Patriots’ defensive moves suggest changes could be good for them

Did you know the Bills didn’t make a bet in their last two meetings with the Patriots last year?

do you have? OK just check. Because even though we mention it a lot and I think you probably do know, I’m bringing it up again because it deserves a reminder! ! ! ! I mean, what’s going on?

But to be fair, five months later, when we took that photo, we should have added the chaser, that is taking steps to stop this from happening again. Or at least make sure it’s a differently constructed defense.

The good news is that the Patriots are wise to realize that ruthlessly hitting an overmatched/understaffed offense might look good (hello, 262-55 over Jets, Jets, Jaguars, Browns in 2021) Teams, Falcons, Titans, and Panthers!), but those results belied glacial speed and a lack of playmaking, sometimes exposed by a genius offense.

We can swing our arms around for coaching titles as much as we want, but the bottom line for the 2022 season will be: Can the Patriots defense stop the Bills and Dolphins from competing to win their division?

Patriots talk: Patriots offensive coaching plan should be a concern for Mike Jones | listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

For this story, I’m going to turn off the tap of negativity and raise the possibility that they might be able to. That’s because I saw a makeover on the other side of the ball last year, and there’s a lot of uncertainty to overcome. and did it.

comparatively different. The 2021 Patriots brought in a slew of high-priced offensive free agents last year. This offseason saw an exodus of defensive talent (JC Jackson, Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower, to name just three) and modest shopping to replace them.

But one thing has been true during Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach, and that’s the ability to fix things on the court. He may not have made a big splash in personnel over the past decade, but he’s still adept at diagnosing where his team is lacking and finding a way to mask it, if not fix it.

It’s time — maybe past time — to be younger and faster on the defensive end Forcing players to take leadership responsibility. The Boogeymen’s defense is gone. This is Project X, with some unknowns and unproven people – Josh Uche, Cam McGrone, Raekwan McMillan, Mike Wilson and Terrence Mitchell among others – Sent to the front.

This week I asked defensive player Steve Belichick about the developmental process teams face in trying to figure out what works.

The Patriots are getting thinner and faster. In most cases, linebackers over 250 pounds are not required. 225 to 235 pounders will patrol the second tier.

Tom E. Curran on the Patriots’ defense

“I don’t think it’s developmental, ‘You start with nothing, see what you get, and throw it out there,'” he began. “But you came up with an interesting word with ‘blueprint’. In terms of building structure, you need a blueprint. I’m sure something will happen along the way…blocks…you just have to The need to react and adapt to what is happening.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to do,” he continued. “We’ve got a plan in place. We’ve got a foundation. But at the same time, we’ve been changing and adapting and expanding. We’re going to try some of these things out and see how it looks, if it looks good, and we’re going to keep moving towards Going in that direction. If not, we’re going to try to do what we think is best for the team. We’re just trying to do what we have and we’ll see how it works out. But we definitely have a plan going forward .”

Simply looking at the additions said and done, the Patriots are getting leaner and faster. In most cases, linebackers over 250 pounds are not required. 225 to 235 pounders will patrol the second tier.

A known number of players such as Hightower, Van Noy and Collins are being replaced by players whose skill and intelligence have yet to be revealed.

Steve Belichick discusses two of them: Uche and McGrone.

Perry: Could Josh Uche be the key to the Patriots’ defense?

Speaking of 2020 second-round fringe player Uche from Michigan, he said: “I think he’s part of the ‘blueprint’ and a big part of the puzzle going forward. There’s a lot more to it than what he’s going to do. Things to do. We’ll have to see what the other guys have done and work from there, but I think Josh is a big part of the defense.

As for McGrone, the 2021 fifth-rounder from Michigan, who recovered from a knee injury, practiced for three weeks, and returned to IR, Belichick sounded very optimistic.

“It was exciting to have him on the court, it was exciting to see him on the court (in 21 days the Patriots had to activate him or sit him out for a year).” All the others were there A few months. He’s been away for a year (inactive) and he doesn’t seem out of place. He plays fast, he has good speed, and he shows good instincts in training.

“You take it for granted — guys who’ve been out there playing for months and months and this kid is playing for the first time against an NFL player, and he hasn’t played in a long time, and he looks like he’s not in the same league. Everyone else belongs there.”

In that sense, Belichick agrees that the defense is in a developmental phase.

“These guys don’t play football like (Hightower, Van Noy, etc.),” ​​he admitted. “So we have to see what we get here. But we got what we got and we feel good about it. So we’ll shoot and see how it goes.”

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