Re: Honest question, how much better is the pass rush?
posted at 4/29/2012 9:06 PM EDT
The pass rush is instantly better, the defense is instantly better.
Consider the free agency pick up's first, Steve Gregory instantly becomes a starter at free safety moving McCourty back to corner where he belongs. But Belichick doesn't just need one safety, he needs about three to replace everybody not named Chung on last year's defense. We're talking about a coach who loves to run nickel packages with three safeties on the field at once. So he has his starter in Gregory and drafts two more with Wilson and Dennard, both rank among the best at FS/large CB in the draft. Chung is a beast.
At corner McCourty is a stud, Ras Dowling who started his rookie season as the starter opposite DMC should progress health provided. Arrington is a solid technician who benefits the most by way of interceptions. If Will Allen remains healthy, he is a smooth cover guy who could surprise by making the team and providing deep bench play. Sterling Moore earned the right to compete this camp, maybe he isn't a one hit wonder at all, which means more depth and Marquice Cole was signed to provide camp competition as well.
Fanene replaces Shaun Ellis but you also have Deadrick and Brace one full season removed from injury. Brace is in a make or break season, he needs to replace Gerrard Warren at tackle or be replaced himself. Love and Pryor are a year more experienced and Marcus Harrison is being given a shot at making the team. I'd like to see an impact signing here with a free agent but as it stands this is already a stronger unit with big Vince as the anchor.
This is where we received a large shot of youth. Hightower is an instant starter inside at "sam" linebacker, which makes Mayo the "will" playmaker in the Bruschi mold. Spikes will get bumped outside with Nincovich to the outside linebacker position, either of them are versitile enough to swing back inside, Fletcher provides depth all the way across the linebacking core.
The "elephant" outside linebacker position will be filled by Jones and Bequette. Truthfully I think Bequette is more NFL ready and may end up starting the opener. Jones is a little more of a project with a lot of upside, hopefully they both work out to plan because if they do, we'll have a tireless pass rush with two guys substantially bigger, younger and more athletic than either Andre Carter or Mark Anderson. The older linebacker's will ease the rookies in and help them learn on the fly, our linebacking core just got upgraded substantially.