One of my favorite parts of the week is when I get to sit down and watch the All-22 of the Patriots defense. It’s a soundless, emotionless journey into football land. I know the result, I know the post-mortem talking points and I can just sit back and take it all in for what it actually was.
After watching the Pats’ defensive performance against the Jets I feel actually better than I’ve felt all season long about the unit. Of course it was not perfect, but it was starting to look and feel like the usual Patriots defense. You know what that means… Bend Don’t Break.
Still cliches aside, the progress was really keyed by an excellent performance against the run, led by Malcom Brown and aided by a resurgent Alan Branch. When those two players are on, the Pats are dominating the line of scrimmage and that has a positive trickle down effect on the rest of the defense.
Yes, there were still plenty of mistakes, often by the rookies and new guys, but what we saw was that the defense could forget the last plays, the last drives and refocus on the current drive.
All in all I do think things are headed in the right direction. You need to look no further than the run defense jumping from 27th to 23rd in DVOA. There’s still a ways to go, but I do believe the defense should be primed to play well against the Falcons, who will surely have all their attention this week.
Here’s what else stood out from the film review.