Earlier I did a write up where I evaluated the potential of the 2014 team by comparing it to other Patriots teams of the last decade… or more accurately, comparing components/units.
I wanted to do this for the Defense… but I realized the Defense had been in some form of decline or disarray for most of the past decade… we can look back at the 2004 unit and basically say that was the best of everything they had, until injury, age, and FA started chipping away at that unit, starting that very season.
Those of us who enjoy a great defense, were excited for the 2013 season, with Talib returning, Kelly onboard, and some new rookies to be hopeful about, things were looking as solid as they ever had in many a year.
And indeed, the Defense was reminiscent of years ago early on, they allowed only three touchdowns through the first three games. Tying them for fewest in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers at that point in the season.
And then came the Falcons game, and one disastrous injury after another, up until that point, it was the Defense that had carried the team to three consecutive wins, while the offense floundered because of its own injury woes and other losses.
I can't say this enough... if the injured return healthy and as (or very near as) good as they were prior to being injured... and the 2nd year players take a step forward... this Defense has the potential to be even better than what we glimpsed through those first three games last season.
The Depth at DT is the best it has been in about a DECADE... consider who they had back in 2011 when they started that season with Brace, Deaderick, Love, and Ellis to go with Wilfork
Now they have Jones, Siliga, Easley, Kelly ... and perhaps more, like Armstead...
The Depth in the Secondary is All-World compared to 2011 when they had the likes of Molden, Moore, Brown, and their best players were Arrington, Chung and McCourty.
Now they still have Arrington, Chung and McCourty, but have added to that the likes of Revis, Browner, Dennard, Ryan and Harmon...
DE remains strong with starters Jones and Ninkovich, depth with Smith and Moore may upgrade the performance, and offer more solid depth than was available last year.
Only the LB position is an area for more concern, with Fletcher and Spikes gone, it remains to be seen who will make up the depth behind the top three of Collins, Mayo, and Hightower.
Their Defense could be SICK in 2014... we're talking top 5 Defense type of sick.
We're talking the best Defense we've seen in many a year.