2019 Pats Defense: What Are We Witnessing?

SeoulSoxFan

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I forgot that Collins has just a 1-year deal for a measly $2m. If he keeps this up, we're looking at a huge contract in 2020.

Having made his "generational money" with the Browns, hopefully he can strike a fair deal with BB (ala Chung) this time around.
 

tims4wins

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7 3rd down conversions allowed. 7 interceptions on 3rd down.

Overall opposing QBs have a 41.0 passer rating. As a reminder, if you throw incomplete on every play it is 39.5
 

Nator

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7 3rd down conversions allowed. 7 interceptions on 3rd down.

Overall opposing QBs have a 41.0 passer rating. As a reminder, if you throw incomplete on every play it is 39.5
Those are amazing numbers.

This defense is approaching nickname level good. I mean, they were missing arguably their most valuable front seven player yesterday and they just brutalized the Bills. They also lost Trey Flowers in the offseason, who was arguably their best D-Lineman from last year.

They have given up 1 touchdown in 4 games.
They lead the NFL in interceptions with 10 which is twice as many as second place.
They are tied for the lead in sacks with 18.

The only nitpick you could possibly have is that they haven't recovered any of the 3 fumbles they have forced this year, which will even out as the season progresses.

They hold you, beat you, and take things away from you.
 

OurF'ingCity

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The only nitpick you could possibly have is that they haven't recovered any of the 3 fumbles they have forced this year, which will even out as the season progresses.
Well, the real "nitpick" is that they haven't played anything approaching a playoff NFL offense this season (and they won't until late October or so, although the Giants will be a step up from the likes of the Jets, Dolphins and Washington). So while this defense looks to be historically good regardless, I am definitely curious to see whether they can keep up this level of performance, or at least close to it, when they start facing the likes of the Browns, Ravens, Cowboys and Chiefs.
 

tims4wins

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Those are amazing numbers.

This defense is approaching nickname level good. I mean, they were missing arguably their most valuable front seven player yesterday and they just brutalized the Bills. They also lost Trey Flowers in the offseason, who was arguably their best D-Lineman from last year.

They have given up 1 touchdown in 4 games.
They lead the NFL in interceptions with 10 which is twice as many as second place.
They are tied for the lead in sacks with 18.

The only nitpick you could possibly have is that they haven't recovered any of the 3 fumbles they have forced this year, which will even out as the season progresses.

They hold you, beat you, and take things away from you.
The one TD they allowed came on 4th and goal and they got it by an inch.

They played 1 full game without Van Noy, and one without Hightower.

They also forced a fumble on the opening drive called back by a holding penalty that I'm not even sure how it occurred since the double safety blitz got to Allen in like 0.1 seconds.

If this D stays healthy it may shatter some records.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Picking nits, but I thought the tackling yesterday was a notch below what we had seen in the first three weeks, particularly on Gore. But yeah, so far this defense is the best I can remember the Pats having since the 2004 team.
 

tims4wins

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Picking nits, but I thought the tackling yesterday was a notch below what we had seen in the first three weeks, particularly on Gore. But yeah, so far this defense is the best I can remember the Pats having since the 2004 team.
Yes - led to 135 yards on 22 carries by the Bills. Not good. Also picking nits but the 2003 D was better than 2004. I think this D has a chance to end up better than 2003.

Tracking the D vs. the 2000 Ravens:

Ravens:
Game 1 (@ Steelers, finished 9-7): 0 points, 193 yards passing, 30 yards rushing, 223 total yards
Game 2 (vs. Jacksonville, finished 7-9): 36 points, 375 yards passing, 46 yards rushing, 421 total yards
Game 3 (@ Miami, finished 11-5): 19 points, 152 yards passing, 106 yards rushing, 258 total yards
Game 4 (vs Cincinnati, finished 4-12): 0 points, 90 yards passing, 4 yards rushing, 94 total yards
Totals: 55 points, 810 yards passing, 186 yards rushing, 996 total yards

Pats:
Game 1 (vs Steelers, currently 0-3): 3 points, 276 yards passing, 32 yards rushing, 308 total yards
Game 2 (@ Miami, currently 0-3): 0 points, 142 yards passing, 42 yards rushing, 184 total yards
Game 3 (vs Jets, currently 0-3): 14 points, 69 yards passing, 36 yards rushing, 105 total yards
Game 4 (at Bills, currently 3-1): 10 points, 240 yards passing, 135 yards rushing, 375 total yards
Total: 27 points, 727 yards passing, 245 yards rushing, 972 total yards
 

Van Everyman

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What's crazy to me is how two years ago everyone was (correctly) bemoaning how terrible this defense was (when they were supposed to be good and then were horribly inconsistent at best). Granted, the D against the Eagles was a typical mishmash of players who were only playing because of injuries (hello, Marquise Flowers) and guys who were clearly playing injured (hello, KVN). But it did not look like a top 1-2-3 defense in the making.
 

lexrageorge

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In 2000, the per game averages were 206.9 yards passing and 112.6 rushing yards. The Ravens per game average over those first 4 games were 98% and 41% of the league's average per game yardage for passing and rushing, respectively. The Ravens would finish the season at 187 yards per game passing (90.5%) and 60.6 yards rushing (53.8%).

In 2018 (as this is the last full season on record), the league averaged 237.8 yards passing and 114.5 yards on the ground. So far in 2019, those numbers are 246.4 and 109.7. The Pats defense is allowing 182 yards passing per game (74% of league average) and 61 rushing yards per game (54% of league average).

It's still early, and the Bills schedule was also easy going into this game (Giants, Jets, and Bengals).
 

tims4wins

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I think the comparisons to the early 2000s LB corps might be apt as well. In the two games they've played with KVN, DH, and Collins all active, the defense hasn't allowed a single point. I mean... yeah.
 

Van Everyman

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I think the comparisons to the early 2000s LB corps might be apt as well. In the two games they've played with KVN, DH, and Collins all active, the defense hasn't allowed a single point. I mean... yeah.
Yes -- I actually meant to say in my above post that the thing that was most interesting about the contrast from two years ago is that it was precisely the thinness at LB that people were commenting on. Collins was gone, High was hurt, KVN was new and not the same after he came back from an injury near the end of the season. Health there helps, but now, they look positively loaded at the position.
 

BaseballJones

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Picking nits, but I thought the tackling yesterday was a notch below what we had seen in the first three weeks, particularly on Gore. But yeah, so far this defense is the best I can remember the Pats having since the 2004 team.
They did give up 375 total yards and 23 first downs to the Josh Allen and Matt Barkley-led Buffalo Bills.

So it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.
 

DJnVa

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They did give up 375 total yards and 23 first downs to the Josh Allen and Matt Barkley-led Buffalo Bills.

So it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.
No one is claiming otherwise. But their worst performance of the entire season was giving up 375 yards---which is essentially an average NFL output. That's with Hightower not there and the team possibly playing a little more bend but don't break because of it.
 

BobGenghisKhan

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That's 375 total yards over the course of 14 drives, for an average of 27 yards per drive.

That would be top-10 rate if averaged over the first 3 games of the year. and top-4 for the full league year of 2018. (Source: Football Outsiders)

Putting it in that context, it was a really good defensive performance.
 

BaseballJones

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That's 375 total yards over the course of 14 drives, for an average of 27 yards per drive.

That would be top-10 rate if averaged over the first 3 games of the year. and top-4 for the full league year of 2018. (Source: Football Outsiders)

Putting it in that context, it was a really good defensive performance.
For sure. Add to that the turnovers generated plus the fact that their own offense didn’t help them much at all, and yes it was solid.
 

DJnVa

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Anyone, someone was asking about a nickname--Van Noy called them "a bunch of savages". That should be easy to work with.
 

SeoulSoxFan

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I'm pretty convinced Gore would not have rushed for more than 70 yards if HT was playing healthy.

Bentley hit the wrong gap at least 3 times that I can recall, allowing Gore to run up the middle.

Health is the only thing this defense has to worry about for a while.
 

caminante11

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From Football Outsiders, some numbers on the defense:

Let's start with those Patriots. New England's statistics seem to be a mistake that brought a 1970s defense to the modern era, like the Avengers failed to properly put the timeline back together in Endgame and this is the result. Through four games, the Patriots have allowed a league-low 52.0% completion rate an intercepted a league-high 10 passes, twice as many as anyone else and more than seven teams had in all of 2018. They also have 18 sacks, tied with Carolina for most in the league, and they are the only team that has yet to allow a passing touchdown this season. They have allowed 5.5 yards per pass; only Buffalo (5.1) and Carolina (5.2) have been better.
There is an obvious caveat here concerning the Patriots. They have posted those numbers against the following passers:
  • Ben Roethslisberger, whose arm was about to fall off;
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, the NFL's last resort of starting quarterbacks for a decade now;
  • Josh Rosen, owner of the worst passing DYAR season we have ever measured;
  • Luke Falk, New York Jets third-stringer;
  • and Josh Allen, an athlete playing quarterback.
No, this is not like when the Patriots were playing Dan Marino and Jim Kelly twice each every season. Consider, though, what those men have done when not playing New England this year -- nearly 400 total passes, 61% completion rate, 8.2 yards per pass, five touchdowns, six interceptions -- and you can see that New England has taken some of the worst quarterbacks in the league and made them look even worst-er.
 

Al Zarilla

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If Scarnecchia coached the defense or one of its units, we could have Dante’s Inferno. But he doesn’t, and when this year’s OL gets healthy and he does his magic with it, that’s not really a good nickname for an offensive unit. Just woke up today thinking about this. Belichick’s Bandits. Nah.
 

BusRaker

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Considering we've played with a lead for basically all season forcing shitty quarterbacks to throw the ball, (given that the D is a large part of why we have been playing with a lead) I'll be interested to see how we fare playing against a good rushing offense with a lead trying to control the clock
 

Nator

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Considering we've played with a lead for basically all season forcing shitty quarterbacks to throw the ball, (given that the D is a large part of why we have been playing with a lead) I'll be interested to see how we fare playing against a good rushing offense with a lead trying to control the clock
The only teams I can see fitting that bill would be Dallas and maybe Baltimore. Kansas City and Philadelphia have better offenses than those teams on paper, but ball control is not in their DNA.
 

BigSoxFan

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The only teams I can see fitting that bill would be Dallas and maybe Baltimore. Kansas City and Philadelphia have better offenses than those teams on paper, but ball control is not in their DNA.
Dallas is going to be a great test. Good QB, elite RB, elite WR, solid secondary WR options, strong OL, solid TEs. Really can’t wait to see this D against the mid season gauntlet. Just hope health isn’t an issue by then.
 

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Dallas is going to be a great test. Good QB, elite RB, elite WR, solid secondary WR options, strong OL, solid TEs. Really can’t wait to see this D against the mid season gauntlet. Just hope health isn’t an issue by then.
After seeing Gore tear them up, Zeke could be a serious issue.

As for health, they should be fine as long as they keep having babies and getting a day off each. lol
 

tims4wins

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After seeing Gore tear them up, Zeke could be a serious issue.

As for health, they should be fine as long as they keep having babies and getting a day off each. lol
Just wanted to pick a slight nit here. While Gore did gash them on a couple runs (one for 41, the other for 28), otherwise the run D was pretty good (15 carries for 40 yards). You can’t just cherry pick and take out the big runs but there were some uncharacteristic missed tackles that led to a lot of those yards. Gore finished at 17 for 109 but it really should have been 17 for about 69 or somewhere in that range - and that is just factoring in the JC Jackson missed tackle. He makes that tackle and I don’t think anyone is complaining about 17 carries for 70 yards or whatever. It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t a disaster either.

Of those 15 other carries, looks like one went for 9, and he had another for 6, and one for 5. The final 12 carries therefore accounted for 20 yards. They also stopped him in some key short yardage situations.
 

RetractableRoof

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Just wanted to pick a slight nit here. While Gore did gash them on a couple runs (one for 41, the other for 28), otherwise the run D was pretty good (15 carries for 40 yards). You can’t just cherry pick and take out the big runs but there were some uncharacteristic missed tackles that led to a lot of those yards. Gore finished at 17 for 109 but it really should have been 17 for about 69 or somewhere in that range - and that is just factoring in the JC Jackson missed tackle. He makes that tackle and I don’t think anyone is complaining about 17 carries for 70 yards or whatever. It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t a disaster either.

Of those 15 other carries, looks like one went for 9, and he had another for 6, and one for 5. The final 12 carries therefore accounted for 20 yards. They also stopped him in some key short yardage situations.
No issues with the nit, I think it's also fair to point out that Hightower wasn't in the lineup either. It's also reasonable to give credit to Gore - he had something to do with those missed tackles - he is a big boy and he keeps churning those leg. As is Zeke, which was kind of my point.
 

tims4wins

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No issues with the nit, I think it's also fair to point out that Hightower wasn't in the lineup either. It's also reasonable to give credit to Gore - he had something to do with those missed tackles - he is a big boy and he keeps churning those leg. As is Zeke, which was kind of my point.
I hear you. The JC Jackson play was terrible though. That wasn’t so much Gore breaking a tackle as Jackson not even trying to tackle him.
 

BigSoxFan

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Just wanted to pick a slight nit here. While Gore did gash them on a couple runs (one for 41, the other for 28), otherwise the run D was pretty good (15 carries for 40 yards). You can’t just cherry pick and take out the big runs but there were some uncharacteristic missed tackles that led to a lot of those yards. Gore finished at 17 for 109 but it really should have been 17 for about 69 or somewhere in that range - and that is just factoring in the JC Jackson missed tackle. He makes that tackle and I don’t think anyone is complaining about 17 carries for 70 yards or whatever. It wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t a disaster either.

Of those 15 other carries, looks like one went for 9, and he had another for 6, and one for 5. The final 12 carries therefore accounted for 20 yards. They also stopped him in some key short yardage situations.
The Cowboys won’t have Josh Allen/Matt Barkley at QB though. Bills had zero shot of passing on this secondary. Cowboys would have strong OL and the real threat of a passing game to pair with Zeke. I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch this matchup.
 

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The Cowboys won’t have Josh Allen/Matt Barkley at QB though. Bills had zero shot of passing on this secondary. Cowboys would have strong OL and the real threat of a passing game to pair with Zeke. I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch this matchup.
Fascinating is a good word there... I don't want to pre-hype myself, but that's a potential playoff caliber game right there. I think that is one game that the offense better show up to help keep the Pats defense off the field.
 

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I hear you. The JC Jackson play was terrible though. That wasn’t so much Gore breaking a tackle as Jackson not even trying to tackle him.
I still give Gore some credit for that... and if Zeke is steaming down the tracks at him in a similar manner I can't see Jackson feeling better about it.
 

tims4wins

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I still give Gore some credit for that... and if Zeke is steaming down the tracks at him in a similar manner I can't see Jackson feeling better about it.
I guess. Connor, Drake, and Bell are all bigger than Gore and the Pats didn’t seem to have a problem with any of them. I put it more on the Pats than on the RB.
 

tims4wins

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D-Mac defensive player of the month

Edit: honestly I think KVN and Collins have been better, although KVN has only played 3 games
 

Ralphwiggum

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D-Mac defensive player of the month

Edit: honestly I think KVN and Collins have been better, although KVN has only played 3 games
Totally agree. D-Mac has the four picks but to me the biggest difference maker on this defense so far this year is Collins who looks unstoppable.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Totally agree. D-Mac has the four picks but to me the biggest difference maker on this defense so far this year is Collins who looks unstoppable.
Not sure. I think the reason our linebackers look as good as they do, is because the Pats have, IMO, the best secondary in all of football. When a coach like BB doesn't have to worry about double and triple teaming opponents receivers, and using nickel and dime packages constantly, he's free to completely mess with the heads of opposing offenses by moving his linebackers around like pieces on a chess board. He doesn't have to drop Collins or KVN into coverage, because his corners and safeties are eliminating everything more than 10 yards off the LOS. DMC is the unquestioned leader of that group, and Gilmore is taking away one side, DMC is taking away any threat of a deep ball and putting everyone else in the right spots...I think this is literally BB's wet dream from a defensive standpoint, and why he focuses so much on the secondary when drafting.

To put this in some perspective statistically:

The Patriots have allowed their opponents to convert 7/52 times on third down (13.5%). The next closest is Dallas at 26.5%.
The Pats have allowed their opponents to score points on 5.9% of their drives (incidentally, the Pats have had more drives by opponents (51) than any team in the NFL, so opponents have scored .25 points per drive against them), the next closest is the Bills at 16.9% and .98 points per drive.

But here's where it really says something:

The longest pass play the Pats have given up through 4 games was the 45 yarder to James Washington on opening night. Besides that, the next longest is 28 yards, and I believe, there have only been like 5-6 over 20 yards.
The only teams in the NFL who are really even in this stratosphere are the Bills and Panthers.
 

tims4wins

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According to Matthew Berry, the Pats have allowed 2 completions this season inside the red zone.

Edit: I just went through the game logs and confirmed. Here is the total stat line:
Bills: 2-4, 9 yards, 1 INT
Jets: 0-0
Miami: 0-1, 1 INT
Steelers: 0-2
Total: 2-7, 9 yards, 2 INT, passer rating of 0.0
 
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Deathofthebambino

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The Patriots opponents have a combined passer rating of 41.0. The next best defense in the NFL is the Bills at 64.3. The Pats have allowed 0 passing touchdowns, the Bills and Cowboys are 2nd at 3 each. Pats opponents completion % is 52.0, next closest is Detroit at 55.4%.

But, here's where it's crazy. By rushing yards against per game, the Pats are also the 2nd best defense in the NFL at 61.3ypg (TB is at 59.3ypg, but that's because everyone and their mother throws on them as they are allowing 318.3ypg passing, whereas the Pats allow 181.8). Carolina is the only team allowing less yards per game passing against than the Pats, but they are allowing 130.8ypg rushing against).

The Pats are also 5th in the NFL allowing 3.5ypc against.

It's pretty much impossible to be this good against the pass, while also being this good against the run. And IMO, the only reason BB and the Pats are capable of it is because of the secondary. They are that good. Jamie Collins, KVN, Elandon Roberts, etc. are not exactly a bunch of all-pros, but BB can put them all anywhere he wants, any time he wants based on matchups, formations, etc. Even without Hightower, they were stifling. It's fun to watch.
 

bigq

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Jamie Collins, KVN, Elandon Roberts, etc. are not exactly a bunch of all-pros, but BB can put them all anywhere he wants, any time he wants based on matchups, formations, etc. Even without Hightower, they were stifling. It's fun to watch.
If Collins continues playing like he has been over the first four games he has a great chance to be an All Pro for the 2019 season. He is on pace for 16 sacks and 12 INTs. I don’t expect him to continue on his torrid pace through the rest of the year however his start to the season has been nothing short of spectacular.

Van Noy has been really good the past two games as well.

The two have a chance to be the most prolific Patriots’ LB one two punch since Tippett and Blackmon in 1985 (with due respect to Vrabel and McGinest in 2003) and it is a lot of fun to watch.
 
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Deathofthebambino

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If Collins continues playing like he has been over the first four games he has a great chance to be an All Pro for the 2019 season. He is on pace for 16 sacks and 12 INTs. I don’t expect him to continue on his torrid pace through the rest of the year however his start to the season has been nothing short of spectacular.

Van Noy has been really good the past two games as well.

The two have a chance to be the most prolific LB one two punch since Tippett and Blackmon in 1985 (with due respect to Vrabel and McGinest in 2003) and it is a lot of fun to watch.
I don't disagree, but has DMC done anything other than play perfect free safety? I'm seriously wondering if he's made a single mistake through 4 games this year (even the long pass to Washington was because the corner on that side, maybe JMC?, slowed up on the play). Without the secondary playing the way they are, Collins isn't even rushing the passer or in a position to make the plays he's making. It all starts on the back end with BB's defenses, Law, Samuel, Harrison, McCourty, Gilmore, Revis...The list is endless, and when they have a great secondary, guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, McGinest, Collins, KVN are successful. When the secondary isn't as good, you get seasons like the ones Collins had here in his first stint. BB can be so, so creative with the front 6-7 when he knows the secondary won't give up the big plays behind them.

Believe me, Collins and KVN are playing great, and I hope it continues, but without DMC, Gilmore, Jones, Jackson and JMC playing as well as they are, I think the front 7 would be getting exposed, because BB and Mayo wouldn't be able to let them play nearly as aggressively as they are.
 

bigq

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I don't disagree, but has DMC done anything other than play perfect free safety? I'm seriously wondering if he's made a single mistake through 4 games this year (even the long pass to Washington was because the corner on that side, maybe JMC?, slowed up on the play). Without the secondary playing the way they are, Collins isn't even rushing the passer or in a position to make the plays he's making. It all starts on the back end with BB's defenses, Law, Samuel, Harrison, McCourty, Gilmore, Revis...The list is endless, and when they have a great secondary, guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, McGinest, Collins, KVN are successful. When the secondary isn't as good, you get seasons like the ones Collins had here in his first stint. BB can be so, so creative with the front 6-7 when he knows the secondary won't give up the big plays behind them.

Believe me, Collins and KVN are playing great, and I hope it continues, but without DMC, Gilmore, Jones, Jackson and JMC playing as well as they are, I think the front 7 would be getting exposed, because BB and Mayo wouldn't be able to let them play nearly as aggressively as they are.
The entire defensive unit is clicking on all cylinders. Devin McCourty is having his best season ever and he is certainly off to an All Pro start. Chung has been solid at the SS position as well. CB play from Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones and JC Jackson has also been strong. You may be right that it starts with the secondary and it is hard to argue with their pass defense so far - no team holds opposing QBs to a lower passer rating than the Patriots. The run defense is quite stout as well and is a bad missed tackle from the secondary away from leading the league in fewest yards allowed indicating that the front seven are doing their job at a high level.

Strength of schedule and the below replacement level QBs that they have faced are factors as well. More of the same this coming Sunday so let the good times roll.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I don't disagree, but has DMC done anything other than play perfect free safety? I'm seriously wondering if he's made a single mistake through 4 games this year (even the long pass to Washington was because the corner on that side, maybe JMC?, slowed up on the play). Without the secondary playing the way they are, Collins isn't even rushing the passer or in a position to make the plays he's making. It all starts on the back end with BB's defenses, Law, Samuel, Harrison, McCourty, Gilmore, Revis...The list is endless, and when they have a great secondary, guys like Bruschi, Vrabel, McGinest, Collins, KVN are successful. When the secondary isn't as good, you get seasons like the ones Collins had here in his first stint. BB can be so, so creative with the front 6-7 when he knows the secondary won't give up the big plays behind them.

Believe me, Collins and KVN are playing great, and I hope it continues, but without DMC, Gilmore, Jones, Jackson and JMC playing as well as they are, I think the front 7 would be getting exposed, because BB and Mayo wouldn't be able to let them play nearly as aggressively as they are.
After what happened 2 years ago, it's fun that the main topic of discussion is "which of the guys on defense are the ones who are so good that they allow others to shine?" It's also fun that someone as good JCJ is our #4 CB, and on this team that is exactly where he belongs.

I wonder if, with Chung out tomorrow, we get a look at Williams.