The main weakness for the Patriots coming into this offseason was obviously the secondary. The main thing that has kept them from winning a Super Bowl in the last couple years has been a weak secondary. In 2011 they finished 31st in the league in pass defense and in 2012 they finished 29th in pass defense. Those are pretty awful numbers. If the Pats hope to win another Super Bowl in the Brady and Belichick era, then they will have to improve their secondary play. Luckily the Pats made two huge moves yesterday and today. Yesterday they signed former Cardinal safety Adrian Wilson to a 3 year deal, and today they resigned Aqib Talib on a 1 year contract. These two moves were perfect for the Pats. In Wilson, they get a physical presence at safety that they have not had since the days of Rodney Harrison, and we already know what Talib brings to the Pats defense. He is a big corner that is very aggressive and has the ability to play on an island with a receiver. This allows the Pats to be very aggressive with their defensive calls and when they do that, this defense is extremely dangerous.
With the addition of Wilson, and the resigning of Talib, I think we are now beginning to see the formation of a solid defense in New England. Obviously we wont be able to know for a few months, as they actually have to prove it on the field, but on paper they look very good. The front seven was solid in 2012, and I think it will be even better next year. The linebackers are great at stopping the run, and of course we have big Vince Wilfork clogging up the middle. The Patriots are also close to a deal with John Abraham, and that should help out Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich with the pass rush on the edge. The secondary however is where I see the big difference. At safety they have Devin McCourty, who proved to be a very good safety in 2012, and now they have Adrian Wilson back there with him. Early in the 2012 season the Pats really struggled with keeping plays in front of them. Then, when McCourty was moved to safety the big plays really stopped for the opposing teams offense. Even with this move, the safety position was still not solidified. Steve Gregory did a decent job for them but he was not a physical guy and often was exposed in pass coverage. Wilson however is a very physical player, and what I am hoping is he will bring that “intimidation” factor to the Pats secondary. The cornerbacks should also be very solid next year in my opinion. They will have Aqib Talib on one side and Alfonzo Dennard on the other. Dennard does have possible jail time ahead of him, but hopefully he is able to avoid it. Talib and Dennard are both very good man coverage guys, and they proved it late in the 2012 season. Before Talib went down in the AFC Championship game the Pats defense was shutting down the dangerous Ravens offense. Then when Talib went out with the injury the defense totally fell apart, Dennard just could not shoulder the load alone in the secondary. As I said earlier, Talib allows the Pats to play a much more aggressive defense and good things happen when they do this. With Talib and Dennard both on the outside, with a solid slot guy in Kyle Arrington on the inside, and Wilson at the safety position, the Patriots defense actually looks formidable for 2013.