New England Patriots

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 10) calls a play against the Washington Football Team during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick is known for mixing up his personnel on both sides of the ball. But it’s worth taking a look at the Patriots’ projected lineups on offense and defense, if only to have a general idea of what they want to do.

The preseason gave the best possible glimpse of what to expect when the Patriots roll out certain lineups for certain situations. On offense, they continue to establish the run in “21” personnel with one running back, one fullback, one tight end, and two wide receivers. And when it comes to obvious passing situations, Josh McDaniels still likes to run three-receiver sets.

It’ll be interesting to see how often the Patriots call plays with two tight ends, because that’s a wrinkle the team hasn’t been able to show with both of their prized free-agent signings, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, on the field together.

Defensively, the Patriots have shifted in recent years to playing more of a 3-4 type of defense than 4-3, but predominantly played “Nickel” (five defensive backs) with a 2-4 or 3-3 look up front. We’ll see if that changes, now that the Patriots seem to have better talent and depth in the front-seven than the secondary. It has long made sense for the defensive backs to be the true engine of the defense, but the personnel at Belichick’s disposal in 2021 may force some kind of evolution.

For now, we’re expecting more “Nickel” from the Patriots on defense, with a lot of the same concepts on offense that we’ve seen in the Pats’ system over the years. Here’s our projected Patriots lineups on both offense and defense.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at