I posted a similar thread at the end of last season, but I think this deserves to be brought up again now that we are all talking about next year and what positions we have to fill. Last year we went through an unbelievable string of injuries (even by our standards), losing our best player in the secondary for essentially the entire season, our best linebacker for half the season and our best defensive lineman for a quarter of the season. Plus, we put 6 defensive backs on IR, giving us revolving door secondary for about half the season. On top of all this, the majority of the injuries came during an amazingly difficult stretch of games. Not to mention, it was our DCoordinators first year on the job (what a way to start, eh). It was the perfect storm, in a sense. The impressive thing was that the team rebounded to not only be good, but maybe the best defense in the NFL in the second half of the season. I look at the season in three parts. The first part, games 1-3, when Harrison was in. The second part, games 4-11, where we had the revolving door secondary and Seymour/Bruschi missed several games. The third part, games 12-18, where the secondary stabilized and jelled, and Seymour and Bruschi came back/got back to form. IMO, and the stats bear this out, you can throw out games 4-11. It wasn't in any way indicative of the how defense played before or after that stretch and in all likelihood won't be indicative of how the defense will perform going forward. During that 8 game stretch we allowed 3,392 yds (424 yds/G) and 212 points (26.5 ppg) and didn't allow less than 394 yards in any game (worst 8-game stretch, yardage-wise, in NFL history, BTW). In the other 9 games (not including the throwaway game at Miami) we only allowed over 300 yds once (season opener vs. Oakland, 351 yds). We allowed a total of 2,104 yds, that's 233.8 yds/G. The league leader, Tampa Bay, allowed 277.8 yds/G. ***For the skeptics (I know you're out there): I know someone is going to pipe up about the schedule or some other lame excuse, but in the 9 game stretch that I just mentioned we were 7-2 and faced 5 teams with 11 wins or more. And if you want to bring up cherrypicking games, if you look at Tampa Bay's best 9 games they allowed an average of 232.4 yds/G, while facing opponents with a combined winning percentage for .438. The Patriots opponents in the 9-game stretch above had a combined winning percentage of .525. A .525 Strength of Schedule would rank as the 7th most difficult in the NFL, while a .438 SOS would be the second easiest. I could go through all the stats and breakdowns but I won't, just sufficed to say in the games where our defense wasn't scrambling to plug holes, we were, statistically, the best defense in the NFL. We have lost ONE STARTER on that defense and we will get one back who missed the majority of the season with an injury. No matter what happens from here on out I have a feeling our defense will be better than fine next year.