It was one of the most dominant defensive performances of the last decade and one that I couldn’t wait to jump into. The Patriots defense had a slow start to 2016, but with each passing week they’ve gotten better and better. In the last three games they have the second-best third down defense in the NFL, and have risen all the way from 28th early in the season to 7th overall on third down.
The emergence of Trey Flowers as veterans Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long got their games going now has the entire defensive front clicking. And don’t just take my word for it, here’s what Belichick had to say on Tuesday:
“I think in our case what I’ve seen from this team, especially defensively but really in all three phases of the game, is a commitment to work hard and get better. You take small steps every day. Those pile up after days, weeks and months together. I think that’s really what’s happening with our team is they’ve worked hard. They’ve improved, improved a little bit each day. They maybe improve a little bit each week in certain areas. I think we do things better now than we did a few weeks ago. We did them better a few weeks ago than we did them a couple of months ago, which is the way it should be.”
Let’s take a closer look at the All-22.