Taking Stock of Belichick Personnel Moves on Defense

Belichick Personnel Moves on Defense:


Bill Belichick is an outstanding coach.  Everyone knows this. The common mantra providing the foundation for this proclamation is that Belichick is a “defensive genius”.  Is this true?  The team statistics for the Patriots over an extended period of time would not suggest that the coaches behind those defenses are “geniuses”.  Genius coaches tend to make lemonade out of lemons regardless of salary cap issues, free agency, etc.

Recently we took a crack at the Patriot defensive statistics through nine games this season here: http://blog.seatsforeveryone.com/patriots-defensive-statistics-at-7-2-where-do-they-stand/

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Chandler Jones #95 and Jabaal Sheard #93 after a play in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Since Bill Belichick has full control over the personnel decisions let’s dig a little deeper and look at some recent personnel actions on the defensive side of the ball in terms of draft picks, signings, trades, free agents, etc.

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Here are the first defensive players drafted by the Patriots in the last five years (coincidentally all are the first players drafted by the Patriots that year aiding the argument that the team knew the defense was lacking):

2016: Cyrus Jones – Jones looked explosive returning punts and kicks in the preseason and then proceeded to make some very bad decisions early in the season along with a ludicrous 15 yard penalty.  After emerging from the doghouse in Week 10 he promptly fumbled on a kickoff return while also showing that the sizzle is there in terms of raw talent.

2015: Malcolm Brown – Brown is on the field and contributing.  It does not appear that he is headed for any Pro Bowls but he is out there.

2014: Dominique Easley – The logic here was “getting great value” with this late first round pick on a guy that “should be a top 10 pick”.  Easley had issues with both knees in college and never really got things cranking in Foxboro.  He showed some signs but the team ultimately let him go for nada.  Zippo.

2013: Jamie Collins – Collins made the Pro Bowl and although inconsistent was capable of some very nice things on the field.  Belichick traded him for what will be a 4th round pick from Cleveland when he could have kept him until the end of a potential Super Bowl run at a very low cap number.

2012: Chandler Jones – Jones made the Pro Bowl as well and was traded for a late pick and G Jonathan Cooper.  Cooper did not contribute in any way whatsoever and was released in October of 2016.

Aug. 29, 2012 - East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States of America - New England Patriots defensive back Ras-I Dowling (21) locks in on New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (88) during the 1st quarter of the NFL Preseason game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ

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Here are some prominent moves made outside of the draft on defense:

11/03/13: Foxborough, MA: Patriots DB's Duron Harmon (left) and Devin McCourty (right) leap in celebration of Harmon's interception. The New England Patriots hosted the Pittsburg Steelers in an NFL regular season game at Gillette Stadium. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff) section: sports topic: Patriots(1)

Revis: Without a doubt an outstanding acquisition and deployed with precision.  Letting Revis walk when he did was a BRILLIANT move by Belichick as it looks like Revis is washed up.

Browner: This was another very solid move that fit the scenario nicely.  Browner provided that in your face and physical attitude at CB that the team desperately needed resulting in a Super Bowl.  He became too expensive so they let him go.

McCourty: Belichick locked up McCourty with a very generous long term deal making him among the highest paid players at his position.  He has performed in a very solid manner but let’s face it he rarely makes a huge play in a game and doesn’t nab interceptions consistently.  The jury is out on this one.


So if you are watching the Patriots and wondering what is wrong with the defense perhaps it will help to simplify things.  Bill Belichick got rid of two Pro Bowlers and his recent draft picks on defense were complete disasters.  That is the ugly truth.  He bet BIG that dropping these players and his choices in the draft would make the team better overall.  Period.

Belichick may win it all this year and be able to rub it in everyone’s faces how he can do it without key players and even when he openly and aggressively drops high level talent from the roster in exchange for nothing.  But, what are the odds of that happening?  Where is the help coming from to improve this defense?   There is no help coming on defense. What you see on the roster is what they have.

If they managed to make the Super Bowl run can you see this defense stopping Dallas or Seattle?  We can’t.


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