31 January 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: Breaking down the Patriots' Defense

As it is Super Bowl week this week in Indianapolis, we, and by we I mean me, will be taking a look at the offenses and defenses of both teams. This time, we are looking at the defense of the New England Patriots. 

Points allowed per game: 21.4 (15th)
Yards allowed per game: 411.1 (31st)
Passing yards allowed per game: 293.9 (31st)
Rushing yards allowed per game: 117.1 (17th)

The Patriots are known for mixing up schemes on defense and after years of playing in a base 3-4, they went to a 4-3 this season and while the defense statistically speaking sucked, the pass rush was pretty solid and helped revived the career of Mark Anderson, who had ten sacks this season, and helped Andre Carter rebound after struggling in a 3-4. Unfortunately for the Patriots, Carter will not be playing in the game on Sunday so there will be a lot of pressure on the rest of the unit, particularly Anderson and Rob Ninkovich to apply pressure on Eli Manning. Maybe Shaun Ellis can do something?

Vince Wilfork is the meat and potatoes of this defense. He clogs all holes up the middle and ties up blockers so that the linebackers can free roam to find the ballcarrier. He is also very nimble for his size.

The linebackers of this club are solid with Jerod Mayo being the clear star of the unit. He has developed into the leader of this defense and always has been able to find the football. Brandon Spikes is inconsistent in the middle but his play has been very good of late. The aforementioned Ninkovich is a solid pass rusher off the edge.

The clear weakness of this defense is in the secondary, where they have gotten shelled all season. It's gotten so bad that reserve wideout Julian Edelman has gotten serious minutes as a nickelback, and if he is forced to cover Mario Manningham one-on-one he will get crushed. This secondary will have to step up big time against a very talented receiving corps of New York. 

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