The New England Patriots’ defense is going to be counted on heavily in 2022. What kind of grades can we give each positional unit? The Patriots’ defense ranked second in the NFL in 2021, allowing just 17.8 points per contest. In 2020, they ranked 7th, and in 2019, they ranked 1st. Perhaps one of the more consistent units in the entire NFL, the 2022 defense will yet again be tasked with shutting down opposing offenses.
If New England’s offense cannot get going, it’ll be up to the defense to carry the team. We’ve seen defenses do this, but in today’s NFL, it’s very unlikely that it could happen again. In looking at the entire defensive roster, what kind of letter grades can get give each unit?
Grading the Patriots’ defense heading into the 2022 season
Defensive line: A
The Patriots defensive line, which is headlined by interior players Davon Godchaux and Christian Barmore, is going to be a very good unit in 2022. Barmore looks like he’s ready to explode in year two and help the Patriots’ rush defense get back to a more acceptable ranking.
They’ll likely be flanked by Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise, two savvy veterans who have been rock solid for the team for a number of years. Hopefully this unit can get more pressure on the quarterback, which make take some other pressure off of the edge rushers.
The Patriots have solid linebackers. On the outside, Matthew Judon looks to build on his Pro Bowl 2021 season with the team and is hopefully able to notch another double digit sack season. Players on the inside like Ja’Whaun Bentley look to continue providing solid patrol in the middle.
Projected backups like Raekwon McMillan and Josh Uche appear to be perfectly suited to serve as the primary second string players. The unit likely isn’t going to be elite in 2022, but it’s one that can consistently make noise.
The Patriots’ secondary took a major hit when JC Jackson departed in free agency for the Los Angeles Chargers. Now, the unit is left without a true difference maker at cornerback. The Patriots’ safety tandem of Devin McCourty and Kyle Dugger is one of the league’s best, and Jabril Peppers is also lurking in that unit as well.
The projected starting cornerbacks in Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones are fine players, but again, the corners lack the high-end talent needed to compete with some of the deadly weapons in the AFC. This will likely be a unit that has a couple new faces introduced by the time 2023 rolls around.
The unit gets a B+ grade overall. It’ll be one of the better ones in the NFL. I think we’ll see New England’s defensive front make the most noise. The secondary isn’t spectacular, but it should be good enough, for now.