Is The Patriots Defense…Good?

Time to revisit the age old question I posed 2 months ago after week 1, right before the defense made Blake Bortles and Matt Stafford look like MVP’s. Now that I think about it, I can’t help but ask, did the Patriots defense kill Blake Bortles and Matt Stafford? Things haven’t been pretty for them since.

In a game that was completely taken over by a discussion about goats, the real animals last night were on the Patriots defense.

When the Patriots gave Stephon Gilmore 5 years, $65 million including $31 million guaranteed instead of paying our Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, massholes from Worcester to Southie were livid. They dialed their rotary phones into Felger and Mazz for weeks. Belichick doesn’t pay anyone and he’s giving Gilmore $65 mill to sign from a mediocre Buffalo squad? Well I wish we could *69 (nice) Steve in Lowell to see what his thoughts are now. Malcolm Butler is getting torched in coverage while Stephon Gilmore is locking down every teams #1 receiver and not getting called for pass interference on every single play. A sight Patriots fans haven’t really seen for a decade or so.

Still looking for an answer on why he was benched in the Super Bowl but I guess we’re saving that for a NFL Network special in 20 years.

In years’ past the Patriots secondary was a full liability. Watching Kyle Arrington, Tavon Wilson and Jordan Richards give up 20+ yards per play took at least 5 years off my life. But the Patriots secondary that shut down Aaron Rodgers last night was chicken soup for the soul.

Signing Devin McCourty’s twin brother Jason must have seemed like a gimmick at the start of the season. Obviously Belichick would never have signed him if he couldn’t play, but the McCourty family has some good bald heads on those shoulders. He wasn’t perfect, but he’ll do. Those guys may actually be related but that secondary is a legit family out there. McCourty, Chung, Harmon and Gilmore babies will be growing up together and giving some New England little league hell.

The Patriots defense is also playing without a ‘stud’ pass rusher according to Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels. Well, tell that to Trey Flowers.

Since 2016, Trey Flowers has been the most dominant Patriots defender.  If there really is such a thing as the clutch gene, he’s got it. Any time they NEED a stop, or I tweet that the Pats can’t get any pressure on the QB, it’s like he’s listening. I’ve seen this story enough times to know that Flowers is for sure going to get PAID but not by the Patriots. So we should enjoy him while we can. CC: Andre Branch, Tully Banta-Cain, Mark Anderson, etc.

Kyle Van Noy has come a long way since Felger called him an asshole. If that’s what it took to light a fire under that guy’s ass and get him playing like vintage Tedy Bruschi, I might actually forgive Felger. His tackling has prevented me from screaming aggressively at my TV, a skill I have become quite adept at. For that, I thank you.

What struck me last night and what’s been consistent with all successful Patriots teams in this dynasty is the character of these guys on the field. This isn’t a group of entitled millennials used to getting everything they’ve ever wanted handed to them because they’re a talented athlete. The Patriots don’t scout based on who has the best ability, who’s the fastest or most talented. They pick players who have got more to play for than just a paycheck. Scrolling down the roster I am having trouble finding one guy with a regular story. On offense you’ve got Tom Brady 199th pick, Julian Edelman college QB, Chris Hogan lacrosse, Josh Gordon vs weed.

But the list continues on the other side of the ball with names that aren’t so flashy. I’ve cried at all of their stories and most have them have gone under the radar.

Lawrence Guy came up huge against the Packers with the play of the game, forcing a fumble on the first play of the 4th quarter. He’s struggled with a learning disability for his whole life and almost failed out of college. He could have developed a bad attitude and given up on football, but he didn’t.

Kyle Van Noy was adopted into a biracial home at 4 months old. He’s used his platform to give back in both time and money. 

“You see a guy like him and he’s in the NFL. He raises money for a cause. It shows you, if you do care and you do give a helping hand like that, it’s what it produces,” McCourty added. “Anytime he has an event, I always want to help out. I think that’s very important. I think we all know people who through tragic things or whatever, persons grow up without a mom or a dad or grandparents, like something happens and I think that the work he is doing is incredible.”

Danny Shelton is the son of an immigrant family and lost his brother due to gun violence in 2011, with another brother shot in the same incident. He’s using his time with the Patriots as a fresh start.

There are tons of other stories just like these on the Patriots and across the NFL. Turns out if you actually coach players to their potential, they just might give you their best.

When people complain that the refs are biased and the games are rigged for the Patriots, they’re ignoring this important factor. When you show genuine interest in developing players and teach them the right way to play the game, they listen. Patriots players rarely lose their cool or get the bonehead penalties most other NFL teams do because they know listening to the coaches and doing what they’re told leads to Super Bowls. It’s really not that groundbreaking if you think about it.

I don’t think this defense is perfect by any means. Without Gronk and Sony Michel this game had forgivable loss all over it. But even after the inactives were announced I couldn’t help but feel like there’s no way they were losing. We expected a barn burner with Brady and Rodgers exchanging TD’s and what we got was a fired up, disparaged defense sick of listening to a bunch of quarterback talk. That’s a defense I can get behind in January.

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