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Defensive overhaul tops list of Patriots’ offseason needs, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss

Related: Patriots vs. Bills snap count report: Personnel usage reflects New England’s defensive struggles

NFL: AFC Wild Card Playoffs-New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots defense played its worst game of the season — and one of the worst in NFL playoff history — at the wrong time. New England did not manufacture even a single stop against the Buffalo Bills, giving up 47 points on seven touchdown drives.

The team’s defensive performance in Buffalo and late down the stretch was worrisome, and it is exactly why ESPN’s Mike Reiss is calling for a defensive overhaul. Sharing a Patriots perspective in a story Offseason needs and priorities for all 32 NFL teams, Reiss argued for New England to rebuild its defense:

Overhaul the defense.

The troubling way the Patriots didn’t compete defensively in their 47-17 playoff loss to the Bills was eye-opening. Maybe “overhaul” is too strong of a word, but the unit looked old and slow to close out the season. Bill Belichick said he’ll evaluate everything — from personnel, to coaching, to scheme — and then make decisions accordingly.

The Patriots defense was outmatched from start to finish against the Bills, struggling on all three levels. An overhaul will be necessary if the team wants to compete with Buffalo in the future, especially considering that long-time cornerstones such as Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower and J.C. Jackson are all headed for unrestricted free agency.

All three of them are candidates to be brought back, but one thing is obvious regardless of their status: New England needs to get faster and younger on this side of the ball.