Camp questions: Will Pats 'D' be what we think it is?

Camp questions: Will Pats 'D' be what we think it is?
July 21, 2014, 10:45 am
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(USA Today Sports)

From now until the start of training camp, Tom E. Curran will pose -- and answer -- questions facing the Patriots. Today's question:

Will Patriots defense be what we think it is?
Through the first five games of 2013, the Patriots allowed 70 points, an average of 14 per game.
Over the next nine games, they allowed 241 points, an average of 26.7 per game. Multiple factors – including the quality of the competition – can be fingered as reasons. But the biggest factor was the most obvious one. The defense lost too many good players. Vince Wilfork was gone after Week 4, Tommy Kelly after Week 5, Aqib Talib and Jerod Mayo after Week 6. Talib returned at a reduced level. The others all landed on IR.
Now three of the four I mentioned are back and the one that isn’t – Talib – has been replaced by a better player: Darrelle Revis. The Patriots defense is getting a tremendous buildup this year and every word of every breathless review is warranted.
The Patriots have a perfect personnel mix. Young veterans either entering or in their prime – Chandler Jones, Donta Hightower, Devin McCourty, Rob Ninkovich, Kyle Arrington, Brandon Browner and Mayo. Back-nine veterans with guile and talent – Wilfork and Kelly. Experienced young depth – Seaver Siliga, Chris Jones, Joe Vellano, Logan Ryan, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon. One of the league’s best defenders in Revis. A head coach who made his legend as a defensive mastermind. There is no logical reason to think the Patriots defense will be the sore spot its been for the past five seasons.

With the tools in place to be a more pressure-oriented defense as opposed to reactive, the Patriots can change their MO and change their stripes from being a team reliant on Tom Brady to save them and one that sets him up to merely get the wins in the barn. That will be the biggest switch of all.