Where’s Wal-Dowling?

Ras-I Dowling Patriots

What sort of role will Ras-I Dowling be playing the rest of the season?

NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

It might not be the biggest question in New England right now (What are the Sox doing or something about politics that I’m not following) but it’s one I’ve been asking myself for weeks: Why isn’t Ras-I Dowling playing?

It sounds easy – he is injured. Is it really that simple?

Here’s what we know: Dowling was injured during week two and Leigh Bodden was injured during week 3. After losing to the Bills the Patriots switched over to a zone defense for the Raiders in week 4. It was a move that made sense because it plays to the strengths of Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington and New England’s weak safety play.

The Patriots secondary looked much better against the Raiders and New England kept the zone against the Jets in week 5. We saw Arrington start at CB, Bodden play limited snaps and Dowling absent for the third consecutive week, even though he was active.

It’s telling that Josh Barrett and Ryan Mallett were inactive, rather than Dowling. Earlier, Mallett was active when the Patriots had players who could not play. If Dowling were so hurt that he couldn’t have played, would he have been active?

So is Dowling not playing because of his injury, or is he not playing because the Patriots aren’t ready to use him in the zone?

I have a feeling that like most things in life, it’s a little bit of both.

I’m sure that since Dowling was active, he could have played against the Jets. That said, while the defense is starting to click in the zone it makes sense to hold him out a couple more weeks to get him fully healthy for the remainder of the season. That would also give him time to get fully acclimated with the zone defense.

Arrington, McCourty and Patrick Chung were already familiar with the zone from last season where the New England defense played better in general.

The next question is, when Bodden and Dowling come back to full time roles, will the Patriots return to the man coverage? Or will they stay in the zone where they’ve been more successful?

Again, probably a little bit of both.

I think Dowling could be a real threat and a McCourty-like impact rookie in man coverage. He possesses elite speed, he’s physical and he’s big enough to cover pretty much any WR. He showed skills in weeks one & two to be a potential shut down cornerback.

Then again, the Patriots best defensive back, McCourty, is probably best suited for zone coverage where he can play off opposing WRs a little bit. Arrington and the safeties are better off for the zone, but I’d say Bodden is more suited for man coverage where he can match up against the opposing slot receiver.

What will Belichick do? Do we ever know? I’d stay in the zone and keep Dowling out until he gets acclimated. It might not play to all of his strengths, but his speed and reaction time should be enough for him to be a star in any system the Patriots play in.


13 Responses to “Where’s Wal-Dowling?”

  1. Pats Gnome says:

    Coach Belichick is not going to play the rookie Dowling until the Coach believes he is ready. So far Belichick has limited the playing time of all the 2011 draftee’s, except for the first round tackle.
    The lockout stopped OTA’s from occurring and from having a regular length preseason. The draftee’s this year are behind in their education and it is up to the head coach to decide when they will play.

  2. Lundahl says:

    Dowling is a good player.

  3. Dan says:

    I have to agree…I would simply say he’s been injured because he played well while he was out there.

  4. qwerty says:

    This is absurd. Dowling doesn’t have to get acclimated to anything. His first two weeks demonstrated he has enough talent to pick up things as fast as McCourty. McCourty didn’t have to get acclimated to much during first year.

    I would suspect that although Dowling can play some, BB could be just being cautious so he heals better. Hopefully that is all.

  5. John says:

    how often does the media and especially PFW make dumb predictions like those for example Larry Fitzgerald, Tamba Hali, Jared Allen previously, trading up to #9 on draft day to get cam jordan, vincent jackson, and sidney rice even though he was an UFA

  6. Lundahl says:

    The medias are throwing a ludicrous propaganda that Jared Allen will be traded up to Foxboro. And that includes PFW. I mean…. whatever.

    • DWE says:

      Jared Allen is like 29/30 already? He has if i’m not mistaken been only an End his whole career( so not much for versatility), yes he is more than good…..he’s one of the best at his position-but until this team and only if this team gets to a place that has in place what it did previously, it would be a waste at this point,(respectively).
      I don’t see Jarred Allen being a good fit unless A/. He took what would most likely be an obvious pay-cut, & B/. He had around him what he needed so as to only do “that one thing” …. Also it remains to be seen if the Pats will stay in a 4-3 or go back to the 3-4…? This is a transitional thing at this point, depending on personel changes from both this year as a status whole(meaning how far we can get), injury status of personel concerning personel possitions, and as well contract negatiations torward the end of the year/begining of next year as a whole & the up coming darft “NEED’S” when it arrives…..?

      Big Name Yes, But will the Pats stay hard and continue only the 4-3?
      Will it be worth it if the other complimentary pieces are not in place?
      & how long does Jarred have left VS. how long he stays?
      Unless the Pats solidify this team up better all around….Have staple players in possitions that are consistent…..get away from all this veteran cast-off’s and plug-in’s on “D” so Jarred’s tangables would be able to shine and be part of a real Championship run…..then adding Jarred Allen just to add him would be a waste of time and a round one draft pick.

      • Lundahl says:

        Last year allot of people said the Patriots were a 3-4 defense and it came out they played the 4-3 way more. The Jared Allen thing I brought up was more superficial than a point. Allen is the best pass rusher in the league for the last seven years. 91.5 sacks already, does everything, can pick off the quarterback. He’s so damn mistreated by the medias. This guy will bull anywhere he goes. 91.5 sacks for a guy that’s 29 years old is exceptional. He’s young for what he’s done so far.

  7. No need to throw him out there when he isn’t 100 percent recovered. Couldn’t afford to keep putting DBs on the field who aren’t familiar/experienced in the system in a big-time game against the Jets. Dowling could get a look at free safety (My personal hope) considering there isn’t anyone starting-worthy next to Chung.

    • Ryan says:

      If he isn’t fully recovered let him sit. We need depth, and if we have to suffer a little bit so be it. It seems like every year more and more early picks get injured right away. Ex. Mikel, Fairly, T.Smith, Quinn, Carimi, Amukamara to name a few Id prefer he not be one of them, we most certainly are going to need him. I’m hoping like most he is going to play S..

  8. TD says:

    If he’s still injured and/or is not practicing, then he aint playing per BB standards.

    If you ask me, this secondary plays better in zone, but BB must have thought that would take to long for them to get early on so he went w/man coverage.

    • Doug Kyed says:

      The only thing that seems a little fishy is that he was practicing during the week and he was active for the game.

      • DWE says:

        Dowling will still need time to fully aclimate himself to the system regardless of any previous injury & said full healing or not, so he will not be in all games either way yet,(which is a good thing).

        He also has the ability to play at both CB or as a Safety, so If I’m BB I’m having him work a bit on both and pluggin’ him in where I feel necessary here and there. Yetstill keeping the previous staple guys out there as he knows what they can and can’t do both previously and future wise.

        I just hope Dowling personally isn’t on the sidelines as long as Price has been.., ? who I think BB is either keeping aside for a reason(like a hidden unknown WR asset), orthat Price isn’t as “stable” as we think he is?

        In any event over and beyond just the rookie Ras-I-Dowling…. B.B. will continue to play “total smoke and mirror’s” as much as possable with all areas of the defensive – personel or specific scemes as he has “no choice’ but to do so.

        With the uncertainty and question marks regarding many defensive player’s currently on the roster and what they can do consistantly for us and what they can bring to a higher level for this years crown……The uncertainty of both Albert Haynsworth’s actual dependenc…? level’s as well as Chad Ochocinco’s “tardiness” in “Picking up the system”…. couple this with the “vereran cast-off’s”(that include Jet players) & “plug-in’s” that make up this defensive unit……..
        I’d play as much smoke and mirror’s as I possable could if I were BB.
        Until the next draft and he uses those (2) 1st rounders and those (2) 2nd rounders wisely on the “D”….B.B. should play smoke and mirrors down to the very last game and last minute of the season never letting “anyone” know who’s really injured or not and who may play & who will not.

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