Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Aug 2010

Leigh Bodden Out For Season

Bad news for the Patriots: Cornerback Leigh Bodden has been placed on injured reserve and will miss the entire season.

Bodden had been struggling with a knee injury.

The Patriots, from what I can tell, become the first team to place two defensive starters on injured reserve before the beginning of the season since the 2003 Cardinals, who placed Kyle Vanden Bosch and Duane Starks on IR before Week 1. That team finished dead last in points allowed and defensive DVOA. Before them, the 2000 Chargers placed Raylee Johnson and Eric Hill on IR before the season tipped off, and while they went 1-15 and allowed the third-most points in the league, they finished 11th in defensive DVOA.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 31 Aug 2010

62 comments, Last at 02 Sep 2010, 8:14pm by Anonymous1


by PatsFan :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 7:42pm

Well, I imagine the Pats' O will keep them well away from 1-15, but their D is going to be scary -- to Pats fans.

by PatsFan :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 7:47pm

Oh, and there's a Brandon Spikes sex tape out there that he seems to have pretty much admitted to:


I wonder how many games Judge Roy Goodell will suspend him.

This season is looking more and more like another waste of one of the not that many prime years Brady has left...

by Karma Coma :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:07pm

From what i read the video was captured while Spikes was in college. The NFL can't discipline a player for violating the league's conduct policy before he was in the league.

Than again, Goodell is fond of setting his own precedents. And unless it sells as well as the Paris Hilton tape, i doubt the NCAA will care at all. I doubt anything will be done by anybody because it would involve admitting they watched the Brandon Spikes sex tape.

by Karma Coma :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:09pm

x 2 post

by Flounder :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:11pm

Why in the world would he be suspended for something that happened in college? And even if the NFL was interested in disciplining for college transgressions, why would this generate a suspension? He didn't do anything illegal (probably) and he didn't hurt anyone.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 11:02pm

Yet again a New England Patriot undone by excessive use of videotape. He should have learnt from Goodell and burnt the evidence.

by Karma Coma :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 7:58pm

It looks like in order to bring their roster from 80 down to 75, New England cut 1, and put 4 on IR. Bodden was a lock for the 53-man roster before his injury. (The other 3 were bubble guys Belichick is trying to stash away from the rest of the league for a season.) Does the team gain any advantage by doing this? Admittedly i don't know the extent of Bodden's injury or Ty Warrren's, but injuries could heal more quickly than expected, as with Welker. Why wouldn't a team put the player on the PUP list and reevaluate him after 6 weeks? Are there cap implications there that are avoided by giving up the player for the entire season?

by PatsFan :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:21pm

As I understand it, a player can only go on PUP if they never practiced in the preseason (I think they have to be on the preseason Active PUP list). Bodden definitely wasn't so he's not regular season PUP-eligible. I think the same for Ty Warren.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:05pm

Always liked Leigh Bodden on the principle that his name sounds like a character from a medieval fantasy novel.

The 2000 Chargers, for the record, had Ryan Leaf as their leading passer with his 50% completion rate and 18 INTs in only 11 games, also started Moses Moreno and the corpse of Jim Harbaugh, primarily split carries between Jermaine Fazande and Terrell Fletcher (who? exactly) neither of whom gained as many as 400 yards on the ground or averaged better than 3.3 YPC. This was 1 year before they brought in Flutie and Tomlinson and 2 years before they hired Marty. About the best thing you can say for that offense is that the WRs and TEs were okay. So, yes they had serious problems on offense which overshadowed any issues on D.

by JFP (not verified) :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 8:07pm

Tough break for Bodden, but it presents an opportunity for Butler and McCourty.

The Pats have been rebuilding their defense for the past two years (and still made the playoffs). They've added some promising young talent in Butler, McCourty, Chung, Butler, Meriweather, Mayo, Spikes, and Guyton. They have to put it together, but the potential is there for a really good defense.

On top of those players they'll have two first round picks this year.

PatsFan, At 33 and a major knee injury I consider Brady past his prime. However, if the team is strong he just needs to play well and not great.

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 9:37pm

Agree on the defense, not on the offense. Mike Reiss has it right, they're very young, but they've looked good so far. Unfortunately, their 3/4/5 CBs kinda blow, which make for tough matchups against the Colts. But we'll see how good Devin McCourty actually is. Also, they lack a dynamic pass rusher, and that will be a real problem against good offenses. They look very exposed right now to the Colts in particular, and will need someone to step up either to generate pressure against the pass or to blanket a receiver (i'm guessing the former, and hoping Cunningham takes a leap).

Re Brady, are you crazy? He was never an "athletic" QB, so his strengths lie in his pocket awareness (still excellent), ability to avoid the pass rush (ditto), arm (excellent), and ability to read coverages (perhaps a dip last year as I think he was a little gun shy, but I would expect this to improve). Why would you think he's past his prime? I'm an optimist, so I'm expecting something between last year and his 07 season, but at the very worst, why would you expect him to take a dip from last year?

11-5, but with Bodden out and unless Cunningham or TBC take a huge leap, we're looking at a divisional round loss again.

by JFP (not verified) :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 11:17pm

Why do I think Brady is past his prime? He's 33, and has had a major knee injury. At some point all the hits and sacks can add up and a guy just gets old quickly. Is that going to happen to Brady? I don't know. I'm still expecting a
27-30 TD/10-14 INT season from Brady, but he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

I agree with you on the pass rush, but I'm looking to the future. With two first round picks I think they can address the pass rush/D-line and O-line issues. Obviously that does them no good this year, but they've had issues the last two years and still made the playoffs.

by Guy#1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 2:19pm

So far this preseason it looks like Brady might be playing some of his best ball ever, just in terms of how the ball looks coming out of his hands and how he's seeing his receivers

by RickD :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 5:09pm

Brady's in his prime, not past it. Just watch him play.

If you don't believe me, look at who led the league in DYAR last season.

by Owl Tamale (not verified) :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 6:13pm

Yes, but I think we all know that the Pats will trade at least one of those first round picks to pile up more picks for the next year, then do it again, and again..until, by 2017, they will have every pick in the first round.

by Nathan :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 6:43pm

...at which point they will trade down for all the picks in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 4:08am

Pocket Awareness: Very good, but considerably reduced since his injury.
Ability to Avoid Pass Rush: See above.
Arm: Excellent? Very accurate yes, but his deep ball isn't what it used to be (and I've always considered him far more of a short/intermediate passer than a guy with a supreme arm).
Ability to Read Coverage: Still very good of course, but the last I watched closely he had developed a bad habit of just chucking it up for Moss. Also, he can read coverages all he wants but if Moss and Welker aren't open who's he going to throw to? The younger receivers have a lot to prove this season, and I'm not convinced.

That's not to say I'm pessimistic about the season (I'm cautiously optimistic that Belichick can formulate something for this young defense, and the offense is still going to be good) but Brady looks to be certainly on the downside of his career. Prime is not really how I'd describe him any more (I actually think he was a better quarterback in 2006 than 2007, but had nobody to catch the ball).

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 9:37am

1) He was coming off a really scary injury. Did he look gun-shy at times? Yes. But on the other hand, as he gets more comfortable with his knee, he should look more comfortable in the pocket. To ascribe that as a reduced pocket awareness seems premature.

2) His DYAR was #1 last year, DVOA #2. As FO repeatedly notes, Brady played some really tough defenses, which masked his counting and rate stats.

3) Is Brady on the "downside" of his career? Sure, if by that you mean he has a limited window, and he's no longer in his 20s. But to say he's past his prime sounds a little ridiculous, given that he was by any measure a top 5 QB last year, and by FO's advanced metrics the #1 or #2 QB last year, all while coming back from major knee reconstruction. Whether Brady falls off at age 35 or age 40, who knows. But he's clearly playing at a ridiculously high level today, and there's some reason to think as he gets more comfortable with his knee, he could be better this year than last.

4) I'd also argue that a lot of the Pats' reduced effectiveness on offense (particularly in the Ravens game) can simply be ascribed to predictability of playcalling/defenses catching up to the Pats' spread offense and the personnel. You talk about how the Pats didn't have a lot of receiving threats in 2006, I'd argue that about last year as well. They were basically the Moss/Welker show, and while that still puts a lot of stress on defenses, they didn't have a lot of real threats otherwise. Finally getting some TEs that are good offensive threats, along with a 2nd year Edelman and an apparently good looking Brandon Tate, should help, as should a new look that is harder for coordinators to catch onto. We've been using the same Josh McDaniels playbook since it got exposed in the 07/08 Super Bowl, and it looks like we're finally going to make some changes to it. I think between the likely changes to scheme and the dramatic improvements to personnel, Brady could put up some huge numbers for the next couple of years, offensive line issues notwithstanding (I'd feel a lot better if they'd manage to resign Mankins, but not holding my breath).

Best case scenario-- the Pats win a bunch of early shootouts as the defense starts to congeal; over the second half of the season, guys like Cunningham and Spikes really develop into stars and the Pats are a real SB contender. 12-4 as we sweep the AFC East (including 2 satisfying wins over Rex Ryan).

Worst case scenario (barring more injuries)-- the Pats offensive line issues are a real problem, Mankins holds out all year, the Pats have trouble generating points against good defenses; on defense, the pass rush remains anemic all year and the only way we generate good pressure is if we blitz 6, our secondary can't respond and guys like Chung, Butler and McCourty don't develop as expected. 9-7 and staying home come late December.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 8:42pm

I'm not disagreeing necessarily with any of that, but it's not necessarily crazy to think he's past his prime unless you have a fairly loose definition of prime (I take it to mean a player's best years, which in my opinion for Brady would be 2006-2007 and probably would have been 2008 if he'd played).

I also completely agree on the playcalling being a big factor for the Patriots. I've been bemoaning the lack of a proper offensive co-ordinator since McDaniels left, and even before that (the Giants Super Bowl loss was a terrible display of offensive hubris and lack of co-ordination).

by Nathan :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 9:39pm

agreed, the sb was hard to watch with them sticking with what clearly didn't work in the 1st half... it's way to early to say brady's past his prime. if he struggles this year then maybe it's fair to wonder. last year he was coming off the knee and the depth at wr was pretty lacking to be honest. i love me some edelman but when a 1st year converted qb is far and away your best 3rd option at wr you're going to have problems especially when he's a lesser version of your #2. they really missed a guy like gaffney who could run a bigger chunk of the route tree. letting him walk confused me at the time, i'd grown to really like and trust the guy to come through when he needed to. his play in denver seemed to back that up. i think his loss contributed to the chuck it up to moss syndrome. it should be a lot better this year with tate (and hopefully price) and the new tes look like they should contribute.

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 12:30am

Totally agree on Gaffney, I was really disappointed he was allowed to leave. I also feel that the OC issue may contribute even more to both "chucking up to Moss" and the offensive line issues, which may in turn lead to my perception that Brady's level of play has declined a bit (note, a bit, I'm in no way saying he isn't a top quarterback, or he's washed up, or any of that other hyperbolic nonsense). Time will tell, really.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 9:56am

The Giants game wasn't just hubris. The team lost Steve Neal and Kyle Brady, which was a seriously bad break because BB only activated 2 TEs. Without only Watson and Hochstein not available for a blocking TE spot, max-protect sets were all but gone.

Then, add in that Brady's safety valve and a guy no NY player could cover, Kevin Faulk, missed the entire second half and you get an offense forced to play precisely the set NY was designed to stop.

NY had a good game plan, but they were otherworldly lucky in that game when it came to injuries (on top of those already mentioned, Brady was playing on a broken ankle which restricted his patented pocket sliding). Any one of them goes differently and Eli never gets the chance to have the worst game winning drive of all time.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 5:13pm

You really have to separate out the Ravens' game when discussing the Pats offense last year. The Pats had built their offense around passing the Wes Welker.

I don't think the Pats' offense is any more or less predictable than the Colts'. In both cases, you pretty much know what they are going to do. Stopping them is the hard part.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 9:54pm

That's the second time this offseason that an injury to a Pats defender is welcomed (by at least one Pats fan) with unbridled optimism.


by JFP (not verified) :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 11:05pm

I'm not happy Bodden is hurt, but I think there is tremendous potential with this young defense they're putting together. With Bodden out some young guys will get tested sooner than later, but might as well find out what the Pats have got. flaged

by FooBarFooFoo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:04am

did you take a look at the schedule? I always believed they will do better this year than last, but the six game stretch after the bye could very well end up 1-5.

by ab (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 10:17am

I hate that propaganda coachspeak, viewing every setback as an opportunity. If the youngsters were good enough to start, they'd be starting.

by JFP (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:35pm

I don't consider it propaganda coachspeak. I'm just looking at it realistically. To paraphrase Boston sports legend Rick Pitino "Leigh Bodden isn't walking through that door". At least not this year anyway. So let's see what the young players can do.

I assume they've drafted these guys (Butler, McCourty)with the intention of them becoming starters. They'll probably have some bad moments this year, but I hope they learn from those mistakes.

Is Earthwind Moreland available?

by RickD :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 5:16pm

Both Butler and McCourty have more pure athletic ability than Bodden. It's not like Leigh Bodden was at the level of Ty Law or Asante Samuel. I'm not saying he won't be missed - he was certainly their most dependable CB last year.

Right now the Pats have a defense with a slew of young players. Somewhere along the way the Belichick genius for building an elite defense has to kick in, right?

by CaffeineMan :: Tue, 08/31/2010 - 9:38pm

Aw, crap. The only unit on the D that could have been a strength takes a hit. The O is looking good, so it's going to be shootout city...

by Purds :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 12:23am

Two thoughts/questions from a Colts fan:

1) Was Bodden the best CB on the squad? Was he clearly better than #3? (Where would you have ranked him, in ability, not experience?)

2) First-year CB's often can play. The Colts got lucky with Powers and Lacey last year -- perhaps the same will happen with NE. What has been the training camp word about the new NE CBs?

by jackgibbs :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:15am

bodden is/was hands down the best corner on the team coming into the season. but as stated above, the pats have been loading up the scondary the past three drafts, and while not everybody has been a hit (that's you, jonathan wilhite) there's definitely plenty of young bodies in place to try to step up. mccourty and butler could end up being more than serviceable as the starters, and while merriwether never could figure out the corner position, he does have at least a couple nfl snaps at the position and could move to the slots with james sanders or mcgowan going to saftey next to chung. not ideal, to be sure, but there are guys in place.

replaceing one warren for the other on the defensive line is what really makes me cringe right now

by Drpatriot (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 8:24am

I would actually say Bodden was not the best CB on the squad for certain. He came off the bench in Game 3, during which Butler and McCourty were starting. I'd say he was probably the #2/#3 corner, which was a role he would have thrived in.

By the way, Bodden went on IR with a torn rotator cuff. This injury probably had nothing to do with his knee injury from earlier in the preseason.

McCourty has given indications that he is (or will be) been better than ANYONE we had since Ty Law. It's the first time in a very long time I've been excited about a cornerback that the Patriots drafted. Terrence Wheatley, a second-round draft pick in 2007, is also finally showing up to play...that said, Wilhite is still frighteningly mediocre. Another injury would do some real damage to the secondary.

by Bob Hatter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 9:07am

No offense, but if you're a Pat fan, you really have no clue what you're talking about. Bodden was clearly the No. 1 corner last year and this year. He came off the bench in the Rams PRESEASON game because he had a knee injury and was out of practice for over a week.

Look at the FO metrics from last year. Bodden was a top 10 corner.

I don't know what games you're watching if you think Darius "Penalty Magnet" Butler and McCourty are better.

McCourty shows promise, but to say he's the best Pats corner since Law is down right silly. He got turned around and bunt by Donnie Avery against the Rams. He was the No. 3 corner on the depth chart behind Butler all preseason.

This Bodden injury is devastating whether you want to realize it or not. We can still win the division, but these young guys are going to have to proof something. No one in the secondary is a proven starter in the NFL, that's a fact.

by Bob Hatter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 9:10am

Excuse my lack of spelling in the last post...writing from my phone.

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 9:19am

Bodden was the #1 for sure, but as far as talent, I think a lot of folks were pegging Butler as very likely to step up and be the best CB in NE this year. McCourty as a rookie is a total wildcard, but he's looked pretty good in preseason, from what I understand. OTOH, it's tough to tell how good he'll be based on limited preseason snaps.

The Bodden injury is a killer. Not as bad as say an injury to Wilfork or Brady, but the whole point of drafting McCourty was (aside from taking best player available) to beef up our coverage against the Colts and Texans of the world, particularly given that our pass rush looks so suspect.

Now we have two self-reinforcing holes-- a rookie #2 CB/a Wilhite-level #3 QB (the thought of our #3 QB covering Collie or Jacoby Jones or Antonio Gates is pretty scary) coupled with a really weak pass rush. On the other hand, given the youth of our team, it's possible players will step up.

by Bob Hatter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 9:45am

Butler shows promise. He is an aggressive ball hawk who should make more plays this year. But his technique is really lacking. Did anyone see the Rams preseason game where he gave up that TD in the 3rd quarter? Look at his technique, it was down right awful. His positioning and feet were a mess. Looked really, really bad.

And every game he's getting at least 1 or 2 penalties. Now, I like the aggressiveness, but it's becoming a pattern with him because he's always out of position.

Plus, I think he's kind of immature. I follow him on Twitter and it's not a pretty sight. He's on that thing as much as Ochocinco. He just seems really young. I don't want to judge him off of twitter, that's dumb obviously, but I don't know if he's committed to being great at this point. He doesn't seem focused.

His best tweets were him asking people if fast food was actually unhealthy for you and if there's any science behind that. Not surprisingly, he ate fast food right before the Rams game and someone gave him flack about it on Twitter. Well, look how that game turned out. Maybe the Pats need to get him a nutritionists or some common sense.

I hope I'm wrong about him, though.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 10:23am

It's funny, I was thinking about how the Patriots have drafted a lot of defense recently and seem to be re-building and I started to wonder if Belichek is actually able to build a defense. He more or less inherited the defense that drove them to those 3 championships: Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Ted Johnson and Ty Law (not to mention Lawyer Milloy) were all on the team before Belichek took over. Rodney Harrison was a well-established free agent pick-up.

Building a defense out of draft picks is one of the few areas where Belichek seems unproven. He did a good job for years with defensive line, but they let Seymour go which seems really short-sighted and now they're in a position where they're starting a slew of unproven players. I'm curious if they can pull it off, especially since they've gotten sub-optimal results from free agents like Derrick Burgess, Adalius Thomas and now Leigh Bodden (injury is bad luck of course, but still.) Still puzzled why they would let their 2 best defensive players go in Seymour and Asante Samuel... we'll see, I guess.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 3:47pm

How does letting Seymour go look short-sighted? Even disregarding the obvious contrast between "short-sightedness" and long-term business planning, Seymour was not going to sign and NE couldn't use the franchise tag on both him and Wilfork.

I can't quite understand how anyone could object to getting what will likely be a top 15 pick for losing one season of a good player.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 11:00pm

Well, my point is that their long-term business plan does not appear to have worked out yet and they let a Top 5 defensive player go in his prime. The Pats have shown a funny way with their defense of being too focused on the long-term (which could, ironically, be taken as short-sighted.)

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 10:19am

I don't understand the "long-term business plan hasn't worked out yet" comment at all. The team has yet to have a losing season since 2001 and is loaded with quality young talent. Sure, it took them several years (and perhaps the loss of Pioli?) to get their act straight draft-wise. But the team has these players who are 2nd year or rookies.


Add in McKenzie, Brace, Cunningham and Price who haven't paid immediate dividends but still have potential and the future looks bright indeed. Any team not located in New Orleans, Indy or NE with that kind of young talent would be considered a serious up-and-comer. But in NE all anyone can talk about is the absence of the early decade stars. Even Pats fans don't seem to get how primed this team is for another run of dominance.

I posted this on another board at the time the trade was made. It positions the trade as if NE already had the first rounder and was looking to acquire Seymour. Ask yourself, would you give up a high first rounder - even if you were able to delay it for a year - for one season of BigSey93?

I don't know about you, but I'd take 5 years of Wilfork, Warren, Mankins, etc over one year of Seymour any chance I can get.

Alright everyone, 5-time probowler Diick Seyman is on the trading block and available for a 2011 first rounder. I am trying to figure out whether he is worth the investment so I've listed all the pros and cons to the deal. Please help me figure out the right course of action.


* Already fluent with the system and would not only be an immediate starter, he very likely could be the best defensive lineman on the team.

* Is an asset against both the pass and run, and when in both 3/4 and 4/3 sets. Additionally, he can play in any spot along the defensive line. The definition of an every down player.

* Coming off his best, and not coincidentally, healthiest season since 2004.

* Is willing to play hurt.

* Well respected around the league, both by players and coaches. A guy other teams gameplan for.

* Is playing for a new contract so you can be sure to get his best effort.

* My team is loaded on offense and really only has questions on defense. Adding a player of Seyman's caliber would definitely increase my odds of winning this year.

* The draft pick is not applicable until 2011, which gives me time to make further transactions covering for its loss.


* Has a recent history of elbow and knee injuries, which can be recurring in lineman. While he is willing to play, he isn't quite an elite player when not fully healthy.

* Is only a one year rental.

* He plays a position that is the deepest and most balanced on the entire roster. My team already has two other elite players, two competent starters and two promising rookies.

* While he is relatively cheap for his one season, his arrival would remove more than $3.5mm of the ~$5mm of cap room available. This limits the funds for mid-season and injury signings and all but eliminates the ability to extend current players.

* He is a negative leader. Quietly preaches a "get mine" message and has rebuffed all attempts by management and ownership to go all-in. This subtle undercurrent running counter to the team philosophy is particularly noteworthy considering I have turned over almost 40% of my roster this year and have 14 first year players on the team and reserve lists. A couple more rookies are on the practice squad as well.

* Due to the uncertain labor status, my ability to acquire top-end talent may be limited in the upcoming seasons, making high draft picks the unparalleled method of adding elite players to the team. I have a tremendous track record of success with first rounders which removes almost all of the uncertainty of whether the player selected will be any good.

* Despite the time value, a first rounder is still a first rounder. I will be getting almost assuredly very good player performance from 2012 to 2015 (we'll give a free pass on his rookie season). Considering the larger number of FAs I have leaving after this and next season, a big chip will help me reload and continue my success.

Are you in favor of trading for Diickie Seyman? As much as his performance would really help as my young defense works through some kinks, I have to admit I am leaning towards no. The long term health of my franchise is more important than swinging for the fence this year and, frankly, I think I have the best roster in the league without Seyman.

So what say you?

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 8:14pm

BTW, I should add that obviously I overestimated the roster quality and the DL, but I think every other point still stands.

by RickD :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 5:24pm

He more or less inherited the defense that drove them to those 3 championships: Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Ted Johnson and Ty Law (not to mention Lawyer Milloy) were all on the team before Belichek took over.

All of those guys were brought onto the team during the Parcells years. Belichick had already been their coach for the 1996-97 Super Bowl. Is it really fair to say he inherited them?

by RickD :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 5:27pm

Seymour was let go because he was given an enormous contract and then stopped working hard enough to justify it.

Yes, the defense would have been better last season with him on the team. But the team is getting possibly an extremely nice draft pick from the Raiders out of this, and they also don't have Seymour's salary on the books.

by Independent George :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 11:18am

Haven't the Pats secondary always been the weakest part of the team? Aside from Assante Samuel, and aging Lawyer Malloy/Rodney Harrison, I really don't remember too many elite DBs. They were never terrible, but I always remember their defenses relying more on smart LB play than on the DBs.

by Nathan :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 11:32am

Ty Law

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 12:44pm

Ty Law and Asante Samuel are two better CB's than some teams have ever had in the history of their franchise.

by Dean :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 4:30pm

Imagine if Asante ever gets the sand out of his crotch and tackles somebody.

by chemical burn :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 11:01pm

Meh. He's not supposed to Ronde Barber. And this preseason, he's actually been tacklng better than Ellis Hobbs, who barely has tackling skills above Samuels and none of the pass defense skills.

(look for Hobbs to get permanently benched for Lindley after the Colts hang 40 on them mid-season...)

by RickD :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 5:30pm

Well no, now that you ask that.

During their Super Bowl years, their secondary was excellent. After the first win, it was clear the following season that their weakness was in the run defense. So they got Ted Washington (for a year) and brought in Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, and Jarvis Green to play along with Seymour and now the rush defense is their strength.

People also forget that Brady won 3 Super Bowls before he was really the passer he is today.

by MJK :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 8:14pm

Patriots starting secondaries (* = ProBowler or AllPro)

2001: Ty Law*, Otis Smith, Tebucky Jones, Lawyer Milloy*
2002: Ty Law*, Otis Smith, Tebucky Jones, Lawyer Milloy*
2003: Ty Law*, Tyrone Poole, Rodney Harrison*, Eugene Wilson
2004: Some Random Mishmash of Ty Law, Tyrone Poole, Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Earthwind Moreland, and Troy Brown, Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson
2005: Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Some Random MishMash of Rodney Harrison/Artrell Hawkins and whoever else could get in the door, Eugene Wilson
2006: Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Artrell Hawkins/Eugene Wilson, Rodney Harrison
2007: Asante Samuel*, Ellis Hobbs, James Sanders/Eugene Wilson, Rodney Harrison
2008: Deltha O'Neal, Ellis Hobbs, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather
2009: Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler/Jonathan Wilhite, Brandon Meriweather, Brandon McGowan/James Sanders.

So, yes, in their SB years (2001-2004) they had perennial pro-bowlers at both CB and safety, and Otis Smith, Tebucky Jones, Ty Poole, and Eugene Wilson (at first), were all average to above average.

Starting in 2004, for about three years, they had good players but a horrible rash of injuries, first at CB, then at safety. Some of this was Harrison and Ty Law getting old. But some of it was just crazy bad luck. The Pats went into all three of those seasons with more than the average number of players on their roster at DB, and ended up in all three having to sign street free agents near the end of the season.

The last two years, it is certainly fair to say that the Pats secondary has been weak. They let Samuel walk, and that hurt...he's good, just not as good as he (or his agent) thinks he is. Ellis Hobbs and Eugene Wilson, who had both been promising in their first couple of years, both fell off cliffs. Rodney Harrison finally retired.

To make matters worse, a decade of winning records and SB wins had reduced the number of quality draft picks the team had, compared to the average team, compounded by the first round pick lost to the Spygate affair. Combine that with the fact that, because the Pats' D had been a strength and their offense had been cobbled together from spare parts early in the decade, they had spent a lot of their prime draft capital on the offensive side of the ball (and the D-line). That left them in a hole when some of their draft picks for the secondary (Hobbs, Wilson, Reid, etc.) and free agent signings (O'Neal, Duane Starks ...shudder...) didn't pan out.

The future of the Pats secondary is going to hinge on how right they are about Butler, Chung, Meriweather, and McCourty...

by MJK :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 12:57pm

A couple of thoughts:

* This may be related to the NFL's stupid lack of a "DL". Word out of Foxboro is that it is a rotator cuff injury for Bodden. Don't know how bad that is, but I do wonder if it's possible he could come back in, like Week 10-11...but the team can't afford to eat up a roster spot with an injured player for that long, especially with all these promising rookies they want to see if will pan out.

* The Pats defense is in trouble, and I'm generally a very optimistic Pats fan. Their pass rush was lacking. Their D-line depth took a big hit by losing Warren. Now their ILB situation might get shaky if Goddell decides to suspend a player for doing something legal. Their safeties were young. And they just lost their best, most experienced CB.

* Combine that with the horrible lack of depth on the interior O-line, I think they finish above 0.500, but lose the division to Miami again, maybe sneak in a wildcard, and then face a quick playoff exit.

Oh, and perhaps even more galling, they're going to lose to the Colts, again. No way this secondary can now slow down Manning.

For the record, here's what I think their defensive starters now look like:

D-Line: Wilfork, (G) Warren, Wright.
ILB: Mayo, Spikes (R)(/Guyton if Spikes suspended)
OLB: Banta-Cain, Ninkovich
S: Meriweather, Chung
CB: McCourty (R), Butler

That's an awful lot of rookies and second year players to be relying on, and the oldest is probably Wilfork or Gerard Warren. Scary.

On the plus side, maybe this will finally break the media image that the Pats are really old...

by Bob Hatter (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:03pm

Ninkovich is not going to start, Burgess will. Heck, even Marques Murrell is getting first team reps before Nink (who hasn't had a great camp).

by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:53pm

Exactly. I thought Ninkovich was on the verge of getting cut? He's been terrible in camp, and probably falls behind the rookie Cunningham at this point.

by Led :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:21pm

Is there any allegation that the Spikes video was recorded deceptively or against the woman's wishes? If not, it would be ridiculous for him to be suspended.

by tuluse :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:51pm

The lack of a DL in the NFL is intentional. They didn't want teams skirting around roster limits by stashing players on the DL.

by Purds :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 5:44pm

If the Pats LB gets suspended for something that happened in college, we need to storm the gates of Goddell Mansion!

(And that's coming from a Colts fan who generally enjoys any misfortune that befalls the Pats)

by Marko :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 10:42pm

The NFL does have a "DL." It's called the inactive list. Obviously not all of the 8 inactives each week have some sort of injury, but many of them do. That's a large part of the reason why there is a 53 man roster, with only 45 active on game day.

Before the advent of 53 man rosters, the injured reserve list served a similar function. Being placed on IR meant you were out of action for at least 4 weeks, but it wasn't season ending as it is now. That was when the roster was only 45. So you pretty much needed to keep 45 healthy bodies on your roster. If someone was going to be out a while with a multiple week but not season ending injury, he was placed on IR. Now he would just be one of the 8 inactives.

by RichC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/02/2010 - 8:20am

" Now their ILB situation might get shaky if Goddell decides to suspend a player for doing something legal."

If Goodell suspends Spikes, I think we're not only going to have an enormous union grievance, but a supreme court case.

I think there's little to no chance it happens.

by Led :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 1:16pm

To quote Bassett from the Jets Blog, the Pats' have lost Mark Sanchez's favorite receiver.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 5:34pm

I have to admit, this made me laugh.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 09/01/2010 - 8:33pm

Pretty funny!