Yeah, yeah, yeah... it's only preseason and stats don't really mean anything. But what if they do?
The Patriots thought they had the makings of a special defense going into the 2019 campaign, and their performance through three games is backing that up.
On Thursday night, the Pats limited an opponent to three points, under 10 first downs and under 100 yards — the second time they've done that this preseason. Carolina "amassed" a grand total of seven first downs and 99 yards, just two weeks after Detroit "racked up" eight first downs and 93 yards.
Here's where the New England defense ranks so far:
Points per game: 7.7 (1st)
Yards per game: 166.0 (1st)
Pass yards per game: 91.7 (1st)
Rush yards per game: 74.3 (5th)
Sacks: 15 (1st)
3rd down percentage: 23.5% (2nd)
QB Rating against: 71.8 (6th)
As the longest-tenured member of the Patriots defense, Devin McCourty has seen both excellent and not-so-good defensive units, and he points to going on the road for joint practices before each of the team's first two preseason games this year as one reason why the D is off to such a strong start in 2019.
"I think one of the best things about going away for two weeks is you get to spend a lot of time together in the hotel, after meetings, eating, hanging out," McCourty said Thursday night. "As a group, the better you know somebody, the better your relationship is. I think you put more pressure on yourself to be accountable to that person, to know your stuff, to play for that person. So I think we've been really building as a defense and as a team overall, so it feels good when you put in all of the work during the week and you come out and have a good performance."
Again, it's still preseason, and these games don't really mean anything, so maybe Patriots fans should reel their excitement in a little bit. But then again, in the last game that actually meant something, the Patriots held the Rams to just three points.
So who knows? This could be a sign of more good things to come.
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