- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the areas that will be charted throughout the season is the New England Patriots' defensive breakdown between their sub and base packages. This can highlight player value and take us deeper into the X's and O's of each game.
On Monday against the Carolina Panthers, what stood out was the high total of base defense (42 of 58 snaps, including penalties, 72.4 percent). This reflected how the Patriots were most concerned with the Panthers' rushing attack and so they devoted more resources to the front seven. There hasn't been another game this season where the Patriots trended as heavily to their base defense.
Looking ahead to Sunday night against the Denver Broncos, we'd anticipate an approach at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Patriots will likely be in sub packages (5 and 6 defensive backs) for most of the game against the Broncos' three-receiver offense that also has a tight end (Julius Thomas) who seems to be more of a receiver himself.
Thus, it is a big week for the secondary and the general health of the unit with four key players on the injury report (Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Steve Gregory) has to be a primary concern to coach Bill Belichick. Because of this, it wouldn't be surprising if we see a practice squad promotion by the end of the week (cornerback Justin Green or safety Kanorris Davis).
Overall, here are the numbers for the season (includes penalties):
Sub defense: 469 of 725 snaps (64.6 percent)
Base defense: 241 of 725 snaps (33.2 percent)
Short-yardage: 15 of 725 snaps (0.2 percent)