So far through 8 games the Pats' overall defense has been somewhere between mediocre to respectable, ranking 12th in points allowed (averaging 21.3 PPG) and 23rd in total yardage . The run defense has been outstanding, ranking first in least YPA (3.5) and 8th in YPG (88.6). And they rank 3rd in the NFL (and 1st in the AFC) with 20 takeaways (11 fumble recoveries, 9 INTs). The pass defense has been another story. The Pats rank 28th in passing YPG (281), and in yards per attempt (8.0). They rank 27th in opposing QB rating, allowing an average rating of 96.8. The 17 passing TDs which they've given up is tied for 2nd worst in the league. And they rank 23rd in opponent 3rd down conversion rate (43%). By all measures our secondary play has been poor. And what we've witnessed is commensurate with what the numbers suggest. I think that's about to change. Recent history has shown that teams can go from having poor pass defenses to very good ones in a very short time. The 2010 San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks were among the worst pass defenses in the league, and the 2010 Houston Texans set records for the most passing yardage allowed. All 3 teams were markedly better in 2011, and are among the best in the league this year. And I think there's a good chance that we're about to be the next team to make that switch. There are 4 reasons why I think things are about to change: 1. Upgrades in personnel. The Pats' secondary has been paper thin. Pat Chung and Steve Gregory have been out. Ras-I Dowling was banged up before going on IR. Kyle Arrington has been hobbled. Things seem to finally be improving. Gregory was almost back for the Rams game, so he should be back after the bye week. Hopefully Chung will be back, and some time off will benefit Arrington. Alfonzo Dennard has just begun to emerge over the past few weeks as a bona fide starting CB. And the acquisition of Aqib Talib immediately upgrades our personnel at CB by a considerable margin. 2. Devin McCourty as the deep FS. McCourty has played FS for the past 2 games, and BB has noted that the deep protection was improved from previous weeks. The Pats haven't had a FS with deep cover skills since Brandon Meriweather was cut, and Meriweather lacked the discipline and selflessness to play that role well. McCourty in man coverage is a liability. McCourty patrolling the deep part of the field with everything in front of him and making sure nothing gets by could be an Earl Thomas kind of anchor for the secondary, allowing the CBs to play more man-press and the front 7 to attack more aggressively. It may take a few games for McCourty to make the adjustment, but by the end of the season I think we'll see a huge difference in big pass plays and long 3rd down completions. I personally think that BB's comments plus the acquisition of Aqib Talib is a clear sign that DMac will stay at FS. The position is too important, and no one else has the skills to handle it. 3. Coherence in the secondary. For years now it seems like the secondary has lacked cohesiveness, coherence and communication. Having DMac as the deep safety and captain of the secondary should help. He will play the same kind of role that Jerod Mayo plays for the front 7. In addition, having 2 CBs who are suited to playing press-man coverage will allow the secondary to have a coherent approach for the first time in a long time. It seems like the secondary has been too busy applying band-aids to put 4-5 guys on the field to have any consistency or coherence. Remember last year when the safeties seemed to change every quarter? With 2 outside CBs who can play press-man and a solid deep cover FS, the coaching staff can mix and match with the other parts, using Chung, Wilson, Gregory, Arrington and Cole as the situation dictates, without giving up basic defensive coherence or cohesion. 4. Synergy with the front 7. Houston's secondary improved from 2010 to 2011 in part because of the acquisition of CB Jonathan Joseph, who provided a huge upgrade. But without a doubt the addition of JJ Watt and Brooks Reed and the return of Connor Barwin made at least as much difference. It's hard to play an aggressive defense when the secondary is getting strafed, and it's hard for any secondary to hold up in the NFL when there's no pressure on opposing QBs. If the deep safety coverage is reliable it will allow the CBs to play press-man and bump opposing receivers off their routes, knowing that someone has their back if their man gets past them. That allows the front 7 to attack more aggressively, generate more pressure, and create more disruption. Theoretically, it should all come together. Of course, it never works exactly the way it should in theory. I'm sure there will be some bumps on the way. But I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that we'll see significant improvement in the pass defense over the next 8 games, so that by the end of the regular season it is almost unrecognizable from what we saw against Seattle, Baltimore, or the Jets earlier this season. I certainly hope so. I'm not worried about making it to the playoffs with what we've had up to now, but making it through without a significantly improved pass defense would have required an awful lot of luck.