How Can The Patriots’ Secondary Be Elite Again?

September 21, 2022
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Going into week three, the Patriots have split the two games, only allowing 13.5 points per game. Considering what Miami did in Baltimore, I’d say holding them to 20 points, and one big play is a solid defense. So where is the weak link?

New England is feeling much better after a 17-14 win over the Steelers; much credit needs to be given to the secondary because Pittsburgh contains a litany of talented players. Jalen Mills didn’t let Diontae Johnson run free; Jack Jones was inserted for Jonathan on the boundary since he was a better match for Claypool or Pickens. Jack Jones is proving he belongs in this league while Mills is showing that he’s settling into the CB1 role, and Jon Jones is holding up against receivers who were expected to have mismatches against him.

Jonathan Jones was moved back inside to slot corner, watching the mid and flat zones; these were the only spots Trubisky wanted to target. The Patriots did a great job keeping everything in front of them, but this led to a few poor third-down conversions where the zone coverages were slightly over-spaced. New England will be a bend don’t break defensive unit, so these plays are to be expected to happen, unfortunately.

This Patriots Defense Can Work

Since the departure of Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots have been slowly transforming into a zone defense with some man looks mixed in. This year New England has cemented that transformation mainly playing in a zone while giving some man coverage on occasional third downs. Through two weeks of the season, the Patriots have allowed a total of 4 plays of 20 or more yards. The Ravens allowed six on Sunday alone.

Devin McCourty anchors this secondary, he is still a premier player and you have rarely heard his name be called. Less is better when it comes to focus as a defensive back. Adrian Phillips has played on all three levels of the field and adds another veteran presence.

Jabrill Peppers received more snaps after Kyle Dugger, who has impressed so far with his awareness and incredible tackling ability, left the game with a knee injury (He should be ready to play in the week three match-up with Baltimore). Once Peppers was on the field he popped on a third and eight stop midway through the third quarter. He showed speed as well as play recognition.

It is likely that none of these players will be on the Pro Bowl team. However they can still be an elite unit, there is enough talent and the coaching staff is smart enough to utilize these players to get the most out of them.

Qalo

Who Is The Odd Patriot Out?

I’ve now watched both games a handful of times and the main assessment I can make is that Myles Bryant gets far too much playing time for the Patriots. When plays are made on this defense they are generally because he is getting beat or is lost in his zone. He was beat on third down on three separate plays. Let’s not forget the muffed punt in the first quarter that should’ve been a safety. Hopefully, Marcus Jones gets on the Patriots’ game-day roster in week three because he has the speed and draft capital to be on the field.

Even without Marcus suiting up I would much rather Shaun Wade be on the field at least he has some size without losing much speed. In the past, Belichick would’ve benched a player for a while game for muffing a punt so close to the endzone like that. That play alone could’ve destroyed the whole game, yet he was allowed to be on the field to get beat constantly.

The guy has not made a single impact play since he was here. Adding to that point I know that he has accounted for more than ten minus plays that have directly correlated with our losses, and didn’t show flashes of starting corner ability in preseason or training camp either. I don’t think he should see the field on defense or special teams on this deep Patriots’ defense.

Conclusion

I think the Patriots have a good defense the strength of it just happens to be in the front seven this year. However, the secondary has the ability to play at a very high level; if both phases of the defense are in sync, this team could have one of the better units in the league once again.

Part of this will also depend on the Patriots’ defensive playcalling team, whether its big picture work from Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo or finer work from cornerbacks coach Nick Pellegrino and safeties coach Brian Belichick, and of course, the mastermind of them all, Bill Belichick. Overall, starting the season at .500 is acceptable but we could’ve won in Miami if we didn’t beat ourselves. Looking forward to seeing how we match up against Baltimore and their potent offense


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