Vince Wilfork leads the way for revived Patriots defense

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Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is not an easy man to move. That’s especially true this season because you can’t get him off the field.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com notes that Wilfork played 51.8% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2009. That’s fairly typical for any run-stuffing nose tackle, especially one comically listed at 325 pounds. (He’s probably closer to 400 than 300 pounds.)

In 2010, Wilfork’s snap total went up to 69.8%. By this season, Wilfork was up to 86%. In the AFC title game, Wilfork played 67 of 70 snaps. That’s 95.7%.

You can measure leadership in a lot of ways. Wilfork leads by making his presence known almost every snap. He leads by playing more than younger counterparts like Haloti Ngata.

“He leads the way for us on defense,’’ coach Bill Belichick said after the win over Baltimore. “Vince is obviously our most experienced player and he’s been a great leader, great captain all year. His leadership has been tremendous.”

Wilfork was a valuable rookie on the last Patriots title team in 2004. That was a veteran-laden defense on the tail end of a dynasty. This time is different. This is Wilfork’s defense, Wilfork’s time. Now in his eighth season, the 30-year-old is in that career sweet spot where experience and talent meet up perfectly.

Wilfork’s performance against the Ravens was one for the ages: Six tackles, four hurries, three tackles for loss, and a sack. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe says Wilfork was double or tripled teamed ten times.

“To be honest with you, Vince was ready last week to play this game,’’ linebacker Jerod Mayo said after defeating Baltimore. “He has a ring and no one else on this defense has a ring. And he just expressed the joy that you would get from winning this game and he’s not a liar.”

We are struck by Wilfork’s versatility. He has played defensive end instead of nose tackle quite a bit in the playoffs. He is rushing the passer in addition to being the team’s best run stopper. He’s even picked off two passes this year. (And he knows what to do with the ball.)

New England’s defensive line has put together its two best performances of the season in successive weeks. In a game where the Patriots struggle to match up with the Giants in many areas, don’t be surprised if New England’s defensive line creates all sorts of problems against a shaky New York offensive line.

Vince Wilfork will be leading the way. You can’t get him off the field, and you can’t block him either.

37 responses to “Vince Wilfork leads the way for revived Patriots defense

  1. He has a ring and no one else on this defense has a ring.

    And it is gonna stay like that.

    Go Giants!!!!

  2. Vince Wilfork is a beast! And with some of the other defensive players have come back after injuries, they make a really tough front 7.
    GO PATS!!!

  3. To say that the Pats defense is “revived” is an over statement. Not to take anything away from Wilfork, because I think he is the best interior linemen and just may be the best linemen in the league. But this is a defense that went up against one team who’s offense is basically the wildcat and we all know that the Pats knows how to defend that and the other team has had issues of pass protection pretty much all season long and they still almost stoled the game in the very last seconds. If that was Bolden making that catch instead of Evans, the Pats probably would be making plans for next season right about now. Outside of the Pats none of the AFC teams had the kind of swagger that makes champions where as the NFC had four teams with that kind of swagger. Bottom line is that the Pats D can’t ride Wilfork’s coat tail in this game. The Giants is a team that knows how to win.

  4. badtimeoutcaldwell says:
    Jan 29, 2012 5:17 PM
    Wilfork was more valuable and clutch in the AFC championship game than “Terrific Tom”.
    –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    That’s the truth.
    Difference is we Pats fans can acknowledge when our team wins despite its QB’s poor performance, unlike manningfans. And our team’s QB can do that as well, unlike Manning.

    Vince may be a large man but he does actually eat right (I am sure not ALL the time but most). His family has struggled with diabetes and he’s very conscious of his health. He’s also insanely athletic for his size.

    Whatever happens next Sunday, I really like this team’s makeup. It’s been a heck of a ride.

  5. I remember a game against the Bills a couple years ago where on one play he literally blocked the center and both guards by spreading his arms wide and bull rushing all 3 of them. Never seen a single D-lineman push back 3 defenders at the same time before that.

    If the Pats lose next weekend it won’t be because of Wilfork’s play.

  6. Wilfork will penetrate that line with ease. The Giants o-line will need a lot of tight end assistance to contain Wilfork. Even then, he’ll penetrate the tight end harder than the o-line…

  7. As a Giants fan, I’ve always had respect for Wilfork. I still didn’t like the way he put his finger/hand inside of Jacobs facemask, but he’s still a pain in the neck to play against. New England was able to rush 3 mainly because of the consistent strong push he provided up the middle. He helps against the run as well. Giants need to put some bodies on him and not allow him to get penetration.

  8. “The Giants is a team that knows how to win.”
    .
    Lol! You mean like 9-7 win??
    The Giants have been riding the Cinderella wagon this playoff season but the train is about to get derailed next Sunday.
    GO PATS!!!

  9. “The man earns every freaking penny of that contract.”
    .
    Exactly! Wilfork did the opposite of what many do in the NFL, he got a big contract and then massively upped his game.
    Go Vince! Go Patriots!!

  10. That’s the truth.
    Difference is we Pats fans can acknowledge when our team wins despite its QB’s poor performance, unlike manningfans. And our team’s QB can do that as well, unlike Manning.

    Vince may be a large man but he does actually eat right (I am sure not ALL the time but most). His family has struggled with diabetes and he’s very conscious of his health. He’s also insanely athletic for his size.

    Whatever happens next Sunday, I really like this team’s makeup. It’s been a heck of a ride.
    ————————

    Thats great that you acknowledge it… because when the debate between Manning and Brady comes up… Manning dominates the conversation, except when you bring up the post-season… Thats where Brady has the edge in wins, but thats about it.

    Manning has the higher playoff passing %, yards per attempt, yards per game, and passer rating than Brady. The problem is that if or when Manning has an “off” game in the playoffs, the Colts are 90% certain to lose (except 2006 post-season). When Brady has an “off” game, they still win many of those games simply because he’s been surrounded by much better teams over his career…

    If Manning throws 0 TD’s and 2 INT’s against Baltimore last weekend, they would have lost the game by 20 points.

    When Brady does it, history will remember it as another “clutch” post-season performance, just like his 1st superbowl win where he threw for a whopping 140 yards!

  11. Henry says:
    Jan 29, 2012 6:14 PM
    Best nose tackle in the league AND he had 2 interceptions this year, lol!
    “Wilfork Island”!
    ******************************************
    That is GREAT!
    Wilfork Island…I love it!
    Nice work.

  12. @badtimeoutcaldwell

    Yep Brady had that EPIC 3 td 7 INT run on the way to a SB title once…oh WAIT.. that was Manning. My bad. But Manning DID play a lot better against the Balt defense in the 06 playoffs than Brady did last Sunday though right? Nope, your kicker provided all those points and Manning 0 TDs and 2 ints, just like Brady (but no rushing td). Yeah you have a point. NOT.
    Brady has had other bad games in the playoffs where his team lost, and some where he’s won just like your hero has.

  13. Wait, did you just say that Brady had the BETTER talent during his entire career between him and Manning?

    First off they were talking about Eli and not Peyton.

    Secondly, I think Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edge James would ALL disagree with you. Let’s see Manning win with Troy Brown, David Givens and Antowain Smith. Not happening.

    Brady has had the better talent in the last four years, but before that Manning was SURROUNDED by talent.

  14. As a Giants fan, I’ve always had respect for Wilfork. I still didn’t like the way he put his finger/hand inside of Jacobs facemask

    I’m sure Jacobs just had a cliffhanger and Vince was just being a gentleman by picking it for him!

  15. Bringing up the 2006 Superbowl run just proves my point. The media and many others will remember that year as the year that Manning “got the monkey off his back” and finally “won the big one”.

    The truth is, he had 1 stinker, 2 average games, and one great game against the Pats. The fact that the Colts won the Superbowl isn’t truly an indicator of how Manning should be viewed. He’s had SEVERAL good games in the playoffs and they still lost. Playoff wins is a team effort…

    Ever notice in all of Brady’s 16 playoff wins, his defense averages giving up only 16 points per game??? But in his losses they give up almost 22 PPG?? To give Brady, or any other QB extra credit for what is ultimately a complete team acomplishment is just the media sensationalizing stories that keep debates going.

    And suddenly Eli Manning is a “Clutch” QB, right at the same time that his defense gets healthy hasn’t given up more than 20 points in their last 5 games??

    I’m just sayin too much credit and blame goes to QB’s (especially in the playoffs) when it truly takes an entire team to pull out the “W”.

  16. Wait, you mean Edge, who was used up and Harrison who retired? They are doing fine, thanks. Wayne also did pretty good with some no-names at QB. Not great, but good.

    How did Antowain Smith do before he got to NE? How about after he left? How did Givens do down in Tennessee?

  17. Ok I’m not sure how a Manning/Brady debate happened on a Vince Wilfork story. I have to fuel the fire though.

    We know we can’t compare Brady/Manning in the playoffs because obviously Brady is superior with the 3 rings. I have a couple questions though.

    1. Which QB has the best winning percentage of all time? Brady has never had a losing record in a season.

    2. Has Manning ever thrown 50 TDs in a season? Brady did it playing outside.

    3. Has Manning ever thrown over 5000 yds in a season? Brady threw over 5200 playing outside.

    And the whole Brady relied on his amazing defense is annoying. In 2001, the Patriots were ranked 24th in total yards and 26th in points allowed. That doesn’t sound like an amazing defense to me.

  18. Wilfork is a stud. Its a shame that Haynesworth couldnt get his crap together. He should have had a huge year benefiting from the double teams that Vince gets all game.

    I joke all the time to friends about how Wilfork is the fattest in shape guy in the world. You look at his stomach and think he wont last 4 plays before coming out, but the dude has a motor. Fast in a phone booth.

  19. gambeast5533 says:
    Jan 29, 2012 6:57 PM
    Wait, did you just say that Brady had the BETTER talent during his entire career between him and Manning?

    First off they were talking about Eli and not Peyton.

    Secondly, I think Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edge James would ALL disagree with you. Let’s see Manning win with Troy Brown, David Givens and Antowain Smith. Not happening.

    Brady has had the better talent in the last four years, but before that Manning was SURROUNDED by talent.

    __
    Let’s see Brady win it without the same sort of defense that he got during the early 2000s…because it was the defense that won those three titles, not Brady.

  20. Spikes and Chung returning to this defense is bigger than people are giving credit for. They’re still the “worst D in the NFL” as far as most are concerned.
    Methinks Vince and the guys will play better next Sunday than most suspect.

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