Patriots

Pro Football Focus ranks Patriots defense 'far and away' the best in the NFL

Pro Football Focus ranks Patriots defense 'far and away' the best in the NFL

It's safe to say that probably the only reason the Patriots are 6-0 heading into a Monday Night Football showdown with the Jets is their defense. 

With its continuity, smart players that give the coaching staff an ability to adjust on the fly and supreme talent in the secondary, the New England defense has stifled every opponent it has gone up against. 

Of course, the fact that the Patriots have gone up against a group of quarterbacks consisting of Luke Falk, Colt McCoy, Daniel Jones and Ryan Fitzpatrick, but you can only play the teams on your schedule. And the Pats have slowed down their opponent's offenses at a historic rate. So much so, that Pro Football Focus ranked them the NFL's top defense by a wide margin. 

The Patriots have been far and away the best defense in the NFL this season, registering an EPA allowed per play of nearly -0.5. Their defensive success can largely be attributed to their secondary, which has been playing outstanding football, granted against some of the most advantageous quarterback matchups a team could possibly have. They are the only team to allow fewer than six yards per targeted attempt (5.8), the only team to allow a passer rating below 65.0 on targeted passes (46.1), and their 14 interceptions are five more than any other team. It will be interesting to see them compete with a competent passing attack, but they have all the makings of a dominant secondary and defense overall.

With their next four games coming against Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Carson Wentz, the Patriots defense will finally be appropriately put to the test. 

With Tom Brady's offense continued struggles to move the ball, New England's defense might have to play better than they have already, which might just be too much to ask. 

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Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

One of Bill Belichick's cardinal press conference rules is that he only talks about players who are in the building.

So, it's no surprise he swatted away a question about one of his former employees Wednesday.

The Patriots head coach was asked about former New England wide receiver Antonio Brown apologizing to team owner Robert Kraft on social media Tuesday and quickly deferred to his boss.

"You'd have to talk to Robert about that," Belichick said.

"I mean, every week you guys ask me about a player who's not on our team, and every week it's going to be the same answer."

Brown was on the Patriots for about two weeks before New England released him amid allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

Brown's conduct as those allegations came out reportedly "enraged" Kraft and may have been the last straw for the Patriots in releasing him.

Considering Brown directed his apology at Kraft, the Patriots owner may in fact be the best person to ask about the 30-year-old free agent, who is under NFL investigation but reportedly is hopeful he'll be cleared to play later this season.

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Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey might be the most impressive rookie from the team's 2019 NFL Draft class. 

The NFL announced Wednesday that Bailey is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week winner for Week 12. He also won this award after the Patriots' Week 3 win over the New York Jets.

Bailey put on a punting clinic in New England's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Stanford product had six punts inside the 20-yard line and five punts that went over 50 yards. His punts helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Eagles to go on long scoring drives. Bailey's kicks were among the primary factors in the Patriots holding the Eagles scoreless through the final three quarters.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Bailey's ability to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory amid the difficult kicking conditions in Philly.

“Yeah. I’d say at Stanford, not a lot of tough conditions out there – out there playing Arizona State and Arizona and UCLA and all. But he’s had a lot of, I would say, challenging conditions out here – both in the spring, and then as we’ve gone through the regular season," Belichick told reporters after Sunday's victory. "This year there have been days out there where it’s been cold, rainy, windy and I think he learned something every day. There’s cross winds and there’s winds in your face and it’s kicking with the wind and all that. There’s challenges in every one of them. If you’re kicking with the wind, that’s an advantage to the punter, but handling the snap, which is coming back into the wind, wobbles and things like that. It’s a little tougher snap for the snapper.

"He’s done a good job of, I would say, adapting to the conditions. He’s still got a long way to go. I’m sure he’ll learn a lot more as the season goes along, but between the holding, the kickoffs and the punting in various conditions and certainly situational football, which came up today. You know, the end-of-the-game punts and backed-up punts and plus 50-punts and the kickoffs and so forth. There were a lot of situations. But he’s a great kid. He works hard. He’s really played well for us this entire season and he’s been so valuable to this team and he proved it out there today. I wish he could have recovered that fumble, but he’s been great for us.”

Belichick doesn't often give that level of praise to a rookie, but it's certainly warranted in Bailey's case. He's been a tremendous asset to the Patriots not only as a punter, but also as the holder on field goals and player handling kickoff duties. That's the kind of versatility Belichick values so much.

Phil Perry: Jake Bailey, special teams excel in Week 12 report card>>>

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