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With Pats Moves on Defense, Have They Truly Improved?

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Ever since their last Super Bowl Championship in 2004, the New England Patriots have become more of an offensive minded team. All that’s gotten them is a 9-8 postseason record and two Super Bowl losses during that span. This offseason, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick appears wants to get back to the blueprint that won them three championships in four seasons.

The biggest move so far on defense is the addition of All-Pro Darrelle Revis. Some would say that replacing Revis with the departed Aqib Talib isn’t necessarily an upgrade, but I disagree.  According to Pro Football Focus, since 2010, Revis has allowed only 100 receptions for 1,334 yards. During that same time, Talib has given up 156 receptions for 2,422 yards. Talib has slightly more career interceptions (23-21), but that’s because teams will test him more as opposed to Revis.

Revis’ ability to blanket a receiver and eliminate him from the game is much like Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Man-to-Man coverage is specialty and that’s why he wasn’t as effective in Tampa Bay last season. Look for coach Belichick to use Revis similar to the way he was used with the New York Jets, when he was considered the best cornerback in the NFL.

The other big move the Patriots made this off-season was also in the secondary. The team signed Brandon Browner for three-year $16.8 million. He must serve a four-game suspension before joining the team, but the signing is a huge addition to the Patriots secondary.

Browner specialty is bump-and-run coverage at the line of scrimmage. In 2013, he allowed completions on 52.6 percent of throws into his area and a passer rating of just 78.8, according to Pro Football Focus. If you combine that was his size (6’4, 221 pounds) and Browner’s athleticism, the Patriots could create some intriguing matchups on defense. The secondary has been one of the team’s biggest weaknesses  in recent seasons, but clearly New England has made upgrading the cornerback position a priority this off-season.

The Patriots did lose middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who sign with the Buffalo Bills. The silver lining in Spikes leaving is now second-year linebacker Jamie Collins, who was very impressive in the playoffs last year, will get more playing time.

The Patriots finished the 2013 season 25th in rushing defense and 18th in pass defense. With the additions made in the secondary, the pass defense is almost certainly to improve in 2014. Getting former All-Pro Vince Wilfork back from injury should improve the rush defense from a year ago.

With the additions made on defense this off-season, the Patriots have clearly gotten back to being a defensive minded team. The same type of team that wasn’t just winning AFC Championships, but winning Super Bowls.

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