Can the 2013 Patriots defense carry the team thru the season? The last time New England was able to put a high caliber defense on the field, they started on a great run thru the playoffs, culminating in back to back championships in 2003-2004.
Lead by the likes of Wilfork, Bruschi. Harrison and Vrabel, the Pats defenses lead the league in points allowed in 2003 and were ranked 2nd in 2004. They may not have had banner stats when it came to yards allowed, but when it came to scoring, they were a stingy bunch. 14.9 points per game in 2003, 16.2 ppg in 2004.
The intervening years 2005-2007 the defense was ok, but signs were creeping in that they were getting tired. A weary defense marched onto the field at Super Bowl XLII and let the Giants take the game. It hasn't gotten any better since then. 2008-2011 were not so good for the defense overall. As the offense increased its tempo and started on a monster run stats wise, the defense started falling to the wayside. There was a lack of quality depth being added each year, there were a lot of so-so players drafted and the numbers showed the lack of attention.
The biggest impact, or maybe lack of impact, came from the secondary unit. 2003-2004 the Patriots had a solid secondary. Each year those squads posted more interceptions than td’s allowed. 2003 was statistically the best secondary the Pats ever played with imo. The key stat for me? 10 touchdowns allowed with 29 interceptions. A +19 interception ratio? Yes Please.
I could bore you with more numbers which basically show that as the years progressed the average points per game increased, the completion percentages v the D increases, the number of td’s allowed increased etc. But I won’t. Instead we can move onto this year. The offense is anemic so far, at least compared to what he have been used to. That’s ok. Injuries, new players, etc . Hopefully the Offense will work itself out with time.
In 2013. the defensive play has been very good so far. Ranked 2nd in points allowed with 11.3 ppg, a stingy 33% 3rd down conversion rate in the passing d, and most telling the pass defense has allowed 2 td’s and snagged 4 interceptions thru 3 games. Is this defense for real?
The quality of completion has been questionable. Two rookie quarterbacks and the woeful Josh Freeman so far. The Bills, Jets and Bucs rely more on their running game vs the passing game. The next few teams the Pats face though can be considered pass first teams. The Falcons (7th), The Bengals (11th) and The Saints (4th) passing games are key to their offense production.
Is this new look Patriots defense a solid unit now? Can it elevate itself to a championship caliber squad? We are about to find out. The upcoming three game stretch is going to tell us a lot about the Patriots and their chances in 2013.