Patriots: Siliga returns to solidify run defense

| 3 years ago

Patriots: Siliga returns to solidify run defense

PFF-headlinesThe Patriots reactivated defensive tackle Sealver Siliga off the short term injured reserve list this week.  A player that has flashed in limited snaps, Siliga might not play much this week, but should be a major part of the rotation going forward. 

Signed off the Broncos practice squad last season to help a struggling run defense, Siliga quickly made his mark for the Patriots – grading at +5.5 in the final seven weeks of last season (including the playoffs).  During that stretch Siliga’s Run Stop % of 9.7 was seventh among all DTs.

At the beginning of this season he picked up right where he left off with a Run Stop % of 14.0 through the first three weeks – despite having a mitt covering one of his hands.

Activating Siliga a week before they had to shows the Patriots are eager to work him back into the mix.  With the run defense being exploited in all three losses, and looking at the Run Stop % of the other players in the interior, it is easy to see why.  Chris Jones, Dominique Easley, and Alan Branch have combined for just eight run stops in 258 snaps – Siliga nearly matched them  in a mere 43 snaps (6 stops).

With this season’s homestretch the first opportunity to pair Siliga with Vince Wilfork for an extended period – the Patriots run defense should be stepping it up just in time for the playoffs.

  • Chris from the Cape

    With Wilfork (a great Patriot but) no longer the player he once was, I think Siligia’s re-addition is BIG.

    • redsoxmaniac

      I think Wilfork isn’t the player he once was but not because of he can’t hold a gap like he use to. But moreso because he fatigues on long drives or end-game situations a lot faster than in the past.

      I think of the Denver game where during the second quarter ( I believe, need to re-check video but was before 2nd half) that he was blocked by two linemen, then pulled himself to the right tackle hard. Instead of a push-back or at least a stalemate, he was pushed straight to the ground trying to shoulder the tackle toward Peyton.

      It isn’t that he is strong, its more that his endurance is lower as he ages, and it shows on plays where if he puts his full energy into that move, that guy is going to get moved back 1-on-1. Instead, he gave it all and he ended up on the ground.

      The Patriots have mitigated this from both having leads (more passing, less push-work for Wilfork), the NFL itself (more passing, less need for Wilfork to collapse pocket quickly), and decoying Wilfork in the interior (he still occupies two men, which leaves a blitz lane open against an RB defender for LBs), as well as resting him for a set of downs at points in the game.

      His game is there, but his fallacy is that he is no longer a 50+ snap player that can produce on all those plays. Siliga brings a similar situation, but is younger and easily can double-up or sub Wilfork, and with both or either, along with their secondary/lb core, make it hard for draw plays/options, which are stifled up the middle of the field.

      Wilfork is still worth his money, but he isn’t as valuable to the whole game or even entire drives as he was once was. I don’t see it as a fallacy on the Pats part; Siliga adds to keeping that dimension and keeps coordinators honest even when they sub Wilfork to the sideline. The only issue is does his fatigue become an issue in the playoffs, and it makes perfect sense to have a reserve that has the traits the Pats need to push back the line-of-scrimmage.

      Also, in the past 2-3 years, Belly has been more adopting of resting players and subbing them as needed. Before he would run a lot of players into ground or doghouse. As well, although Siliga fared last year they had too many injuries to make a weapon of the D.

      Both of them in tandem are extremely dangerous, and Wilfork can collapse a pocket pretty well. and Siliga can hold up his man as well. Belly loves hybrid players for his scheme; he needs both of them to push out the pocket. They can’t do much else, so one of them is going to be in there.