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Patriots Secondary to None

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The Patriots retooled their secondary and are about to field the best secondary in the Bill Belichick era.

Jim Rogash

This is not a comparison to the Legion of Boom in Seattle. This is strictly a comparison of the secondaries fielded by the New England Patriots in the Bill Belichick era.

The 2014 Patriots secondary is possibly the best unit in recent memory.

Using Pro Football Reference's roster breakdowns, which tracks which players have started throughout the season, we can compare how today's roster stacks up with the starting line-ups in years past.

The results are looking positive.

We can look at the Patriots starting line-up as Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at cornerback, with Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon as the starters at safety. We can add to the discussion with the very real possibility that the team will play rising sophomore Logan Ryan at safety just to get him on the field. This is also ignoring 2012 and 2013 starters Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington.

The depth is stacked to the point where those who started on two consecutive top 10 defenses might not even see the field.

There are many ways to arrange this secondary- but let's compare the potential to the actual players who saw the field in the past.

The only real units under Belichick that can compare to the current roster have a pretty storied history.

There's the quartet of Ty Law, Otis Smith, Tebucky Jones, and Lawyer Milloy who somehow managed to stick together from 2000-2002, providing three seasons of consistency that just doesn't happen anymore. Both Law and Milloy were All Pro players, but Smith was at the end of an underrated career playing in his age 35, 36, and 37 seasons. Jones was benefitting from the Brandon Meriweather treatement and was the weak link, playing out his rookie contract.

In 2003 the Patriots played Law with Tyrone Poole, a journeyman who had started 89 games for three teams over the past seven seasons (roughly 13 per season), alongside Rodney Harrison and rookie Eugene Wilson. Similar to the earlier roster, the free safety Wilson was the weak part of the defense; however, both Law and Harrison put together All Pro seasons which instantly rockets this group towards the top.

Beyond those groupings, there's not much to look at.

The 2007 Patriots fielded Asante Samuel in an All Pro season alongside twilight Harrison, and third year starters James Sanders and Ellis Hobbs- but it's hard to say that secondary can match the All Pro pairing of Revis and McCourty. In fact, I think that Samuel is the only member of that secondary who could challenge for a starting spot, with Harrison likely relegated to a more platoon role.

The 2010 Patriots somehow managed a 14-2 record while fielding 7 rookies or sophomore on defense (Ron Brace, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, Darius Butler, and Pat Chung).

The 2011 and 2012 Patriots had so many injuries in the secondary that Pro Football Focus could only list three players as "starters"; everything else was a Merry-Go-Round.

The 2014 secondary is an obvious throwback to the "Glory Days" of the Patriots and show a clear strategic approach: Stop opposing offenses and the wins will follow.

With two All Pros in Revis and McCourty mirroring the duos of Law and Milloy, and Law and Harrison, and with the third and fourth members of the secondary clear improvements over Smith, Jones, Poole, and Wilson, the Patriots are primed to field the best secondary in the Belichick era.

Let's hope they can yield the same fruit as their predecessors.