Last year, the Patriots had problems with the safety position. Greg Bedard of the Globe thinks Ras-I Dowling is the difference for the Pats’ D this season, do the guys agree?
“I’m not buying that. When you look at this roster and what they’ve built in the secondary, I think it’s a rookie, (linebacker) Dont’a Hightower, who is the key to the Patriots’ defense,” said Gresh. “It’s about the multiple fronts and the flexibility he provides at linebacker.”
“He plays in a three-man front, a four-man front, he plays in nickle,” said Gresh. “He’s short yardage, he’s goal line. You’re talking about a kid who provides the linebacker corp the flexibility they need to make everything else work.”
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“Unless Ras-I Dowling takes a quantum leap, and turns into the corner that Devin McCourty was his rookie year, if he goes down for six weeks are any of their packages limited? You lose Hightower for six weeks, your packages become limited,” said Gresh.
“If he is OK and he can hold his own, and McCourty is on the other side and continues to struggle, that will allow you to roll coverage whatever way you want,” Zo said of Dowling. “You can go into a game in Week 3 and make McCourty a safety.”
“I’m real anxious to see what kind of jump McCourty makes from last year to this year,” Zo added. “He can’t stay flatlined like that; he can’t even regress. He regresses from last year, meaning he takes another step back, you have some real issues in that secondary.”
How will the Patriots use their depth, and how good is it? Gresh and Zo discuss, breaking down each of the Patriots defensive packages.