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Friday, October 18, 2013
Pats in sub defense 69 percent of time

By Mike Reiss

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.

As one would expect against a pass-first Saints offense, the Patriots were mostly in their sub packages in last Sunday's win (47 of 66 snaps).

Overall, here are the numbers for the season (includes penalties):

Sub defense: 290 of 420 snaps
Base defense: 120 of 420 snaps
Short-yardage: 10 of 420 snaps

While the sub defense has been called upon 69 percent of the time, we can look back on the Week 2 meeting between the Patriots and Jets as a possible indication that we'll see more base defense on Sunday in the rematch between the teams. The Patriots spent 31 snaps in their base defense against the run-based Jets on Sept. 12.

When considering how the Patriots might fill the void created by linebacker Jerod Mayo's season-ending injury, it helps to view it through the lenses of base and sub defense.

In the base 4-3 defense, rookie Jamie Collins and four-year veteran Dane Fletcher are the top candidates to step in at weakside linebacker.

In the most-often-used 4-2-5 sub defense, the projection is that Brandon Spikes and Dont'a Hightower would be the two linebackers on the field. If the Patriots go with a 3-3-5 sub defense, Collins or Fletcher would once again be the likely options as the third linebacker.