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Highlighting importance of sub packages

One day earlier this year, Patriots coach Bill Belichick made the point that the Patriots spent more than 50 percent of their 2008 defensive snaps in a sub package (5 or more defensive backs). The point seemed to be that for all the chatter of whether the team would run a base 3-4 alignment or base 4-3 alignment, any discussion should also highlight that the team is in sub packages more than any base set.

Through nine games of the 2009 season, the numbers back Belichick's point.

Last Sunday's loss to the Colts was a prime example of how the Patriots rely heavily on sub packages. Of 68 defensive snaps (including penalties), they were in sub 66 times, mainly because they were treating tight end Dallas Clark like a receiver. The last two defensive snaps, at the goal-line, marked the only time the Patriots were in any other defensive alignment.

Here is how the numbers break down this season based on press-box charting (includes penalties, small margin for error):

Sub package: 297 of 555 (53.5 percent)

Base defense: 247 of 555 (44.5 percent)

Short yardage: 11 of 555 (1.9 percent)