The New England Patriots victory over the Houston Texans did not come as a surprise to people. But how the Patriots won may have been surprising to many. It was a good consistent defensive effort by the Patriots defense by both the front seven and the secondary. Is this defense legit or an anomaly?
Here are three takeaways we got from the Patriots victory over the Texans:
1. The pass rush was alive and rampant.
The Patriots defense was a getting after the Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Coming into the season the defense was a big question mark. The Patriots added veteran Adrian Clayborn to the mix of young guys they have currently on the roster. Derek Rivers returned after missing all of last season due to a torn ACL.
The defensive front frustrated Watson early and often as they sacked him three times and nailed him a total of 12 times to ruin his mental clock.
This was shocking considering the fact that they hardly added any big names in the offseason especially after struggling against Nick Foles in the Super Bowl loss against the Eagles.
Was this a one week deal or can we expect to see the Patriots play this way on a consistent basis? Everyone knows with Tom Brady on the offensive side and not showing signs of slowing down the Patriots will always have a chance.
If they can finally have a good defense that resembles somewhat of the glory years of the defense in the early 2000s, it would be hard to not see them hoisting the Lombardi trophy next February.
2. The secondary was strapping.
With the departure of Malcolm Butler, there was a void as to who would be the other corner opposite of Stephon Gilmore. New England acquired Devin McCourty’s twin brother Jason. Many believed he would be the starter, but that was not the case.
Eric Rowe, who finally came into a season completely healthy, had a strong camp and was getting snaps as the number two corner. The Patriots also saw the return of nickel corner Jonathan Jones who missed the stretch run last season due to a torn ACL.
The secondary covered well in the game against Houston. They held Watson to 176 yards, turned him over once, and limited him to a QBR of 17.8. Unlike when these two teams matched up last season and the Patriots defense was letting guys roam free up the field.
DeAndre Hopkins did have eight catches for 78 yards on 11 targets, but those numbers are relatively pedestrian for him as he is a top 10 receiver.
3. A few plays here and there.
The Patriots do not have a lot of house hold names on the defensive side. Second year player Deatrich Wise Jr. had himself a game with 1.5 sacks while Trey Flowers matched his productivity. Wise Jr.,Flowers, Keionta Davis, and Adam Butler were all either drafted mid- too late in the draft or were not drafted at all, but all showed up on Sunday in a big way. They helped generate a pass rush we haven’t seen the Patriots have in quite some time.
Rookie linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley was a fifth round selection out of Purdue with Dont’a Hightower and Elandon Roberts ahead of him on the depth chart. Well, he outproduced both guys with seven tackles, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit. It seems like they have done it again in finding a late round steal.
How about in the back end?
The aforementioned Jones returned from injury and tied Gilmore for the most pass deflections for the Pats with two.
If this is a consistent effort out of the Patriots defense, it will make the Patriots very tough to beat with the mystique of Bill Belichick and Brady. The pass rush is more important than who is on the back end as without a steady diet of quarterback hits or sacks any quarterback will slice and dice the defense.
Let’s see how the new-look Patriots defense fares for a few more games before we pass judgment.