The New England Patriots’ defense: a quarterback’s “House of Horrors”
The New England Patriots defense completed a shutout game for the second time this season. They have solidified themselves as the best defense in football and continue to be a never-ending nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. They rank 1st in yards per game allowed, 2nd in passing yards, and 2nd in rushing yards. They have 18 total interceptions while only giving up one passing touchdown. As a unit they are on a historic run, but also have multiple first team all-pro candidates on the defense.
The three guys that I believe have real chances at first team all-pro honors are Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, and Jamie Collins. These guys have stood out among this elite defense and are having tremendous seasons. Jamie Collins currently ranks 2nd on the team in combined tackles with 31, but also has 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. He has been an amazing addition to this defense. Devin McCourty currently leads the entire NFL with five interceptions through seven games. Stephon Gilmore is the best corner in football and is tasked with shutting down opposing teams’ number one receiver and completely neutralizes them.
The success that this defense is having is not happening by accident. The Patriots run a 3-4 defense, which typically means three defensive linemen and four linebackers are on the field. With the versatility and size they have at the linebacker position, this scheme has worked very well for them. Out of this set, they play a very aggressive style of football. Bill Belichick and the defensive coaches trust the secondary to be able to play man coverage which allows the linebackers, otherwise known as “the Boogeymen” to put constant pressure on the quarterback. This is called “blitz zero”, which in simpler terms just means man coverage across the board and everyone else blitzes. This is what causes quarterbacks to make bad decisions which leads to turnovers. This is a very aggressive defense, and it cannot be executed without the proper talent on the field, especially in the secondary.
The Patriots have played this style of defense throughout the first seven weeks of the season and are likely to continue until someone can find an answer. Most fans watch football to see highlight reel plays on offense and high scoring games, but this defense is must-see TV.