What I do is pretty much in stone. They know what they're going to get out of me. I'm not really a rah-rah guy. I don't feel like I'm going to need any extra rah-rah. I'm just going to do what Ty Warren does and that is stick to the plan, work hard. That's kind of my motto."
The Patriots’ recent crop of draft picks would do well to adopt this motto.
When Seymour was at his best he was able to pressure the quarterback from the right defensive end spot and still make stops against the run. Combined with Wilfork and Warren, the dominant front three made the linebacker’s jobs much easier. Offensive linemen were forced to stay in and double-team, allowing the inside linebackers to flow to the ball carrier unchecked. Against the pass, the outside linebackers saw fewer doubles, and were blocked by tight ends or running backs more often. Though Warren’s job did not change with the loss of Seymour, it did become more difficult. Mike Wright, Derrick Burgess and Jarvis Green are not as versatile as Big Sey, and did not command as much attention. Opponents had success running at them, and not a lot of pressure was generated from the position. Since getting to the quarterback is not Ty’s specialty, nor Wilfork’s, the right end needs to provide sacks while still holding their ground against the run. Both Gerard Warren and Damione Lewis can play the run, and have experience rushing the passer, but neither have had more than 5.5 sacks in a single season. The Patriots will be hoping a change of scenery will bring the best out of these veterans.
Warren is a class-act off the field as well. He and his wife Kesha established a charitable organization "First & Goal," devoted to several causes including feeding needy families on Thanksgiving. Both Ty and Kesha were members of the Boys & Girls Club, and have been strong supporters of their local chapter.
Instead of participating in the Patriot’s voluntary offseason program this year, Ty is forgoing a $250,000 workout bonus to return to Texas A&M and finish his degree in agriculture leadership and development. Warren said he was doing so to further his options after football, and set an example for his three children, Brionna, Brielle and Bailey. "I try to put the kids in the best educational system possible and I think there is something to be said for their father, who has been blessed to play in the NFL and do something he's loved to do, going back and finishing what he started."
Ty Warren lets his actions speak for themselves both personally and professionally. In an era full of diva receivers and players who can’t stay out of trouble with the law, it is refreshing to see such a down-to-earth approach. "I'm self-motivated. I've always been a working person. Ask anyone who knows me, I've been working and supporting my two siblings and now my own family since I was 13. No matter how much I have in the bank account, I'll always work. "
With so many young faces on the roster, we can only hope they learn from Warren’s example of dedication, humility and professionalism.