In 2019 the New England Patriots had one of the NFL’s best defenses. Headlined by
2019’s Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots wreaked havoc all over the field. Yes, they played the Dolphins and Jets twice last season, but the Patriots were simply dominant. Their secondary was elite, and their linebackers and edge rushers made opposing quarterbacks miserable. Yet, with a few key losses during free agency, don’t expect New England’s defense to be elite in 2020.
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For starters, the Patriots lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Duron Harmon and Elandon Roberts, all of whom ended up going to former Patriots coaches in Miami and Detroit. Van Noy and Collins are huge losses. They were the linebackers that the Patriots put all over the field and could count on to be efficient and productive in any situation. Either rushing the passer or stopping the run, Van Noy and Collins were staples of the Patriots defense.
Although Shelton, Harmon, and Elandon Roberts were not as key to the Patriots success, they were still important. Shelton was a solid run stuffer that provided a big body capable of being productive on the defensive line. Harmon was traded to the Lions in exchange for some late round picks, and with the Patriots having picked up Kyle Dugger in the draft, Harmon won’t be missed too much. Roberts on the other hand was a solid linebacker who was able to contribute in any place he was thrust into, while being one of the leaders of the Patriots special teams.
In totality, the Patriots lost some important pieces to their defense. They did draft Josh Uche out of Michigan to try and fill the role that Van Noy and Collins’ absence will leave, but Uche is unproven. Although Bill Belicheck has a good track record of hitting on later round draft picks, the Patriots have struggled in recent years on finding Pro Bowl talent via the draft.
For New England, the secondary will be the strong suit as they are still capable of shutting down opposing aerial attacks. With Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, and the Mccourtys in the secondary, the Patriots are going to still be difficult to throw against. And even with Dont’a Hightower, Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr, and the long haired up and coming Chase Winovich, the Patriots will still be semi difficult to run against. However, without Van Noy, Collins, and Danny Shelton, the Patriots will not only lose versatility next season, but overall playmaking ability. Therefore, with the tides seemingly shifting in New England, don’t think that the Patriots defense will still be among the NFL’s best in 2020.