Re: Why Many Patriots' Fans Were Upset over 2011 Draft Selections
posted at 7/5/2011 10:46 AM EDT
In Response to Re: Why Many Patriots' Fans Were Upset over 2011 Draft Selections
1. Pats O was statistically very good last year but not so in the playoff game. This was the third playoff game in a row that the O was NOT up to the task
RESPONSE: This is true...and is something that seems to be overlooked by Pats' fans in analyzing the three horrid playoff losses. The OL was manhandled by the Giants during the 2007 SB loss. It's failure to protect Tom Brady was the main reason for that awful 17-14 loss.
In the blowout loss to the Ravens in 2009, the OL was once again manhandled by the Ravens' defense. But, in that game, unlike the Giants' SB loss, the Pats were beaten in the trenches on both side of the ball.
In last years' loss to the Jets, the failure of the offense to execute in the first quarter, as it had throughout the regular season, put the Pats on their heals early, and led to that embarrassing defeat.
2. The D was not a dominant unit last year but showed real improvement over the previous year and showed flashes from packages and several individuals.
RESPONSE: Agreed. CB Devin McCourty was a godsend. Much maligned (by me) safety Patrick Chung was Troy Polamalu-like early, until injuries limited his effectiveness. LBs Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Ron Ninkovich, and Dane Fletcher all had their moments.
It had its moments in the playoff game and was decent but not strong enough to overcome a poor game by the offense and special teams. It is realistic to expect some of the better, younger players to show imrovement this coming year. It is also realistic to expect something from the quality players that were injured last year.
RESPONSE: I'm not optimistic about Mike Wright, Leigh Bodden, and Ty Warren returning to form. They are all coming back from serious injuries. But, if the Pats can get something from even one of these three, their "D" will improve.
3. Regarding the draft: while I and so many others were expecting and hoping for one or two studd pass rushers... - an aging Light, an aging Koppen, a retiring Neil, an unhappy Mankins all add up to extreme need on the OL. Add to this the weakness of the running the past two years (more extreme two years ago but very clear in the playoffs this year as well as being one of the least threatening in the league even if the yardage was not so bad during the season). It was critical to add to the youth and talent movement. Adding a potenitally All Pro caliber pass blocker at tackle and a potential monster at guard (and/or as a 6th OL in short yardage - though with these TEs I am not thinking this is a major concern) to the strong value of Volmer and Connolly quickly covers a WHOLE lotta ground (pun intended).
RESPONSE: As I've said many times, protecting Tom Brady is job one. Many look at the selection of Nate Solder as a potential replacement for Matt Light. I look at it as not only a replacement of Light, but an upgrade. Light has been a good to decent LT. But, he's somewhat overrated.
- aging Faulk, Taylor, Morris; the lack of a feature back with the talent to make a D pay for not accounting for them; the weakenss of the running game stated above... made a real case to add at least one real asset to the RB unit. If the footage I've seen of Vereen is indicative of his real talent we have a keeper. I have less confidence in my read of Ridley but if he is simply a good short yardage back - meaning if he upgrades this part of the O, then a WHOLE lotta ground was covered here! - The dynamic and profound change to the O with the three (exceptional and complimentary) TEs added last year make having a strong and more dominant running game both more possible and more valuable. TB at the helm multiplies all this. The combination of additions on the OL and RB unit together yield value which should be MUCH more than the sum of the parts.
RESPONSE: Some posters here have questioned why BB drafted a 3rd down RB to replace Kevin Faulk, when the Pats already have Danny Woodhead. Judging from where BB selected him, and who he bypassed to select him, Belichick expects big things from this young man. Could it be that BB envisions Vereen to be another Percy Harvin? Remember, the 5'11", 184lb. Harvin was a RB at Florida, before the Vikings converted him to a WR. In 2009, the Pats had supposedly targeted Harvin with their 24th overall pick...but were derailed when the Vikings swooped him up.
- Dowling adds a CB with the physicality to handle the proliferation of big WRs. Moreover it has become necessary to be able to field three solid (not the historical 2) CBs at the same time. That means it is even more important to have a fourth because it is common to have one or more of the three go down during the season.
RESPONSE: BB doesn't know what to expect from Bodden, and CB Darius Butler has been a bust. For these reasons, another CB was a necessity.
- The above taken together could translate into one of the best drafts in recent memory.
RESPONSE: Don't know about this. The 2010 draft class will be hard to top. Let's keep our fingers crossed...LOL!!
Add to that the potential for Mallet and the fact that they added draft picks next year and this could be a truly amazing draft. So while most of us were crying over no pass rusher for Christmas the D and some of the younger players may resolve some of that, the improvement with experience for the unit may bring them up to par and the upgrade on O could bring them up to the task of going deep into the playoffs.
RESPONSE: All the gnashing of teeth about failing to land a pass-rusher stems from the Pats passing on Clay Matthews in 2009. But, if you look around the league at who the best pass-rushers are, it appears that BB's philosophy about getting veterans to play at the OLB position is the correct one. DeMarcus Ware and Dwight Freeney were both 11th overall picks, respectively. Cameron Wake was tabbed from the CFL. James Harrison was an undrafted free agent, who developed in time into the player he now is. Terrell Suggs was a top 10 pick. With the exception of Matthews, and the top tier draft picks, it usually takes time to develop a pass-rusher. Obviously, BB thought that a CB like Dowling would have more of an immediate impact on his "D", than OLB/DE types Jabaal Sheard, or Brooks Reed. Time will tell whether he's right.
There are some very key questions needing to be answered. Starting with Mankins, the actual value the rookies might add in what will be a shortened off season and whether in fact there will be organic improvement in D and in pass rush... But this team looks to me to be the best team on paper since they went 16-0 and in fact it looks, at least on O, more flexible.
RESPONSE: I too am optimistic. The Pats are wise in using some of their current draft picks, to set themselves up for the draft in the following year. With wholesale changes across their OL, the Pats will need a steadying, veteran presence. For this reason, along with his talent, they will get a long term deal done with Logan Mankins. Mankins will anchor the OL, much like Vince Wilfolk anchors the DL. How much the young players progress, and injuries, will determine how far the Pats go in 2011.
Posted by portfolio1