Will the Patriots defense thrive in 2022
By: Jake Rajala
The New England Patriots defense strives to defeat their opponents by a thousand cuts under the utterly disciplined Bill Belichick. The Patriots have allowed high-end defenders to leave their building, but they have had the mindset that “the show must go on”. The Pats lost J.C. Jackson this off-season, but BB still feels confident in his defense having play-making ability against its opponents.
The Pats pass defense features CB Jalen Mills, CB Terrance Mitchell, SS Kyle Dugger, and the NE legend FS Devin McCourty. They also recently brought back the Super Bowl XLIX legend Malcolm Butler. He was technically retired in 2021, but he nicely hauled in four ints in 2020. Belichick clearly went under the hood to dig up his former pal.
The J.C. Jackson-led Patriots pass defense in 2021 allowed the second-fewest passing yards and fourth-fewest passing touchdowns. It would be an understatement to say it would be a challenge for the Pats defense to match its 2021 success. I expect them to float around the Top-15 mark in pass defense, have turnover magic from McCourty, but still have growing pains at their CB spot. It’s safe to say that Belichick will be eating popcorn and scouting the most superb CFB CBs soon.
The Pats front seven also lost a talented face (Chase Winovich), but they still carry the talented edge rusher Matthew Judon (12.5 sacks in 2021) and the other former Michigan Wolverine Josh Uche. It appears that the Pats will not bring back the veteran Dont’a Hightower. NE ranked 19th in sacks and 22nd in rushing yards in 2021. I foresee the Pats being a middle-of-pack pass rushing unit, but I expect them to have a more impressive run defense with a more mature Christian Barmore. Evan Lazar from the team’s official website noted that the 2021 second-round pick did a ton of conditioning this off-season.
The Patriots defense will need to take on a scrappy, “why not us” attitude in the upcoming season. It’s honestly a bit of a rebuilding season for the Patriots defense, but I expect them to be stingy and rarely get blown out of the building. The second-place AFC East team in 2021 will lean on Mac Jones, but the Pats defense should still be a modest all-around unit in 2022.