Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Spikes’

Without Brandon Spikes: Charting the Response of the Patriots Linebackers

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Brandon Spikes’ season-ending knee injury has thrust the Patriots linebackers into the spotlight as the Indianapolis Colts await. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

On a 1st-and-10 with 5:03 remaining in Week 17, Brandon Spikes’ season came to an end.

It transpired as Buffalo Bills halfback C.J. Spiller pierced through the sodden Gillette Stadium hashes and crossed outward to the flat, where he created separation beyond the New England Patriots linebacker.

Buffalo quarterback Thaddeus Lewis found his target in stride. And from there, the ball-carrier veered past the 50-yard line, shedding the arcing arms of nickelback Kyle Arrington as Spikes closed in.

Yet at the New England 48, Spiller redirected.

Spikes did not, nor could he. (more…)

Gap Integrity: How the Houston Texans Running Game Tested Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, and the rest of the Patriots defense faced an aggressive Houston Texans rushing attack in Week 13. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Defending the run is a concept that’s simple in theory yet complex in practice.

It’s a concept that the New England Patriots defensive front is still vying to collectively grasp without reinforcement from defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, and linebacker Jerod Mayo.

Currently, New England’s defense ranks 31st in the NFL with 138 rushing yards allowed per game and 26th with 4.6 yards allowed per attempt. And head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have taken schematic measures to avert that trend.

Whether it’s been rooted in matchups or attrition, the front seven has transitioned to more of a 3-4 base of late. The move has bulked the defensive line with an assemblage of rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano, veteran nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and practice-squad promotion Sealver Siliga. It has also spelled defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at outside linebacker, a step back from their traditional stomping grounds.

The rise of the three-man defensive line has impacted more than those who align there, however; it has impacted the responsibilities of linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Brandon Spikes.

With an already-depleted retaining wall in front of them, the two have seen offensive linemen upfield at a prolific rate this season. So having one less interior disruptor on the field for much of Week 13 against the Houston Texans only heightened it. (more…)

The Fluctuating Use of a Run-Stopper: Patriots Linebacker Brandon Spikes

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Brandon Spikes’ playing time is a byproduct of the opposition. And it is far from static. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

In April of 2010, the New England Patriots invested a second-round draft pick in run-thumping Florida product Brandon Spikes with hopes that the 6’2”, 255-pounder could develop into every-down middle linebacker in the NFL.

But with the rise in pass-heavy spread offenses and subsequent spike in defensive sub packages, the term “every-down middle linebacker” is now an almost unfeasible title for players like Spikes.

Offenses are turning to the pass and utilizing three-receiver sets at a growing rate. In turn, inside men – especially ones with five-plus 40-yard dash speed and mixed coverage success – are seeing themselves swapped out in favor of 190-pound nickelbacks with a swifter backpedal and incomparable coverage skills.

It’s part of the game’s evolution. Base defenses aren’t the base of defenses anymore; they’re phasing out of a half-and-half mix and becoming a two-for-one deal with sub personnel.

That reality situates downhill runners like the 26-year-old Spikes in a state of flux.


What Does The Future Hold For Patriots Linebacker Brandon Spikes?

Friday, September 20th, 2013
Brandon Spikes Patriots

Brandon Spikes’ future is uncertain in New England. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Matthew Jones

Lost amid the excitement surrounding what appears to be an upgraded Patriots defense which currently ranks among the league’s top ten teams in both points (sixth) and yards (eighth) is the absence of middle linebacker Brandon Spikes in New England’s defensive formations. Through two games, Spikes has been relegated to a rotational role, starting the season opener at Buffalo but appearing in just a quarter of the Patriots’ 64 defensive snaps.

Spikes saw an increased snap count against the Jets in week two, but nonetheless lined up for only 31/74 snaps (41.9%) without appearing as a member of New England’s starting defense; his usage during that contest brought his snap count to 47/138 on the season, or just over 34%. It sounds incredible, but that means the former second-round pick has seen the field less than undrafted free agent Joe Vellano, who has logged 53 snaps at defensive tackle despite being behind both Vince Wilfork (116 snaps) and Tommy Kelly (81 snaps) on the depth chart.

Read on to find out what this may mean for Spikes.


Patriots Off-Season: Monitoring the Progress of Brandon Spikes

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Brandon Spikes Patriots

Through ups and downs, Brandon Spikes has still been great value as a late second-round pick. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas

In 2010, the New England Patriots invested a second-round draft pick in Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes. Three years have since passed, and the polarizing tackler is now entering the final chapter of his rookie contract.

Needless to say, 2013 is a big year for No. 55.

Spikes has trudged through his share of peaks and valleys during his time in Foxboro. And his unpredictability makes it all the more critical that he finishes his fourth season on a good note.

With that in mind, let’s track his development.


Re-Grading The 2010 Patriots Draft Picks: Brandon Spikes

Monday, February 11th, 2013
Brandon Spikes Patriots

Through ups and downs, Brandon Spikes has still been great value as a late second-round pick. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope

Once considered a possible first-round pick, Florida middle linebacker Brandon Spikes fell to the No. 62 overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft due to character concerns and very poor 40-yard dash times (5.03 and 5.10 seconds) at his Pro Day. The Patriots used their third second-round pick of that year’s draft to pick Spikes, their second consecutive pick from Urban Meyer’s Gators team in that draft.


Patriots vs Bills: Five Keys to Victory

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
Brandon Spikes Patriots

Brandon Spikes was a beast on Sunday. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Staff Writer: Joon Lee

After a somewhat sluggish first half offensively and defensively against the Bills on Sunday, the Patriots rallied back in the second half against the Bills, blowing them out 52-28. In the process, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history to have a pair of 100 yard rushers (Bolden, Ridley) and 100 yard receivers (Gronkowski, Welker).

Coach Bill Belichick also moved passed Chuck Knox for sole possession for 8th place on the all time win list. There were a lot of positives to take from Sunday’s thrashing of the Bills.


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