Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 12/28/12

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 30: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms ups against the New Orleans Saints at Louisana Superdome on November 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
It’s been the Tom Brady show since 2007, but before that, the defense was a thing of beauty in New England. The likes of Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, Mike Vrabel and Ted Bruschi carved out the Patriot Way; they played it hard, but worked it harder. This is the defense Bill Belichick wants, he’s just waiting for them to grow up. Belichick has his pass rusher in Chandler Jones, a versatile linebacker in Dont’a Hightower, and young tough corner in Alfonzo Dennard.  All three are rookies, who will be the make or break players in the postseason, and each have a bookend veteran that will force the action their way. Vince Wilfork is the key for Chandler Jones, he draws the double teams, and although he’s listed at nose tackle, he is rarely over the center. Wilfork can slide to a 4-3 tackle giving Jones the one on one with an offensive tackle, that’s the matchup on the line. Jerod Mayo is the bookend to Hightower, they have skill sets so close that the question here is how fast can Hightower grasp playoff pro football? Where Jones gets by on athletic ability, Hightower is more of a mental player, which could be a double edged sword sometimes. Hightower played more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie, but he hasn’t seen everything yet and that is where he’ll need Mayo, to keep his mental in check. Aqib Talib was brought in to replace Ras-I Dowling and the new Belichick concept of big corners. One only has to look at the Seattle Seahawks with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman as examples. Talib takes away chunks of space and can play a true man to man concept. Dennard will be the corner the other team targets, and he seems to be up for the challenge. He reminds us of a young Ty Law, short and stocky; a physical who reacts as good to the ball in the air that we haven't seen in a Patriots uniform since Law. Dennard is tough against the run and there isn’t another corner on the Patriots close to fitting what the Patriots need outside, which is someone who will fight (sorry Kyle Arrington). Those are the three rookies who have played big roles, and once the playoffs start; they'll have to step up their game even more. var switchTo5x=true; stLight.options({publisher:''});
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Does NFL have a motive to settle with Tom Brady?

Big Ten coaches opposed to 9-game conference schedule

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Hill arrested for reckless driving, clocked going 107 mph

Diamondbacks GM: Padres wanted Goldschmidt for Kimbrel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

'Rowdy' Roddy Piper dead at 61

Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes from Tigers

Sheldon Richardson escapes felony charges for recent arrest

Lawyer who litigated against NFL: Brady plays every game

Cowboys should sign interested RB Steven Jackson

Jameis Winston confirmed as Buccaneers starting QB

Miguel Herrera apologizes for costly philly airport fight

Russell Wilson contract $60 million guaranteed? Not so fast

Bernard Pollard backs Tom Brady, disagrees with suspension

Cardale Jones continues to show love toward Ronda Rousey

Joseph Randle on Steven Jackson: ‘He’s at home watching’

Evan Turner reps Ohio State after NBA Africa game

The Wind Up: a wild and crazy trade deadline

DeMarco Murray: fantasy football’s riskiest pick

Jim Harbaugh has interesting name for rival Ohio State

Jimmy Garoppolo: the most interesting QB in the world

San Francisco Giants: impact of adding Mike Leake

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker