It’s seems hard to believe it was only a few short years ago when the buzz words that surrounded the Patriots defense were “old and slow”. In a mere two seasons it’s been transformed into a single lazy phrase “where’s the pass rush going to come from?”.
Just about anywhere you look at an NFL season preview the number one issue mentioned for the Patriots will be finding someone to get after the quarterback. That’s why most mock drafts had the Pats taking Brandon Graham or Jerry Hughes. I’ll admit I was one person banging the Hughes drum myself.
But lately what all the “pundits” are really saying is that the Patriots don’t have Demarcus Ware or Jerome Harrison or Shaune Merriman (barf) and thus will be unable to generate pressure on the QB.
First let’s address something once and for all, and I’d like everyone to write this down. Read it. Think about it. Read it again.
The Patriots do not run a 1-gap attacking defense like the Jets and Steelers.
Yes they are both 3-4 base defenses, but that is where the similarities end. So it’s time to put pipe dreams of drafting players like Hughes and Graham to rest. They do not fit in New England and are not the kind of players that Bill Belichick is looking for.
For better or worse, the Patriots look for versatile players, who are smart, always in position and play tough.
As the young secondary improves, it will also help give pass rushers extra seconds to get to the QB. I am a firm believer in allowing young players time to develop and I believe the Patriots have many young options who will have ample opportunity to shine.
Does the Pass Rush in 2010 need to be better that it was in 2009? Absolutely. But just because they did not acquire a one-trick pony pass rusher doesn’t mean much. Pressuring the quarterback is rarely as easy as just adding one player and you’re all set. It’s a function of team defense, something that the Patriots are excellent at.