With all the big names on the Patriots, it can be easy to overlook some other key players in Sunday's game. One of the frequently forgotten New England players is first-year starter Jarvis Green.
Drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round (126th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft out of LSU, Jarvis Green was not a full-time starter until this season. While New England tends to use different personnel groupings in their base 3-4 defense, Green has primarily played right end in Bill Belichick's scheme.
In five NFL seasons prior to 2007, Green started only 21 of 78 games, compiling 127 tackles, 18.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. At the midpoint of this season, he has three sacks and 19 tackles with zero forced fumbles or fumble recoveries.
At first glance, those seem like pretty shoddy statistics for a right end in the NFL. But a deeper look into Green's game and the scheme in which he plays tells a different story.
The 3-4 defense asks the defensive ends to do a lot of grunt work and rewards them with a very small percentage of the statistics or glory. They play mostly two-gap defense, especially in run support, and have the unenviable task of tying up the offensive line in order to free up linebackers Rosevelt Colvin and Tedy Bruschi. The ends in the 3-4 rarely pile up a lot of tackles, forced fumbles or sacks, as they generally get whatever is left over after the linebackers have had their fill.
Given that information, it is impressive that Green has already amassed three sacks this season. However, the 19 tackles seem a little low.
Jarvis Green sacks Buffalo's Trent Edwards
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
The Patriots are putting up more than 41 points per game this season. The Colts know as well as anyone, when you possess a high-scoring offense, opposing teams are going to run the ball all game. It keeps the clock moving and the big-time playmakers on the sideline. Taking that into account, you'd think Green could pull in more than three tackles per game.
At 6-foot-3, 285 pounds, Green is undersized to play defensive end in the 3-4, as most ends in the scheme are two to three inches taller and 15 to 20 pounds heavier. But Green compensates for his lack of height and bulk with his tenacity. One of the reasons he lasted until the fourth round was because NFL teams felt he was too big and slow to play end in the 4-3, but too small and not powerful enough to play end in the 3-4.
The best way to handle an undersized pass-rushing threat like Green is to run right at him. But simply running right at him will not stop him -- it will only slow him down.
If rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh is out for the second straight week on Sunday, it could be a long day for the Colts and Charlie Johnson. Johnson does not possess the wingspan, feet or strength that Ugoh possesses. He may be able to hold his own against Green, but he will not be able to overpower the New England defensive end and certainly does not have the necessary attributes to grind Green down over the course of the game.
Regardless of who starts at left tackle Sunday, they will need to run at Green early and wear him down late. In order to make that happen, the Indianapolis offense must sustain long drives with their controlled passing game and efficient running attack. If that happens, the game should be close in the fourth quarter. And that is all anyone can ask.
The Colts have taken the mantle of "the team that plays smart, runs the ball and makes a play late in the game" from the Patriots. If the game is close in the fourth quarter Sunday, hopefully they can prove that once again.