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Grading The Patriot’s Defense – Egregiously Inconsistent

A weekly breakdown of the New England Patriot’s defense by positional group, complete with letter grades and more.

What happened? … As a thick, dismal fog rolled into Gillette Stadium on Monday night, you could tell there was something ominous in the midst. In a shocking display of ineffectiveness by the New England defense, the Patriots somehow made Justin Fields and the Bears look like the best QB and offense in the NFL. We started the game fairly iffy, falling behind 10-0 early in the first quarter, but managed to come back with some big plays on defense, and, at one point, the Patriots held a 14-10 lead during the second quarter. That lead was quickly erased, and the Bears and the Patriots would go into the locker rooms at halftime with a score of 20-14, Chicago on top.

From that point on, the Patriots would fail to deliver another point, as the lowly Bears would manage to tack on 13 additional points, eventually resulting in the final score of 33-14. Ouch.

After essentially dominating defensively over the last two games against some of the NFL’s top offenses, the Patriot’s defense appeared exhausted and confused during the second half of Monday night’s game against the Bears. The New England defense looked fairly good during the first half of the game, with a couple of big plays being made and a number of things to be excited about… But during the second half, the defense basically looked completely lost out there.

Perhaps it had something to do with their in-house QB controversy. When 3/4 of the stadium is chanting for Zappe to come in, only 7 minutes into the first quarter… things are bound to get ugly. After all, for the 3/4 of fans rooting for Zappe, there are the 1/4 of fans who were cheering for Mac Jones to play and have some more time to get his bearings back. This is probably similar to that of the Patriot’s roster.

It’s likely the team is probably about half Jones and half Zappe in terms of who they’d rather see be the guy (regardless of what they state publicly), and when togetherness, synchronicity, chemistry, and teamwork have proven to be more important than that of individual talent 95% of the time, any team is destined for failure when half of the team is on a different page than the other half. That’s probably about as reasonable and simple an explanation as you can expect to hear this week, and I promise, it’s probably not far from the truth.

The Defense Was Still… Pretty Good

Despite things going completely off the rails towards the end of the game, this defense didn’t look terrible in most facets early on. For a second there, it seemed like Judon was going to have 13 sacks, and after a myriad of big TFLs and clutch plays, all signs pointed to a long, frustrating game for the Chicago Bears offense. But obviously, there were many distractions for everybody on the Patriots on Monday. Considering such, it really wouldn’t be fair to put the entirety of this loss on the shoulders of the defense.

There is no reason this defense can’t continue to play at the high level they’ve proven themselves to be capable of playing at throughout the rest of the season. Bill will do whatever it takes in order to get his team back to a cohesive unit this week and hopefully provide the Jets and their fanbase with a much-needed humbling once Sunday rolls around. If we can’t beat the Jets this Sunday, this season could prove to get ugly, and the media will not be afraid to spit an earful of negativity toward Mr. Belichick and everyone else throughout Patriots nation.

It seems like every week, we hear some new piece of anti-Belichick banter coming from somewhere around the league. This week was no different, with the criticisms coming in the form of former Patriots player: Asante Samuel.

Belichick is starting to show you he is an average coach without Brady 😎 — Asante Samuel (@pick_six22) October 25, 2022

An unbelievably cheap shot toward a man who helped Asante procure two Super Bowl rings. Think about how many great players aren’t even able to boast a singular Super Bowl ring. When winning/championships is all that supposedly matters to these players, there is literally no rhyme or reason behind Asante’s criticisms. He’s just a jerk, probably.

Alas, let’s get onto the grading portion of this week’s article.

New England Patriots Linebackers:

Grade: C+ (Last Weeks Grade: A)

Roster: Ja’Whaun Bentley, Matthew Judon, Mack Wilson Sr., Jahlani Tavai, Anfernee Jennings, Raekwon McMillan, Jamie Collins Sr.

Changes to the roster from last week: (None)


Josh Uche

Best Of The Bunch:

Anfernee Jennings (Six Total Tackles, Two Solo Tackles, One Sack, One PD) and Ja’Whaun Bentley (10 Total Tackles, Six Solo Tackles, One TFL)

Jennings and Bentley looked like they’ve been taking notes on their stalwart teammate Matt Judon over the past couple of weeks. If you had given these two some red sleeves on Monday, there would’ve been almost no way to tell who was who. The penetration created by these three alone seems like it should’ve been enough to secure a victory on Monday. At one point, Anfernee Jennings was directly in front of Justin Fields in a half-second after essentially going unblocked, resulting in him almost having a rare LB interception that he probably could’ve taken to the house.

Both players were in the backfield more often than you would think they could have been for a defense that performed poorly. Eferblus perhaps noticed the blitz-happy tendencies and rush-heavy gameplan of the Patriots linebackers and made the proper adjustments during half-time. The Bears started implementing a lot of counter-style running plays and had their guards and linemen pulling all kinds of stunts to keep the linebackers at bay during the second half.

It seriously could’ve gone a lot worse, though, as far as the linebackers are concerned, and they still managed to play a decent game, putting up good numbers during what turned out to be a difficult contest.

With so little of what we did right compared to what we did wrong, I am omitting the “Needs to step it up” category this week, but simply put, I’d also like to add that I think Matt Judon might need to do something in terms of balancing his energy conservation from now on. It seems like he typically comes out and gives it 1000% for the first half, recording most of his stats and big plays before halftime. After which, he seemingly disappears entirely, leaving the big plays to the youngins. Gotta conserve that energy, Matt!

New England Patriots Defensive Line:

Grade: C- (Last Weeks Grade: A-)

Roster: Davon Godchaux, Deatrich Wise Jr., Carl Davis Jr., Daniel Ekuale, Sam Roberts, Lawrence Guy

Changes to the roster from last week:

(+) Lawrence Guy

(-) Damarcus Mitchell

(-) Christian Barmore

Inactive: (None).

Best Of The Bunch:

Lawrence Guy (Eight Total Tackles, Two Solo Tackles) and Davon Godchaux (Seven Total Tackles, Three Total Tackles)

There wasn’t much exciting happening in the trenches on Monday night. The defensive linemen seldom managed to get any pressure on Justin Fields. They were also responsible for several key running lanes exploited by the Chicago running game.

If there are any positives to take away from Monday’s game regarding the defensive linemen, they’d likely have to do with Lawrence Guy immediately making an impact upon his return from the injury that’s kept him sidelined over the past few weeks.

It was also another promising week for Godchaux in terms of productivity, given the giant contract he was given during the offseason to be a difference-maker on this team. Obviously, at this point in the season, “promising” isn’t exactly the vernacular we’re hoping to see as Patriots fans, but perhaps it’s better than something like “utter disappointment.”

New England Patriots Defensive Backs:

Grade: C- (Last Weeks Grade: A-)

Roster: Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, Myles Bryant, Adrian Phillips, Devin McCourty, Jabrill Peppers, Brenden Schooler, Kyle Dugger, Shaun Wade, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones

Changes to the roster from last week: (None.)

(-) Cody Davis


Joshua Bledsoe (groin)

Cody Davis (IR)

Best Of The Bunch:

Devin McCourty (Seven Total Tackles, Six Solo Tackles) and Jack Jones (Four Total Tackles, Four Solo Tackles, One TFL)

The proven veteran and the hungry up-and-comer were two of the brighter spots on the Patriot defense on Monday. McCourty did his usual thing at the safety position and made several key open-field tackles that were directly responsible for stopping various big plays from becoming Chicago touchdowns. Meanwhile, Jack Jones opened the game with a tremendous play where he recorded a big TFL, and also, similar to McCourty, Jones produced several important open-field stops.

Also I’d like to mention Myles Bryant real quick. A lot of Patriots fans consider him the bane of our existence, yet he continues to receive a significant amount of snaps throughout this season. His performance was fairly good against the Bears, and he deserves some commendation for the interception he recorded off of a Judon deflection, which turned out to be the only Patriots takeway on the evening. He did get scorched once or twice, but so did the rest of the defense.

Here’s to next week.

New England Patriots @ New York Jets

The Patriots (3-4) and the Jets (5-2) meet this weekend on October 30th, 2022, at 1:00 PM ET at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to face off for the 126th time in league history. The record between the two teams is currently 71-54-1, with the Patriots leading.

The Patriots have won their last 12 games against the Jets, with their last loss coming in 2015 in an overtime loss where the Patriots would lose the coin toss and never touch the ball in overtime.

The Patriots and Jets rivalry has always been one of the most intense in football, with a ton of memorable moments that have taken place during the 125 games they’ve played against each other. Some of the more memorable moments in recent history include: The Mark Sanchez “Butt-Fumble”, Mo Lewis knocking out Drew Bledsoe, and the Erik Mangini saga.

“I’ve never seen this before in my life.” 😂😂😂 Happy anniversary to the #buttfumble! @Mark_Sanchez @Patriots — Sara Marshall (@smarshxo) November 22, 2019

One of the only times in my life I’ve ever been able to relate with Tom Brady about anything is when he talked about the butt fumble and said it was the hardest he’s ever laughed at anything in his life and that he just sat there and laughed at it for about 10 minutes straight, which is an absolutely beautiful moment to imagine. I remember watching this game live, which may have been one of the happiest moments of my life. They say that on a cold November day if the wind is just right, you can still hear the giggles of butt-fumble past echoing throughout the brisk winter winds of New England.

Does anyone else miss laughing at Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez? I do. They’re both fairly skilled analysts and commentators, but neither of them is actually very funny, so long gone are the days of laughing at them, I guess. What a great rivalry it’s been. Hopefully, this Sunday’s game brings us another memory in this worthwhile chronicle of two football enemies who will likely never be able to mend their differences. Go Pats!

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