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Our defense now vs the 2019 D

2021 Patriots Season:
Upcoming Opponent:
Next Up: at Bills
Pick Results: NE: 83.3% at BUF: 16.7%

Dec 6th

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Author of the Port Huron Statement Supporter
Both defenses are flawed but in almost the opposite ways.
What is the 2021 flaw? CBs are good. Safeties are good. LBs are good. Edge guys are good. DTs are good.

Not like we have Earthwind Moreland and Leonard Meyers at CB


Pro Bowl Player
2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
2019 defense was good. I think they got too much crap for what they did against bad teams (which is to say they did what they were supposed to do and more). But their style was a lot different. They heavily relied on Gilmore having one of the best CB years ever, because any game where he wasn't 100% at his best and they suddenly looked more vulnerable. This year's defense feels (in style, not in talent) a lot more like the 03/04 type of Pats defense. Strong DL (03/04 were better across the board here, which was the big difference), deep, versatile, and clutch LB, elite safety play, one playmaking CB with a group behind him who know who to play together (and play off the safeties). I like this version better than 2019 because I like defenses that are strong up the middle (DT, ILB, S) more than ones that are built from the outside in (DE, OLB, CB), though we have good players there too obviously with Judon and Jackson.

Doctor DDS

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
2019 defense was exceptional as leading the league in points allowed and yards showed. The schedule that year had the majority of weak teams being played in the beginning of the year so their dominance was overrated from an all time perspective but it was still top notch. The offensive struggles in the 2nd half of the year did them no favors either. The 2021 defense is certainly rounding in shape and has much more strength at the LOS. Next few weeks will like determine if this goes down as one of the better ones in past 10 years or not.


Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
Looking back at 2019, we had our best secondary since 2003, a group that was just a notch below historically good. The rest of the defense was smoke and mirrors. Rather than being used as the versatile chess pieces they are best suited to be, Hightower, KVN and Collins were relied upon to supply the pass rush. Edge setting and midfield coverage were sacrificed, but a weak early schedule disguised those deficiencies. Thus the thrashings at the hands of Baltimore, Houston and Tennessee.
Looking at the numbers, this is so true. To a much higher degree than I had in memory. Looking at the top-5 in pressures in 2019 and 2021 per PFR:

1) Kyle Van Noy - 24
2) Dont'a Hightower - 19
3) Chase Winovich - 19
4) Jamie Collins - 16
5) Deatrich Wise - 14

1) Matt Judon - 35 (!)
2) Christian Barmore - 13
3) Deatrich Wise - 13
4) Lawrence Guy - 8
5) Kyle Van Noy - 8

In 2019 out of the top-5 in pressures, 3 were LBs. In total across the 16 games, Van Noy, Hightower and Collins spent a total of 283 snaps rushing the passer, while in 2021 the number of snaps LBs the three main LBs (Van Noy, Hightower and Bentley) spent rushing the passer is currently 33.

Another area where this shows is the number of TFLs when subtracting sacks. In 2019, the team had 58 TFLs with 47 of those being sacks, i.e. 11 non-sack TFLs. This season the team is at 45 TFLs with 28 of them being sacks, so 17 non-sack TFLs in only 11 games.


Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Tale of the tape:
2019 Boogeymen (all through 16 games):
225 points allowed
4.7 yards per play allowed

4.2 yards per rush allowed
5.0 net yards per pass allowed
Sacks: 47

Hurries: 58
Pressures: 146
QB Hits:102
Passer Rating allowed: 62.8
Tackles for loss: 58
Takeaways: 36

2021 defense through 10 weeks (projected to 16 games):
177 points allowed through 11 weeks (257)
5.1 yards per play allowed
4.1 yards per rush allowed
5.7 net yards per pass allowed
Sacks: 28 (45)
Hurries: 51 (82)
Pressures: 111 (177)
QB Hits: 68 (109)

Passer Rating allowed: 71.2
Tackles for loss: 45 (72)
Takeaways: 21 (34)

edit: my bad, PFR does not update their stats for TNF until the following week so I updated this to reflect 10 games not 11. Except for the points, we already know it's 177 through 11 weeks.

Keeping in mind that the defense this year has already faced Dak and a much better Cowboys team than the 2019 team faced plus Brady, Mayfield, Ryan, Herbert. The 2019 Pats at least in the first half were not exactly facing top notch QB competition.

2019 defense was good, but I think this defense is way better suited for a physical game.
This is where stats are extremely limited. The 2019 team came out as a unit, flying around the field. This one was confused and trying to figure it out for the first few weeks.

The 2019 team fell apart because the offense fell of a cliff with injuries and controversy and distractions. Defense remained pretty damned good. They weren't soft.

This one looks better to me because, as has been pointed out, the D line is just ferocious. They are in the QBs face constantly, just wrecking plays. And they seem to be getting better each week.

patsinthesnow Supporter Supporter
The 2019 defense had an average front 7 & an elite secondary. They were a press man defense.

This defense has an elite front 7 & an above average secondary. They are now a zone defense.

I still think the 2019 defense is blamed too often for an offense that was bottom 10 once AB & Gordon were released. The chiefs & titans games come to mind. This defense has more upside though.

Palm Beach Pats Fan

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
2019 Weekly Picks Winner
2020 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
2019 was also a case of NE having a very front-loaded schedule in terms of very favorable matchups. The back half became a reality check. 2021 has had the tougher matchups scattered throughout rather than front or back loaded. It looks more sustainable, though arguably the next 4 games are the meat of the schedule.