Rating list of black horses and question marks

Rating list of black horses and question marks

The term “positionless defense” has been around a lot. In addition to the unproven young LBs we have, do you think the presence of Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger and Jabrill Peppers is likely influencing the lack of LBs drafted this year? Should we expect to see Phillips and Peppers covering plenty of TEs and playing tight down the line with McCourty/Dugger playing the traditional deep safety position, rather than expecting Uche, Jennings or Perkins to suddenly be charged to cover Dawson Knox or Mike Gesicki? – Jeff Nollner

This feeds into the last answer, and yes, safeties are arguably the defining feature of this new defense right now. We got used to the three safety looks, but now they have four legit ones, so that has to play into the linebacker group at least a bit. I think you’re dead with running back and tight end coverage, but then again, who defines advantage? Who’s up against top outside receivers like Stefon Diggs? Overall, the defensive midfielder is promising but on the edges and outside there are a lot of questions. -Mike Dussault

Hello and thank you for your perspective on all things Patriots. I know talent is a must for any NFL player, but I don’t understand why NE hasn’t been able to stop the run or at least slow it down in many games. Is the diagram of the problem? Lack of talent? Technique, or lack of, or a combination of all. Maybe I was spoiled with Seymour, Washington, Wilfork, Warren and their superb run-tamping abilities.Hugues Sager

It’s a good question, but a complicated one, because when you look at some stats, it makes the Patriots defense a bit better than we think.

Patriots Run Defense DVOA

  • 2016 – 5th
  • 2017 – 31st
  • 2018 – 19th
  • 2019 – 7th
  • 2020 – 32nd
  • 2021 – 9th

Now, when we get into the details, it gets even more confusing. The 2018 team put on one of the best Super Bowl defensive performances of all time despite finishing 19th. The 2019 team had no response to the rushing attacks from the Ravens and Titans, while the 2020 team was a skeleton team from the COVID-19 season that just didn’t have the parts. The 2021 squad ended bad offenses but still struggled to get key saves against good teams. I’m just not sure there is a single explanation for all of this, but I will say there are still huge questions this year. Defensive tackles are mostly the same, linebacker and edge turnovers left even more uncertainty. There is no doubt that they have to be better this year and they have to start making more plays behind the line of scrimmage. -Mike Dussault

Very interested to know how the two CB rookies will be used this season! Both seem capable of special teams, but do you see either of them playing a lot in defense?Bob DeCelle

At a minimum, I expect Marcus Jones to take on the returning duties, where he should immediately provide a boost, but projecting them into defense from the start is difficult. On paper, the two look like inside cornerbacks as they are quick and sticky but lack the length to go head-to-head on the outside/down. That said, they both played away in college, so it’s not crazy to think they could compete for an away spot. It’s definitely less complicated there with fewer route options to navigate. Both are willing tackles and could be good in the slot, but there are plenty of these guys on the roster, starting with Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant. If one of them could enter the fray at the outside corner, that would be a huge boost. Otherwise, they feel heavy for short, fast inner guys and light for long, physical outer guys. –Mike Dussault