Rob Ninkovich came along roughly the same time this blog really kicked into high gear and thus I felt really attached to him and his incredible emergence. As I’ve written many times, what interested me most in the early days of PatsProp was the defensive rebuild that occurred in 2009, the year Nink arrived.
No one embodied the Patriots rebuild more than Nink and when we talk about Belichick rebuilding the defense from scratch to win two more Super Bowls, Ninkovich will be exhibit A of how they did it.
2009 was the year that the Patriots lost Bruschi, Harrrison, Vrabel and Seymour and began laying the groundwork for a defense that would make critical plays to win Super Bowls just a few years down the road. That leadership void needed to be filled and who better to fill it than a free agent long snapper? It’s so Belichick it hurts.
But it wasn’t an easy progression. The 2010 and 2011 Patriots defenses ranked 21st and 30th respectively in Football Outsiders’ DVOA efficiency ratings, the worst and t-3rd worst under Belichick. From those ashes only a couple players survived to become building blocks, none more impressive than Ninkovich.
The comparisons to the previous #50 Mike Vrabel are apt. Ninkovich was a castoff on his last chance who turned that chance into two Super Bowl trophies.
I thought a fun way to look back would be to pull my commentary from the early days of the blog, to track Ninkovich’s progress through the eyes of your faithful blogger. I was always one who believed in Ninkovich, even if I called him Ninkopoop, which was a term of endearment.
Let’s take a look back, and if you’d like to see all the Ninkovich posts from the old blog, including media and lots of quotes from coaching and analysts about him you can CLICK HERE.