football Outsiders: Will Dont’a Hightower fix the Patriots run defense?

every year, soccer Outsiders releases their Almanac to preview the upcoming NFL season. We spoke with Rivers McCown of soccer Outsiders to get the internal scoop on the new England Patriots. click on right here to purchase the soccer Outsiders Almanac!

The Patriots run defense changed into specifically susceptible remaining 12 months. Will Danny Shelton and Adrian Clayborn aid repair the issue? Or will the return of Dont’a Hightower mean essentially the most?

RM: i would be more worried about New England’s run defense if the Patriots didn’t have a strong ancient tendency to deal with the little nagging issues. in spite of the fact that they didn’t usher in big names like Shelton and Clayborn, i would have anticipated some regression just on the conception that the teaching personnel is constantly so decent about this. With the big names and Hightower lower back, i might not be shocked if the unit accomplished in the upper half of NFL run defenses in DVOA subsequent season.

the new England Patriots ranked 31st in opposition t the run based on football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings and so i was queer to grasp where the crew could improve and no matter if the addition of Adrian Clayborn or Dont’a Hightower would have a larger influence.

but McCown’s element is wonderful in that he considers the Patriots run defense to be a down-yr for what’s typically an excellent run protection and for the unit to regress back in opposition t its typical brilliant self.

over the past decade, the Patriots have usually fluctuated between “basically decent” and “definitely faulty” in opposition t the run. The group ranked above-common in 2008 11th, 2009 13th, 2012 6th, 2014 13th, 2015 10th, and 2016 sixth. They ranked beneath-ordinary in 2010 twenty third, 2011 25th, 2013 27th, and 2017 thirty first.

It’s worth noting that in 4 of the past six years, the Patriots run protection has been good, if now not exquisite. in the years they’ve struggled, the Patriots have dealt with some severe accidents, peculiarly with stalwart linebackers Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, and Dont’a Hightower and shielding linemen Ty Warren, Mike Wright, Vince Wilfork, and Tommy Kelly lacking time.

So I think the return of Hightower could have a bigger impact on the Patriots run defense than the addition of Clayborn.

some of the traits of the Matt Patricia defenses is how they superior over the direction of the season. Do the numbers imply any changes in varieties of play zone vs man, greater blitzes, and so forth, or just an superior efficiency?

RM: So I asked head honcho Aaron Schatz to bounce in on this given that he has entry to the sports information options numbers that I don’t. here’s what he pointed out:

“yes, last year the Patriots played greater man insurance later within the season, and sent slightly more move rush. Attribute these numbers to sports info solutions.


  • Weeks 1-6 50% Man, 18.5% Blitz 5+ pass Rush, 27.8% rush simplest 3
  • Weeks 7-12 55% Man, 22.2% Blitz, 18.6% rush simplest 3
  • Weeks 13-17 59% Man, 25% Blitz, 22.three% rush best 3
  • The 12 months before there doesn’t appear to be this sample so my bet is that it’s not a daily Belichick or Patricia element, it turned into greater of a reaction to what become going on with the defense early last season.”

    So … there you’ve got it. more man insurance, extra circulate rush, better protection.

    here is an enchanting examine into how Matt Patricia developed his defense over the path of 2017 and the way he adjusted for the skill units of his avid gamers. The Patriots didn’t have a pass rush remaining yr, however that they had solid depth at cornerback. That allowed the crew to draw materials faraway from coverage and put them into getting after the quarterback.

    How will this play out in 2018? Will Brian Flores comply with the same season-lengthy developmental approach?

    I consider the Patriots have the most effective depth on the line of defense that they’ve had in a long time, so i might predict the group to rely much less on blitzing to get after the quarterback. That referred to, I feel the linebacker depth is questionable in coverage and i wouldn’t be surprised if the linebackers crashed the field in an effort to hold the opposing working backs in pass insurance plan as a substitute of working their routes.

    It appears like both Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung have had extremely enjoyable profession trajectories. McCourty changed into an All pro at cornerback, and then twice at protection, whereas Chung flamed out in his first stint in New England, busted in Philadelphia, and then has thrived in his return. who’re some historic avid gamers which have had probably the most similar careers?

    RM: I suggest, historical past is suffering from avid gamers that moved from nook to protection. The wonderful factor about it with McCourty is that it took place so early in his career. This specifically came about to Ronnie Lott, but often if a player is to be moved, it’s because the evaluation on him has changed and the team wants to take him out of this type of pace-intensive place. McCourty moving to defense changed into greater, to me, about emphasizing his power in diagnosing plays.

    Chung has been saved via the development