The Patriots’ third down defense is off to a strong start in 2017. After losing three key pass rushers this last offseason, the youngsters consisting of Trey Flowers, Adam Butler, Dietrich Wise and Cassius Marsh have shown consistent disruption getting after the quarterback early on.
After two games, the Patriots defense is tied for 10th on third down at a rate of 34.8 percent. Historically this is even better than the 2015 (37.3, ) and 2016 (36.9), defenses that finished ranked 10th and 7th respectively. Yes, it’s just two games, but it’s a good start and nice to see an injection of youth and promise at a critical area. One of need especially this year.
Let’s take a look at a two-down sequence to see how the third, and fourth-down defense allowed the Patriots to pull away toward victory.
As you can see below, the situation is that it’s the end of the first half and the Saints are just outside the redzone, down by two scores. Whether or not the game stays close depends on the Saints getting points here before getting the ball to start the second half. It’s a third and three, favorable distance for an offense, who can run or pass.
The Patriots appear to be in man defense, and with Elandon Roberts still in the game, they still have a pretty good run-defending linebacker behind a light front. Still, they’re clearing expecting pass.