Ah the Big D….and I ain’t talkin’ about “divorces” or “Dallas”. No…the “Big D” I’m talking about is “DEFENSE”. The one thing about the Pats D is that you can almost always count on them to do one of two things.
- Step up and come up with an “OH MY GOD!!” save the game and the day kind of play that EVERYONE will be talking, posting, and tweeting about the next day.
- Fall short and bumble up with an “OH MY GOD!!” WTF lose the game and the day kind of play that EVERYONE will be smacking their heads, posting, and tweeting about the next day.
Every quarter feels like feast of famine sometimes. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good dose of adrenaline on Sunday. But there’s a difference between the adrenaline excitement from a pundit worthy play and a beer can crushing collapse. Consistency is the name of the game. Yes…the Patriots are a consistent team. They play at 110% for 60 minutes. There’s NO doubt about that. But as I said, their defense can be a weekly feast or famine fest. As we head into this 2016 season though, has Belichick finally put together a safeties roster that can give us the constant and CONSISTENT defensive play stoppers we need?
What we’ve really needed is depth across the board. Although sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, luck can only get you so far because it never lasts. And we’ve certainly had our share of that. Our 2015 safeties were good. There’s absolutely NO DOUBT about that, and we’ve got the rings to prove it. But all it would take would be a couple of injuries and suddenly you go from king of the hill to the molehill of mediocrity. However this year additions to our safety pool may add the depth that we’ve been waiting for and…God willing…will have for the next few years. Let’s break down the rookies and veterans.
Jordan Richards: 2015 2nd rnd 64th pick. Stanford. He was number 4 last year, but he’s worked his way up this year. As a rookie, he’ll need to use this year to gain street smarts and survival experience if he wants to stay with the Pats. But…you couldn’t ask for a better mentor than:
Patrick Chung: 2009 2nd rnd 34th pick. Oregon. Struggled early on but seems to found his footing (so to speak) in the last few years with 2015 being his strongest season yet. 96 combined tackles, 10 pass breakups, while only giving up 291 yards shows why he’s one of the best safeties in the league.
Nate Ebner: 2012 6th rnd 197th pick. Ohio. Starting his 5th season as a Free Safety. 2015 saw him in multiple positions as Belichick tried to find where he fit best. As it is, he’s still one of the league’s top special teams players. And this year he’ll be in the Rio Olympics representing the US in Rugby.
Duron Harmon: 2013 3rd rnd 91st pick. Rutgers. Starting his 4th season with the Patriots, it’s no secret that Harmon is looking for more responsibility and more to do, which he’s hoping for after the 2016 season. For now look for him to be playing harder and digging deeper as he tries to prove himself to Bill.
Devin McCourty: 2010 1st rnd, 27 pick. Rutgers. 7 seasons with the Patriots and he’s not looking to go or be anywhere else. He’s a veritable Swiss Army knife of talent that Belichick will be putting to use this season. Look for the coaching staff to be taking cues from McCourty when it comes to play selections on the field.
What’s this all mean? We’ve got strength, flexibility, intelligence, and desire hitting the field this year. We’ve got deep resiliency and redundancy that will do us well this season. Look for a great mix of plays and strong matchups. Most of all, look for a lot of passes to be broken up and lot of bruised egos. 2016 definitely looks to be a season for the history books.