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Friday, September 25, 2009
Base defense vs. sub package

By Mike Reiss

One area that will be charted throughout the 2009 season is how often the Patriots are in their base defense vs. a sub package.

Coach Bill Belichick made the point in a SIRIUS radio interview this year that the Patriots were in sub packages more than 50 percent of the time in the 2008 season. That seemed to be a reflection of how more offenses are spreading the field, which forces the opposition to put more defensive backs on the field.

In the season opener, it was charted as a 50-50 split for the Patriots between their base and sub packages.

Against the Jets, however, the numbers skewed heavily toward sub packages. Of 56 snaps, the Patriots were in sub for 44 of them. The breakdown looked like this:

Five defensive backs -- 30

Six defensive backs -- 13

Base 4-3 alignment -- 11

Seven defensive backs -- 1

4-4-3 short-yardage -- 1

Some of that might have been due to the team's personnel shortage at linebacker.

In playing mostly with five defensive backs, the Patriots seemed to be using safety Brandon McGowan in a linebacker-type role at times. So while they had nickel personnel (5 defensive backs) on the field, it also had the look of a standard 4-3 at times.