It's no secret that Bill Belichick is a defensive mastermind both in the coaching and general management sense. In their 2003 season, the New England Patriots went 14-2 and eventually beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl. Having not lost a single home game and allowing the least points per game, Belichick's '03 defense was coined "the Homeland Defense."
However, this year's defense could become Belichick's crowning achievement. Barring things such as injury for the Patriots, they could have the Number One scoring defense this year, as well as a top five total defense - something Belichick has never done with New England.
The Best Secondary
I'm just going to say it. This is the best secondary in pro football. I'm sure someone could make a decent argument for another team, but I just can't see it. To start off, they have the best CB in the NFL in the form of Stephon Gilmore. Ranked the 22nd best player at any position (1st among Corners) in the NFL's "Top 100," Gilmore possesses the skills and drive to remain the league's number one cornerback.
From there, the Patriots have the McCourty Twins, JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Duran Harmon, and some newer faces to bolster the secondary. That lineup, coupled with Belichick's coaching, is already enough to be the best secondary. But add to those names Patrick Chung once he returns from whatever punishment he gets, and they could be Legion of Boom types of scary for opposing offenses.
In addition to the lethal secondary, the Patriots also have one of the best linebacker groups in the NFL. Dont'a Hightower is an absolute monster and arguably one of the most clutch players in Super Bowl history. His Super Bowl antics are so great that he earned the nickname "Mr. February" from teammate Kyle Van Noy. Speaking of which, the Patriots have another one of the best in Van Noy, and like Hightower, he has proven that he just gets better in the postseason.
To add to those two, the Patriots have an extremely talented rookie in Chase Winovich, as well as several other solid linebackers, including the return of Jamie Collins. Simply put, this linebacker core will be deadly.
Crushing Defensive Line
Finally, there's the defensive line that consists of Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton, Deatrich Wise Jr. and more. Though the loss of Trey Flowers definitely stings, the Patriots were able to snag Bennett and should still have just as elite of a defensive line as last year. Now, don't expect these guys to get super flashy numbers, but they will undoubtedly still get the job done. Offensive lines will have their hands full.
It's pretty clear that the Patriots defense is stacked. Realistically, they should be a top 5-7 defense, but I strongly believe that they can be the number one scoring defense and a top five total defense. They have all the tools and coaching to do so. Now we just have to wait and see if Belichick and the New England Patriots can replicate the Homeland Defense and perhaps be even better.
Article by Darshan Shaastri
Follow Darshan on Twitter @DShaastr1