Sub packages by the Patriots' defense

Burgess important in sub packages

September 18, 2009, 8:37 AM

By: Mike Reiss

In a statistic that highlights the importance of the Patriots' top backup at defensive back, the team was in its sub package for 50 percent of the plays (including penalties) in Monday's season opener.

The usage of sub packages will be charted here throughout the season.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick previously made the point that the defense was in a sub package more than 50 percent of the time last season. That stat stood out as a reflection of how more NFL offenses are spreading the field with receivers, forcing the opposition to play with more defensive backs.

On Monday, veteran Shawn Springs was initially the extra defensive back in sub packages, joining starters Jonathan Wilhite (left cornerback), Leigh Bodden (right cornerback) and safeties Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders.

Throughout the game, the defense adopted a cornerback rotation among Wilhite, Springs and rookie Darius Butler.

The usage of sub packages also directly relates to veteran defensive end Derrick Burgess. While Burgess saw some time in the base 4-3 defense, he is most valuable rushing the passer when the sub package is on the field.

With the Patriots playing such a significant number of snaps in the sub package, it explains, in part, why the team was willing to trade third-round and fifth-round draft choices to acquire him from Oakland.

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