Whoa, that attacking 4-3 everyone's been screaming sure didn’t look good against the upstart Lions.
We now know that when the season comes around, they will be in a 3-4, its Belichick’s defensive philosophy. We think a smart guy like Belichick doesn’t just switch up mid stream with a defense that has won him championships. One that half the league has gone to and gives Bill the flexibility he covets.
Let's take a look at the Lions game and break down what went wrong. We'll start with run defense. The Lions threw a reverse screen that went for a large gain. Using that 4-3 ‘look’ going upstream and pursuing left the defense way out of position. That’s one reason you won’t see them use it as a base defense. Belichick believes in gap principles and reading plays.
Sure everyone loves blitzes, until they don’t work (See everyone who was screaming for an attacking defense). Chasing the fake threw the entire defense off balance and they won’t be doing that all season.
Secondly, The defensive linemen were being sealed because of their aggressiveness coming off the ball and not ‘2 Gapping', as they will be when the season starts. The personnel the Patriots have are tailor made for a 3-4 base. Andre Carter is a linebacker posing as a defensive end and he will be standing up come regular season.
It really doesn’t matter if they are standing up or down, it's about the defense they trying to play. It's not that big of a deal, like Bill Parcells once said "You're telling me a guy can play or not play cause his hand is touching the ground?". With Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher not playing, it was the line who was supposed to cover the linebackers, and they didn’t. Detroit had 33 carries for 114 yards with an average of 3.5 per carry. Not bad until you factor in that their top backs didn’t play and they couldn’t stop the 3rd and 4th stringers.
This includes Drew Stanton’s two runs of 18 yards (on one, Mark Anderson had him wrapped up and he somehow got away). When they get Shaun Ellis and Albert Haynesworth into the lineup along with Vince Wilfork, that will be your starting defensive line. Everyone else will be used in sub packages using 3 and 4 man fronts.
Here's a thought - what are you going to do with Dane Fletcher, Gary Guyton and Brandon Spikes?
Are two of them going to have minimal playing time? Have you seen Dane Fletcher this preseason? He's been a beast and Guyton is their most athletic LB with speed. The 4-3 takes them out of any first down situation.
The Pass defense was horrific. Darius Butler is a goner because the dude just can’t cover. To bolster the 3-4 point is that you get an extra defender in the passing game and if the four man rush plays like it did against Detroit, might as well go with three and help the defensive backs out.
Devin McCourty had a rough night guarding Nate Burleson and Calvin Johnson, getting lost and not being able to track the ball. Even the break up he had against Burleson in the endzone; he didn’t know where the ball was. Our guy Kyle Arrington gave up a TD in the endzone, but had help or the lack of it with James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather. Matthew Stafford went 12-14 for 200 yard and 2 TD’s in a little than a half of work.
The safeties didn’t fare much better as Brandon Meriweather and Patrick Chung had tough nights in coverage. Chung’s tackling was very good, but there were too may WR’s and TE’s running free. As mentioned, Sanders and Meriweather couldn’t get help to Arrington on a bullet thrown by Matthew Stafford to Nate Burleson.