I’ve spent the last decade or so getting used to the fact that the New England Patriots were an offensive team. Sure, it’s the way that the league has been heading for the last 50 years or so, but to watch a Bill Belichick coached team try to win with a high-flying offense and a porous defense was hard to stomach sometimes. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun, it just means that it took some getting used to. Thankfully, those days look to be over.
After the moves the Patriots have made in free agency this year, and the draft in the last few years, they’re finally heading into a season with a better defense than offense. The defensive secondary, which was the worst part of a bad defense for years at a time, got the upgrade it needs this offseason to be one of the best pass-stopping units in the league.
Darrelle Revis comes in to replace the now departed Aqib Talib in the biggest move so far for New England. I don’t see Revis as the obvious upgrade that others do, but he is still a very good cover corner who has a better chance of staying healthy than Talib does. I have my doubts that he is still an elite guy, but the Patriots don’t need him to be elite for them to have an elite defense.
They don’t need Revis to be elite because the pass rush is much improved, and the linebackers will be a better overall unit in 2014 than they were in 2013. Sure, they lost middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, but they can give more snaps to second-year man Jamie Collins, who was very impressive in the playoffs last year.
The continued development of the defense, combined with the free agent additions they brought in, finally have the Patriots back to being a defensive minded team — the kind of team they had back when they were actually winning Super Bowls, not just getting to them.
It’s been a long time since Patriots fans could root for a defensive football team, and I for one can’t wait to see it again this fall.