Watching Jamie Collins fly all over the place like Deadpool on Thursday night football, where he racked up 9 tackles and a sack against the Ravens, was enough to make this guy think "Gee, he sure would be nice to have on the field doing Jamie Collins things when the Seahawks come to town this weekend".
I mean, for all of you that acted all Taylor-Swift-Bad-Blood and trashed Jamie when he left town, just watch this man play:
Here's the link, because the NFL disabled embedding because the NFL hates sharing football videos, and also, most likely, cheeseburgers and puppies.
Anyway, missing Jamie Collins (sniffle) brings up the point that the Patriots are going to have to contain Russell Wilson this weekend (duh), and they did a decent job of that in that Super Bowl in 2014- but even though that was less than two years ago, this 2016 Patriots defense looks almost completely different. As in, almost all of that 2014 defense is gone, personnel-wise.
Anyone who's watched the "Do Your Job" documentary knows that, well, job #1 in that Super Bowl was to contain Russell Wilson. Keep him in front of you, cause if you're staring at the back of his jersey, you're already F'ed. Plus, that video of practice where Jimmy Garoppolo is running around the backfield like a crazy person is just too funny.
But, since people tend to remember Super Bowl winning defenses as the BEST EVER (more on that later), let's take a look at the defensive roster that put on those Super Bowl 49 jerseys and played in one of the best championship games football has ever seen (objective fact):
D-line: Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, Vince Wilfork, Joe Vellano, Sealver Siliga, Chris Jones
Linebackers: Jonathan Casillas, Jamie Collins, Akeem Ayers, Dont'a Hightower, Darius Fleming, Chris White
Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, and that Malcolm Butler guy
Safeties: Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson
(side note: if you're asking "Where's Dominique Easley?", he was in Vegas. Not with the team. Yes, really.)
That's got almost nothing in common with this year's team. Out of all those dudes, here are all of them that are still with New England:
Rob Ninkovich, Alan Branch, Dont'a Hightower, Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, and all of the safeties (Pat Chung, Devin McCourty, Nate Ebner, and Duron Harmon) except Tavon Wilson.
In other words, there's only three players in the entire front seven that are still on the Patriots roster.
Of course, it does help when one of those guys is a straight up manimal like Hightower, and Alan Branch is suddenly playing his best football in his 30s. Ninkovich hasn't been his usual self this year, but an injury and a suspension will do that to a guy.
But there's good news!
Remember a little while ago, when I joked that everyone thinks the defense that won the Super Bowl (and in this case, packed all kinds of star power) is the best ever?
This year's defense, even though it's a Suicide Squad mix of Patriots lifers like McCourty, old guns like Chris Long, ex-busts like Barkevious Mingo, and rookies fighting their way to the front of the pack (sup, Elandon Roberts?), is actually better than the 2014 defense in a few key ways (so far, anyway).
No, they don't have the 2014 defense's absurd six-game streak where the defense didn't allow a second-half touchdown, but they are allowing fewer points overall.
Yup - the 2014 team allowed an average of 19.6 points per game, and this year's team, so far, has allowed 16.5.
Oh, you want more? I bet you ask for a burger and a hot dog at barbecues, too.
How about this: the 2014 team, with Darrelle Revis, Revis Island, allowed 239.8 passing yards per game. How does the current crew, with Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and a platoon at third cornerback stack up?
Almost the same - 252.5 passing yards per game. If you want to be Mr. "Well, ACTUALLY", that could be one more completed pass per game that the 2016 team allows. Whoop-de-freaking doo.
After all that front-seven turnover, how's the rush defense going?
2014 - 104.3 rush yards allowed per game
2016 - 101.6 rush yards allowed per game
That's not to talk trash to the 2014 defense, just to *ahem* respectfully point out that this year's defense is still shutting things down and hasn't really missed a beat after they were declared D.O.A. in the 2015 offseason.
Either way, if there's a game that can save the NFL's ratings from falling off a cliff (HAHAHAH just kidding, it won't), it'll be this one on Sunday night. Two Super Bowl favorites with the Patriots knee-deep in this year's version of the F the World tour and the Seahawks fresh off a Monday night win with a bit of controversy and trash talk?
Shut up and take my money.