In the offseason the Patriots traded away Mike Vrabel to the KC Chiefs as part of the Matt Casselface trade. That left a huge hole in the linebacking corps. A hole the Patriots tried to plug by going after Jason Taylor who went back to Miami. Well, last Friday the Patriots made a trade with the Raiders for Derrick Burgess in an effort to plug that hole. Before we get to him, let’s look at the rest of the linebackers.
ILB – Tedy Bruschi (54) – Unfrozen Caveman Linebacker is back for his 14th season with the Pats. Some believed that he too could have been cut/traded in the offseason but after coming back from a stroke and being the anchor in the linebacking corps you had to think that wouldn’t happen. He’s not as fast as he was so he will see diminished playing time with the emergence of younger linebackers like Gary Guyton (59) to push for more playing time inside.
ILB – Jerod Mayo (51) – The reigning defensive rookie of the year looks to build on his stellar first season. He played 90% of all defensive snaps last season and solidified his place inside next to Tedy Bruschi. Look for guys like Eric Alexander (52), Guyton and former XFL player Paris Lemon (47) to back up Bruschi and Mayo. Tank Williams (26) may even see some time in the middle.
OLB – Adalius Thomas (96) – In week ten an arm injury ended his season last year. At the time he was the Pats sack leader with five. The Pats waited in putting him on IR because they thought he’d be able to come back but was placed on IR in early December ending his season for good. That was about the time that Junior Seau was brought in again to help the linebackers. Well, no Junior this year but a crew of Pierre Woods (58), Shawn Crable (98) and Tully Banta-Cain (95) are all on the roster and had figured to fight for the spot opposite Thomas until they signed…
OLB – Derrick Burgess (49 for now) – Burgess, like I said earlier, is that Jason Taylor type player the Patriots have wanted ever since the Vrabel trade. In their 3-4 system they need an explosive defensive end type presence (again think Willie McGinest) and now they have one that really owns the pass rush. Everything I’ve read about this guy says that if he stays healthy will be an awesome presence opposite Thomas.
I think that the signing of Burgess really bolsters that front seven rush. Bolsters is so much that the younger defensive backfield (that we’ll preview tomorrow) may be able to get away with some mistakes as there will be real pressure up front from the pass rush.