Importance of the sub defense

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In 2010, the Patriots ran 57 percent of their defensive snaps in a sub defense that had five or more defensive backs on the field. Through two games this season, they are on pace to surpass that figure (73.4 percent).

This is reflective of today's pass-happy NFL, and shines a spotlight on how talk of a base 4-3 or 3-4 defense is somewhat misleading. More and more teams are in sub defenses for the majority of snaps.

The sub defense once again figures to be a big story Sunday in Buffalo, as the Bills feature a spread offense.

A look at this season's breakdown for the Patriots defense (as charted in press box, small margin for error):


Sub -- 49 of 71

Base -- 22 of 71

Short-yardage -- 1 of 71


Sub -- 59 of 76

Base -- 15 of 76

Short yardage -- 2 of 76