2013 Off-Season Complain-A-Thon Part 2: Josh Boyer

Please no more… Josh Boyer

There are a lot of things that we, the fans, will just never know about when it comes to the process of the Patriots coaching staff. But when one part of the team stands out above all else as a glaring irreparable weakness you’re only left with so many avenues of thought. The play of the Patriots defensive backs has been consistently awful for years that certain things just have to stand to reason. With all that being said; I don’t see anything wrong with holding Defensive Backs/Cornerbacks Coach Josh Boyer accountable.

Boyer was the DBs coach from 2009-2011 before becoming the cornerbacks coach this past season. He inherited a DB’s unit that had been 11th in the league in pass defense and had (then) emerging star Brandon Meriweather, a reliable veteran safety in James Sanders and 2 young and promising 2nd round picks to work with in the form of Patrick Chung and Darius Butler. Both picks had quiet but hopeful rookie seasons and showed flashes of being just what the Pats needed to transition to a younger secondary. Chung for several years was the lone bright spot at the safety position, but had dropped off in play significantly this season. Butler, meanwhile, had an absolute meltdown in his 2nd year and never recovered. He was benched in favor of the then unknown Kyle Arrington, and shipped off to Carolina in a “whatever we can get” style trade. And does anyone remember Sergio Brown? There was actually a time when Colts special teamer Sergio Brown had some promise to his career as a Patriots safety. You can forget about that. After spending a year in the pros he looked more like a rookie than he did when he first came here. How about 2008 2nd and 3rd round picks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite who are both currently unemployed? See where I’m going with this?

Look at the numbers in the Boyer era.

YEAR EVENT PASSING DEF RANK YARDS ALLOWED
2008 Boyer holds a clipboard as a defensive assistant 11th 3222
2009 Boyer takes over as DB’s coach 12th 3355
2010 Boyer stays on as DB coach 30th 4136
2011 Boyer stays on as DB coach 31st 4703
2012 Boyer moved to CB coach 29th 4342

That’s a 20 rank drop, and an extra 1,400+ yards a year tacked onto the defense in his tenure.

It’d be one thing if I thought they were just bringing in shitty talent, but that isn’t the case. McCourty waltzed in here straight from Rutgers to be the defensive rookie of the year. The next year his technique looks noticeably different, tampered with almost like Danny Tartabull after a visit from George Costanza. You could say the same thing about Arrington whose game looked noticeably off this year after 2 surprisingly great years. There’s a consistent trend present of DB’s getting worse over short periods of time. It makes me fearful of talented 1st years like Alfonzo Dennard.

I get shot down every time I bring this up, but let’s bring up Brandon Meriweather for a second. The first round pick turned fall guy had 9 INTs in his first 3 years as a Patriot and peaked in 2009. This is a fact largely omitted by casual Patriots historians: he actually was good even if it didn’t last. After 2 years of working with Boyer his skills deteriorated massively. He was taking bad angles. He was late to the ball constantly. Fans to this day will tell you Meriweather was the heart of the problem and always sucked. Cool scapegoat, bro. Meriweather has been in the NFC for 2 years now, and the Pats pass defense has still circled the drain both years since. So who or what is the remaining constant?

The corners and DB’s just aren’t learning and maintaining fundamental techniques. It took years, up to and including almost all of the 2012 season, just to get the DB’s to turn the heads around and look at the ball. It’s not about having a Deion Sanders on the field shutting everyone down. Guys are in the wrong place using the wrong technique constantly. I don’t know how the guy who calls himself the DB’s coach or cornerbacks coach gets up, goes to work, and gets away with it with a straight face.

The Background

Has anyone ever actually looked into this guy’s path to the NFL?? I did. A year before becoming a defensive assistant for the Patriots he was employed by the Hardrockers, an NCAA D-II independent team from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. This team went 1-9 with Boyer as their Defensive Coordinator for one season and surrendered 339 points across 10 games. That’s 34 points a game. They gave up 48 points to the Dickinson State Blue Hawks. We couldn’t have raided the Dickinson State coaching staff? How do you go from being a terrible DC on a team almost no one outside of South Dakota knows exists to an NFL assistant?

SOLUTIONS I’m not about to sit here and pretend I’m an expert on coaching personnel. Who the hell is? But here are a few names that jump out at me across the defensive assistants across the league and in college:

  • Todd Lyght – Eagles Assistant DB’s coach and former All Pro NFL Corner. A guy Terrell Owens once called the best corner he had ever played against.
  • Greg Jackson – 49ers Secondary Asst and former Belichick era Giants safety. The Niners defense managed 37 INTs combined in the last 2 seasons.
  • Adam Zimmer – Bengals DB’s Assistant under Mark Carrier and son of Bengals DC Mike Zimmer. Zimmer is one of the better DC’s in the league and the Bengals have put together a top 10 pass defense in 3 out of the last 4 seasons.
  • Terry Joseph – Nebraska Secondary Coach, and former Tennessee DB’s coach & recruiting director. Joseph was DB coach of the #2 passing defense in the FBS last year, and coached Alfonzo Dennard into what should have been a 1st/2nd round pick.
  • Jordan Peterson – Fresno State Defensive Assistant/DB’s Coach, former Texas A&M graduate assistant and former high school valedictorian. The Fresno Bulldogs put together the #4 passing defense in the FBS last year. Disclaimer: I pulled this name out of my ass.

Pick one. They couldn’t be any worse than Boyer.

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