Many people have been fretting about the offense and all the new receivers, yet Brady is Brady (As the first couple of preseason games have shown). The lack of a recent championship is more about the defense. Brady has been asked over the past few seasons to put up 35 points a game. Bill has gone on 4th down from his own 30 not trusting his D to close out Manning, and the lack of a championship defense has exposed the Pats come playoffs. In the two Superbowl losses to the Giants, the D while having ok game could never stop Manning on the final drive
Bill has spent the past few seasons retooling and putting the pieces together and for the first time in a while they are starting to gel. The D will have much of the same pieces they had last year to close out the season with a few huge upgrades.
The Defense front seven are looking great at every position this year. Wilfork finally has help up the middle with Kelly and it showed against the Bucs. The pocket was collapsing over and over and a second big tackle was huge in that respect. Jones who has added bulk working alongside Kelly will definitely get more pressure from the outside and Ninkovich will likely continue where he left off as well.
The linebackers while beasts against the run were a liability in coverage mostly due to losing Fletcher to season ending injury. Many of the Pats 20 yard plus plays last year were dumps to TE and RB leaving spikes in the dust. Now with Fletcher back and the addition of Collins, Belichik has answered a glaring need. Collins blew up quite a few receivers against the Bucs allowing Zero yards after the catch. This is opposed to Spikes who with his size often trails the receiver by 5 yards. The Ravens absolutely destroyed the Pats in the AFC championship game and it was the TE killing us. I would also not be surprised to see more 3 4 alignments with this Linebacking core having some of the best athletes on the field. Think of a 3 4 with Wilfork, Kelly and Jones on the Line and Some combination of Mayo, Spikes, Hightower, Collins, Fletcher and Nink. The front 7 allows bill the luxury of no longer playing vanilla. We saw many blitzs with the Bucs and spikes was quite successful blitzing even crushing a run play on one such blitz. Collins and Hightower would also be very capable in this regard. Anyway you look at the front 7 it certainly seems this year will be much more an attacking D now that they have pieces to cover the middle of the field.
The secondary started playing much better with the addition of Talib last year. McCourty is solid as free safety and is much better at facing the QB to make plays on the ball. Talib (though he did get burned in preseason mostly safety fault, MCCourty out) has shown the ability to shut down some of the better receivers. Arrington has looked great in the slot and Dennard for a rookie shows huge promise. Logan Ryan looks great as well and could actually bump Dowling off the roster due to his injury issues. Personally I think they will keep both (so long Tebow) as they will want depth at that position considering their history. The second safety spot was a bit weak yet Belichik has loads of options there as well with the addition of Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson in his second year hopefully will get better (though didn't look good against bucks) and Steve Gregory who while he has his shortcomings does have a knack for the big interception. Combine a better secondary, and a better pass rush with a defense that has played together for one year playing more than just vanilla cover 2 bend but don't break, and we have a recipe for top 10 D. Everyone outside of New England expects middle of the road at best and horrible pass D at worst, but the progression has been clear and on paper, especially the front 7 this D looks as good as any out there.
I will be very surprised if the D doesn't hold its own this year and I expect good things.