New England Patriots Not Focused on Right Position

With the expansion of NFL rosters last month to 90 players, teams were able to use undrafted free agents to create competition at certain positions. With the offense pretty much complete, the New England Patriots spent most of their spots on defense. However, it wasn’t on the positions most would expect.

In 2011 the biggest problem for the Patriots was their defensive secondary. For a team that had the 31st ranked defense in the league, they gave up the majority of their yards in the air. Even with that stat hanging over them, the Patriots have focused almost exclusively on improving a defensive line that wasn’t that bad last season.

The Patriots now have 27 defensive linemen on their 90-man roster which equates to 33 percent of all players. That’s more than any team in the league. Besides that, with the re-signing on defensive tackle Gerard Warren, the Patriots defensive line from 2011 that recorded a respectable 40 sacks is largely intact.

The Patriots have also added a large group of linebackers to their rookie minicamp which started Friday. While the linebacker position for the team is less stable than the defensive line, it’s more stable than the defensive backs which is primarily based around players draft in 2009 or later.

To their credit, the Patriots look like they could be much better at defensive back in 2012. With the addition of several wide receivers through free agency, the team could use this offseason to make wide receiver Julian Edelman a full-time defensive back. Edelman played well in 2011 as a defensive back for much of the season and with an overcrowded wide receiving group, there may not be room for the young player anyway.

Another addition that could significantly help the Patriots is seventh round draft pick Alonzo Dennard from Nebraska. The former Blackshirt was expected to be a first or early second pick this year but a fight which resulted in Dennard’s arrest shortly before the draft dropped his stock to the end of the draft. If Dennard can stay out of trouble and play to his capabilities, he’s a potential perennial pro bowler.

If everything works out the best for the Patriots, they may have a much more solid defensive back group than expected. However, with the amount of additions to the defensive line and linebackers and the lack of additions committed to cornerbacks and safeties, it seems that the team is ignoring their biggest problem. It’ll be seen in September when the season starts whether or not this decision will cost them.


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  • Dave Hunter

    The writer here appears to not follow football and in particular the Pats,there system, and personnel very closely.
    Specifics,here goes. This writer states,”the Patriots defensive line from 2011 that recorded a respectable 40 sacks is largely intact.” Mark Anderson signed with the Bill this year and Andre Carter got hurt and there’s no indicator if he’ll ever even play again. Carter had 10 sacks and made the Pro Bowl last year while Anderson also had 10 sacks last year. That represents half of our total sacks last year and without a strong pass rush in today’s NFL it doesn’t matter who your db’s are as you will get burned. Nothing levels the field more than having players who can apply pressure on the opposing teams QB from both the inside and outside (Hello Mr’s. Jones,Hightower,Bequette,Fortson,Scott,Fanene,and M.Carter). We saw very little pressure applied from the inside last year and BB and company are working to improve upon that this year,while keeping up the outside pass rushers.
    As to the DB’s,how can you mention this topic without bringing up this year’s other picks, Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner? Both these guys will have a chance to contribute both now(S.T.) and in the future(CB/S) There’s also both the free agent signings and all the young DB talent we’ve accumulated including: Will Allen CB,Marquice Cole CB,Ras-I Dowling CB,Steve Gregory FS,Sterling Moore CB/FS, and Malcolm Williams FS/CB. Things may work or they may not,but to imply that the Pats haven’t worked hard to improve their defensive backfield is not accurate based on the facts.

  • Bill Liebrich

    This thing you wrote is so full of holes I could use it for a screen door. It was well known throughout the league that the Pats had no defensive line so opposing QBs/WR had all the time in the World to throw. You do grasp that has a rather large affect on passing? THERE ARE ONLY 9 DEFENSIVE LINEMEN ON THEIR ROSTER. Where the hell did you get 27???? (by the way, even the made up number 27 that you had only “equates” to 30%) Were you aware that they have drafted 6 defensive backs in the first 2 rounds of the draft for 5 years until this one? Ignoring dumping Seymour in return for nothing, Wilfork could not get off the field for a rest. No pass rush = 31st ranked D. Finally the Pats have drafted by desperate need and your blog is the only one on Earth that doesn’t get it. (I still haven’t forgiven the Pats for handing GB the Matthews pick.) Bend, don’t break defenses NEVER win championships. Games are won and lost at the point of attack, the line. The Pats have lost 2 Superbowls by not restocking D line and linebackers. This is the first time in 4 years the Pats weren’t out drafted by the teams around them, except for Tavon Johnston (sp?/who cares). Edelman?? Really? This isn’t a rookie, desperate measures put him on the field defensively, not potential for the future.

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