Film review: Lawrence Guy a Swiss Army knife at Bill Belichick's disposal up front

Film review: Lawrence Guy a Swiss Army knife at Bill Belichick's disposal up front

FOXBORO -- Lawrence Guy was open with the Patriots when he made his free-agent visit to Gillette Stadium earlier this offseason. He could align at any number of spots, he told them. Just point him in the right direction. 

"I said, 'I feel comfortable anywhere you put me at,' " he told reporters last week. "For me as a player, I found that I needed to play different positions so I could be the best player I could be. So coming into this situation, wherever they need to put me at, I could go ahead and do it. I’m not a great corner -- I’m a little bit heavy -- but I’ll try it."


The Patriots won't be trotting out Guy out to give Malcolm Butler or Stephon Gilmore a breather this season, but they have the option of placing him at a variety of positions along the defensive line. That's exactly what he did for the Ravens over the course of the last three years, and it's part of the reason the Patriots thought he was worthy of the four-year, $13.4 million deal they gave him back in March.

"The whole object is to be able to play multi positions on the field, so you can be out there the most time you can," he said. "If you can only do one thing, you’re not really helping the team."

We went back and looked at Guy's 2016 with Baltimore, and found him making plays all along the line of scrimmage as he took part in about 50 percent of the team's defensive snaps. To give you a sense of what the 6-foot-4, 305-pounder can do -- and where he can line up -- we pulled a series of plays to help illustrate his skill set.  

As you'll notice, he was able to make impact plays as a 5-technique and as a 3-technique. He also lined up as a 1-technique and was even asked to shade outside the tight end.

Because the Patriots use a variety of fronts -- whether it's a 3-4, 4-3 or something else -- and because Guy has a relatively unique body type on the roster, he could be in line to see significant time in his first year with the team. He doesn't fit the prototype of the 265-pound end or the 320-pound (or more) tackle the Patriots had last season, but his value is in his versatility.

"You put me on the field, I’ll do what I’ve got to do to make a play," Guy said. "It doesn’t matter if I’m at nose, 3-[technique], 5, 6 or 7. I’ve seen it and played it all, so I’m just happy to go out there and play and make plays."

For reference: The easiest way to remember the defensive line numbering system -- which is credited largely to legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant -- is that odd numbers generally indicate a player lined up on the outside the shoulder of the center (1-technique), guard (3-technique) or tackle (5-technique). Even numbers typically indicate a defensive lineman is head-up on the center (0-technique), guard (2-technique), tackle (4-technique) or tight end (6-technique). A 3-tech is typically thought of as a pass-rushing tackle in a 4-3 defense . . . think Dominique Easley. A 5-tech is typically thought of as an end in a 3-4 . . . think Ty Warren.


RESULT: Coming out from his three-point stance off the center's shoulder, Guy gets by a double-team to help sack Ryan Tannehill after the snap was mishandled. He's not Trey Flowers in terms of his quickness on the interior, but Guy's length and athleticism allow him to match up favorably with shorter-armed guards and centers. His combination of speed and effort here helped him finish off a play that was doomed from the start. 

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RESULT: The 2i-technique is off the inside shoulder of the guard. Guy gets matched up one-on-one with Pro Bowl Eagles center Jason Kelce in this obvious passing situation in the red zone. He flings Kelce to the ground, uses an arm-over move on his way into the backfield, and wraps himself around quarterback Carson Wentz's legs. Wentz is strong enough to get off an incomplete pass, but just barely. Guy's hand-usage and quickness to toss aside one of the game's best pivots . . . impressive. 

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RESULT: This may be a bit of a camera trick here. Guy looks like he could be considered a 3-tech, but he's pretty close to being aligned head-up on left guard Joe Thuney. Again, it's a passing situation. And again, Guy is inside. He attacks center David Andrews, and though Andrews is able to get an initial push, Guy fights back toward the middle of the pocket to get a hit on Tom Brady and help force an incompletion. Guy's awareness to find Brady, and his power to free himself from the block, helped him make a play on a night when the Patriots offensive line didn't allow a sack.

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RESULT: Brady's one real blemish in Week 14 of last season. With a chance to go up three scores with a field goal, Brady heaves an ill-advised pass to the back of the end zone that was picked by Eric Weddle. Though Weddle gets the credit from the Monday Night Football crew during the broadcast replay, it was Guy who fought through a Shaq Mason block to put a lick on Brady and coax the bad throw. 

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RESULT: Against Bill Belichick's 21-personnel in the first quarter, the Ravens go with a 3-4 look, and Guy is lined head-up on right tackle Marcus Cannon. Guy's strength and length make it rare for him to get washed out of a running play, but that's what Cannon (a Second-Team All-Pro) is able to do off the snap here. To Guy's credit, though, he's able to fight off Cannon's block, work back against the grain, and stop LeGarrette Blount for a four-yard pickup.

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RESULT: Guy's hustle makes him dangerous in these situations. The play is designed for running back Matt Forte to take the hand-off and dart across quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's face to the left side of the line and into the end zone. In theory. Guy is lined up away from where the play is supposed to go, and as such he is left unblocked. With the instincts to sniff out the play, Guy tracks down Forte from behind before Forte is able to get back to the line of scrimmage. Loss of one.

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RESULT: Since there's a chance Patriots fans see Guy as a 5-tech fairly often, we've included a second play from his work there last season. Here he is lined up just outside the right tackle in a pass-rush situation late in the fourth quarter in Jacksonville. After working a stunt with tackle Timmy Jernigan, Guy powered through rookie right guard AJ Cann for a nine-yard sack. The Jags, up one, try a field goal on the next play and are blocked. The Ravens kick a field goal on their ensuing drive and win the game. Power, athleticism, want-to, enthusiasm (his celebration of choice appears to be two arms raised over his head) all on display.

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RESULT: This is where Guy does some of his best work. Opposing tight ends don't often seem to have the power to be able to match Guy one-on-one. Lined up across from tight end Randall Telfer (6-foot-4, 260 pounds), he explodes into Telfer's pads at the snap, walks Telfer back briefly, then stops running back Isaiah Crowell after a gain of one. 

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RESULT: This is where the technique number system starts to get a little screwy. If the even-odd system were to hold true, then a defensive end lined up on the tight end's outside shoulder would be a 7-technique. Instead, a player on the tight end's inside shoulder is considered by many to be a 7-tech. A player shading outside the tight end is a 9-tech. Guy is certainly not a traditional 9-technique . . . think Dwight Freeney. But Guy certainly knows how to use his leverage and set an edge. That's what he does here on the first play of the game, mauling tight end Trey Burton, then wrestling running back Ryan Mathews to the ground when Mathews tries to bounce outside. 

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Guy also plays special teams. He was a part of the Ravens field-goal unit, serving as a blocker on the edge. He also used his length to his advantage on the field-goal block team, batting down an extra-point attempt in Week 2 that was returned for two points in a win over Cleveland. 

As Baltimore coach John Harbaugh acknowledged during the league meetings in Arizona earlier this offseason, Guy's versatility feels like a good match for the Ravens' rivals in New England.

"He's a very under-rated, under-valued player," Harbaugh said. "I thought it was very Patriot-like to recognize his value and to pay him the way they did."

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Isaiah Wynn out for the season; Merloni remembers time with PawSox

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Isaiah Wynn out for the season; Merloni remembers time with PawSox

1:26 - The Red Sox got back into the win column on Friday night, beating the Rays 7-3 thanks to some clutch hitting from Xander Bogaerts and 3 and a third shutout innings from the bullpen. Tom Giles, Lou Merloni and Danielle Trotta break down the game and the performance from the pen.

5:57 - A day removed from the Patriots preseason win over the Eagles, Andy Hart, Phil Perry and Trenni Kusnierek discuss their biggest takeaways from the game, including how the loss of rookie tackle Isaiah Wynn will impact the team.

11:30 - With the Pawtucket Red Sox announcing Friday that the team will be moving to Worcester in 2021, Lou Merloni takes a trip down memory lane and tells some of his favorite stories from his days playing for the Paw Sox.