All Patriots fans remember the historic defense from the first half of the 2019 season. The defense that was allowing only a 35.6 passer rating, which is lower than the passer rating a quarterback would have if he spiked the ball on every play. Stephon Gilmore definitely had a lot to do with that defense’s wowing numbers, but the Patriots could have a similar sort of defense on their hands this year.
For starters, the 2019 defense did not have a Matthew Judon in the front 7. Judon has been by far the team’s best player this season. He’s already posted 6.5 sacks through 5 games, which is more than Chase Winovich had all last year… and he led New England in sacks in 2020.
The Patriots were also able to re-sign a key part of that 2019 defense, which called themselves the Boogeymen, when they brought back linebacker Jamie Collins, before their Week 5 matchup against the Houston Texans. Collins only played three defensive snaps against Houston, but one of those snaps led to a huge sack which helped lead to their come from behind victory.
We can’t forget about two of the biggest cogs in the Patriots defense, Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. Although it has been a quiet start to the year for them, they both have a knack for making big plays when they needs them the most. They definitely will need to make a few in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys if they want to improve to get back to .500.
The biggest area of concern for this year’s defense has to be the secondary, and more specifically the cornerbacks. J.C. Jackson is the best corner on the current roster, but did not put out his best performance against the Texans. Houston had over 300 yards passing with Davis Mills at the helm, and although they held Brandin Cooks in check, with only 23 receiving yards, Chris Conley and Chris Moore had 84 and 109, respectively. Not having Jalen Mills on the field certainty played a major factor, but it is still no excuse to allow two receivers to have a day like they did.
All that said, this year’s Patriots defense has not given up more than 22 points in a game, which is impressive considering they held the reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers to just 19, a team that’s averaging 35.2 PPG in their other contests this season. Sunday’s matchup with the high-powered Cowboys offense will be huge indicator as to whether this defense is the Boogeymen 2.0, or if they are just a cheap knock-off.
Photo: (Troy Taormina – USA Today Sports)
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