Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive tackleVince Wilfork
(75) sits on the field during the second half of New England
On Friday I posted my midseason offensive grades for the New England Patriots, and now here are my midseason defensive grades.
Defensive Line: B
The Patriots have struggled to stop the run throughout this early portion of the season, and a lot of the blame has to be given to the front four. Now, I will give them a pass because run stopping specialist Sealver Siliga went down earlier in the year, but they really haven’t been that great against the run, so I couldn’t go higher than a ‘B’ grade.
Vince Wilfork has been terrific in his return from injury, clogging up the middle, and taking on blocks like he’s King Kong. Rob Ninkovich has also been stellar, and Chandler Jones was having an excellent season before he went down with a hip injury. Akeem Ayers has also come on strong in his brief time in Foxboro, so when you take a step back, and look at New England’s 7-2 record, I would say the big guys up front have done a decent job. Not valedictorian marks, but they have done okay.
Dont’a Hightower has played great all year long. He did miss a few games due to a knee injury, but when he has been healthy, he has been terrific. Whether it is leading the defense, getting them in the correct alignment, stopping the run, or defending the pass, Hightower has excelled in every area.
Jamie Collins has struggled a bit, but I don’t think that is necessarily his fault. After his performance in the playoffs last year, we all built him up to be the next coming of Teddy Bruschi. But he is still a young guy, and this is his first year playing starter-type minutes. He hasn’t been horrible, but he hasn’t been amazing either. However his performance against the Broncos in week nine was pretty damn good. Hopefully we see more of that going forward.