The New England Patriots are looking to bounce back this season, but do they have the pieces or mindset needed to do so?
The New England Patriots made it to the postseason last year after missing it in 2020 for just the third time in the last two decades. It ended a streak of 11 straight appearances in the NFL’s epilogue.
For their misery in 2020, they were compensated with a draft pick that allowed them to select Mac Jones out of Alabama with the 15th overall pick. Jones started immediately and performed well for a rookie as a 17-game starter, leading his team to a 10-7 record with 22 touchdowns and 3,801 yards.
Jones was a first-year Pro Bowl participant and came in second in AP Offensive Player of the Year voting.
New England Patriots bold predictions: Young defense will be serviceable
The Patriots defense is quite young. Of the starters, four of the 11 started their career in 2018 or later. Of the 19 on the bench, 12 of the defensive group started in 2018 or later. That’s a lot of youth.
The turnover was substantial, as well.
Notable Patriots defensive departures:
Notable Patriots defensive acquisitions:
The two substantial linebackers were backfilled with one good signing in Wilson, and the loss of Jackson was backfilled with several drafted cornerbacks.
So far, though, indications are that the youthful defense is performing quite well. Early on in camp, the defense stifled the Pats’ offense so bad that an offense-only huddle was called after practice according to Evan Lazar.
Overall, the defense is young, but certain position groups are protected with veteran starters who can set the tone while younger guys get occasional reps:
That’s why I’m predicting the defense will actually be OK. Though the defense as a whole is fairly young, there’s an attitude of teaching and mentoring from the vets to the rookies. Youthful energy paired with the knowledge of the game from the more veteran first string could be a recipe for success.
Sure, youth comes with inexperience, but the youth the Pats brought in on the defense also translates to speed and athleticism.
Let’s see how they do.
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